"FI’d love to have guys with good makeup and good character, committed to the city and the ballclub. But, when all is said and done, talent wins.– Jack Zduriencik"
If you ever believed in Eric Wedge, it is time to grind your faith into fine ash and scatter the remains across the ocean. The quote above was derived from Zduriencik’s press event after his initial hiring. An immediate concern was put to rest; more than anything else Zduriencik wanted talent. Talent wins.
Zduriencik has stayed true to his word. The troubled Milton Bradley and Josh Lueke both wielded the talent to drastically improve this team. Even though both had considerable off the field issues and plenty of baggage, the on the field potential was reason enough to bring them in. Talent. Talent will help you win–only a lack thereof will help you lose.
This is a philosophy Wedge does not share nor understand. More concerned with veteran leadership than who is providing the best production, Wedge has gone out of his way to defend an incompetent Miguel Olivo. Olivo has no talent. Yes he has more talent than most anyone reading this article right now, but as a competent Major League Baseball player, Miguel Olivo lacks measurable talent.
"Because you’ve got to have veteran presence,” Wedge said. “It’s enough on the kids already. We don’t have a 30 (HR) and 100 (RBI) guy , a veteran guy, in the middle of our lineup these kids can always count on him coming to the ballpark."
It’s very difficult for me to write about this calmly. Never mind that the kids are already playing at a much higher level than Olivo, this method of thought is so entirely flawed that my blood boils with the searing heat of the earth’s magma. This is not in line with Jack Zduriencik’s methodology. What is further maddening is that Wedge will sit SS Brendan Ryan for accountability, yet he will defend Olivo’s place in the lineup as an over zealous boyfriend defends his girlfriend at the pub. If you’ll notice, nowhere in Zduriencik’s quote above does he mention vertan leadership. Talent. He wants talent, because talent–not veteran leadership–wins championships.
There is nothing wrong with having a veteran on staff, but those veterans must produce. Olivo’s spot in the lineup cannot be engraved in granite mearly because he is a veteran, it must be earned. Production is everything, something that Wedge once again cannot phathom. Olivo has been one of the least productive players in baseball yet Wedge still has this to say:
"“As I told you in spring training, it’s about performance, it’s about production,” he added. “Now, they are going to be earning within that process. No doubt about it. But it is about them producing. And that’s the bottom line.“I’m all about development, don’t get me wrong. Because I know that’s ultimately going to get us where we need to go. But part of our development right now — the biggest part of it — is coming to the ballpark and finding a way to win.”"
Wedge doesn’t get it. I truly believe that he wowed Zduriencik in his interview and that our GM honestly believed he was getting the manager he wanted. But an interview is nothing but words, actions speak louder than words and Wedge’s actions are infuriatingly wrong. Something is amiss. Can Wedge truly believe what he is saying? There is an extreme double standard. One the one hand you have Liddi playing over Figgins because Chone’s production is unsatisfactory, and on the other hand you have John Jaso rotting away in favor of Olivo even though Jaso provides superior production both offensively and defensively. My head aches with contradiction! I don’t see how our GM can be happy with this. How can and manager and the general manager be on such opposite ends of the spectrum?
Zduriencik never inteded to build this team around free agents such as Olivo. He brings them in to fill gaps or placeholders.
"The draft is always going to be important for us, my background is in scouting. You have to have a foundation and the draft is the way to do it, otherwise you are always spending lots of money to fill holes. You have to draft wisely. You have to. That’s how you do it, and that has always been my philosophy."
Besides just drafting his way toward a talented team, Jack also prefers the trade. As a matter of fact, free agency is probably the last method he would use to find considerable talent for this team. So why then, is Wedge playing an incompetent free agent addition over the likes of John Jaso or Jesus Montero? If you have the answer please do not hesitate to share. The method of thought between our manager and general manger cannot coexist.
Everything has an ideal utilization. You don’t milk a cow with oven mitts, you don’t cut the grass with scissors, you can’t fit a round peg into a square hole. Jack build this team with an idea of how is would be utilized, and Wedge cannot understand his vision. Miguel Olivo was never meant to play this much. He was never meant to be a major cog in the Mariners inner workings. Wedge is a square in the round world of the Seattle Mariners. Either he is going to have to find a way to fit, or he will be replaced with a smoother, rounder version soon enough.