Lots of talk about who is to blame for the Mariners terrible season. Many media and blog commenters are arguing that Wakamatsu isn’t the chief culprit for the losses and didn’t deserve to be fired. I’d probably agree with that, but here’s the thing…
It doesn’t matter!
In a baseball organization, the general manager (or his differently-named counterpart) is the boss. Ownership’s roll varies; sometimes they’re highly involved, sometimes not at all. Mariners ownership is a rather controversial topic that I’m going to skip right over since it doesn’t really pertain to this argument. They’ve decided Jack Zduriencik is running the team until they decide otherwise. That could be tomorrow for all we know, although I doubt they would sign off on firing Wakamatsu if they were going to do the same to Zduriencik soon. Moving on.
Zduriencik is the boss. Wakamatsu’s responsibility is working with the players on a daily basis and leading them to become the best baseball team they can become. Teaching and game decisions and so forth are a secondary issue. It’s become pretty clear that there are serious issues with Wakamatsu’s ability to lead the players. Again, is that his fault? Not necessarily. We can’t really say. Dave Cameron puts at least partial blame on the Griffey situation, as have others. It’s easy to look at the Figgins confrontation as well. Whether those are causes or symptoms, we don’t know, but they are clear indicators that there are issues in the clubhouse.
Is Zduriencik more to blame for the failure of this season than Wakamatsu? Yes, he probably is. He put together the roster. But Zduriencik isn’t going to fire himself. Further, another change in the front office would be one of the worst moves for this team, at least in my opinion. You can’t get rid of every player either, which means that issues between the players and Wakamatsu would likely remain next year. So, you have to get rid of Wakamatsu.
This move isn’t about blaming Wakamatsu. Zduriencik certainly might think he has deficits that keep him from effectively managing any baseball team, we don’t know. What’s important to remember is that this is a move to make the best of the future. Will a new manager have better luck with this team? Hard to say, but short of turning over 90% of the roster for a significantly better one, I’d say Wakamatsu’s chances of being successful as manager of the 2011 Mariners were exceedingly slim. It’s a move that had to be made, even if it wasn’t necessarily deserved.
Sometimes, things get to the point where they are simply not going to be successful going forward. The Mariners seemed to be at that point, so they effectively hit restart. There wasn’t much else to do. As fans, we just have to hope that this is the last restart for a while.