Oakland Athletics bench coach Chip Hale reportedly met with Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik in Phoenix Wednesday morning about the M’s managerial vacancy.
According to John Hockey of the San Jose Mercury News, Hale also was a finalist for the job in 2010, when Eric Wedge was hired, and interviewed for the position in 2008, when it ultimately went to Don Wakamatsu.
Hale was endorsed for the job in September by Oakland manager Bob Melvin—himself a former Mariner skipper—when Wedge announced he was leaving at the end of the season.
It’s hard to argue with success. Hale’s been the A’s bench coach for two season. Oakland has won the American League West each year. Hale spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues as a utility infielder, six of them with the Minnesota Twins (1989-90, 1993-96) and one with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1997) and was a lifetime .277/.346/.363 hitter in 333 career games.
He’s also got six years of minor-league managerial experience. He led Missoula to back-to-back division titles in the Rookie-level Pioneer League in 2000-01 while working in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ chain, managed in 2002 at Double-A El Paso in the Texas League and leading Triple-A Tucson from 2004-06. He won the Texas League title at El Paso in 2002 and the Pacific Coast League crown with Tucson in 2006.
At this point, it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” for the 48-year-old. He’s been with three different division winners at the major-league level, the last two seasons in Oakland, as well as with the Diamondbacks—under Melvin—in 2007, when he was their third-base and infield coach from 2007-09.
His resume is rounded out by two years as third-base and infield coach with the New York Mets in 2010-11 before coming back to work for Melvin with the A’s.
Seattle seems like a logical step for Hale. He doesn’t have the track record to be overly attractive to the Detroit Tigers as they look to replace Jim Leyland. If the Dodgers and Don Mattingly part ways, it’s likely their GM, Ned Colletti, will want a sexier hire than a first-time big-league skipper. Hale’s name has never surfaced as a potential candidate with the Chicago Cubs.
From the outside looking in, the situation in Seattle is a mess. Wedge walked away even though Zduriencik wanted him back and FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this month that former Seattle manager Lou Piniella said thanks, but no thanks, to the job.
But Hale’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone as a manager in the minors and also has a solid track record as a big-league coach. The logical next step is to take control of the lineup card himself and Seattle would be a great place to start.