When Lou Piniella took over as Seattle Mariners manager in 1993, the franchise had had only one winning season in 16 years.
If he leaves, in his 10 years the team will have finished over .500 seven times, reached the American League Championship Series three times and tied the major-league record with 116 wins in one season.
It will be difficult for any new manager to match that record. But who will it be? If the Seattle post does open, it certainly becomes the most attractive of the openings that were or are available. Here are the odds on some of possible candidates:
Currently Seattle's bench coach, McLaren, 51, has been with Seattle for 10 years, the past five as bench coach. Prior to that, he was third-base coach for the Blue Jays (when current Mariners GM Pat Gillick was GM in Toronto) and also managed in the minors for the Blue Jays.
Pros: Knows the Mariners and Gillick knows him. Has earned his shot.
Cons: Never managed in majors; never played in majors; not a big name. Very close to Piniella and may follow Sweet Lou to New York or Tampa.
Baker is a free agent and could be headed elsewhere, but the Giants' trip to the World Series makes it more likely he'll sign and remain in San Francisco.
Pros: Perhaps the most respected manager in the game by the players. "Proven" winner. Big name (and Seattle has the money).
Cons: Weird infatuation with Shawon Dunston. Barry Bonds stays in San Francisco. Has to learn American League.
Odds: 7-1 and sinking
Oakland's bench coach, Macha was sought after by the Red Sox when Joe Kerrigan was fired in spring training, but the A's didn't grant him permission to interview.
Pros: Has earned his dues with 13 years coaching in the big leagues, the past four as Art Howe's bench coach. Also managed in the minors. Played four years in Japan (hey, could help with Seattle's Japanese contingent). Should bring Oakland philosophy with him.
Cons: None, other than no big-league managing experience.
Recently sent to unemployment line, Valentine isn't the easiest guy to get along with but he's well-prepared, intense and has been to the World Series.
Pros: Good track record of getting the most out of his team. Well, except for this year, and the Mets' problems were hardly his fault.
Cons: Has never managed a division winner. Prone to fits of Me-ism, which wouldn't go over well in Seattle.
Seattle's pitching coach, the Mariners have won 90+ games and featured one of the league's best pitching staffs in his three years in the job. Has spent 13 years in Mariners organization as player, coach and instructor.
Pros: Has earned respect for turning around the M's pitching staff and getting Piniella to listen to him.
Cons: Has never managed. Pitching coaches have poor track record as managers (think Ray Miller).
The Orioles' bench coach, Perlozzo has often interviewed for managing jobs. Has spent 17 seasons as a big-league coach, the last seven seasons in Baltimore, where he was originally hired by ... Pat Gillick.
Pros: Has managed in minors, knows Gillick, spent six years with Piniella (three in Seattle).
Cons: Sam who? Orioles' 4-32 finish this year probably not listed on resume.
Gaston skippered the Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93 -- when Pat Gillick was GM. He was fired by Gord Ash, only to later return as team's hitting coach. He was fired again at the end of the 2001 season, but worked as a special assistant to the Jays in 2002.
Pros: Won two World Series. Knows Gillick.
Cons: Often regarded as a "push-button" manager who merely filled out the lineup card with Toronto's veteran team. Usage of young players (Shawn Green in particular) was detrimental at times. At 58, a little old.
Has been fishing since getting canned by Dodgers following 2000 season.
Pros: In 12 full seasons as a skipper, has finished first or second 11 times.
Cons: Does he still have the desire? Do M's have desire to put up with him?
Seattle folk hero who became club leader in final years with team. Retired after 2001, spent 2002 working with club in various capacities.
Pros: Would bring fiery attitude that Piniella had. Fan favorite. Players would play hard for him.
Cons: Obvious lack of experience. Too close to players? Not exactly known for his supreme intellect.