Geoff Baker, that rascal. He retires from his job as Mariners beat writer to take a new gig as The Seattle Times’ Chief Investigator, Pain In The Ass division. All that stuff he could never say about the M’s when he was an objective reporter? It shall now flow onto the interwebz like champagne in a nightclub frequented by Pacman Jones, splashing liberally onto the breasts of intrigued onlookers who soak up the spillage with smiles on their faces. This is a new era of badassery in local sports media, an era punctuated by whatever Baker shall uncover when he is not sailing the skies in hot air balloons or sampling fine cabernets in exotic locales.
As you may have read over the weekend, Baker’s inaugural foray into the world of sports business reporting (or whatever that title he’s inherited proclaims he does) was a bit of a ground-breaker, an earth-rumbling piece about the Mariners’ front office and their unique brand of dysfunction, the kind that paralyzes fans everywhere into a veritable dumbfounded/angry/terrified hybrid of a stupor. Sure, we’ve known for years that the Mariners were run by a bunch of bumbling idiots. But Baker’s piece not only highlighted the stupidity of the team’s decision-makers, it got reputable sources to speak on record about that stupidity in expansive detail.
So now we’re left with a bunch of questions. What does this all mean? Where do the Mariners go from here? Does Baker wear even nicer button-ups now that he’s presumably been given a raise? Let’s work together to try and answer some of the most pressing inquiries this weekend’s prose has given us.
1. Is Jack Zduriencik really as big of an asshole as he’s been made out to be?
If there’s one thing that’s damn near impossible to refute, it’s an attack on one’s character. If someone calls you a dick, then goes to great lengths to prove you’re a dick, it’s not easy to come back and reveal yourself as better than how you’ve publicly been portrayed. The assumption from many readers, then, is that Jack Zduriencik is empirically a dick. Evidence suggests it, first-person accounts corroborate it, and thus inference makes it so. Jack Zduriencik: dick.
To Jackie Z’s credit, he’s never shown himself to be much of a jerk in the public eye. He’s been fairly kind to the media, well-spoken in interviews, and more reminiscent of a fun, non-handsy uncle than a shrewd businessman. Were it not for his draft picks bombing, his free agent signings sucking, and his trades imploding in recent seasons, no one would really care if the guy was or was not a douchebag. In the annals of sports history, there have been countless jerks that have run franchises. The difference between anyone giving a damn about personalities or not is whether the organizations those jerks headed up actually won games. Zduriencik’s Mariners teams have been absolute duds. In turn, we really do care if he’s losing and acting like a prick behind the scenes.
The rumors about Zduriencik’s office behavior have been out there for a few years. What Baker wrote about in his column was nothing new to people with even a limited knowledge of the inner workings of the team, but quotes from former employees like Tony Blengino and Eric Wedge were eyebrow-raising to all. While many people knew Jack operated under two different guises — a warm public persona compared to a much colder private one — no one had any on-the-record details of his behavior until Baker solicited those very tidbits from two men with reason to divulge their secrets. Certainly Baker did right by his interviewees by painting them as “reluctant” (at least in Wedge’s case) mediums of potentially damning information, but no one can deny that both Blengino and Wedge had just cause to out their ex-boss as a bit of a bastard.
Perhaps that’s why one may reserve judgment until the other side is heard, or at the very least some unbiased views of Zduriencik are presented. But really, when judging character, is there such thing as an unbiased account? The evaluation is entirely subjective in and of itself, which makes it all the more difficult to refute such characterizations (or mischaracterizations, depending on one’s viewpoint) as those presented in Baker’s article.
Moral of the story: Treat people well. Do the opposite and it may come back to haunt you, as it most certainly has in Zduriencik’s case.
2. OMG. How does this alter the future of the team??!!
Frankly, this onslaught of news probably won’t change much about the way the Mariners do business. Longtime president Chuck Armstrong announced his impending retirement a couple weeks ago, and Zduriencik remains under contract through 2014. CEO and de facto team owner Howard Lincoln remains firmly entrenched atop the organization, however, and as long as he’s free to reign, the culture around the ballclub will likely continue to fester.
Lincoln has proven himself incapable of making sound baseball decisions, though not for lack of trying. His meddling ways have hurt the organization on multiple occasions and were alluded to in Baker’s exposé. Even recently, in inking free agent Robinson Cano to a deal, Lincoln and crew seem to have screwed up what could otherwise be labeled a home run. Ultimately, any success or lack thereof falls into the lap of the head man. As long as this team is a cellar-dweller, it will be Lincoln’s fault, no matter how power is distributed or who becomes the scapegoat for all the missteps. And in knowing how Lincoln operates, we can always be sure of one thing: there will be plenty of scapegoats.
3. Okay, so how do we get rid of Howard Lincoln?
Unlike his pal Armstrong, Lincoln seems determined to turn the Mariners into a winner before he calls it quits. Unfortunately, he’s either too proud or too stupid to realize that he’s the one preventing a winning environment. Lincoln’s pre-baseball life indicates he’s a fairly intelligent individual, so his blind desire to win appears to be driven entirely by ego. That creates quite the problem.
Everything with regard to the Mariners flows through Lincoln, which means even the Jack Zdurienciks of the world are dependent upon whether their borderline crazy boss still chooses to work. Because Lincoln craves the influence over his team the way he does, an asshole like Zduriencik is purely collateral, spare parts if you will. If Lincoln chooses to fire Jack at season’s end, he’ll immediately replace him with yet another yes-man who he can influence and puppet to carry out “the organization’s” desires. The few exceptions to the Lincoln gong show are men like Wedge who refuse to be manipulated by their creator, so to speak. The franchise needs shit-stirrers to keep the crap from stagnating. Maybe manager Lloyd McClendon can be that guy. Or maybe he’ll succumb to the wishes of his overlords and allow a vicious cycle to continue to play out.
In order to see the end of the Howard Lincoln regime sooner rather than later, either a) the M’s need to win now, or b) Lincoln must die. These are the only two seemingly feasible outcomes. Lincoln won’t leave while his legacy remains tarnished, no matter the reasons behind why that legacy is tarnished. In Lincoln’s mind, the only way to repair his image is to lead the organization into a winning era. Perhaps the signing of Cano will help accelerate the moving walkway along the path to success. But if it doesn’t, then we’ll be forced to wait for nature to intervene. Which is incredibly disappointing for all involved.
