Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wakamatsu to Manage the Mariners

Don Wakamatsu, that is, and until being announced as Seattle's new manager today, he has been the A's bench coach. Other candidates were White Sox coach Joey Cora, Red Sox coaches DeMarlo Hale and Brad Mills, Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo, and San Diego AAA manager Randy Ready.

So what do we know about Wakamatsu? Not a ton in that (a) those of us back east haven't gotten to see a bunch of A's games recently; and (b) even if we had, it's not like a bench coach leaves an impression on fans. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of the position of bench coach until Don Zimmer's telegenic mug started showing up on FOX World Series broadcasts all the damn time in the late 90s. Until someone tells me differently, I will remain convinced that "bench coach" is German for "drinking buddy of the manager."

At any rate, Wakamatsu has tentative approval from the folks that matter in this, and that's the good fellows of U.S.S. Mariner:
I still think we should be encouraged by this hiring. Not necessarily because we have any reason to think that Wakamatsu will be one of those few that make a significant positive impact, but because of the way this entire process was handled. I know a lot of you were concerned when Zduriencik was hired that this was just going to be more of the same, with huge amounts of micro-managing from Armstrong and Lincoln, and a perpetuation of old school, 20th century ways of running an organization.

Instead, we’ve seen Zduriencik clean house in the front office, make his #2 guy a man with significant statistical leanings and empower him to create a department of baseball research, and now interviewed seven managerial candidates with no experience and picked the guy whose reputation is for being extremely well prepared in pregame analysis and comes from the A’s organization. In picking Wakamatsu, he bypassed Joey Cora, who was clearly the guy the suits upstairs had a preference for, and went with the man he felt was best equipped to help this team win.

So there's that. As for the rest of us, I exchanged a couple of emails with Sara K last night, and both of are pleased that Jose Oquendo wasn't picked. Not because he'd be a bad manager, but because we both like him, we both think of him as a St. Louis Cardinal and a St. Louis Cardinal alone, and that him not getting the Seattle job means that Tony La Russa's doomsday clock can continue ticking unabated.


mooseinohio said...

Dead man walking.

Levi Stahl said...

I'm glad to see the Cardinals keep Oquendo, too. Though we shouldn't forget that he was also a Met, albeit briefly--he did get nearly 500 at-bats for New York over 1983 and '84, and if I remember right was initially acquired as shortstop insurance should contract negotiations with Ozzie Smith break down.

Who could have imagined at that point that he'd become one of the best defensive second basemen in history, a walk machine, and a team fixture?

Pete Toms said...

I like the drinking buddy wisecrack.

I'm gonna botch the quote, but what did Billy Martin say about selecting a coaching staff? Something about you pick 5 guys you like to drink with and a 6th who'll stay sober and drive everybody home?

Richard Dansky said...

My wife has said, and I quote, "The day they name Jose Oquendo manager of the Cardinals is the day I start watching baseball again."

Yet another reason LaRussa cannot leave soon enough for me...

matt said...

How many days into next season do we see an article about how three A.L. West teams rely on statistical analysis, and the one that doesn't--the Angels--leads the division?

(I could see the A's or even the Rangers competing, but the think the Halos have to be the favorites)

mgflolox said...

Here's a little bit of trivia; Don Wakamatsu and current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio played on the Hayward (CA) High school football, basketball and baseball team together and graduated the same year (1981).