The Brilliance of Jack Zduriencik

The single most important aspect of sustaining a successful business is to distribute value equally amongst one’s assets.

The single most important aspect of sustaining a successful baseball organization is to distribute value equally amongst one’s assets.

Sense a similarity?

It ain't easy being a playa.

Jack Zduriencik is single-handedly proving that the “big-name free agent” is an inessential part of a winning baseball team.  In fact, I would argue that GMZ is proving that the “big-name free agent” often causes more harm than good to a baseball team because by investing in one particular – and potentially spectacular – player, a high degree of risk is involved.  Two problems are inherent in placing a significant amount of a team’s total value in one player.

___1) Injury: If the player gets hurt and has to miss a large amount of time recovering, the team as a whole loses a disconcertingly big amount of value (think ’09 Chicago Cubs).

___2) Sporadic lack of production: If the player suddenly stops being productive for one reason or another, you’ve just bought yourself an albatross, presumably for a regrettably long period of time.  (Note: this phenomenon is generally due to some overlooked factor like age.)

Exhibit A (The 2009 Mariners): On June 21st, with the M’s in the thick of the playoff race, Yuniesky Betancourt decides to collide with slick-fielding Endy Chavez in midair, knocking Chavez out for the season.  Ryan Langerhans, Bill Hall, and Michael Saunders step in and make us forget Endy ever existed in a Mariners uniform.  Later in the season, Adrian Beltre misses 6 weeks, and M’s fans are ready to put themselves on suicide watch.  Fortunately, Z pulls Jack Hannahan out of a hat, who turns out a Beltre-esque UZR and even adds a respectable .311 OBP to boot.  Then, newly acquired Jack Wilson injures his heel.  No problem: His “J Wilson” counterpart, Josh, produces at a similar level both offensively and defensively during Jack’s absence.

The Seattle Mariners are going to be a successful baseball organization for years to come because Jack Zduriencik spreads value amongst an entire team instead of clustering it in several outstanding players.

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  • http://proballnw.com Jon @ Pro Ball NW

    I agree that teams can get in trouble by signing the “big name” free agents, but it’s far to early to tell if Zduriencik will always take a Moneyball approach. Last offseason there was no money, so he was forced to go bargain hunting. This offseason there will be a few more dollars, but still not a ton. It will take a few offseasons to really figure out what Z’s approach is with regards to the high profile FAs.

  • Greg

    I realize this article is about Jack Z, but for all the things one can say about Pat Gillick, good and bad, one thing we know is that he liked relatively even talent distribution. Unfortunately, with teams’ growing awareness of WAR, I don’t think the M’s will be able to just stack their roster with above-average WAR players like they did from about 01-03. Not unless they draft well and make a bunch of shrewd trades.

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