Mariners president Chuck Armstrong is retiring after 28 years

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The Mariners recently hired Lloyd McClendon to serve as their new manager, but they’ll also have a surprising change in their front office for 2014.

Longtime team president and COO Chuck Armstrong announced this afternoon that he will retire effective January 31, 2014. According to Greg Johns of MLB.com, the Mariners will begin a search for his replacement immediately.

Per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, here’s part of a statement from Armstrong:

“Thirty years ago my family and I were given a wonderful opportunity to move to the Seattle area and become associated with the Seattle Mariners,” Armstrong said in a statement. “We quickly grew to love this community and this team. Through all the good times and the not-so-good times on the field since 1984, the goal always has been to win the World Series. My only regret is that the entire region wasn’t able to enjoy a parade through the City to celebrate a World Championship together.

“After much thought and reflection, it is now time for me to retire and enjoy as much time as possible with my wife Susan and our family. The recent deaths of several good friends have really had an impact on me and helped crystallize my decision. This was a very difficult, very personal decision, but I know in my heart that it’s time to turn the page and move to the next chapter of my life.

Armstrong, 71, has served as team president for 28 years during two separate stints with the club. His current stint began in 1992, after he helped keep the team in Seattle. The Mariners have made four playoff appearances during his tenure, though they’ve been shut out since the team’s remarkable 116-win season in 2001.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.