Word leaked out on Friday, and today the Mariners made it official: Eric Wedge is the new manager. He signed a three-year contract.
Wedge has seven years of major league managing experience, all with Cleveland from 2003-2009. I’ve never met him, but he gets high marks for character and integrity.
When he was in Cleveland, Wedge helped nurture a young team into a winner. Clearly, this is part of what intrigues the Mariners.
What does this mean for former Rainiers manager Daren Brown? Good question. I talked to Brown over the weekend – he’s disappointed he did not get the job, but he said the Mariners treated him fairly and honestly throughout the process.
Brown is not commenting publicly on his 2011 job situation until it gets settled. My personal opinion is that he will either end up on Wedge’s coaching staff, or he’ll be back managing in Tacoma.
Also, Brown told me that his three-day old daughter Chloe was wearing a pink Oklahoma beanie for her first college football Saturday. The brainwashing has begun.
With the League Championship Series underway, let’s check the active playoff rosters for players with Tacoma backgrounds:
New York Yankees (one former Rainiers player)
The only former Tacoma player on the Yankees is… you guessed it… Alex Rodriguez (1995 and 1996 Rainiers).
Only a few Yankees played at Cheney Stadium as visiting players: Nick Swisher (Sacramento), Lance Berkman (New Orleans), Dustin Moseley (Salt Lake), and Sergio Mitre (Iowa).
Texas Rangers (one former Tacoma Rainiers pitcher-for-a-day)
That would be Cliff Lee, who made an injury rehabilitation start for the Rainiers at Cheney Stadium this year. In official club records, we don’t count this as an “ex-Rainiers player” but we’ll make an exception for today’s blog.
Due to their long relationship with Oklahoma City, many Rangers players appeared at Cheney as visitors over the years: Nelson Cruz (almost single-handedly beat the Rainiers in the 2005 PCL Championship Series), Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler, Andres Blanco, Matt Treanor, Bengie Molina (with Edmonton; got into a rather infamous bench-clearing brawl at Cheney – although he didn’t start it; one of my all-time favorite Rainiers did), CJ Wilson, Clay Rapada, Alexi Ogando, Colby Lewis, and Tommy Hunter. Michael Kirkman was the PCL Pitcher of the Year this year, but he did not face the Rainiers.
Philadelphia Phillies (three former Rainiers on the active roster)
The ex-Rainiers on the Phillies active roster are Raul Ibanez (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), Mike Sweeney (rehabbing this season), and Wilson Valdez (released after one game for Tacoma in 2005). The Phils also have Greg Dobbs (2004, 2005, 2006) in the dugout, but he is inactive for the NLCS although he might be activated if they advance to the World Series.
Over the years Rainiers fans have seen appearances by Shane Victorino (Portland), Ross Gload (Colorado Springs), JC Romero (Edmonton and Salt Lake), Brad Lidge (as a starter for New Orleans at Cheney in August of 2002), Chad Durbin (Omaha and New Orleans) and Joe Blanton (Sacramento).
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel played for the 1973 Tacoma Twins and had a good season (.274-16-68 in 105 games).
San Francisco Giants (zero former Rainiers)
Not a single Giant played for Tacoma.
However, almost the entire San Francisco roster played at Cheney Stadium as a visiting player – I’m not going to list them all; but here are a few: Tim Lincecum dominated the Rainiers for Fresno in April 2007 – he had a huge cheering section. Travis Ishikawa is from Federal Way High School, class of 2002. The Rainiers were fortunate to never face Madison Bumgarner, but Matt Cain dominated Tacoma for Fresno three times in 2005. A beardless Brian Wilson pitched at Cheney for Fresno in 2006 and 2007. Buster Posey hit his first career Triple-A home run at Cheney on August 4, 2009. We’ve seen more than enough of Nate Schierholtz, Cody Ross (with Las Vegas), and Andres Torres over the years.
You know who has never played at Cheney? The Kung Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval. If he doesn’t get in shape, we might see him next year.
A couple of additional links:
- Here’s an AP story on Cliff Lee, who starts tonight against the Yankees in Game Three of the ALCS.
- In the NLCS, Cody Ross has been the surprise star. He reminds Bruce Jenkins of Gene Tenace in 1972.
- People who work for minor league baseball teams always get asked “What do you do in the off-season?” Here is a story about that.
As for my off-season, well… I bought this the other day, so I won’t be leaving the house for a while. Don’t worry – there will be no gaming until all blog-related responsibilites are complete for the day.
Speaking of which, the stadium construction photos are coming this week!