4. So what’s the Mariners plan for success, then?
It appears the M’s are fully committed to winning right now. Zduriencik is out to save his job and Lincoln wants to win a World Series before he perishes, one would assume. At the same time, the team has built up a decent stock of prospects in recent years (thanks, Blengino) and has plenty of cash to spend on pricey free agents, a la Cano.
However, there’s certainly no guarantee that trading for talent or investing in it on the free market will result in wins. The men pulling the strings haven’t displayed an affinity for making good decisions, which means the front office is just as likely (if not more likely) to make a bad deal than a good one.
Good deals or bad, the ballclub will need to part with some of the young talent they’ve cultivated in-house to acquire ripened veterans that can contribute immediately. Trading incumbent second baseman Nick Franklin seems like a given with the signing of Cano, and parting with a surplus of young arms in the forms of Brandon Maurer, James Paxton, Erasmo Ramirez, and even Taijuan Walker appears to be on the horizon, as well. We’ve heard about the Mariners possibly acquiring big-name All-Stars like David Price or Matt Kemp, but there are other players to be had with lesser name recognition that could significantly upgrade the roster (think Billy Butler, et al). Specifically, the Mariners need to focus on improving their outfield across all three positions, while also considering an uptick at first base, designated hitter, and in the latter part of the starting rotation. The bullpen needs attention, as well, but bullpen upgrades are easier to be had on the cheap. When dealing with a 91-loss team, the argument could be made that every single position needs work. So far, the M’s have improved in one area: second base. That still leaves everything else.
The addition of Cano immediately makes the Mariners a more attractive destination for outside players than it was previously. Whether that yields a healthy crop of free agents (and players with the ability to waive no-trade clauses) remains to be seen. No matter what, though, it will be imperative for the M’s to continue to build upon their initial success in wooing the market’s top prize and not settle for that lone signature blue chip. Robinson Cano does not single-handedly turn the Mariners into a playoff contender. With a little help, though — and in spite of the perpetually-burning dumpster fire in the team’s front office — the M’s might improbably become a force in the American League in 2014. Whodathunkit?
Filed under: Mariners
It was bound to happen sooner or later: Mike Zunino had to be called up to the big leagues. The end result was imminent, yet the timing of that end result was a point of contention for pundits and fans alike. It was never about if, but always about when. That “when” hit today, as news broke this morning that the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 Draft would be making his way to Seattle to take over as the team’s starting catcher (or at least part-time starting catcher, with a nod to Kelly Shoppach).
Almost immediately, opinions on the move flooded the internet. The prevailing sentiment, naturally, is that this promotion was more of a job-saving maneuver than anything else, a way for those on the hot seat — namely, general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge — to try and salvage employment at season’s end.
As fast as one could ejaculate words onto the internet, the first person of note to comment on the matter was USS Mariner’s Dave Cameron, who cited that rushing prospects to the big leagues is “what bad organizations do.” And he’s absolutely right.
Fans will recall that back in 2007, the Mariners converted former No. 5 overall pick Brandon Morrow into a relief pitcher in order to maximize his value at the big league level. The move tabled Morrow’s development as a starter and ultimately backfired. It wasn’t enough to save the jobs of general manager Bill Bavasi and his staff, and ultimately resulted in Morrow losing his job, too, as he was traded to Toronto by the team’s current regime prior to the 2010 season. Of course, we all know now that Morrow as a Blue Jay has regained his form as a starting pitcher, while the M’s remain scalded by a transaction that netted them two now-departed commodities in reliever Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez.
If the rash handling of Morrow was a lesson in desperation and stupidity, the organization seems to have not heeded a great deal from the teachings of the past.
It’s evident to almost anyone that pays close attention to the M’s that the Zunino call-up is cut from the same mold as that of Brandon Morrow. The team is in a similar state of struggle as they were some six years ago, and the men relied upon to build a successful on-field product have scuffled in their ability to provide exactly that. All of this leads to a cynical smirk of a reaction to the breaking news of the moment and the resulting effect it will have on this ballclub.
Regardless of how you feel about Zunino’s worthiness as a big leaguer (you can view his minor league statistics by clicking here), there is something to be said here about Jack Zduriencik’s ability to keep his head above water despite players determined to sink him.
At the season’s outset, Zduriencik and Co. were inextricably bound to the likes of Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak, or so we thought. General opinion was that if this trio faltered in what was seen as a make-or-break campaign for all three individuals, Zduriencik and staff would be axed before the calendar turned to 2014.
Alas, in what could be viewed as some sort of wizardry, Zduriencik has managed to untangle himself from the Ackley/Montero/Smoak mess and somehow intertwine his future with a completely different gaggle of players, namely the likes of Nick Franklin and the aforementioned Zunino. Ackley and Montero have been jettisoned to Triple-A (where Ackley’s now hitting over .400 and Montero faces bigger issues with the looming threat of a performance-enhancing drug suspension), while Smoak has provided mediocre results before finding himself on the disabled list. No matter, however, as Franklin and Zunino have spearheaded a damn near seamless changing of the guard.
Perhaps it’s a testament to Zduriencik’s restocking of the minor league system that the organization has managed to deftly sidestep the scuffles of one set of prospects in order to propagate another. Subsequently, even though at least one of these moves (Zunino) has been viewed as a redirection of attention — like a magician performing a sleight of hand or a department store photographer squeaking a stuffed animal to induce a child’s laughter, some might even call this a “distraction” — it won’t matter down the road if a) this new crop of young players succeeds, and b) the team wins, slash, shows visible signs of improvement.
Ultimately, the future of this organization and its key staff members comes down to an Al Davis quote: “Just win, baby.” If the Mariners, along with their newest contributors, can somehow find a way to scratch and claw their way back to relevance in the coming weeks, it won’t matter what we think of Jack Zduriencik right now. He and his staff may in fact do what many have thought to be impossible in the wake of seemingly foolhardy moves and the foibles of the past: they might just save their asses.
Filed under: Mariners
On October 22, 2008, the Seattle Mariners named Jack Zduriencik their newest General Manager. Assuming control of an organization that had been decimated by the foibles of its previous GM, Bill Bavasi, Zduriencik faced a daunting task in rebuilding the Mariners from the ground up.
