Peter Gammons is reporting that Ichiro is lobbying for the Mariners to make Bobby Valentine their new manager. Gammons calls Valentine “Suzuki’s preference.”
It’s not clear why he’d be Ichiro’s favorite, but one can assume that it has something to do with Valentine’s track record in the NPB and word of mouth from friends, former teammates, etc. As I noted last week, however, it’s possible that Valentine’s experience in Japan could be just as likely to be a plus as it is a minus in his column. Familiarity is a two way street, after all.
Based on his age and track record and temperament I’d say that Valentine would be a fine choice with any team that isn’t a total rebuild with kids. He’s a good manager. He’d bring some gravitas to the Seattle job in much the same way Buck Showalter has brought to Baltimore.
The Yankees interviewed Aaron Boone for their managerial vacancy on Friday, and today it was Chris Woodward’s turn. That makes at least five interviews since the offseason began, and Woodward’s likely won’t be the last.
Like fellow candidate Eric Wedge, whom the Yankees interviewed just last week, Woodward has never played or coached for the club. He spent the majority of his 12-year career with the Blue Jays and picked up brief stints with the Mets, Braves, Mariners and Red Sox before returning to Toronto for his final season in 2011. Following retirement, he served as the Mariners’ minor league infield coordinator and infield and first base coach from 2012-2015. During the 2015 offseason, he jumped over to the National League to work with the Dodgers as a third base coach, and saw his first postseason run since the Mets lost to the Dodgers in the 2006 NLDS.
While Woodward has yet to manage at the major league level, he was named manager of the New Zealand national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. It’s certainly conceivable that the Yankees would prefer a candidate with significant experience leading a major league team, but right now the only person who fits that bill is Eric Wedge — and, well, it’s Eric Wedge.