While Mike Hargrove’s immediate future as Seattle’s manager is secure, questions surround Buck Showalter’s tenure in Texas.
Two teams who already have started laying the groundwork for 2007 meet for the final time this year when the Mariners play host to the Rangers on Sunday.
Seattle (77-84) is headed for its third straight last-place finish, but has seen its win total increase from 63 in 2004 during Bob Melvin’s final season as manager and 69 in 2005—Hargrove’s first year at the helm.
On Thursday, the Mariners announced through a letter to season ticket holders that Hargrove and general manager Bill Bavasi would return in 2007.
“We have more work to do. And we believe that we have the right people in place to get the job done,” the letter stated. “Bill Bavasi will continue to lead our baseball operations and Mike Hargrove will continue to manage the team.
“We believe that they are the right people to lead us to the next level. We have great confidence in their abilities. In our view, continuity of leadership is extremely important at this point in time.”
Seattle was 56-57 on Aug. 9 after completing a three-game home sweep of Tampa Bay, and was just 5 1/2 games behind first-place Oakland. The Mariners, though, went on an 11-game losing streak—all on the road to divisional opponents—that dropped them 14 games out of first.
One player who may be auditioning for a spot on Hargrove’s pitching staff next year is Jake Woods (6-4, 4.27 ERA), who looks for his third win in four starts to close the season.
After posting impressive road wins over Kansas City and Chicago, the left-hander returned to Safeco Field and struggled Tuesday in a 12-3 loss to Oakland that gave the A’s the AL West title. Woods had his shortest start of the year, lasting only four innings, and gave up season-highs of six runs and 11 hits.
“Everything got hit tonight,” Woods said. “I didn’t get away with anything. I had a few balls up. I made some decent pitches but they got hit hard. They swung it and put it in play.”
Seattle was only 18-38 against AL West foes—including a woeful 2-16 mark against the A’s. Only the Devil Rays had a worse record within their division.
After an 89-win season—and third-place finish—in 2004, Rangers owner Tom Hicks signed Showalter to a contract extension through 2009. Two more third-place finishes have followed.
Hicks, speaking to a Dallas radio station on Friday, said he would meet Showalter and general manager Jon Daniels on Tuesday.
“It may take us a while to sort things out,” Hicks said. “I am not going to lean any way until I get a chance to talk to him. He was Manager of the Year two years ago. Things haven’t gone the way we wanted to this year, and I want to sit down and figure out why.”
Since winning a franchise-record 95 games in 1999—the last time they appeared in the postseason—the Rangers (80-81) have reached 80 wins only twice.
Texas was tied for first place with Oakland coming out of the All-Star break, but went 7-11 to start the second half including a six-game slide from July 23-29.
Texas’ Robinson Tejeda (5-4, 4.19) will try to close his season with back-to-back wins to even his record. The right-hander gave up just one run but also surrendered 10 hits over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
“Robby’s been pounding the strike zone,” Showalter said. “I hope it’s the sign of a young pitcher trusting his stuff and attacking the strike zone. He stayed in attack mode the whole game.”
After dropping the series opener on Friday, Seattle rebounded Saturday with a 3-1 win.
Adrian Beltre continued his late-season surge with two homers and three RBI. Four of the third baseman’s last five hits have been homers, giving him 25 this year, and his 88 RBIs also exceed his season total from a year ago. In 67 games after the All-Star break, Beltre batted .285 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs.