It hasn't been the best week to start a search for the next general manager of the Seattle Mariners.
After Bill Bavasi was fired in June, Mariners president Chuck Armstrong began compiling names of a possible successor, and vetting those on the list. At one point, that list was 59 names long.
By the start of the off-season, it was down to between 15-20 names.
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Today – before an interview has been conducted – it's between 10-12 names.
"There are people we want to talk to who have signed contracts with their current team that don't allow them to seek another position," Armstrong said. "We've called a number of clubs to seek permission to interview one of their employees and run into these contracts."
That kind of deal goes against the baseball norm, whether it's a coach asked to interview for an open managerial job or a front office type given a shot at moving up the ladder.
In fact, commissioner Bud Selig apparently hadn't heard of such contracts, and his office is looking into the matter.
In the meantime, things happen. Brian Cashman, whose contract with the New York Yankees was up after the regular season, signed an extension days after the Mariners asked permission to interview him.
Among those the Mariners wanted to talk to – but won't be able to – are two men with San Diego and another with Cleveland.
That's four names off the list before Seattle can get started, but that doesn't mean the list is now without promise.
"The number of candidates has been reduced, but we're only going to interview the candidates we'd perceived to be the best," Armstrong said. "We're not going to expand it. We're moving ahead on schedule, and the interview process will begin next week."
There is another irony at play in all this – the media.
Because the team declined to name anyone on its list, the press began speculating, piling up names of former GMs (John Hart), current GMs (Theo Epstein) and a dozen of so hot young assistant GMs (Kim Ng, Al Avila, David Forst, et al).
And now, we in the media are 'eliminating' candidates that we, not the Mariners, said were on the short list. In simpler terms, accuracy isn't the biggest factor in any story on the next Seattle GM.
"Not everyone mentioned in stories was a candidate," Armstrong said, "and there hasn't been completely accuracy on candidates who've been eliminated, either."