I posted most of this as a comment on the www.ussmariner.com site which is a great Mariner blog site but I added a few minor things for posting in this blog entry.
Last night (1/26) the M’s hosted a function in the Ellis pavilion for people who had seats in the diamond club, there might have been others invited, but I got in via a friend (thanks T.S) who has four diamond club seats. It was used as an introduction of Hargrove. He spoke along with Chuck Armstrong and Bill Bavasi. During dinner and before they all talked the M’s account executives were making their rounds at the tables and also Howard Lincoln. He stopped the table my friend and I were sitting at and apologized again for how they played last year and that they were committed to winning again this year. The food was great, as expected. There was great seafood and the deserts looked really good, as did the pasta. The food look like what you get from the Diamond Club.
After a brief introduction by Armstrong, Hargrove spoke first. He talked about how he had just gotten into town on Monday and had spent most of the Tuesday morning with his wife looking for a place to rent or live. He commented on how everyone in Seattle had made him feel welcome and well received. He commented that in no other place would 2.9 million fans come out to see a team that lost 99 games. He called Safeco the best of the three fields he had managed at. He talked about how he was still meeting most of the players. In fact, just the day before he had meet Reed and how if he had seen him before that time he would not have know who he was. He made a comment about have 3000+ line-up variations as a joke but then went on to say that for the first day of Spring training he had his line-up ready but things could change the second day; Sexson – 1B, Boone – 2B, Reese – SS, Beltre – 3B, Winn – LF, Reed – CF, Ichrio – RF, and Ibanez at DH. You will note that he did not mention the catcher. During the Q&A someone asked about the pitching and Hargrove said that he wanted to talk about them but forgot. I am sorry that I do not remember what he said about the pitching. Another question was about the catcher; “Is your starting catcher healthy?” Bavasi answered this one and said “You mean Olivio? Yes he is healthy and has been working out here in Seattle with and also that Rivera has been working out here. Olivio has a long way to go but he is working on it". I might be paraphrasing a bit.
A question was asked about if they had found a fiery personality that seems to be missing since Buhner had retired. Bavasi answered about Beltre and he said that during their research on him that they found one incident where he turned on another player’s boom box and tossed it out the window of the bus after a losing game. He felt that he could make a club house presence and felt that when he knew him in LA that he was told to be quite and act more like a 19 year old than an adult. Hargrove answered about Sexson and first he said there would be no one like Jay and that they seem to come along once in a generation. He then said that Sexson was fairly quite and not the person that was going to make a lot of noise in the clubhouse.
One person called out Bavasi on the fact that at the end of last year he said the M’s needed a left handed bat yet they had signed right handed bats in Beltre and Sexson. He answer was that they were committed to going after Carlos and felt that Borras would drag everyone along and have him sign first somewhere before any of his other players. Also that Scott Borras at times will get it in his head that he wants a player to sign with a specific team and he will work to get it done, in this case Beltre. If they had signed Carlos then Sexson would have been moved to left field. Bill felt that defensively having Sexson and first and Beltre at third made up for the fact that they did not get a left handed hitter. There was either a follow up question or somehow he went on to talk about Ordonez and how he was still out there and available but he also was a right handed hitter.
Bavasi was asked if he was surprised by what Oakland had done by trading away their stud pitcher and his answer was no that Oakland management had been telling people all along that they were going to do it. He went on to comment on how the M’s really like some of the players that Oakland got back in the trade. Sorry I do remember who or why.
The last question went to Armstrong and it was about drug testing. As part of his answer he said that they felt that MLB had the strongest testing policy of all of the major sports. He was happy to see that steroids had been added to the list of things being tested for and that they management was still working on getting testing for other things but the players were more balking on testing that required blood instead of urine. He felt that the policy had gotten better over the last few years. 2003 everyone got tested in Spring training but he pointed out that after you were tested that you could have done whatever you wanted because you did not get tested again. In 2004 he said everyone got tested as a team and in the case of the M’s it was some time late in the year. The new policy has random testing at any time and I think he said up to three times a player. It is also now a year round testing that is blind to geographic location, so a person living in Australia in the off-season had the same chances as a player living in Seattle. He went on to point out that Donald Fehr sits on the US Olympic drug testing committee and when he had talked to him about if doing so was really a conflict his answer was more that he was just doing what his constituents had asked him to work out as a drug testing deal. He went on to say that Fehr has a hard job. For example he had been on all of the talks about retraction but when all of the players had heard that two teams of players were going to lose their jobs he had to backpedal from and claim he really knew nothing at all about retraction and he was not for it at all, yet had been in all of the talks and had been giving guidance behind the scenes.
I think there were a few other questions but I do not remember them. At the end of the night we got to tour the M’s locker room and workout area which they had all cleaned up for the Fan Fest this weekend. It was interesting to note that Boone is down from three lockers to two lockers this year but maybe that will change before the season begins.
The attached photo is the baseball like player card that they handed out for the new manager. It was personally signed which is very cool. I scanned the front and back in the photo. Mike seems like a no nonsense baseball coach.