Just 50 days after landing his new gig, Zduriencik made the first trade of his Mariners tenure. The trade was a blockbuster and would continue to have an impact on the ballclub four-and-a-half years later, where we find ourselves today.
In the aftermath of that initial deal, and leading up to our date of publication, May 28, 2013, Zduriencik proceeded to make 40 more trades for a total of 41 over four-plus seasons. The following is an analysis of all 41 of those transactions.
Trades are listed chronologically, from earliest to most recent. Players acquired in BOLD are current members of the Mariners organization. Grades associated with each trade are entirely subjective and reflective of the author’s opinion.
Trade No. 1: December 11, 2008
Teams involved: New York Mets, Cleveland Indians
Assets relinquished: P Sean Green (New York), P J.J. Putz (New York), OF Jeremy Reed (New York), INF Luis Valbuena (Cleveland)
Assets acquired: 1B Mike Carp, OF Ezequiel Carrera, OF Endy Chavez, P Maikel Cleto, OF Franklin Gutierrez, P Aaron Heilman, P Jason Vargas
Once upon a time, this trade was hailed as the definitive move of Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners tenure. A three-team swap that immediately resulted in a veritable coup for the Mariners, the hometown nine obtained a potential All-Star center fielder in Gutierrez and a solid big league starting pitcher in Vargas, among other pieces. Carp was a serviceable prospect, while Carrera, Cleto, and Heilman served as bargaining chips in subsequent trades. In all, nearly every asset acquired in this deal was maximized.
As the years have passed, however, the luster has worn from this gem of a deal. Putz, who floundered in the Big Apple, regained both his form and his role as closer with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Valbuena, a minor leaguer back in 2008, has proved serviceable with both the Indians and now the Chicago Cubs. Green and Reed became afterthoughts in the seasons following the trade.
The biggest factor in the waning sheen of this trade has been Gutierrez’s health, which has been inconsistent at best. His frequent bouts with injury have kept him off the field repeatedly in recent years, mitigating the vast talents he possesses both on offense and defense. However, silver linings have been found in follow-up dealings of players involved, such as Cleto (dealt for Brendan Ryan) and Vargas (dealt for Kendrys Morales).
Trade No. 2: January 20, 2009
Teams involved: Boston Red Sox
Assets relinquished: P Fabian Williamson
Assets acquired: P David Aardsma
Another trade hailed as a Zduriencik masterpiece, the Mariners gave up virtually nothing to obtain Aardsma, who went from being a career bullpen journeyman (filling a variety of roles, from long man, to middle relief, to setup) to a top-notch closer almost overnight. The hard-throwing right-hander nailed down 69 saves in ’09 and ’10 for Seattle before injuries left him as a non-tendered free agent entering the 2011 campaign. The M’s let Aardsma walk at that point and, to date, he has pitched just one big league inning since.
Trade No. 3: January 28, 2009
Teams involved: Chicago Cubs
Assets relinquished: P Aaron Heilman
Assets acquired: INF Ronny Cedeno, P Garrett Olson
It should be noted that of the three players involved in this deal, only one, Cedeno, is still an active major leaguer today. Perhaps that says something about the assets obtained in this swap, though one might argue that all three individuals are near non-factors.
Heilman is most noted for never appearing in a game as a Mariner, lasting only six weeks as part of the organization before being shipped out of town; he then proceeded to do very little with his career after departing. Cedeno filled a variety of roles in half a season with the team before being dealt to Pittsburgh at the ’09 non-waivers trade deadline. Olson was a constant commuter on the I-5 corridor between Seattle and Tacoma before being waived prior to the start of the 2011 season. Ultimately, one garage sale item turned into two future garage sale items. Eh.
Trade No. 4: March 29, 2009
Teams involved: San Diego Padres
Assets relinquished: Cash
Assets acquired: INF Chris Burke
Chris Burke meant nothing to us.
Trade No. 5: April 21, 2009
Teams involved: San Diego Padres
Assets relinquished: INF Chris Burke
Assets acquired: Cash
Who knows for sure if either team profited financially off the Chris Burke rental. All we do know is that poor Burke wasn’t truly wanted by either club. His last recorded big league action came with the Padres in that fateful ’09 season.
Trade No. 6: June 28, 2009
Teams involved: Washington Nationals
Assets relinquished: INF Mike Morse
Assets acquired: OF Ryan Langerhans
The first of the trades to really come back and bite Zduriencik in the ass, this was initially thought of as a swap of “our failing prospect for your serviceable backup.” Lo and behold, it became so much more than that.
A former top prospect of the Atlanta Braves, Langerhans was a 29-year-old backup outfielder upon arriving in Seattle. Though he had seen action as a starter earlier in his career, it was clear by now that he’d be little more than a part-timer going forward. Over the course of his two-plus seasons as a Mariner, he played that role to perfection.
Morse, on the other hand, became a bona fide star in the nation’s capitol, turning in two-and-a-half great seasons of ball before being traded earlier this year to, you guessed it, Seattle. Now back in a Mariners uniform after seasoning elsewhere, Morse is facing an uncertain future entering his free agent offseason. Nevertheless, he’ll earn a nice payday from some team so long as he keeps performing as well as he has in 2013.
Trade No. 7: July 10, 2009
Teams involved: Kansas City Royals
Assets relinquished: INF Yuniesky Betancourt
Assets acquired: P Daniel Cortes, P Derrick Saito
Who would have thought that nearly four years later Yuniesky Betancourt would still be a productive major leaguer? At the time of the trade, the prevailing emotion was amazement over Zduriencik’s ability to spin the floundering Betancourt into any returning assets at all. That Cortes and Saito were real, live people was a wonder in and of itself. The organization and fans alike were simply thrilled to be rid of Betancourt.
In hindsight, perhaps it was the way in which Betancourt was being utilized that created issues. In three-plus seasons since he was jettisoned by the M’s, the former starting shortstop has carved out a decent career as a super-sub, filling in at a number of positions around the infield for both Kansas City and Milwaukee. He has never lived up to his billing as a future star at the shortstop position, but he has provided value, however minimal, to teams that have found ways to implement him.
