BY SPNW Staff 03:01PM 06/20/2015

Mariners hire Edgar to solve hitting woes

In an effort to salvage their anemic offense, the Mariners Saturday turned to franchise icon Edgar Martinez, naming him batting coach, replacing Howard Johnson.

Edgar Martinez is Seattle’s new batting coach. / Seattle Mariners

In a startling announcement, the Mariners Saturday named franchise icon Edgar Martinez as their batting coach, replacing Howard Johnson, who has been re-assigned to the club’s minor league system. A Mariners Hall of Famer, Martinez will assume his duties Saturday night when the Mariners play the second of three against the Houston Astros at Safeco Field (7:10 p.m. first pitch).

Given the Mariners’ bleak batting numbers, Martinez probably would be better off sipping mojitos at Edgar’s Cantina than trying to reclamate Seattle’s moribund offense.

The Mariner enter Saturday night’s contest ranked 15th and last in the American League in batting (.233), 14th in runs scored (230), 14th in on-base percentage (.295), 14th in slugging (.375) and 14th in OPS (.670). The Mariners are also hitting an AL-worst .213 with runners in scoring position.

Largely as a result of those bleak numbers, the Mariners trail the AL West-leading Astros by 8.5 games.

“Watching the club, it had become apparent to me that we had reached the point that a change was necessary,” said general manager Jack Zduriencik. “I appreciate Howard Johnson’s professionalism and work ethic, but we simply were not getting the results that we expect and require.

“I have had the opportunity to observe Edgar over the past several years at spring training, working with our young hitters in the minor leagues. He is passionate and knowledgeable about hitting and understands the work that needs to be done to be successful as a big league hitter. His resume, desire to contribute at this time and ability to convey complex information about hitting is what drew us to this decision.”

Martinez spoke to reporters before the game.

“I’ve been watching the team,” he said. “We have a lot of talent. I think I can help the guys in terms of approach at the plate or being ready for the game, how to prepare with the mechanics, in some cases. My preparation will go from early morning to after the game. There is a routine that I use, and I believe in.

“I have some ideas for some of the guys. But at the same time, it’s a lot of listening and watching for the next few days. This is a great opportunity for me. I’m excited.”

The 52-year-old Martinez, who retired as an active player following the 2004 season after 18 years with the club, has spent the past several seasons working as a guest hitting instructor at spring training, and had an extended schedule during the season this year working in Seattle’s minor league system.

In 2,055 career games, Martinez posted a lifetime slash line of .312/.418/.515 with 514 doubles, 15 triples, 309 home runs and 1,261 RBIs.

Martinez won two AL batting titles (1992 and 1995), three OBP titles (1995, 1998 and 1999), five Silver Sluggers (1992, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003) and five DH of the Year Awards (1995, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2001). Upon his retirement, MLBl re-named the DH of the Year Award the Edgar Martinez Award. He was enshrined in the Mariners Hall of Fame in 2007.

Martinez is one of 10 players in MLB history to have collected 300+ home runs, 500+ doubles, 1,000+ walks, a career .300+ average and a career on-base percentage above .400. He won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2004.

For all of his career batting achievements Martinez faces a daunting task with the Mariners’ offense, which two weeks ago concluded a franchise-record stretch of 13 consecutive games scoring three or fewer runs. Since June 11, the Mariners have been blanked four times and have scored three or fewer runs six times.

The Mariners, with 159, have scored 130 fewer runs than the Toronto Blue Jays.

Martinez also inherits a $240 million second baseman (Robinson Cano) batting .245, a former No. 1 pick, Dustin Ackley, hitting .184, and a catcher and No. 1 pick, Mike Zunino, batting .160, 40 points below the Mendoza Line.

Nelson Cruz is batting .315 with 18 homers, but hasn’t gone deep since May 27.

RHP Taijuan Walker (4-6, 5.00) throws for Seattle Saturday night against LHP Dallas Keuchel (8-2, 2.04).


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Edgar’s resume and history with the M’s is outstanding. That does not mean he will solve the M’s problems overnight. I feel for HoJo because I don’t believe he’s the problem. Cano, Ackley and Zunino are not hitting well but Cruz, Smith and LoMo are. Seager has been his usual self. Since returning Jackson has done well, It’s about consistency and taking advantage of RISP. Ultimately this team doesn’t have the players that wins together, further proving that as a GM Jack Z. makes a great scout.

  • Bayview Herb

    I’m not so sure Martinez won’t help. Much of the problem with major league hitters is not respecting the corrections they get from instructors. Ego must play a role in that. Given that Martinez is perhaps the greatest pure hitters of all time just might overcome that problem.

  • Long-Time Mariners Fan

    First (and best) – Hiring Edgar – This is very good news. This is constructive news. This is hopeful news. I am so very happy to see Edgar back in uniform contributing to the ballclub.

    Second, who wrote the following line?:

    “Given the Mariners’ bleak batting numbers, Martinez probably would be better off sipping mojitos at Edgar’s Cantina than trying to reclamate(sic) Seattle’s moribund offense.”

    The by-line of the article is “SPNW Staff.” The article is news, reportage – facts, quotes, analysis – NEWS. The single, glaringly out-of-place line above is, well, NOT news – it’s an editorial aside. So, who is responsible for it?

    Art?
    Steve?
    Adam?
    ?

    Editorial remarks like this are just fine. We readers expect them and enjoy them (when we agree) or frown upon them (when we don’t.) But the ethics and style of journalism dictate that these should be signed so we know who the writer is. Any one care to step up?

    (A possible explanation: At most publications, if “Staff” is credited with authorship, it means that several hands went into the making of an article. This article could have been the work of several people, but not fully copy-edited and reviewed before posting. We’ve all seen typos and awkward/confusing copy published on the site, and (personally) I’ve seen the SPNW Staff make corrections when these were pointed out. Perhaps a deletion is warranted here.)

  • notaboomer

    Edgar will be named mgr after all star break. sorry lloyd, gotta sell tix.