Mariners choose Wedge to be manager
AL Manager of the Year in '07 is excited to join organization
SEATTLE -- Eric Wedge, who led the Indians to the American League Championship Series in 2007, was named manager of the Mariners on Monday.
Wedge was formally introduced to the media as the 15th full-time manager in team history during a news conference Tuesday at Safeco Field.
"I have a strong belief in the role of the Major League manager," Wedge said Tuesday. "I've got a strong feel and understanding of what it means to be in an organization and to be a family and what it takes to win. To be a part of that leadership group, I'm excited about it."
The Mariners share in that excitement.
"When you spend time with Eric, you realize the things that stand out are his passion, his commitment," said Jack Zduriencik, Mariners executive vice president and general manager. "He's worked with clubs that were in similar scenarios to where we are. Quite frankly, at the end of the day, it was a relationship that those of us in the interview process were quite comfortable with what he brings to the table."
Although the Mariners did not reveal the length of Wedge's contract, he got a three-year deal, according to a source, and will assume the task of turning around a 101-loss team that scored the fewest runs of any team in the 38 seasons since the American League's introduction of the designated hitter.
He'll take over for Daren Brown, who compiled a 19-31 record as the interim manager after Don Wakamatsu was dismissed on Aug. 9.
Wedge, 42, managed Cleveland for seven seasons, from 2003-09, compiling a 561-573 record. He was 428-382 from 2004-08. The Indians advanced to the ALCS in 2007, losing to the Red Sox in seven games, and Wedge was voted AL Manager of the Year.
"The experiences that I've gone through over the course of seven years in Cleveland have been tremendous for me as I move forward," Wedge said. "I think there's a strong argument that when you go through something the second time around, you should be that much better."
The Mariners asked permission from the Commissioner's Office to announce the hiring, because Major League Baseball prefers that teams avoid making major announcements during the postseason. Approval was granted.
During his year away from the game, Wedge said he first focused on his family, then began to prepare for his next job.
"Once we got to the second half of the season, I was hopeful there would be some opportunity for me around the corner," he said. "I started watching games every day, watching as many games as I possibly could. ... And I came in here already having done my homework. I knew where we were coming in here."
First on Wedge's agenda will be assembling a coaching staff. It is unknown whether Brown or any of the coaches who finished the season on the Mariners' staff will be invited back for the 2011 season.
First-base coach Mike Brumley, who also handled the running game, is the only coach under contract for the 2011 season. The contracts of Brown, pitching coach Carl Willis, third-base coach Lee Tinsley, bench coach Roger Hansen, hitting coach Alonzo Powell and bullpen coach John Wetteland expire on Oct. 31.
Brumley figures to be a strong candidate for Wedge's coaching staff, either as a base coach or bench coach. They were Red Sox teammates in 1991-92 and have maintained a close friendship.
On the recommendation of Wedge in 2003, the Indians offered Brumley the managerial job at Triple-A Buffalo, but he already was managing the Angels' top farm club in Salt Lake City.
Willis, who started last season as the Mariners' Minor League pitching coordinator and accompanied Brown to Seattle on Aug. 9 after pitching coach Rick Adair was among three coaches dismissed along with Wakamatsu, spent the previous 13 seasons as a pitching coach in the Indians organization. He was Cleveland's pitching coach for the seven years that Wedge managed the Indians and figures to be Wedge's choice for the job.
Brown, in the Mariners' organization for 10 years, might be given an opportunity to return to Triple-A Tacoma next year as the Rainiers' manager. The 43-year-old, who became a father for the first time last week, was not available to comment on his future plans.
With six managerial vacancies in the Majors, there will be a lot of movement among coaches in the weeks ahead.
"The last time I talked to Jack was about two weeks ago, and he didn't tell me one way or another," Tinsley said. "The last time I talked to Chuck [club president Chuck Armstrong] he didn't tell me one way or another, either. But if they want me back, I'd like to come back.
"I would like to know sooner rather than later, because if it doesn't work out, I could get my name out there for other places. We'll just have to see, but I would like to come back."
Tinsley spent the past two seasons in the Mariners' coaching boxes, the first year exclusively at first base and most of this past season at third base. He has been a Major League coach for the past five seasons.
"I have known Eric for several years and played with him in Boston for about a year," Tinsley said. "I have talked to him on occasion, and I like what he does. I think his no-nonsense approach is very good. He expects certain things, and he expects his players to execute them as a player.
"He's one of those guys who had to work hard to get to the Major Leagues and wants players who are willing to work as hard as he does, so they don't sell themselves short. I think he's going to be good for the club."
Powell, who started the season as the hitting coach for Triple-A Tacoma, joined the Mariners in late May, replacing Alan Cockrell, and said he would like to return next season.
"I haven't talked to Jack and have no idea what they're thinking," he said. "It's one of those things where you have to sit back and wait. I would love the opportunity to work with the manager, whoever that might be."
Although the eventual Pacific Coast League champion Rainiers had one of the most productive offenses in the league under Powell, the change in Seattle did not make much difference.
"In all my years in this game," he said, "I never saw anything like this, where so many guys were cold at the same time. Maybe you have two or three guys struggling at once, but you would have six or seven others picking up the slack.
"Most of our guys didn't perform to their capabilities and could never get anything going."
Powell, who played for the Mariners in 1991, has been a coach in the organization for the past four seasons.
"My first choice would be to come back to Seattle," he said, "but I have been in Tacoma, and that is something I would probably consider."
In the meantime, he is at his offseason home in Arizona working with some of the players competing in the Arizona Fall League.
"Whether I'm the hitting coach or not," he said, "I will still go over [to Peoria] and watch the young kids. Otherwise, I will just have to wait and see what happens."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.