Rowley: Year 1 of the Scott Servais experiment

From SABR member Meg Rowley at Baseball Prospectus on July 25, 2016:

When the Mariners hired Jerry Dipoto, and gave him authority to hire a new manager, he seemed keen to avoid the power struggles that had marked his time in Los Angeles and necessitated his eventual departure. In the days leading up to his resignation in July 2015, Ken Rosenthal reported that Dipoto and Mike Scioscia had clashed over the coaching staff’s over-reliance on “feel” and resistance to advanced analytics to prepare the Angels for matchups. In Seattle, Scott Servais offered something else—a career’s worth of collaboration, coupled with a willingness to try new things. In many ways, Servais looked the part of a major-league manager. He was a former catcher, and head of player development. He had an extensive coaching background even if he had never previously managed. Perhaps more importantly, he had an extensive background with Dipoto. Even before Los Angeles, they had overlapped several times. They were friends and colleagues of 15 years, and Dipoto had praised Servais’ willingness to listen to and try new things. Dipoto was the stathead, and Servais the player development guy, but they met in the middle.

There was and is an obvious tension between the needs of an analytically minded front office to be open to dissent and Dipoto’s understandable desire to have a manager with whom he can have a productive, smooth relationship. After Servais was hired, Dipoto told The Seattle Times’ Ryan Divish, “But I can assure you, and I think you’ll probably learn that over time if you haven’t learned that already, Scott’s not here to be my yes man, nor is he here to be my puppet. That’s not the way this thing works.” Servais and Dipoto seemed like magnets that normally stick together, but occasionally come apart to have their opposite poles repelled from one another to consider a new orientation, only to pivot and come back together again. This was billed as chemistry through sabermetrics. It looked like it might be a new model in the relationship between the front office and the dugout, a “baseball bromance” as Divish would call it, only one backed by data.

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Originally published: July 25, 2016. Last Updated: July 25, 2016.