Well Seattle fans, you don’t get a new GM next year. There are many of you out there who believe that the problem with the organization lies not with the skipper or the GM, but with the upper brass.
I can’t say I disagree with you, but none of that is changing for 2014. So what I’d like to do is begin a new series here at SodoMojo that will detail what I would do to fix the Seattle Mariners for the 2014 season and beyond, if I had Jack Zduriencik’s job for 24 hours.
Call me arrogant. Call me cocky. Call me, every other Mariners fan who’s ever thought about how they could fix a team and how their idea is the one and no one else’s can even come close.
But over the next week, I’m going to give you my five-step plan to get Seattle back into the postseason. Starting, with step one.
1: Shake up the minor leagues
What do I mean by that? As JJ Keller pointed out earlier this week, the organization might be flawed at the core. Think about it. When was the last big prospect we had come up through the organization that panned out? Look at this article posted on Bleacher Report, listing the 50 Greatest Mariners of All-Time. What do you see? I see only four players that were drafted by Seattle in the past 20 years, and all of them spent considerable time having success elsewhere.
Let’s look just at the first-round draft picks since 1994 (Alex Rodriguez was 1993′s pick: We know his story)
- 1994: Jason Varitek- Given up on by the organization along with Derek Lowe for RP Heathcliff Slocumb.
- 1995: Jose Cruz Jr.- Started off promising, traded during his rookie year.
- 1996: Gil Meche- Had back-to-back seasons of sub-4.00 ERA after he signed with Kansas City (never did it in Seattle over a full season).
- 1997: Ryan Anderson- Was supposed to be the next Randy Johnson, instead he became the blueprint for Ryan Leaf.
- 1998: Matt Thornton- Didn’t develop until a coach in the White Sox organization worked with him.
- 1999: Ryan Christianson- Nine seasons in the minors (7 with SEA organization) never reached Majors.
- 1999: Jeff Heaverlo- Looked good until an injury in 2002. Was never the same, never made the Majors.
- 2000: NO FIRST ROUND PICK
- 2001: Michael Garciaparra- A .263 hitter in nine minor league seasons.
- 2002: John Mayberry Jr.- Did not sign, went to Stanford. Drafted by Texas in 2005.
- 2003: Adam Jones- Was serviceable with M’s. Traded to Orioles in 2008, 3 All-Star games and 2 Gold Gloves since then.
- 2004: NO FIRST ROUND PICK
- 2005: Jeff Clement: Never did much of anything.
- 2006: Stuck in the bullpen in Seattle, the Blue Jays made him a starter. Saw something the M’s didn’t.
- 2007: Phillippe Aumont- Part of the trade that got Seattle Cliff Lee. Now he’s a teammate of Lee’s.
- 2007: Matt Mangini- Mangini was called up in 2010, sent down in 2011, released later that year.
- 2008: Josh Fields- Traded with Erik Bedard to the Red Sox in 2012. Now pitches for Houston
With the first-round picks from 2009-2013: Too soon to tell. Though some could argue we are already seeing some highs and lows out of this class which includes Dustin Ackley (2009), Nick Franklin (2009), Taijuan Walker (2010), Danny Hultzen (2011) and Mike Zunino (2012).
So, as you can see, there is perhaps something wrong. Somewhere along the way, the organization is failing its players. So what I would do to shake things up would be to let go of Chris Gwynn as Director of Player Development and hire Dan Wilson for the post.
Wilson, the former M’s catcher is one of the smartest baseball minds around. His broadcasting duties this past year have been a nice addition to the crew. I would personally like to see him coach, as I think he could easily be the best pitching coach in baseball. But I know he values his time with his family and this position would allow him to be based out of home, but still be able to travel when needed, on short trips.
I would completely trust Dan to be able to go into each of the minor league affiliates, diagnose problems, offer solutions and report back to me if action needed to be taken on a particular player.
It would be a process that would play out over the course of the year, but that is the first step I would take in fixing the Seattle Mariners.
Next time: For my 2nd move, how about a call to arms?