Cortes and Saito, meanwhile, fizzled out. Cortes saw brief stints in the Mariners’ bullpen, but ultimately became a free agent that hasn’t resurfaced. Saito also found his way to free agency, though has never logged time at the major league level.
What once was thought of as a brilliant maneuver by Jack Z. and Co. has dwindled over time.
Trade No. 8: July 11, 2009
Teams involved: Oakland Athletics
Assets relinquished: P Justin Souza
Assets acquired: INF Jack Hannahan
Souza was and still is a non-factor. Hannahan was and still is a journeyman infielder. Nothing to see here.
Trade No. 9: July 29, 2009
Teams involved: Cincinnati Reds
Assets relinquished: OF Wladimir Balentien
Assets acquired: P Robert Manuel
Many years ago, Balentien was thought of as one of the Mariners’ top prospects. Of course, that was before anyone realized he couldn’t hit a breaking ball. Upon coming to that conclusion, the organization thought it would be best to part ways with the would-be power-hitter. They found a bartering partner in the Cincinnati Reds, who ponied up a nothing pitcher in exchange for a guy who would become, to date, a starting outfielder in Japan. Well then.
Trade No. 10: July 29, 2009
Teams involved: Pittsburgh Pirates
Assets relinquished: P Nathan Adcock, INF Ronny Cedeno, C Jeff Clement, P Brett Lorin, P Aaron Pribanic
Assets acquired: P Ian Snell, SS Jack Wilson
There was always this hope that the team would somehow be able to acquire more than just a below-average pitcher and stopgap shortstop for the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2005 Draft. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at all. However, in dealing Jeff Clement, the M’s got lucky (I guess) in that the catcher-turned-first baseman never materialized into the player he was supposed to be. Clement, along with Adcock, Lorin, and Pribanic, are career minor leaguers to date. Only Cedeno, as mentioned previously, still exists as a big leaguer.
These days, Snell is trying to revive his career in the independent leagues, while Wilson is now out of baseball. The M’s gave up quite a bit at the time to obtain what turned out to be very little. Neither team, though, should feel like they lost much of anything in this deal.
Trade No. 11: July 31, 2009
Teams involved: Detroit Tigers
Assets relinquished: P Jarrod Washburn
Assets acquired: P Lucas French, P Mauricio Robles
Looking back on this trade, it appears on paper to be another ho-hum shoulder-shrug of a deal. Leading up to the 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, however, it was anything but that.
Washburn was one of the more sought after commodities at the ’09 deadline, a left-handed starting pitcher who had somehow rectified a rocky tenure in Seattle in the months preceding this moment. Rumors flew left and right over who would land Washburn and, in turn, what kind of haul the Mariners would reap for their departed asset. When all was said and done, the Tigers made a move to shore up their starting pitching and gave up very little in return.
French was a low-ceiling lefty with big league experience. He swung back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues before finding the free agent wire after the 2011 season; he’s had nothing but minor league experience since.
Robles was the cornerstone of the deal, a hard-throwing southpaw who some had compared to a young Johan Santana. He worked his way up the M’s organization through last season, battling injuries along the way. In a move to clear space on the 40-man roster, Robles was waived in the 2013 offseason before being claimed by Philadelphia. Now pitching with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate, Robles has pitched exclusively in relief, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.19 ERA and 1.14 WHIP along the way. At just 24 years of age, his potential remains intact.
Perhaps it’s the subsequent waiving of Robles, along with his untapped potential, that makes this trade sting a little bit. That, along with the fact that somehow, some way, Zduriencik and the M’s couldn’t find a way to maximize their chip in Washburn.
Trade No. 12: August 5, 2009
Teams involved: Pittsburgh Pirates
Assets relinquished: INF Deybis Benitez
Assets acquired: P Mike Koplove
Lest you fear any repercussion from the loss of a prospect in this deal for a journeyman reliever who never so much as appeared in a big league game with the M’s, Benitez hasn’t played in the minor leagues since 2009. Stints with independent teams in the following years have given way to a statistical paper trail that comes to a halt in 2012.
Trade No. 13: August 19, 2009
Teams involved: Milwaukee Brewers
Assets relinquished: P Ruben Flores
Assets acquired: INF/OF Bill Hall
Flores never became much of anything, while Hall was packaged with the infamous Player to be Named Later just five months later in a deal that netted Casey Kotchman. Perhaps we should be most angry about the fact that Hall begat Kotchman.
Trade No. 14: September 18, 2009
Teams involved: Washington Nationals
Assets relinquished: C Jamie Burke
Assets acquired: Cash
The sale of Jamie Burke brought with it a few outcries solely for the fact that Burke had endeared himself to Seattle fans. Along with being one of gritty, scrappy veterans this area so loves, Burke will always be remembered for taking the mound at the back end of an extra-inning marathon game, pitching admirably in the process. Who knows how much the Nats paid for Burke; all we know is that his tenure in the Emerald City was nothing short of priceless.
Trade No. 15: December 16, 2009
Teams involved: Philadelphia Phillies
Assets relinquished: P Phillippe Aumont, OF Tyson Gillies, P J.C. Ramirez
Assets acquired: P Cliff Lee
This may forever and always be Jack Zduriencik’s signature deal during his Mariners tenure. Both then and now, this single trade is lauded as the team’s biggest win, the landing of an ace in Lee while relinquishing next-to-nothing in prospects. Over time, this trade in and of itself, separate from subsequent deals (more on that later), has actually gotten better. The Phillies were given their choice of acquiring Gillies or a different young outfielder in Michael Saunders. The Phils opted for Gillies, who has been an unadulterated disappointment, while Saunders became a starting center fielder in Seattle.
Of course, this deal is significantly mitigated by the trade that resulted in Lee going to Texas just a few short months later. That the Mariners had done to them by the Rangers what they themselves had done to Philadelphia half-a-year prior essentially brought the team back to square one. But again, in and of itself, this move was a masterpiece. If only such magic could be replicated time and again.
Trade No. 16: December 18, 2009
Teams involved: Chicago Cubs
Assets relinquished: P Carlos Silva, Cash
Assets acquired: OF Milton Bradley
The swapping of one problem player for another brought with it a great deal of hope, if nothing else. In the end, however, both teams were left washing their hands of the acquired problems involved. Though neither team can truly be crowned a winner in this loser of a trade, the Cubs did receive cash from the M’s to offset part of Silva’s bloated contract. Money, it seems, is the only triumphant asset here.
