Mariners Insider Blog

Will Yankee Stadium be John McLaren's alamo?

What would this guy have done if he managed this team?

If you read my story today, I hinted that if the Mariners continued to play as they have the last three days in New York, that John McLaren's days as manager of this mess could be ending.

Our columnist John McGrath also discussed McLaren's fate, but wanted to give him till June 26th - the point at which McLaren managed 162 games - to make a decision.

So what will happen? Is McLaren going to be fired in the coming days?

I'm not sure.

I've already heard some speculation that Mac may be fired as soon as today. However, Bill Bavasi isn't on this trip ... as of yet. Director of baseball administration Jim Na has been traveling with the team, and he certainly won't be firing Mac. However, if I suddenly see Bavasi wandering around Yankee Stadium today, McLaren's demise could be imminent.

If I were put to make a guess by gunpoint, I'd think it would happen during the homestand.

When you are going this bad like the Mariners are, a move needs to be made to just to show that the status quo is unacceptable. Since Bavasi isn't likely to fire himself (a dream many of you have every night). and Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln don't seem to want to fire Bavasi, and the owners in Japan aren't going to fire Chuck and Howard because they are raking in the dough, McLaren will end up being the scapegoat in all of this. The Oswald to the FBI, CIA and Dallas Mob, if you believe Oliver Stone.

I know a lot of you are down on McLaren. And I can understand that. There have been decisions that I haven't agreed with, particularly the handling of the catching situation and Jarrod Washburn's comments to the media. He should have just hammered that down right away, silenced a No. 4 pitcher with a losing record for having the audacity to start such nonsense.

As for some of the roster decisions, i.e. keeping Miguel Cairo, letting Greg Norton go, I wonder how much of that is Mac and how much of it is Bavasi. To be fair, even though McLaren has 30 years in baseball, he has less than a season of major league managing cache. Perhaps that makes him less likely to contradict or do things in spite of Bavasi or management, unlike Lou, who did whatever the hell he felt like, consequences be damned.

Sometimes it feels like things like Cairo staying around is because Bavasi doesn't want to admit yet another mistake. I've said it before: I don't like how the team was built. And I don't like how it stands now. How much of that falls to McLaren or to Bavasi we don't know.

As for McLaren, maybe he's too nice of a guy. He's a players' coach, who trusted a bunch of veterans to self-police and self-motivate the clubhouse. And that trust could ultimately cost him his job. Also his gallivanting believerism in his team and his players and his willingness to say as much may also hurt him. He steadfastly stood by underachieving, underperforming players like Vidro, Sexson and even Beltre, telling everyone that they would be fine. But they did nothing to reward that faith.

He believed this team could prepare and motivate itself into being the team that every hoped it could be – a playoff team - and it's clear this team can't do it.

Maybe McLaren should have been more forceful, maybe he should have been a little tougher, a little more demanding. But he really felt like the players would expect enough of themselves. And it's clear that most players can't or won't hold themselves up to that standard.

There was no fear, no anxiety that if they underperformed they would be replaced. They knew no matter what happened, they were still playing. It's why Vidro showed up out of shape and did little to get in shape, and Wilkerson was deemed the starting right fielder when he was clearly outplayed all spring by Balentien, Reed and Jimerson. Or why players that were struggling still seemed content to hang out in the clubhouse instead of telling themselves to put in extra work.

Simply put, there was no trepidation for poor play, like there might be with other managers who have a little more lead in their butt from years of experience.

Would Lou have put up with things that McLaren swallowed? Not hardly. But McLaren isn't Lou.

What McLaren is … is a good man, a man that's honest and accommodating, a man that has perhaps more faith in his players than the players have in themselves, a man who ultimately believes it's the players that make a team win, a man that believed this group of players could live up to expectations, a man that's given his life to baseball for one major league managerial chance, and a man who could soon be fired.

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