The selection of Bob Melvin as the 12th skipper in Seattle Mariners history sent sportswriters searching through their media guides for information about the 41-year-old Diamondbacks bench coach. Sportswriters aren't the only ones who don't know much about Melvin.
"You got me on this one. I don't have the slightest clue," responded Mariner centerfielder Mike Cameron when asked what he knew about his new manager. "From what I've heard, he's a pretty good dude, but other than that, I won't have the slightest idea until I show up [for Spring Training] on February 15th."
A Major League catcher for seven teams over ten seasons, Melvin's only managerial experience came with Maryvale in the Arizona Fall League. His hiring in Seattle came as a surprise to Cameron. "I thought Buddy Bell was going to be their first [choice], because that's what we heard a lot of. As we know now, we had no idea. It's Bob Melvin."
Seattle general manager Pat Gillick explained his choice as Piniella's successor. "This guy's a good communicator, and I think that's very important at this level. Communication and motivation over 162 games is what's really important, and we feel this guy's a strong communicator."
Club President Chuck Armstrong added, "Bob Melvin is the absolute perfect person to lead us at this time and, hopefully, for many years to come."
The Mariners led the American League West for most of the '03 season and won 93 games, but they missed the playoffs because of a late-season slump. They started the 2004 season with five straight losses, never recovered and finished the campaign in last place with a 63-99 record.
Melvin sensed that he would not return for a third season and reality came early
one October Monday morning during a brief meeting with Bavasi inside the manager's office.
"I let him know that we were going to make the first half of a change today that regarded him," Bavasi said. "It was a civil, but difficult, conversation.
"This is not to place the blame of the number of losses right at Bob's doorstep. That is not our intention, but going forward, we thought a change is in order. I think he is going to get a second job as manager, and I think everyone does their second job differently. I think he is going to benefit from his first opportunity."
Bob Melvin was hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks on November 5, 2004. Melvin was given a two-year contract with the team holding the option on another two years. He'll be hoping to improve on a last year's 51-111 record, the worst record in baseball during a season that saw Brenly dismissed as manager as well as the departure of Colangelo, the team's founder and managing partner, who resigned and was replaced by Moorad.
Melvin is a familiar face and is popular within the organization, having served as bench coach under Brenly during the championship season of 2001 and in 2002 before he was hired as the Seattle Mariners manager in 2003.
"The goal here is to get us back to our glory days," Melvin said. "There's a very rich history here, albeit short. ... We've accomplished some incredible things here."
Melvin compiled a 156-168 record over two seasons with Seattle, including a 93-69 mark in 2003. He also served as a bench coach for Phil Garner in Milwaukee and Detroit, after a 14-year career in the Majors as a catcher with 10 different ballclubs.
In his third season with the Diamondbacks, Melvin captured the National League West title, but lost the NLCS to the Rockies. Bob was selected as the N.L. Manager of the Year for 2007.