The biggest news to come out yesterday wasn’t the September call-ups. It wasn’t the trade that sent Jack Wilson to the Braves. The biggest news last night was that the Mariners extended the contract of GM Jack Zduriencik.
Let me make sure my views on this are clear right up front. This is Excellent News!
In fact, this should be the biggest no-brainer of a decision we’ve seen in a long time, other than perhaps the firing of Bill Bavasi. What really makes me shake my head is the number of fans who have commented on other sites and are acting like this is the worst thing ever. Are there so many fans out there that simply have so little clue as to how much better this franchise is now that when he took over?
Let me put this into perspective. Consider exactly how bad the situation was when Z took over as GM: The Mariners had just spent $117 million on a team that had lost 101 games. The bulk of that money was tied up old and/or ineffective players who’s salaries weren’t coming off the books right away. Bautista, Washburn, Silva, Yuni, Lopez, Sexton, Beltre, Ichiro. All of them horribly overpaid.
The only good players on the team were Felix and Ichiro and maybe JJ Putz (no I don’t put Beltre on that list. He never hit for the M’s, and was rarely healthy.). That was it. In fact they were really the only good players in the organization above A ball. The entire franchise was empty. Jack Z was completely starting from scratch.
It might as well have been as expansion team, except an expansion team would have been in better shape because it shouldn’t have had the awful contracts that had to be dealt with. There are simply not enough adjectives in the English language to describe just how bad of a situation the Mariners were in when Zduriencik took over. It might be painful to read, but the Mariners were, without a doubt, the worst franshise in baseball in 2008.
Oh, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the the upper management required that $25 million in payroll be axed off the budget in the first 2 years that Z was here. So waiting out the Sexton and Bautista contracts didn’t create any spending money. All it did was create roster spots that needed to be filled w/o any budget room to fill them.
In contrast, look at where the team is right now. The Mariner have one of the strongest minor league systems in all of baseball. Ackley, Pineda, Carp, Beavan, Vargas, Smoak, Seager, Cortes, Wilhelmsen, etc. etc. etc. have already made their impact on this franchise. This organization is oozing talent, especially starting pitching.
Judging a GM only by wins and losses of the big league team is such a narrow minded viewpoint. There is way too much to consider to be so shortsighted on the matter. If you look at the organization as a whole, there is no way to frame any sort of logical argument other than that Zduriencik has been extremely successful.
I’m not meaning to say that he’s been perfect. He hasn’t. The Figgins signing was a complete failure. Jack Wilson’s deal didn’t work out. Josh Lueke’s acquisition was handled poorly. Don Wakamatsu was a poor managerial hire.
In the end, no GM is perfect. Look around the league and every GM’s track record has warts. Talent evaluation in baseball is a very imperfect science. You win some, you lose some. You have to examine the entire body of work and look at the franchise as a whole. And the body of work compiled by Zduriencik thus far has been very impressive.
Now, the real work begins. Z doesn’t get any longer to “rebuild.” Other than Ichiro, there isn’t any veteran talent left. Starting this offseason, the Mariners must be building, not rebuilding. There’s money to spend and it must be spent making this team better. There’s a suddenly stacked pool of talent that can get packaged together to bring in quality players in their prime, and it must be done. Seattle fans have been patient and deserve a winner.
Jack Zduriencik had done an excellent job getting us this far, but we still have a long way to go.