Hargrove resigns as M's manager

I think we all came into this season figuring that Mike Hargrove would lose his job at some point. I just don't think any of us, in our wildest imagination -- with the team 11 games over .500 and riding a seven-game winning streak -- thought it would come like this.

Saying it had become harder and harder to bring daily the effort and energy he demands of his players, Hargrove resigned today as manager of the Mariners, effective after the Sunday matinée with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He insisted the decision was his and his alone.

"There are no dark sinister reasons for this decision," Hargrove said at a hastily called press conference this morning. "This is my decision.

"It’s not a problem with players, not a problem with Bill (Bavasi), not a problem with clubhouse manager, not a problem with my wife. It’s an accumulation of 35 years. That’s a long time. It’s just an accumulation of things. It's not one thing – I was not forced into this decision. There was a strong, credible job done by everyone to talk me out of it.

"But this is the right thing to do for Mike Hargrove and the Seattle Mariners."

Hargrove's always been a straight shooter, as is his nature as a native Texan, so it's hard not to take him at his word. But it's also hard not to wonder if there's another story, although any thoughts along those lines would be pure speculation at this point. And there will be plenty of that over the next 24 hours.

For now, I'll choose to accept his reasons, especially given that so much of what he said seems to be centered around his family. Family is unbelievably important to me, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be away from my wife and child for the extended periods demanded of a major league manager. This is a guy who's done it for 35 years. And when a guy says he's talked more to his wife in the past 10 days than he has in 10 years, well, that's pretty telling to me.

What to think of Hargrove's tenure?

For all the shots the guy has taken about his over reliance on veterans and ridiculous insistence on generally ignoring platoon splits, he did lead the team to heights I don't think any of us expected this year. Raise your hand if you thought this team would be 11 games over .500 at any point in 2007, let alone in June. That's what I thought.

And in many ways, this is the best possible scenario for Hargrove. He leaves with the team probably overachieving a bit, having overseen what appears to be an organization that has turned the corner from irrelevance to relevance once again. Even if interim manager John McLaren -- the guy we wanted to take over a long time ago -- comes in and leads the team to a playoff appearance, Hargrove will get a lot of the credit. If McLaren doesn't? If the team crumbles? It will be on him, even if such a fall would have been inevitable under Hargrove.

Will this team succeed under McLaren? The reality is nobody really knows how he's going to manage. I think we all suspect he'll be a little more prone to do some of the things we criticized Hargrove for not doing, given his seemingly more analytical nature. It'll be interesting to see how he forges out his own managing style, given all the years he spent hanging out with Lou Piniella, a manager notorious for his lack of patience with young players.

Will he be more open to Adam Jones playing everyday, as Jones should be? Will he fight for Jones' call-up if Bavasi doesn't want it? Will he be smart enough to make sure Jose Vidro never sees the top two-thirds of the batting order ever again? Will he have a better relationship with Ichiro, to the point that the team's lone superstar wants to stay in Seattle after this season? How will he manage the bullpen, which is going to have about three guys with arms fall off at this pace? Will he be more or less afraid to step on veterans' toes to make the right moves, given his interim status?

All will be things to keep an eye on, as this team tries to continue its current momentum. And we will keep an eye on it, starting tomorrow at Kansas City.

Until then, let's hope Hargrove goes out with a bang by sweeping the Blue Jays to finish a 10-2 homestand.

No comments: