Seattle Mariners: Defending Jack Zduriencik


Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, or as it’s far easier to know him by—Jack Z— has always been an interesting guy to me.

He was supposedly a saber-metrics guy, which  turns out is not so true…or at least has never seemed to equate that into his managerial  strategies. But while his run as G.M. hasn’t produced much results—only two winning seasons out of six—it seems like a lot of his moves should have worked out, only to marred by injuries…or perhaps some of that evil dark force that prevents the typically reasonably talented Mariners from reaching the off-season each year. 

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Let’s take a look at one of his first deals as the M’s G.M.—sending All-Star closer J.J. Putz  and second base prospect Luis Valbuena to the Mets for Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp, and Jason Vargas.

While Valbuena does have some pop, (16 HR’s in 2014, and 12 in 2013) but his .249 BA from 2014 was his career high, as well his 51 RBI’s.

J.J. Putz never did anything for the Mets, posting a 5.22 ERA and 2 saves in his lone Met season, while his replacement David Aardsma posted a 2.52 ERA and 38 saves in that same year.

Vargas wasn’t terribly effective in his first Mariner season (some might say ever) posting a 4.91 ERA in only 91 innings of work, but eventually turned into a pretty solid innings eater. From 2010-2012 his lowest amount of innings was 192, and his ERA was never higher than 4.25, posting sub 4.00 ERA’s in 2010 and 2012.

Endy Chavez is a great fourth outfielder, a great bench guy, as most of us should from him stepping up last year, and Mike Carp can be a solid bench guy as well, he had a great part time role in the 2013 World Champion Red Sex, with a .296/9/43 line, while appearing in 86 regular season games, he was also named A.L. Rookie of the Month with the  Mariners in August 2011, while posting a similarly solid .276/12/46 in 79 games for that year.

But Gutierrez is where the real potential of this trade is. Gutierrez, if he stays healthy, likely puts this trade over the top. I’ve talked about Guti before and his ’09 numbers are solid .283/18/70, he’s also well known as good defender, definitely a capable center fielder.

But of course that didn’t happen and I covered that more extensively in the article I referred to (which, based on the comments, readers thought I was complaining about, but I was just trying to point out that the 2014 Mariners success story and predictions to win the West the following year sounded awfully familiar, while lamenting about What Could Have Been…but I digress)

So that’s just one trade, and it is not meant to prove Jack Z is a great G.M. or something like that. I’m italicizing this to make it clear this isn’t the point of the article.

The point is that there is many trades along these lines… the Michael PinedaJesus Montero swap (which has yet to produce a clear winner)—who would have guessed Montero’s offense would fall so far from his solid 2012 start?

The Kendrys MoralesJason Vargas trade actually worked how it was supposed to—Morales provided solid offense for the M’s, hitting .277/23/80, and while Vargas only posted 150 innings, he posted a 4.02 ERA, which as discussed earlier, is about the norm.

But still. Two winning seasons out of six. Two 90+ loss seasons, and a one 101 loss season. The numbers haven’t been in his favor. But we made real progress last year, with a mostly young core (with veterans stepping when needed), which was a key difference over ’09’s promising 85 win season.

And while Jack tried over and over again to fix the offense with a single addition of a power first guy (Mike Morse, Russell Branyan, Jack Cust), he has shown a willing to change this year with this two platoon situation in the outfield…Seth Smith/Justin Ruggiano splitting in right and Dustin Ackley/Rickie Weeks platooning in left. This could be a spectacular failure…but it does line up more with a sabermetric approach, which obviously wasn’t in Jack Z’s original wheelhouse.

One could argue that Nelson Cruz is in that same mold, but he’s of a higher caliber and also it seems appropriate for the DH spot to carry a big stick.

So I’m actually happy that Jack Zduriencik got a vote of trust from M’s management after last season, because I think he knows how to make a savvy trade, obviously he drafts well as the M’s  farm system has leaped near the forefront of the MiLB in recent years, and he deserves a little more time to see his plan come to fruition. I’ve still got faith.

What do you guys think? Am I crazy?