Changes at the top, here at the blog and in the Mariners minor league system.
As you can see, there is no blog name up above. It’s being changed – to what, I’m not sure yet, but the Tacoma Rainiers marketing gurus are working on it. I suggested “Ramblings of an Idiot,” but the gurus denounced that title for being “too accurate.”
Eventually something will appear up there.
Anyway, the actual plan of the blog remains the same. I’ll pass along off-season news, plenty of Rainiers tidbits, links to the baseball stories of the day, and occasionally I’ll tell an entertaining story. We’ll still update 2-3 times a week during the offseason, increasing frequency in the spring until we get to daily updates during the season.
The blog isn’t the only thing with a new masthead around here.
The Seattle Mariners made a big front office change, hiring Chris Gwynn away from the San Diego Padres to be Director of Player Development.
The Director of Player Development – also known as the Farm Director – hires all minor league coaches and managers, oversees the roughly 200 minor league players, heads up the process of assigning players to the various minor league teams, and decides when players will be promoted or demoted during the season. In the off-season, he oversees the Mariners agreements with the various minor league affiliates. He travels throughout the farm system, visiting all of the teams.
It’s a big job that requires top-notch people skills. A good farm director will be on a first-name basis with the shortstop in Clinton, the trainer in Jackson, the radio guy in High Desert, and the office manager in Pulaski.
Gwynn should be good at this. He held the same job with San Diego the past two seasons, and before that he was a pro scout for the Padres. When he was a scout, he had coverage of the Mariners affiliates, and part of his job was to write reports on Tacoma Rainiers players. I saw Gwynn a lot in press boxes around the PCL during those years, and he is an outgoing, gregarious guy who should fit in well with his new role.
Chris, of course, is the younger brother of Tony Gwynn. He actually looks a lot like his brother, and his voice is kind of similar to Tony’s as well. I’m sure we’ll see him – Chris, not Tony – at Cheney quite often this season.
Chris Gwynn is no stranger to the PCL. Not only has he scouted the league for years, he also played two-and-a-half seasons for Albuquerque, from 1987 to 1989.
Gwynn takes the job formerly held by Pedro Grifol, who apparently asked to get back into coaching and will manage Class-A High Desert this year. That’s a “demotion” in the baseball hierarchy – Gwynn will be Grifol’s boss – but if Pedro wants to get back into coaching, this is the way to do it. Grifol is currently managing in the Venezuelan Winter League, for the Cardinales de Lara team that has many Mariners minor leaguers on the roster.
- We’ll start with Larry Stone’s story on the Chris Gwynn hire.
- The Mariners have been doing some roster clean-up moves: infielder Luis Rodriguez was removed from the 40-man, and he chose to become a free agent. Injured reliever David Aardsma is also a free agent, but he still may re-sign with the Mariners.
- Larry LaRue asks the question which will be repeated throughout the 2012 season: will the Mariners treat Ichiro like the older player that he is?
- I have heard, through my personal contacts, that big Rainiers DH Luis Jimenez has re-signed a minor league contract with the Mariners.
- Mariners international scouting head Bob Engle will be honored as Scout of the Year. This is a big award in the scouting community. In his career, Engle signed Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Felix Hernandez, and Michael Pineda, among many others.
- Here we have the story and list of MLB Gold Glove Award winners. No Mariners or ex-Rainiers appear.
- Former Rainiers pitcher R.A. Dickey is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January. If you ever run into R.A., ask him about the time he tried to swim across the Missouri River after a particularly disastrous start at Rosenblatt Stadium… hopefully that will be one of the stories in his memoir, which is going to be released in March.
- Three dudes in Nashville went on a last-second road trip to St. Louis for Game 7, and they had quite an adventure. It’s a long read, but… they tried to gamble their way into enough money to scalp tickets. Intrigued yet?
That’s it for a few days – I’m off on a family trip. I’ll be back Monday afternoon with a news round-up, and then we’ll have that long-promised look at Cheney Stadium park effects later in the week.
And maybe we’ll have a new name, too!