Earlier this morning, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik was given a one-year contract extension. This is big news for a number of reasons: 1) Many of the Mariners’ loyal fans wanted him fired last season, or this offseason, or even just a few months ago. 2) He has done a lot for this organization from the bottom up; the problem is that the “up” (the Mariners) haven’t really been producing throughout his tenure. 3) Why a one year contract? Does that make this a “prove it” season for the big GM?
I am currently at work, so this is the extent of the post for now — but look for an expansion on these three topics here in the next couple of hours. I’ll do my best to explore the repercussions of this decision for the Mariners, and whether or not I personally think this was the right decision.
Update (August 21, 3:20 pm):
My apologies for not getting the expanded version of this post up sooner. Truth be told I played a twilight round of golf last night with some buddies and that night got away from me. “Night got away from me” sounds like something the Mariners bullpen would say on a regular basis.
But back to my three points:
1) People wanted Jack Z gone a long time ago.
This poses an interesting divide between fans and upper management. For those who have followed the Mariners for more than the last three or four years, you are well aware that Bill Bavasi seemed to actively destroy the structure of this franchise from top to bottom. No matter how good you are at player development– and Z was an extremely successful head scout for the Brewers before he came to the northwest– fixing what Bavasi broke would be no easy task.
And today, if you look at the Mariners organization from Rookie A ball all the way to AAA Tacoma and to the bigs in Seattle, this organization has reinvented itself with youth, stability, and talent. Granted those things haven’t yet come to fruition in Seattle, but the Seattle Mariners franchise is in a much better place than when Z started.
So does Jack Z deserve a couple of years to right the ship? Of course, otherwise what was the point of hiring him if we expected a magical one year fix? The question remains, though: is this extra year going to make the difference?
2) Where are the Major League results?
Frankly they aren’t here yet. But this season has shown a lot about the talent and character in this organization. There are so many young guys battling in the bigs, learning how to win and how to lose less, which is just as important as knowing how to win.
Our entire infield and backstop will be young next season– all still on rookie contracts or first year arbitration. Two of our outfielders- Saunders and Ackley- are young as well. They are all playing, and they are all succeeding at varying degrees and intervals this season. One or two veteran, professional hitters signed this offseason could make the difference. If Z wants to prove he is serious about winning in 2014, he needs to resign Morales and he needs to find a proven, dependable power bat to stick in the corner outfield. If he can’t do that with moved in fences and a young team just waiting to take off, then he doesn’t deserve to be in Seattle a day longer.
3) The “prove it” contract
I like what the Mariners are doing here by giving Z one more year to show us that what he’s done is going to pay off. Sure, some of the trades he’s made, the signings he’s made (FIGGINS) have been bad. But most GM’s have some blemishes. However, he needs some rosy spots too.
This team can, and should, compete next season. And the Mariners want to give Jack Z the opportunity to prove that he is a big reason for this approaching success. One year, that’s all. And if we finish below .500 again in 2014, Z will be sent on his way and this organization will be starting all over again with a new philosophy.
I don’t want that to happen. Most fans don’t want that to happen (why would you?).
2014 will be the ‘show me something’ year. These youngsters need to step up to not only keep their jobs, but to prove to Major League baseball that this young, exciting Mariners team is no fluke. They need to fight for national attention, and show the nay-sayers that pacific northwest is here to stay and compete for years to come.