Sep 29, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge (22) after the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field. Oakland defeated Seattle 9-0. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Times: Former Mariners Point To Dysfunction


Sep 18, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners president Chuck Armstrong watches the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Baltimore Orioles during the 16th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

From extreme highs to extreme lows. That’s how you can best describe life as a Seattle Mariners fan.

Beginning with the clubs introduction in 1977 through to 1994 (extreme lows). Then in 1995 through 1997 when the club made the playoffs twice and just missed a third time (extreme highs).

Then there was 1998 and 1999 when the club suffered through back-to-back 3rd place AL West finishes (extreme lows). In 2000, the team won the AL Wild-Card and beat the White Sox in the ALDS (high). Then lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS and traded Ken Griffey Jr. to the Cincinnati Reds (low).

But then in 2001, the Mariners won a MLB record-tying 116 wins in the regular season, with Japanese import sensation Ichiro Suzuki winning the AL Rookie of the Year AND the AL MVP (EXTREME HIGH). Then they lost the ALCS to the Yankees again and haven’t been back to the playoffs since (extreme low).

So now, fast forward to this past Thursday. Rumors had been circulating that Robinson Cano was being offered a large contract by the Mariners, that he was flying out to Seattle to meet regarding a deal and that a signing was imminent (extreme high).

Only to wake up Friday morning to the news that talks got volatile when Cano’s agent asked for 10-years and the two sides walked away from the table (extreme low). But then only an hour later, the report came out that Cano had agreed to a 10-year deal with the Mariners, giving the team their first big-name free agent in almost a decade (EXTREME HIGH).

Now this from the Seattle Times:

(EXTREME LOW) I mean seriously, couldn’t we let the Cano deal sink in for more than 24 hours before having our bubbles popped once again? The article describes in great detail, things most of us already knew. Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have been ruining this team from the top down for years. Backstabbing, alienating, making ridiculous moves, it’s all in the report folks.

The one that stands out to me the most is how current general manager Jack Zduriencik, used a trusted aide Tony Blengino to put together his “application package” for the M’s job, having it padded to make it look like he was a sabremetric kind of guy.

Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job. But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door. — Tony Blengino

Here is where Mariners fans let out a collective….”D’oh!” We’ve suspected for quite some time that the Mariners organization may have some wrinkles in it from a management standpoint. JJ Keller wrote this piece back in October, almost foreshadowing the events that are unfolding before our eyes now.

The Times piece continues to describe how Jack Z started abandoning the plan that was developed with Blengino and was working in 2009, when the M’s were making some improvements in the standings. After a setback in 2010, Jack fired manager Don Wakamatsu and all hell broke loose.

He (Zduriencik) began operating much like the Wizard of Oz, wielding his power from behind a curtain. Intimidating, manipulating, and pitting people against one another. Berating them for no particular reason. He set out to eliminate any type of disagreement, accumulating yes-men who meekly go along with his program. — Blengino

This should explain – in glorious Technicolor – the Mariners sudden interest in improving this club. Blengino was released, several key scouts that Zduriencik berated have been released, manager Eric Wedge – who was very vocal in his displeasure with the way things were being run – opted to walk away from a contract extension.

This may also explain Chuck Armstrong’s sudden announcement that he will retire at the end of January. All of this, coupled with the passing of the former President of Nintendo – and former majority owner of the Mariners – Hiroshi Yamauchi just might begin to explain this sudden panic move.

The future of the organization is uncertain, Zduriencik’s job future with the M’s is uncertain (in the final year of his contract), the ownership is uncertain (will Nintendo look to sell majority shares now that Yamauchi has passed?).

This is not encouraging news indeed. It makes me feel bad for Lloyd McClendon, not truly knowing what he was walking into. It makes me feel bad for Mariners prospects, who have been toiling in the minors, neglected by upper management and traded on a whim without realizing potential. It also makes me feel bad for the fans. The true victims of these atrocities.

The citizens of Seattle and the fans of the Mariners deserve better. They deserve to get off this roller coaster of extreme highs and extreme lows and get a consistent, affordable entertainment option for themselves and their families. A team they can truly get behind and support.

Unfortunately, that may be in the distant future.

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  • Jeff

    Well, extreme highs have been dwarfed by extreme lows, this franchise is within a few games of being 400 below .500 in their miserable existence, with no sniff of the ultimate extreme high, a World Series appearance or win…

    But yeah, Jack Z’s most recent moves pre-Cano suggest power bats took a big priority over defense or baserunning.

    • Sodo Mojo

      I would agree completely. Having lived in the NW for the past 35 years, I can tell you with some certainty that the lows have outweighed the highs. Look at the team’s stats last season. 2nd in the AL in homers, dead last in SB. What did that get us? 71-91. SB isn’t the #1 measure of a good ball club, but balance is.

      It’s like a football team with a solid running back and no credible wide receivers. Teams can take away the run and then they can be beat. With the M’s, teams can intentionally walk the power hitters all day with no threat of them stealing and no worries about them being batted around. Game over, other team wins.

      The Mariners started on the right foot with Cano, but if the focus is truly on HR’s, RBI, average, ERA, W-L, etc….this team will be like a brand new car with all the bells and whistles, but no tires.

      Think Toronto Blue Jays of 2013. How did that work out? We need to be thinking more like the Boston Red Sox St. Louis Cardinals and less like the Miami Marlins and Blue Jays.

      Though without the right people at the top, that will NEVER happen.

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