Trade No. 17: December 23, 2009
Teams involved: Toronto Blue Jays
Assets relinquished: P Brandon Morrow
Assets acquired: OF Johermyn Chavez, P Brandon League
Another unfortunate trade, Zduriencik and Co. gave up on Morrow before allowing him to realize his potential and, so far, it’s come back to bite the organization in the behind. Upon landing in Toronto, Morrow was revived as a starting pitcher only (sparing him of the roller coaster ride between rotation and bullpen he was subjected to in Seattle) and has gone on to showcase top-of-the-rotation ability. Though he’s dealt with injuries here and there, he has become a relied-upon presence as a Blue Jay.
The return the M’s received, meanwhile, has developed into a whole boatload of nothing. League was counted on as a closer for a short while before he turned into the second coming of Bobby Ayala. His shaky tenure as the team’s fireman ended when the M’s dealt him for a pair of middling prospects a season ago.
Chavez flashed potential in bursts, but never could force the Mariners to call him up or even keep him around. He became a minor league free agent after the 2012 season and now plays for the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate.
Trade No. 18: January 7, 2010
Teams involved: Boston Red Sox
Assets relinquished: INF/OF Bill Hall, PTBNL (P Miguel Celestino)
Assets acquired: 1B Casey Kotchman
Casey Kotchman. What a pain in the ass. This guy was supposed to be our starting first baseman. Instead, he flat-out sucked. Worst part is, he managed to last an entire year before departing for free agency after his one season as a Mariner. Sure, Hall did nothing with the remainder of his career and Celestino continues to toil in the Red Sox farm system, but come on. Kotchman? Really? He was awful. We could have had anyone else playing first base in 2010. Anyone else. And chances are, they would have been better than Kotchman. Consider that.
Trade No. 19: June 22, 2010
Teams involved: Oakland Athletics
Assets relinquished: Cash
Assets acquired: 1B Tommy Everidge
Everidge was Triple-A filler who appeared in 29 major league games with the A’s the season prior to being obtained by the Mariners. Today, at 30 years of age, he’s trying to keep his career afloat in the independent leagues. Was the cash worth it? Guess that all depends on how much we spent.
Trade No. 20: June 26, 2010
Teams involved: Cleveland Indians
Assets relinquished: OF Ezequiel Carrera, INF Juan Diaz
Assets acquired: 1B Russell Branyan
After enjoying the services of Branyan in 2009, Zduriencik and staff realized early on in 2010 that they had a fever and the only cure was more Branyan.
Though the M’s had let Branyan walk in free agency prior to the ’10 campaign, they attempted to rectify their mistake by parting with two mid-level prospects in Carrera (previously obtained from the Mets in the J.J. Putz/Franklin Gutierrez deal) and Diaz. Both Carrera and Diaz have enjoyed cups of coffee in the bigs with Cleveland, but neither player seems to be on the brink of anything special.
Branyan, meanwhile, appeared in just 57 games with the Mariners in 2010, hitting just .215 with 15 home runs along the way — this, after batting .251 with 31 home runs in ’09.
Though the trade itself wasn’t horrible, the circumstances surrounding the move were. The M’s could have signed Branyan in the 2010 offseason and chose not to. Instead, they were forced to give up two minor leaguers who actually made the bigs to reacquire a player who wasn’t nearly as good in Year 2 as he was in Year 1. Ridiculous.
Trade No. 21: July 9, 2010
Teams involved: Texas Rangers
Assets relinquished: P Cliff Lee, P Mark Lowe, cash
Assets acquired: P Blake Beavan, INF Matt Lawson, P Josh Lueke, 1B Justin Smoak
Should Jack Zduriencik lose his job in the near future, this is yet another one of those trades that pundits will point to when evaluating the failures of the Zduriencik era. In hindsight (which, as we all know, is twenty-twenty), this deal has been all but a bust for the Mariners. At the time, however, the reviews of the transactions were mixed, though seemingly favored Seattle. So where did it all go wrong?
The key to the deal was Smoak, who was considered one of baseball’s top prospects in 2010. He was major league ready and appeared to be on the brink of stardom. He was supposed to become the Mariners’ first baseman of the future. As we all know now, he hasn’t been that at all, and may never be. At this point, his ceiling appears to be that of a serviceable starter, rather than the All-Star he was once projected to become.
Beavan was a former first round pick who had the potential to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter. Now, though, the M’s would consider themselves lucky to be able to use him at the big league level. He hasn’t developed as planned and his talents are average, at best. Now 24, his potential is limited to back-end starter or relief pitcher.
Lawson was a throw-in to the deal who never materialized. He is now out of baseball.
Perhaps the most lucrative player obtained became Lueke, a reliever with a checkered past. Lueke enjoyed a mediocre 2011 campaign with the M’s, but really never proved worthwhile until after the season when he was sent to Tampa Bay for John Jaso. Jaso immediately became a fan favorite in Seattle, then was flipped for the second go-round with Mike Morse. Considering Lueke begat Jaso who begat Morse, this trade wasn’t a complete failure. Still, though, when you consider the chip the M’s had, an ace in Lee, the return haul was more than disappointing.
Trade No. 22: July 22, 2010
Teams involved: Boston Red Sox
Assets relinquished: INF Jack Hannahan
Assets acquired: Cash
Probably the best anyone could hope for when dealing a player of Hannahan’s caliber.
Trade No. 23: August 4, 2010
Teams involved: Philadelphia Phillies
Assets relinquished: 1B Mike Sweeney
Assets acquired: Cash
Though the 36-year-old Sweeney was a player of minimal future value to the Mariners at the time of his dealing, the first baseman had enjoyed enough success with Seattle and throughout his career that there was hope he could bring in more than just petty cash in a trade. Alas, that wasn’t the case at all. The Mariners took the money and ran, knowing there was little else Sweeney could provide for the ballclub going forward.
