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Why Hargrove Is An Idiot, But the Losing Isn’t His Fault

Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 27, 2006

Why is Mike Hargrove an idiot? Okay, he's really not an idiot, or a dumbass, or anything that follows the same defining tune.

But he is a very ordinary and sometimes bad manager. Here's why.

– He's stuck in his ways. Twelve pitchers go north, no matter how good or bad they are, or how good or bad the fifth man on the bench might be. He's married to the idea. I wouldn't have an issue with the concept if it was thrown away in May. Protecting pitchers in the cool April in Seattle is a good idea.

But after the arms are loose and the weather warms up, it's a waste, especially when three of the first four arms in the pen can go two innings. Julio Mateo can go three and four.

When the biggest problem on the club is scoring runs, that fifth benchie is more important, especially when that player is someone like Roberto Petagine. The M's need to squeeze every last drop of offense out of the roster, not waste 50+ innings on an undeserving arm just for the sake of having that "extra" pitcher.

– The game hasn't passed him up, but the personalities certainly have. He doesn't have the edge on his players that the good managers have. He's too old school, and too old in general, to be on their level and he doesn't have legendary Lou Piniella-Joe Torre-type status to hold iconic advantages over his players.

Hargrove appears to have very little effect on the win-loss column for the Seattle Mariners, or any other club he's ever managed. His success, and lack thereof, is a direct result of the talent on his roster.

Bad Baltimore team? Bad record. Good Cleveland team? Good record. It just seems to be the way things go with Hargrove, and his track record is long and serves as pretty strong evidence that he's a very ordinary baseball manager, to say it nicely.

– Exhibit C is where things fall apart for me. Both A and B are bad enough, fireable traits in my opinion. But Hargrove's tendency to play favorites is just disgusting. No, he isn't the only manager that does it. Bob Melvin did it, too. heck, most managers do it. But if you are going to pick a favorite, be smart and pick one with talent. One you won't ever lose your job over.

Lou picked Griffey from day one. You'll never, ever lose your job when you favor a superstar. He helps you win. He helps the club sell mucho tickets. He's a fan favorite. He gives his all and produces regularly.

Willie Bloomquist, on the other hand, does not. Bloomquist, I'm sure, is a nice human being. He works his tail off and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the Mariners win. But Grover takes it too far. Bloomquist gets in the game any chance his manager sees to insert him.

Struggling rookie? Willie gets the nod. Injured vet? Bloomquist is now the starter.

It's not just with Bloomquist, but that's the glaring example.

Hargrove has a lot of qualities and by all accounts is a pretty admirable person who is liked by many. As a manager, he simply doesn't have what it takes to be considered "good" at what he does.

He's baseball's version of the 2005-2006 Los Angeles Lakers; play terrible when the opponent is the Charlotte Bobcats. Play great when the defending champs are in town.

Hargrove can take a playoff roster – any playoff caliber roster – and make the postseason. But he's never shown, in more than a dozen years in the business, that he can mold a group of 25 players and get more out of them than what the talent suggests.

I believe a baseball team reflects their manager directly. The Mariners are a very ordinary baseball team. From 69 wins in 2005 to whatever they end up with in 2006 — 70-85 is the consensus — it mirrors what Mike Hargrove's abilities can do — ordinary.


The 93 losses last season were not his fault. A manager can only do so much and the club just wasn't any good. Barring injury, the Emerald City Nine are good enough to post 85 wins this year. If they win any less than 80, either something went very wrong with a key player or two, or Hargrove was outmaneuvered on a nightly basis.

Wether it be the everyday lineup, putting the game in motion, or handling the pitching staff, Hargrove is only as good as his talent allows him to be.

For me, that makes him a bad manager. A skipper's job is to get more out of his team than the talent adds up to and if that isn't happening the manager is failing. Last time I checked, failing was bad.

In the end, Mike Harrgrove is just not the captain that the goodship Mariner needs to get back to the top of the AL West.

An idiot? No, too strong, at least in general terms. Let's go with "ceremoniously unspecial" and often times "bad."

That works.

But if Bloomquist starts in center field more than once a week while Jeremy Reed is recovering from a broken wrist bone, the "I" word is making a comeback. Grover deserves criticism just for suggesting that Willie is a possibility for regular play – anywhere on the field.



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12 Responses to “Why Hargrove Is An Idiot, But the Losing Isn’t His Fault”

  1. Willmore said

    You forgot to mention his below-averga game managing skills.

  2. “Putting the game in motion, everyday lineup, handling the pitching staff’ = game managing skills.

  3. Willmore said

    I meant more about situational strategy – who to pinch hit, who to use as a reliever, etc. But yeah, you got the major points down.

    By the way, is Meche possibly being released your own analysis or did you hear that from inside the organization ?

  4. Could be traded, could be released. His contract is not guaranteed, no arby deals are.

    If released, the club would owe him about a 1.5 in termination pay, so that’s prolly a little steep, but ya never know.

  5. Jerry said

    I agree with most of your comments about Grover. If fact, I think that I agree with all of them. I don’t really have a problem with having the extra pitcher on the roster – especially considering how inconsistent the starters are – but I agree that he is far too married to the idea. It should be an option, not an M.O.

    However, I don’t think that managers are nearly as important as people make them out to be. When the M’s sucked in 2004, everyone was calling for Melvin’s head. However, the players on the roster sucked, and that was why the team lost a lot of games. I agree that Melvin was not a great skipper, but he was a scapegoat for a team that was too old.

    On the other hand, I think that the GM is much much more important in how many games a team wins than the manager. I would much rather have the worst manager in baseball and the best GM than vice versa. GM’s are the key decision makers in who is on the roster. The players on the roster are the ones that win games. It really is as simple as that. The only aspect of the game where the manager will have a huge impact on Ws and Ls is in overworking pitchers. But even that is largely determined by the pitching coach as well.

    I hope that the M’s can bring in a brilliant young GM. Spend the money that is necessary. Pry away Billy Beane. Bring in Chris Antonetti. Give Theo Epstien an offer he can’t refuse. Get those guys, and let them do what they want.

    Then, fire Hargrove and promote Rohn or Brundage. Both guys are deserving. They might be mariginal improvements over Grover. They will definitely cost less.

  6. 2quarters said

    Here’s a good article:

    “Why Churchill Rocks and Provides the Best M’s Coverage on the Net”

  7. Is that really one that I can write?

  8. Willmore said

    I think it’s about time you hire a second writer: Freddy B Hillchurch. You know, to provide addition coverage, and write those types of articles, which can’t be written by Mr. Churchill.

  9. Do u know Freddy? I cant get a hold of him.

  10. Goose said

    Now wouldn’t that be weird.

    Having a Churchill and a Hillchurch.

  11. 2quarters said

    Nah, but a lot of people on the Seattle blogsphere could write it. 🙂

  12. RotatorCuff said

    I’ve made this post a thousand times. Hargrove is an idiot. The dumbest poster on any Mariner forum could have penciled in the lineup he had in Cleveland and won with it.

    He went to Baltimore and he had a bad baseball team. He had four losing seasons there.

    He came to Seattle who was just coming off 99 losses. Surprise, surprise they lose over 90 again.

    The next time Hargrove gets a team to over achieve will be the first time he has ever done it.

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