Seattle president talked his way out of a job in baseball after his 45-minute interview in early February
From the end of the World Series in late October to the start of spring training in late February, new from the world of professional baseball is usually fairly quiet. In a normal offseason, the big-time free agents will predictably sign in New York, LA, or Boston. Offseason managerial hires seem to always be young analytics-based dudes that fan bases talk themselves into. Your favorite team never seems to doll out as much on the free agency on that wanted, but it’s okay because your team has this up in coming 21-year-old that is supposed to be a stud. It’s baseball, it’s quiet.
Enter Seattle Mariners President Kevin Mathers.
In a 45-minute interview with a local Seattle-based rotary club, Mathers spilled the beans on some of the inner workings of the Mariners organization, whilst derailing his own career in the process.
Outside of openly admitting to manipulating service time of some of Seattle’s top prospects, Mathers also took shots of the English-speaking abilities of not one, but two of his foreign players, while also taking shots at one of the franchises best players from the decade.
During the interview, Mathers was asked about players learning English and how Seattle as the organization has helped these players along in their process. To respond, Mathers brought up 39-year-old Japanese native Hisashi Iwakuma. Mathers mentioned that Iwakuma is a “wonderful human being” but that “his English is terrible.”
Instead of stopping there, Mathers continued.
“He’s coming to spring training, I’m tired of paying his interpreter because when he was a player, we’d pay Iwakuma X, but we also had to pay $75,000 a year to have an interpreter with him. His English suddenly got better, his English got better when he told him that so.”
Sure, the Mariners are willing to pay millions of dollars for your baseball playing services, but boy oh boy if you have an interpreter that will surely be a hindrance to the franchise. Unfortunately for Mathers, he did not drop the shovel and step away from the hole. He kept digging.
Later Mathers was asked by a rotary club member, “Tell us about Julio Rodriguez.”
Now, Rodriguez is 20 years old and is regarded as not only one of the top prospects in Seattle but in all of baseball. Mathers take it away.
“Julio Rodriguez has a bigger personality than all of you combined, he is loud, his English is not tremendous.”
Alright so yes, Seattle has this phenomenal young prospect that fans and the organization should be excited about, yet his English-speaking abilities, not his abilities on a baseball diamond, are what gets brought up in Mathers response. Bold move Cotton let’s see how it works out for him.
Last but not least, Kyle Seager, one of the lone bright spots in the Mariners organization in the past nine seasons, never saw the bus coming that Mathers ran him over with.
“Kyle Seager, this is probably his last season as Mariner…”
This is apparently news to Seager, and his wife Julie Seager who in response to Mathers comments tweeted out, ‘So should we put our house in Seattle on the market now, orrrrrr?’
Mathers was not done yet. Later in the interview, Mathers got around to Seager once more.
“Kyle Seager is a veteran player, he’s probably overpaid…”
We don’t want you back next year and we are paying you too much money, but please play hard for us in 2021. Thanks for the nine years!
Mathers officially resigned as team president on Monday.
A thing to note on Mathers’ comments is just how honest he actually was. It became clear that, yes, front offices in baseball do care and take into account how well a player speaks English just in case the team needs to pay for the services of an interpreter. This maybe should not come as a surprise, but it was still baffling to see a top-end MLB executive be so open about it.
This is also a reminder that the Seattle Mariners have not made the postseason in 19 years.