Well, didn’t exactly see that one coming.
Obviously, there’s been a lot of murmurings in recent weeks regarding the future (or lack thereof) for both Jack and Eric. Half of that wonderment was answered recently, at least in the short term, when it was reported that Jack’s contract had been extended (prior to the season) for another year.
Eric made it pretty clear in a pre-game interview a couple nights ago that he was not at all pleased with the way his situation was being handled. But, in the end, he said he really wanted to stay here and see through. So, when the news started trickling out that he had essentially turned in his resignation (though he would be in the dugout for the last three games) it came as a bit of a shock. Shades of Hargrove riding off in his red truck . . . although, Eric is a much younger man and will likely get another shot somewhere (despite his recent serious health issues, he swears that he is feeling great and has made significant changes to ensure that continues).
I have a pretty simplistic (likely naive) view of a baseball manager’s impact to overall team success. I think they get blamed WAY too much when things go wrong and, probably get a little too much credit when they are going good. That being said, it seems that when a team is as young as the Mariners have been over Eric’s tenure here, there is a MUCH greater chance for the manager to make a difference. He has the opportunity not only to shape baseball players, but men. He teaches them how to grind through the ups and downs of a season and life. He has the opportunity to set the tone of a winning attitude to help them bond as a unit with one common goal while also working on individual progress, no matter the circumstances of the club at the time. I have no idea (having not been a fly on the clubhouse wall) how the individual players think Eric did in this regard – how / if he was able to recognize their individual strengths and short-comings and help them head in the right direction as much psychologically as athletically. I guess we may never know.
I am disappointed that Eric decided not to stick it out but, he has his reasons (and they apparently have more to do with a difference of opinion on how to rebuild effectively than with contract length). This young core now has had some significant major league experience to build upon and, what if Jack is able to make some key acquisitions in the off season (with all that $$$ coming off the books and the RSN looming) . . . you just never know . . .
But, I do wish Eric the best where ever he lands, though there’s part of me that hopes he ends up regretting his decision – not to be vindictive, just that it would mean this team stayed the course and eventually found their direction.
In the meantime, somewhat lame duck GM Jack is left to search for a manager of a team in seemingly perpetual rebuilding mode. Never a dull moment. Onward and upward (we hope!)