Trade No. 24: December 2, 2010
Teams involved: Colorado Rockies
Assets relinquished: INF Jose Lopez
Assets acquired: P Chaz Roe
No one cared that Roe was a nobody who would never materialize and would ultimately become a pitcher for the Laredo Lemurs of the independent American Association. Nope, all anyone cared about is that the team rid itself of the albatross that was Jose Lopez. By god, Slopez was an All-Star once.
Trade No. 25: December 12, 2010
Teams involved: St. Louis Cardinals
Assets relinquished: P Maikel Cleto
Assets acquired: SS Brendan Ryan
As mentioned earlier, Cleto’s greatest contribution to the organization after being obtained in the epic Putz/Gutierrez deal was in bringing us Ryan, who’s been a defensive stalwart at shortstop. Now a hard-throwing reliever that’s gone back and forth between the Cardinals and their Triple-A affiliate, Cleto’s ceiling is low enough to give the overwhelming victory in this trade to the Mariners.
Trade No. 26: December 21, 2010
Teams involved: San Diego Padres
Assets relinquished: C Rob Johnson
Assets acquired: Cash
Rob Johnson was supposed to be a good defensive catcher who would struggle with the bat. Problem is, he was actually a subpar defensive catcher who couldn’t hit worth a lick. That ultimately led to his being pawned off on San Diego, where he never became anything more than he was in Seattle.
Oddly enough, Johnson resurfaced a few weeks back with the Memphis Redbirds, St. Louis’ Triple-A affiliate, where he was a battery mate of…Maikel Cleto.
Trade No. 27: March 2, 2011
Teams involved: Cleveland Indians
Assets relinquished: INF Matt Lawson, cash
Assets acquired: P Aaron Laffey
Lawson, acquired in the Cliff Lee with Texas, was a nobody going nowhere. In all likelihood, he was probably the throw-in to this deal, as well, a sweetener to the money being ponied up for the left-hander Laffey. Laffey joined the M’s and had an up-and-down half-season before being waived and claimed by the Yankees. He’s since embarked on an odyssey around baseball, playing in Kansas City, in New York with the Mets, in Toronto, back to the Mets, back to the Blue Jays, and now with the Dodgers organization.
Trade No. 28: July 29, 2011
Teams involved: Arizona Diamondbacks
Assets relinquished: OF Ryan Langerhans
Assets acquired: Cash
The worst part about the selling of Ryan Langerhans was the fact that his departure coincided with the rise of Mike Morse in Washington D.C. The move that brought Langerhans to Seattle was a disaster; the move that jettisoned him was none too surprising.
Trade No. 29: July 30, 2011
Teams involved: Detroit Tigers
Assets relinquished: P Doug Fister, P David Pauley
Assets acquired: P Charlie Furbush, INF Francisco Martinez, OF Casper Wells, PTBNL (P Chance Ruffin)
Yet another deal that has bombed in spectacular fashion for Zduriencik and Co., Fister is now one of the better pitchers in the American League, while only one-half of the return the Mariners netted is still part of the organization — Furbush and Ruffin remain, while Wells was waived in April, and Martinez designated for assignment in recent days.
Of the remaining assets, Furbush has established himself as a solid left-handed option out of the bullpen, while Ruffin appears to be little more than Triple-A filler at this point. Fister, of course, has continued to blossom with the Tigers, while Pauley’s 15 minutes ran out shortly after he was dealt to the Motor City (in an odd bit of news, Pauley was signed to a minor league deal by the M’s in 2012 before getting suspended for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy; Pauley is now a free agent).
It’s become en vogue as of late to cite this deal as the worst trade of the Zduriencik era. Though there are other contenders in the field, the continued excellence of Fister certainly makes this transaction one of the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to futility.
Trade No. 30: July 31, 2011
Teams involved: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers
Assets relinquished: P Erik Bedard (Boston), P Josh Fields (Boston)
Assets acquired: IF/OF Chih-Hsien Chiang, OF Trayvon Robinson
Heralded as two could-be prospects upon their arrival, neither Chiang nor Robinson still exist in the M’s organization. Chiang was designated for assignment in 2012 and now toils in the Rangers’ organization. Robinson was dealt to Baltimore for Robert Andino, was was recently designated for assignment, himself. In all, the M’s have nothing to show for their dealing of a guy who, when healthy, was a serviceable big league starter, as well as a former first-round pick in Fields who now finds himself in the Astros’ bullpen.
Trade No. 31: August 31, 2011
Teams involved: Atlanta Braves
Assets relinquished: SS Jack Wilson
Assets acquired: PTBNL (INF Luis Caballero)
Caballero is just 20 years of age and, thus far, has only suited up for the Mariners’ Dominican Summer League team. At this point, he has to be considered a longshot to make the major leagues anywhere down the line.
Wilson, upon being dealt, was an aging shortstop who couldn’t hit and was on the verge of the end of his career. In Caballero, the Mariners were able to get about what anyone would expect them to get for a player of Wilson’s caliber.
Trade No. 32: November 27, 2011
Teams involved: Tampa Bay Rays
Assets relinquished: P Josh Lueke, cash
Assets acquired: C John Jaso
Reminiscent of the David Aardsma-Fabian Williamson swap of a couple years prior, Zduriencik found a diamond in the rough in Jaso and gave up little to obtain him. That Jaso would go on to land the M’s a middle-of-the-order power bat in Mike Morse a year later made the legend of this deal even greater. One of the better trades of Zduriencik’s tenure.
Trade No. 33: January 23, 2012
Teams involved: New York Yankees
Assets relinquished: P Jose Campos, P Michael Pineda
Assets acquired: C Jesus Montero, P Hector Noesi
It’s only been 16 months since this deal became official and yet the wheels have already fallen off for both teams. Pineda has yet to appear in a game for the Yankees because of his injury, but who really cares about the Yankees, anyway? Upon returning to action, Pineda can only hope to regain the form that made him an All-Star in his one season in Seattle. On top of that, the left-hander Campos has shown promise throughout his tenure in the minors and could make an impact down the line.
For the Mariners, the highly publicized travails of Montero culminated in his demotion to Triple-A Tacoma just a few days ago. His return to the big leagues is indefinite and may come later rather than sooner; a transition to learning first base could slow development, though the future is entirely dependent on Montero’s bat. Regardless, things don’t look so great right now for the former top prospect.
