Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge has been tasked with rebuilding a team that lost 101 games in 2010. Wedge was announced as the new manager of the Mariners on Monday, showing the team is interested in quickly moving on to the next chapter. According to Jim Street, Wedge will be formally introduced to the media during a team press conference on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 1 p.m. PT. It was also noted that he will become the 15th full-time manager in the history of the franchise, and yet another one who will be asked to work with a struggling franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2001.
Daren Brown had been serving as the interim manager for the Mariners ever since Don Wakamatsu was fired back in August. Brown had been a minor league manager for the Mariners, but it was clear that the franchise was looking for a big name to step into the role in 2011 and beyond. There had been rumors that they would be looking into hiring Bobby Valentine, but Wedge might be an equal big name on the market who comes a bit cheaper. The Mariners are also hoping that Wedge can provide some of the spark that helped get the Cleveland Indians to the American League Championship Series in 2007.
Wedge managed the Indians for seven years, beginning with his first season in baseball back in 2003. His two best seasons were 2005 (93-69) and 2007 (96-66), but after a rough 2008 and 2009, when the Indians started having a fire sale (trading away Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia), Wedge left baseball. Wedge sat out all of 2010, but apparently was wooed into coming back for the 2011 season. It is unclear how long his contract with the Mariners is going to be, but that news should be released during the Tuesday press conference.
The Mariners need more than just a new manager if they are going to compete in the American League West next season. They just finished 61-101 in the 2010 season, good enough for the worst record in the American League, meaning they will at least get a really nice draft pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The Mariners minor league system is starting to fill up with some nice prospects, but they will need to either sign a big name free agent (or two), or make a trade that brings in some power on offense. The days of winning with just good defense and pitching in Seattle are over.