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Mariners President Apologizes For Personnel Comments

Mariners president Kevin Mather made comments earlier this month about his players’ inability to speak English. He also mentioned how far he was willing to go when it comes to manipulating his young prospects’ service time.

For fans unaware of the news that broke about the young prospects he wants to “manipulate,” here is a breakdown of what happened:

The Seattle Mariners offered top prospect Jared Kelenic a six-year extension that would have given the team control past his rookie contract and the subsequent arbitration years. Kelenic declined that offer, and the team was so upset that they admitted they wouldn’t call him up until April so that they could save a year of team control. It’s not ideal for a team president to admit he isn’t putting the best players on the field to save himself control…and ultimately money.

Here’s also one of the comments he made about Japanese pitching coach Hisashi Iwakuma:

“We just rehired Iwakuma… he was a pitcher with us for a number of years. Wonderful human being…his English was terrible.

“And I’m going to say, I’m tired of paying his interpreter. When he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma ‘X,’ but we’d also have to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better. His English got better when we told him that.”

He then went on to bash the Mariners for “overpaying” longtime third baseman Kyle Seager. The gist of his argument was that the team didn’t receive the value they were looking for in the final year of his contract.

He’s since apologized, but at some point, fans need to grasp that baseball owners are enemies disguised as partners.

Fans Should Force Mather’s Apology Into Action

As my readers know well, I’m not big on making grown men and women pay for comments made off the cuff, but I do fancy a conversation about what certain comments mean. In this case, every comment listed here makes Mather seem like a man who thinks maximizing profits (or “output”) is his first priority.

There’s nothing wrong with that business model. I find it important for the fans to hear some level of transparency from owners. However, he’s also talking about human beings who are his employees.

It’s probably a good thing that Mather is at least attempting damage control here, but if he really wants to apologize, he should call up the players he knows are ready to play.

If he wants fans to buy into this team, then he has to invest himself, too. Until then–baseball takes another step back.

9 Comments

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  1. So, I don’t have a dog in this fight but Mathers has his degrees in business and risk management. He was never a player, correct? He’s an academic who lives in the world of numbers. If the Mariners were kicking ass and taking names, would his method even be challenged?

    But, criticizing a Japanese player for his lack of English skills? That’s low….

  2. The Kelenic comment is bad because he’s admitting to not putting the best available product on the field out of spite basically. His other comments are pretty sophomoric and petty. Does he think he’s the first GM to deal with guys that don’t speak english well? $75K/yr is a rounding error in a lot of contracts. What about the $3.75 million the Mariners are still paying Cano NOT to play for Seattle?

  3. There is just no way to defend Kevin Mathers and glad he just got FIRED. Jokes are not all that funny, first of all. The key issue is your record: no playoffs in the last 20 years. One of the worst records over that span. HR issues and allegations of sexual harassments. Making fun of people’s English at someone such as the loyal Iwakuma (who had made over $50M in the Majors and countless millions more in Japan as a player and sizable celebrity) who doesn’t really need the job as a pitching coach but has a sincere desire to help and teach younger players….etc. Crazy to me that someone with Mather’s stature and leverage wouldn’t utilize his power to improve his team and also make money for the organization, but instead, choosing to engage in pettiness and stupidity that really hurts his cause.

  4. Another excellent column. I don’t understand how this guy thinks that making these public comments will help the franchise. If you sign players that do not speak very good english, you know that going in, so if it’s an issue, then don’t sign them. But when you sign those players, then you are committing to having to hire an interpreter. And this guy really needs to look in the mirror….look at the Mariners record over the past several years…..And this guy is complaining about overpaying fKyle Seager in the final year of his contract, hey, how about Kevin Mather’s performance over his tenure???? Talk about overpaying someone who is not delivering a winning product on the field. This guy is bashing his own players to try and cover up for the lousy job he did.

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