Blog Entry

Wakamatsu could still be great, but not with M's

Posted on: August 9, 2010 4:54 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2010 4:58 pm
A year ago, Don Wakamatsu was the most impressive Mariner, on a team that was easily exceeding expectations.

Now he's out of a job, cut loose by a team that has easily underperformed expectations.

A year ago, he looked like one of the most promising young managers in the game . A year later, he still is.

So what happened in Seattle? The simple answer is that in a trying season, the relationship between Wakamatsu and general manager Jack Zduriencik frayed to the point where it couldn't be repaired.

It's hard to know who was most at fault for that, but in recent weeks Wakamatsu and the people around him had become miserable. There was a strong feeling that the manager was getting no backing from Zduriencik and the rest of the front office.

Some of that tension is to be expected, based on the Mariners' sky-high (far too high) expectations, and on the team's 42-70 record. Some of it was no doubt caused by the problems Wakamatsu had with Ken Griffey Jr., a franchise icon, and then with Chone Figgins, who was Zduriencik's big signing last winter.

What happened this season will no doubt serve as a lesson for Wakamatsu, because dealing with adversity and maintaining working relationships with bosses is a big part of managing. He'll learn from it, and he'll be better prepared for his next job.

Will there be a next job? Almost certainly there will be. Wakamatsu is 47 years old, and he impressed many people around the game with the job he did last year. And the general view of this year's Mariners is that they were a flawed team from the start.

Plenty of great managers got fired from their first job. It happened to Tony La Russa, and to Joe Torre.

It's too early to declare that Don Wakamatsu will be a great manager. But there's still every chance he could become one.

Category: MLB

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:54 pm

Wakamatsu could still be great, but not with M's

I understand why it was done but don't agree with it.  Firing your manager every year or two is a sign of a totally disfunctional organization which they are just like the Raiders, Royals, etc.  He was given a bad hand and asked to win with it.  This is not his fault and I wish that he would been given some more time with a better cast of characters.  Too many underperformers including the front office.

I feel bad for Wak he was a good guy and I hope that he has learned something and gets another change to manager.  Wak didn't become a stupid baseball person overnight.  That said if he has no confidence from the front office he needs to go.  Hopefully we will get someone in here who can make a difference and inspire these players to play at their best.

Bring on the football season.  The baseball season is dead!!! 

Since: Feb 14, 2008
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:50 pm

Wakamatsu could still be great, but not with M's

I couldn't agree more with that statement.  Zduriencik decided that this team would play small ball, the way Wak likes to play, which is fine, but you still need some punch in the middle of the lineup.  Signing Figgins for waaaaaay to much, and not getting a bat for the middle of the lineup really cost this team this year.  The bullpen that was solid last year, has been shaky this year.  The starting pitchers, other than Rowland-Smith, have been solid.  Fister lately though has given up runs, but Vargas and Felix have been outstanding.  Fister has generally been solid for the first half, it's the second hal that's been the problem.  The fielding is ok, not great, solid yes.

This brings me to the biggest problem of this team, the problem which nobody addressed in the offseason, and that's offense.  If you look at last years numbers, other than Branyan, the M's had no deep ball threat.  This year, they have no deep ball threat. They dont' get hits in clutch situations like they did last year.  They won a lot of one run games last year, and this year they're losing a lot of close games and not scoring at all.  I don't know what the numbers are at this point, but I know after their 97th games of the season, they had scored two or fewer runs in 44 of them.  You're not going to win a lot of games scoring two or less runs. 

Z never addressed the holes in the middle of the lineup.  Wak can only do so much as a manager.  Call plays based on situations, play percentages, but he can't trade, draft, or sign players that they need.  That was Z's job and he failed, but Wak has to take the fall.  It's a sad state of baseball, when the guy making a craptastic team gets to stay, but the guy who had to run the craptastic team gets the heave ho.

Since: Dec 9, 2006
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:47 pm

Wakamatsu could still be great, but not with M's

It's accurate to say Wakamatsu was given a flawed team, and too many things (Lopez and Figgins switching positions; Ichiro unable to be moved out of the leadoff spot to the 3-hole; Griffey on the roster despite coming back more out of shape than the year before...a terrible signal to the rest of the team) were out of his control.

At the same time, Wakamatsu never adjusted his managing to day-to-day reality.  First pitch pop up after first pitch pop up, with no changes, or consequences.  Very little aggressive managing, just to passive, waiting for things to "turn around," which they never did.  You can't ask your team to make adjustments and not make any yourself. 

Nice guy.  He'll be back, and hopefully he learned a couple of things that will help him be a better manager later.

Since: Aug 9, 2010
Posted on: August 9, 2010 5:12 pm

Wakamatsu could still be great, but not with M's

Zduriencik brought Griffey back, forced Figgins to move from 3rd to 2nd, traded away Brandow Morrow for a middle innings relief pitcher.  The wrong guy is out of a job.

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