The Mariners begin spring training two weeks from now in Arizona. KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says fans can expect a lot of changes this season.
Shaking Things Up
"New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto is an aggressive, smart guy who's very familiar with baseball analytics and is not afraid to shake things up," Thiel said.
"He's really done a remarkable thing here by attempting to change the culture."
"If that rings a bell, that's Pete Carroll's thing," Thiel continued.
"The Seahawks coach has been very, very effective in convincing players to buy in. It takes a lot of rigorous discipline to do what Carroll has done. And that's what Dipoto has in mind for the Mariners.
"Pete Carroll didn't invent these ideas. He took many from John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach who had a number of principles that Pete can apply, and that Dipoto can apply, to any athletic endeavor.
"The similarities are much greater than the differences in the games. It's going to be very exciting to see how Dipoto implements this," he noted.
New Manager 'Blank Slate' For New Philosophy
Dipoto will get help implementing this new philosophy from new Mariners manager Scott Servais, who's never coached or managed in the majors.
"That's probably the saving grace of this. I think most veteran managers would be resistant to what Dipoto wants to implement," Thiel said.
"A guy who's a blank slate, like Servais, is going to be more open to it because he understands what Dipoto is after.
"The idea is to set up a system whereby they put the player in the best place to succeed by understanding what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and give them a shot to improve strictly on performance - without politics, without concern about how big the contract is or if you're a favorite of the owner or a manager.
"It's strictly on a set of goals that they want to try to implement and the player has a chance to succeed in it.
"To me, it makes a lot of sense to have a guy without managerial experience. That's why Lloyd McClendon is not here. Lloyd is not going to adapt to this, nor are most.
"Jerry Dipoto ran into this problem when he was the general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, when his veteran skipper Mike Scioscia said, 'No, take this outta here.'
"Well, it's a new day. There's a new manager. And I think Dipoto really has a good idea here for getting the most out of his players."
What Can Fans Expect?
Thiel noted the new philosophy might not translate into success right off the bat (pardon the pun). He said fans should pack plenty of pessimism for this season - "they've earned it."
"It may be a rough ride at the beginning because you're talking about a whole new set of ideas. New coaches, new manager, new players together - it could be a rocky start," he said.
"The analogy I draw is, again, to [Pete] Carroll because people have forgotten that his first two seasons in Seattle were both 7-9 before everything gelled. So, that may be the case [for the Mariners] this year.
"I know Dipoto has talked about the playoffs and I think that's a fair ambition. Might not happen this year but he does have a plan to execute all the way through.
"People who've seen Carroll operate understand that if you're patient, it pays off."
Note: Art Thiel is hosting Jerry Dipoto at the Sports Salon sponsored by Sportspress Northwest on Thurs., Feb. 11, at 5:30 at World Trade Center Seattle on the waterfront. The public is invited to attend. Click here for details and ticket information.