This is a make-it-or-break-it year for Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. Only under contract through this season, Jack needs to deliver success if he hopes to have a job this winter.
But after signing Robinson Cano this winter, Jack was relatively quiet. He signed Corey Hart and traded for Logan Morrison. He signed Cole Gillespie, Chris Young and Joe Beimel. Aside from Cano, only Beimel and Young have been worth it.
The Mariners were linked to every available name out there in the free agent market, falling short on all but Cano. Now, they are linked to almost every potentially available name on the trading block and it appears Jack may fall short again. And now we know why.
According to a report by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, executives from around the league are puzzled by Zduriencik’s inability to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal, despite there being interest on both sides.
According to the story:
Some GMs turn aggressive when their jobs seemingly are at stake. Zduriencik, on the other hand, baffles rival executives with his inability to close deals.
“He has made offers and then pulled back after we have said, ‘This is something we would do,”’ one executive said. “He responds (by saying) it wasn’t an offer and that he will need to discuss it with his guys.”
Another executive added, “I don’t always get the sense that he knows what he wants to do. One day, he’s interested in one thing. The next day, he’s interested in another. That’s what makes it challenging.”
A third executive said, “They (the Mariners) don’t set out on a trade saying, ‘Here’s what we need. Let’s do what we can to get him.’ They think, ‘Who can we give up that will never be any good?’ They don’t want to give up anyone who will haunt them. That’s just flat-out fear.”
This has to be a crushing blow to Mariners fans who were already either on the fence or completely done with Jack. Speculation can run rampant as to what deal or deals did not get done because of this indecisive behavior, but none of that matters. What matters is, what happens now?
If Jack fails to make an impact move before 4 pm EDT on Thursday, the Mariners will likely be stuck with this roster for the rest of this season. The Mariners have entered a tough stretch in the schedule where they play 18 games against teams that are above (Toronto, Baltimore, Atlanta, Detroit) or around .500 (Cleveland, Chicago White Sox).
Without an impact bat – preferably a right-handed one – this Mariners offense that struggles at times to score, will continue to do so.
The Mariners stand 54-51 going into Tuesday night’s series opener in Cleveland. They are 11 games behind Oakland in the AL West and 9.5 games back of the Angels for second. They are also two games back of Toronto for the second wild-card spot, tied with the Yankees.
Baseball Prospectus lists the Mariners as having a 22% chance of making the playoffs, their lowest percentage since June 19th. If the M’s fail to make a significant move at the deadline, that number will be sure to fall.
So why hasn’t there been a lot of movement? Why have none of the main players rumored to be moving somewhere moved yet?
And while Zduriencik is free to conduct business however he sees fit, his peers say the trade market is clogged in part due to the Mariners’ stalled pursuits of players such as the Rays’ David Price, Rangers’ Alex Rios and Phillies’ Marlon Byrd.
So it really will come down to the last 24 hours and quite possibly, the last five or six hours. When the first chip falls, whether it be to the Mariners or elsewhere, expect to see a flurry of deals made shortly thereafter.
Unfortunately for Mariners fans, it seems likely that the chips will all fall in cities other than Seattle and it will be business as usual for the last two months of the season.