The only temporary hope for salvaging this deal comes in the form of Hector Noesi, who has struggled to be anything more than a bad major league pitcher over the past year-plus. If he can ever supplement raw ability with command of his pitches, he may just be able to figure things out. Until then, we cringe and we wait.
Like Justin Smoak before him, Jesus Montero’s success is inextricably linked to the fate of Jack Zduriencik. Should neither of these prospects bear fruit with the M’s, Zduriencik will be forced to go down with his metaphorical sinking ships.
Trade No. 34: July 23, 2012
Teams involved: New York Yankees
Assets relinquished: OF Ichiro Suzuki
Assets acquired: P Danny Farquhar, P D.J. Mitchell
To think that a legend with an expiring contract could only net the Mariners two journeymen pitchers is almost sad. The reality is, the organization was so paralyzed by Ichiro’s presence that disposing him for nearly nothing in return was the only option the Mariners saw to be viable. Hence, the Ichiro era hastily became the Danny Farquhar/D.J. Mitchell era.
Though Farquhar is trying to make a name for himself in the Mariners’ bullpen as we speak, Mitchell has already come and gone, having been waived by the M’s at the start of the 2013 season. Will Farquhar, a hard-throwing right-handed reliever, be able to justify the Ichiro trade on his own? It remains to be seen, but is certainly unlikely.
Who knows if the team could have received anything more for Ichiro had Ichiro been willing to play elsewhere (he did have to approve a trade to New York before it could be made). No matter, the reality is that this trade happened and there ain’t too much we can do about it now.
Trade No. 35: July 30, 2012
Teams involved: Toronto Blue Jays
Assets relinquished: P Steve Delabar
Assets acquired: OF Eric Thames
Delabar was a hard-throwing reliever who the Mariners plucked from the substitute teaching ranks (seriously, he was a teacher). Thames has never gotten a real solid look at the big league level, though has produced in Triple-A. Where will this trade take us down the line? Only time will tell.
Trade No. 36: July 30, 2012
Teams involved: Los Angeles Dodgers
Assets relinquished: P Brandon League
Assets acquired: P Logan Bawcom, OF Leon Landry
Both Bawcom and Landry are currently present in the Mariners’ farm system, Bawcom at Triple-A Tacoma, Landry at Double-A Jackson. Neither one, however, is forecasted for a future filled with stardom.
Perhaps the greatest travesty in dealing Brandon League for a pair of middle-of-the-road prospects is that just one year prior the organization could have dealt League for so much more. As an All-Star closer in 2011, League was in high demand around baseball. The M’s opted to hold onto League for reasons unknown and League rewarded them by regressing in 2012.
Maybe it’s just that the Mariners have never been great at selling high, or maybe they truly didn’t believe they were selling low on League. Either way, the team’s former closer hasn’t done much to hurt the M’s, having endured some equally awful ninth innings with the Dodgers.
Trade No. 37: November 20, 2012
Teams involved: Baltimore Orioles
Assets relinquished: OF Trayvon Robinson
Assets acquired: INF Robert Andino
In time, this trade will likely be forgotten about. Right now, however, it’s a total bust thanks to Andino being cut just a few short days ago. Who knows what Robinson may or may not become, the fact remains that he is still a member of the Orioles’ organization. Thus, one has to figure that the team could have installed damn near anyone else in their vacant utility infield role and spared themselves the relinquishing of an asset at the same time. Alas.
Trade No. 38: January 16, 2013
Teams involved: Washington Nationals, Oakland Athletics
Assets relinquished: C John Jaso
Assets acquired: OF Mike Morse
Read above for all the details that led up to this trade. No need to elaborate further.
Trade No. 39: February 13, 2013
Teams involved: New York Yankees
Assets relinquished: P Shawn Kelley
Assets acquired: OF Abraham Almonte
Though Kelley may be an active big leaguer, he is what he is and will likely be nothing more than that. As that vague as that statement may be, Kelley’s ceiling has likely been reached; he’s destined to be, at his peak, a middle reliever on a big league club. While middle relievers are a necessity for any bullpen, they’re basically a dime a dozen. Giving up Kelley for a 23-year-old outfield prospect was entirely worth it.
We don’t yet know what Almonte’s future holds, but he has been hitting well at both Double-A and Triple-A so far this year. Whether or not that translates into a big league career remains to be seen. Nevertheless, Kelley was a guy who filled a roster spot while Almonte is a beacon of hope, if nothing more.
Trade No. 40: February 20, 2013
Teams involved: Boston Red Sox
Assets relinquished: OF Mike Carp
Assets acquired: Cash or PTBNL
Having not yet obtained the infamous Player to be Named Later in this deal, we don’t really know what we’ve acquired in return for Carp, whose time was basically up in Seattle. On the verge of his 27th birthday, it will be difficult for Carp to salvage his career and make the Mariners pay for giving up on him. But who knows. Stranger things have happened.
Trade No. 41: April 11, 2013
Teams involved: Colorado Rockies
Assets relinquished: P Steven Hensley
Assets acquired: P Aaron Harang, cash
Harang was brought to Seattle out of desperation: failures among the candidates filling the fifth spot in the team’s starting rotation necessitated an acquisition. Harang has been nothing if not inconsistent since arriving, providing a bit of an adventure each time he takes the mound. His starts range from a complete game shutout in his most recent outing to sub-five-inning blowups resulting in seven and eight runs, respectively, just a few appearances back. Whether or not Harang can provide a lift as the season wears on matters little — he’s here to eat innings and help us get through the summer, nothing more, nothing less.
Hensley is a 26-year-old right-handed reliever closing games for Colorado’s Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. Should he find his way to the bigs, his ceiling will be tempered by the fact that he’s just a bit too old to be considered a prospect anymore.
This trade happened. It was a thing. Long-term, it won’t matter at all.
Filed under: Mariners
Top 11: Reasons The 2012 Mariners Are Worse Than Your First Sexual Experience (aka, Your Mariners Midseason Failure Analysis)
The 2012 Mariners have been an abomination. They are Paris Hilton acting, combined with Lindsay Lohan singing, mixed with Gilbert Gottfried speaking, blended together with any of the Real Housewives screaming (“You’re supposed to be my friend, Tamra!” Well, you’re a crazy bitch, Vicki.).
