The Mariners have reportedly hired Scott Servais as their next manager. If you’re like me you remembered Servais as a soft-hitting infielder that played for the Angels. Of course, Servais did none of these things, he was a catcher and played exclusively in the National League. I hope you’re not like me.
Servais’ player career was relatively forgettable. He never had 500 plate appearances in a season (499 in 1996), and he never had any remarkable skills. He last played for Houston in 2001, the same year the Mariners won 116 games. A lot has changed since then! The Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since, and the Astros have been assigned to the AL West.
The Mariners have had nine total managers, some of them interim, since then. Servais, by contrast hasn’t managed anywhere. He’s been a front office member of the Rangers and Angels. He was new Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto’s assistant GM in Anaheim. I haven’t had the opportunity to write about the DiPoto hire, or write about anything really, but I like it. I understand people will have apprehension regarding the team hiring a manager with no experience, but I also trust the methodology of Jerry Dipoto more than anyone else who has ever led this organization. It also sounds like the original front-runner for the job, Tim Bogar, will join the organization as Servais’ bench coach.
At this point, apart from measurable on-field events, a lot of the credit and blame given to managers is unfounded and speculative. We don’t really know the impact of a manager at all, let alone the marginal difference between an experienced manager versus a brand new manager.
We do know that DiPoto clashed with ultra-traditional manager Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, so it is entirely possible that the Mariners plan to reimagine what the manager position should be. Sometimes innovative thinking turns into something awful, and sometimes in turns into something like the team that plays across the street from the Mariners (the Seahawks if you didn’t know) and the team becomes a perennial contender.