BY SPNW Staff 06:08PM 10/26/2011

Entire Mariners coaching staff returns

Despite losing 95 games in 2011, Mariners will not make coaching changes for 2012; they will change single-game tickets to “dynamic” pricing, based on demand.

Eric Wedge has elected to bring back his entire staff for the 2012 season. / Getty Images

Having determined that no scapegoat is necessary despite a 67-95 season, Seattle’s fifth 90+-loss campaign since its last playoff appearance in 2001, the Mariners elected to return their entire coaching staff. GM Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge made the announcement Wednesday.

“Having the staff return next season is another positive step as we continue to build our team, and organization, to where we want it,” Zduriencik said in a statement. “It is a group of hard-working professionals.”

Returning will be bench coach Robby Thompson (infield), pitching coach Carl Willis, hitting coach Chris Chambliss,  first base coach Mike Brumley (outfield/baserunning), third base coach Jeff Datz (catching), bullpen coach Jaime Navarro and bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.

“I feel we made progress this season,” Wedge added (the Mariners improved from 101 losses in 2010 to 95 in 2011), “and this group was a big part of it. They work hard, they understand the game, and they are willing and able to teach, while being unwilling to accept less than full effort. We did a good job creating a mindset here last season, and we are looking forward to improvement in 2012.”

Thompson, 49, will also oversee infield instruction. He came to the Mariners in 2011 after serving in a front-office capacity with the Cleveland Indians.

Willis will enter his third year as the club’s pitching coach. Despite the poor record, the Mariners finished sixth in the AL in ERA at 3.90 while using nine rookies, who combined for 60 starts.

Chambliss will be in his second season. As hitting coach, he had the toughest task of any  Mariners coach. Seattle ranked 14th of 14 in the American League in runs scored (a miniscule 556) and 13th in home runs (109).

The Mariners also ranked last in in batting average at .233, last in on-base percentage at .292, last in slugging at .348 and last on OPS at .640. The .233 average was the lowest for a season in franchise history, a few ticks below the .236 mark posted by the 2010 Mariners, who lost 101 games. The team’s .292 on-base percentage also was the worst in team history.

Even Ichiro had a flop by his standards, failing to hit .300 (.272) for the first time in his 11-year, major league career, failing to collect his usual 200 hits (184), and failing to make the All-Star team for the first time.

Brumley returns for a third season. He served as first base coach after splitting 2010 between first and third.

Datz will be in his second season, same as Navarro, while Phillips will serve as the club’s bullpen catcher for a fourth season.

The Mariners will open in Japan with a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics (March 28-29). After returning to spring training, the Mariners will play a four-game series in Texas from April 9-12, then make their home opener April 13 against the Athletics.

For the first time, the Mariners will offer “dynamic” single-game ticket prices. In collaboration with Qcue, a leading providers of demand-based software for live entertainment events, the Mariners will, for the first time, be able to set and adjust ticket prices in real time based on actual demand for a game, taking into account a variety of factors such as day of the week, weather, opponent, pitching match-ups and team performance.

“This pricing model may be new to the Mariners, but consumers use it every day when they buy something on eBay or book a hotel online,” said Bob Aylward, executive vice president of business operations. “We are simply going to apply the same market principles to baseball tickets and give fans the same value options they are used to having for many of their other purchases. Mariners baseball will remain very affordable.”

Under the new model, the Mariners estimate that the majority of tickets for their games next season will be priced at or below 2011 prices.

Paying different prices for different games is not new to Mariners consumers. Since 2008, the Mariners have used “variable” pricing. In 2011, about half of all home games were priced variably. There were nine “value” games ($5 per ticket discount over regular prices), 13 “prime” games ($5 premium charge), and 18 “summer weekend” games ($2 additional). Tickets purchased on the day of the game cost from $1-$5 more.

Dynamic pricing will not apply to season ticket holders. Full season ticket prices for 2012 are the same as 2011 and will continue to be substantially lower than single-game prices, according to the Mariners.

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