The Seattle Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, the longest drought in baseball, but new manager Scott Servais doesn’t care about that and is ready to ‘bring playoff baseball back to the Northwest.’
Servais, 48, was introduced as the 20th manager in Mariners history Monday morning at an introductory press conference at Safeco Field.
Throughout the interview process, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto was looking for very specific things in his new manager and Servais shows those qualities.
“Strong character, courage, competitiveness, positivity, energy, creativity, the ability to communicate effectively and the ability to collaborate up and down throughout an organization,” Dipoto said in his opening statements. “Those are the things I find to be most important in the qualities of a leader. Those are traits that Scott Servais possesses.”
Servais comes to Seattle straight out of an assistant GM role with the Los Angeles Angels where he served under Dipoto. These two guys go all the way back to 2000 when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies, which is key for what Dipoto wants to build around.
Dipoto has stressed that collaboration, communication, and connection were key and having people he trusted around him was very important.
Servais has no managerial experience coming into his first managerial job, but Dipoto wasn’t worried about that citing that about a third of managers in baseball right now came into their jobs without managing experience.
“I would actually refute the idea that he hasn’t been a manager at any level,” Dipoto said. “He’s been a manager at every level. Being a manager is about leading people. It’s about creating a collective consciousness in a group and connecting with those individuals and managing them day to day. He has managed people, he has managed players, he has managed situations.”
Servais comes into this job having held multiple positions in baseball as a pro scout, catching instructor, but, most importantly for this Mariners job, might be the time he spent as director of player development with the Texas Rangers.
Developing players is something the Mariners have greatly struggled with in the past few years under Jack Zduriencik, but bringing in Servais, a former catcher, is something that can only help. Being a former catcher is something that a lot of current managers have been and that is no fluke that they are now in the dugout.
“There’s a reason catchers end up in the dugout. Mike Matheny, Brad Ausmus, Mike Scioscia — there’s a long list of catchers in the dugout,” Servais said. “You’re used to dealing with both sides of the ball, with the psyche pitchers have at times. But (you’re) also adapted at understanding the offensive game. Being able to talk to all different players comes from that.”
Another key point for this position is something the Mariners are trying to change in general, and that is the culture. Servais, however, is confident he can change that culture right off the bat.
“Culture starts from the top, but it grows from the bottom. Everybody that has a Mariners uniform, or that works in this building, is part of establishing the culture,” Servais said. “How you come to work every day. If you’re an usher or a ticket taker, if you’re an administrative person upstairs, everybody has to feel like they’re connected and they’re part of it.”
One of the more interesting things Servais said during the press conference was when he mentioned the Seahawks and how they go about things.
“I want to see how they do things,” Servais said. “I’m willing to try things. I’m not about ‘I’ve-got-all-the-answers.’ They’re out there. You’ve just got to keep looking for them.”
Even though Servais is a big Green Bay Packers fan being from Wisconsin, it looks like he’s willing to adapt.
Servais also talked about controlling the line of scrimmage. According to Servais, the line of scrimmage means controlling the strike zone both at the plate and on the mound. Drawing walks and getting on base is also something he mentioned.
When it comes down to it, Servais wants to succeed (who wouldn’t), but he believes this team has a chance to win and he adamantly said they will be prepared.
“We will be prepared, I guarantee you, we will be prepared,” Servais said. “We’ll be disciplined in how we play. We will play with energy. I believe it’s OK to show emotion once in a while. And we will compete every night.
“The Mariners fans deserve that,” Servais said. “This is a chance to have a great organization and be part of building a culture. Everybody in this organization is part of building that culture and I’m going to play my role.”
Servais has done his time as an executive and is finally ready to get into the dugout.
“I wish the 2016 season started tomorrow,” Servais said. “I’m ready to roll.”
During the press conference, Servais also announced his coaching staff.
Tim Bogar, a finalist for the managerial position, will be the bench coach, Edgar Martinez returns as the hitting coach, Chris Woodward will return to the staff and Mel Stottlemyre Jr. will be the pitching coach.
“Edgar Martinez as hitting coach? No-brainer,” Servais said, adding that he has admired Martinez’s work since his playing days. “I’ve been wanting to talk to Edgar Martinez for 15 years.” He was the greatest right-handed hitter of my era.”
Stottlemyre Jr. is from Yakima, WA and also played with Servais in the mid-90s. His father, was the M’s pitching coach in 2008.
“I love the intensity he brings,” Servais said. “Having a chance to come back and work in the Northwest was a priority for him, so it all lined up just right.”
Bogar played nine years in the Majors as a shortstop and these two have many mutual friends. Bogar was a minor-league manager for the Indians, Astros and Angels and served as the Red Sox’s bench coach in 2012.
“He’s a Midwest guy much like myself, very organized and detailed,” Servais said about Bogar. “He’s got a good eye for the game. I thought having never managed before, I needed somebody who has either been a bench coach or been a manager. He has a ton of experience, and I’ll rely heavily on him.”