It comes as no surprise that Bobby Valentine had a strong interview with the Mariners, according to a major-league source. Valentine, highly intelligent and well-spoken, almost always interviews well.
The source, however, says that the Mariners also were impressed by their other candidates, and do not necessarily consider Valentine the front-runner.
Even if Valentine emerges as the Mariners’ choice, significant obstacles could stand in the way of him getting the job:
*Valentine might want more money than the Mariners are willing to pay.
Lou Piniella managed the M’s from 1993 to 2002, but the team prefers less expensive managers, sources say. Valentine presumably would require a substantial salary to leave his current position as an analyst for ESPN.
*Valentine might desire a better chance to win.
The Mariners, who lost 101 games last season, will not be a quick fix.
*Valentine might not be a good fit with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who also possesses a strong personality.
Zduriencik clashed with his previous manager, Don Wakamatsu. Valentine, who likely would want a say in personnel decisions, would pose a far greater challenge – and perhaps hasten the end of Zduriencik’s teunure.
The wild card in all this is the Mariners’ Japanese owner, Hiroshi Yamauchi. Valentine was a highly successful manager in Japan. If Yamauchi decides he wants Valentine, then none of the potential obstacles will matter.
The Mariners’ other candidates include Cecil Cooper, Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, Lloyd McClendon and Daren Brown.
Valentine is the biggest name, by far.