Think of the worst things you’ve ever been a part of, then make them more boring than they were at the time. Like, your first sexual experience, for example. That was horrendous, was it not? Trust me, it was. You may not want to believe it was…but I guarantee you, it was bad. Which isn’t to say that you haven’t corrected yourself in the bedroom as time has passed. Frankly, it’s not easy to take what you’ve learned in health class and put it to good use. A two-dimensional vagina looks nothing like a three-dimensional vagina. They don’t tell you that, though. You have to figure that out on your own. On the fly. As a kid.
Anyway, I digress.
My point here is that if you took your frighteningly awful first sexual experience and made it boring on top of what it already was, you’d have the 2012 Mariners. The M’s are the awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one, the requisite forced “I love yous” that follow, the feeling of regret, the saline of tears, and that fear of “OhmygoddidIgetherpregnant?!” – yeah, that fear is real – topped off with all the pizzazz of the Vanilla Sky plot. I hope that sounds as horrible to you as it does to me. Personally, I found “awkward clumsiness of teenage body parts clashing together as one” to be the most horrible line.
Let’s call this midseason report card what it really is: a failure analysis. Not only that, but let’s list out 11 of the reasons the team is failing. We can do this. It’s on par with belting a Hector Noesi 0-and-2 fastball right over the outfield wall. So much easier than it may seem.
11. Steve Delabar is not a Major League pitcher, yet has been tasked with pitching in Major League Baseball.
Not that it’s particularly fair to single out an average middle reliever, but let’s face facts here: the Mariners are the proud parents of a 16-year-old son, Steve, who they have naively handed a brand new BMW. Steve, in turn, has promptly rewarded his ‘rents for their stupidity by wrapping said BMW around a pole. This is essentially the relationship between the M’s and Delabar, who has been entrusted to throw in 29 of the team’s first 87 games this year.
Delabar is a great Triple-A pitcher. He throws fast. An upper-90s heater is nothing to mess with. But in the bigs, fast just doesn’t cut it. The man tosses a four-seam fastball that sits flatter than Renee Zellweger. Big league hitters are paid to unload on flat fastballs no matter how rapidly they may be approaching home plate. And if you look at Delabar’s numbers, the data reveals just how detrimental his Zellweger-ball has been to the club.
In his 29 appearances, Delabar has managed to piece together a .174 Batting Average Against, to go with a neat little 0.92 WHIP. He’s also struck out 41 hitters. Not bad by any means. But then you look at his ERA. And everything falls apart. Not unlike Tom Cruise in the aforementioned Vanilla Sky.
Despite his miniscule BAA, WHIP, and all those Ks he’s collected, Delabar owns a robust 4.45 ERA. Egads. When you dig a little deeper, you find that of the 29 hits he’s relinquished this year, 10 have gone for extra bases (that’s 35-percent, for you math majors out there), and eight (eight!!!) have gone into the stands for home runs. And get this: while Delabar has only been credited with 15 runs allowed, he’s let 17 men score on home runs alone! So not only is he hurting his own earned-run average, he’s directly impacting the respective ERAs of his teammates due to all those inherited baserunners.
Delabar should have been demoted long ago — and in fact he was, in June, before resurfacing with the Mariners in July — yet continues to languish in the big show. Is it time to send him down for good? Probably. Will the M’s do it? Unlikely.
10. Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Carp are fragile.
Okay, maybe not fragile, per se. But injured nonetheless. Though if anyone can think of a better adjective for Guti, I’d like to hear it. Fra-gee-lay. It’s Italian.
Both Gutierrez and Carp were being counted on to comprise two-thirds of the team’s outfield, while playing substantial roles for the 2012 M’s. Instead, both began the year on the disabled list…and both remain on the disabled list currently. For those of you keeping score at home, allow me to clarify that that’s two DL stints apiece. Each player made his not-so-triumphant return to action, only to see his season hit another roadblock with a second physical malady. Such is the life of a professional athlete.
By the time both players return (again) to the playing field, it will be far too late to salvage an all-but-lost season. But alas, there’s always next year…
9. Brandon League is crap.
Let me just go on record as saying I’ve always despised Brandon League. Even when he was moderately successful a year ago, it was tough to like the guy. I’ve chronicled my displeasure for his lack of testicular fortitude many times on these pages, so there’s really no need to elaborate. Let’s just say that he and I don’t see eye to eye where mental toughness is concerned.
With that said, you won’t find too many Brandon League fans anywhere these days. League has been absolutely abysmal, blowing six saves in 15 opportunities and standing idly by as he was given Rick Vaughn’s Major League II role of pitching in garbage-time situations. In less-tenuous moments, League has been slightly more tolerable than he was as a late-inning implosion-waiting-to-happen. Still, though, how valuable is a relief pitcher that can’t pitch when a win hangs in the balance?
According to the rest of Major League Baseball, that value is not perceived to be very high. Which is unfortunate. Because the Mariners would like to trade League, and yet there aren’t many suitors for his not-so-desirable skill set.
A year ago, the story was much different. League was a top-notch closer who was flat-out getting the job done. The franchise could have flipped the hard-throwing right-hander for a bounty of prospects. Instead, they held onto their asset in hopes of God-knows-what. And twelve months later, here we sit with a fistful of Enron stock.
Perhaps that’s the greatest tragedy in the entire Brandon League saga. The Mariners didn’t have to be burdened by League’s presence. They chose to be. They had the opportunity to sell their investment at its peak value, and they politely declined. That is such a Marinery Mariner thing to do.
8. Hector Noesi needs to learn how to pitch.
Somewhere around age 13 or 14, I learned that as a pitcher, when you get ahead in a count 0-2, you should never throw the ensuing pitch anywhere near the middle of the plate. Hector Noesi, apparently, did not learn what I learned.
In reality, it’s fairly common knowledge to most baseball players that 0-2 pitches are best served away from the strike zone. As a hitter you learn to expect a “waste pitch” 0-2, yet you still remain extremely defensive and vigilant with a lone strike standing between you and bitter disappointment (leading to an increased likelihood of you, the hitter, putting the ball in play if it is remotely close to the zone). As a pitcher, you want to deliver a ball that’s near-unhittable, while potentially baiting your bat-swinging foil into chasing a pitch outside his coverage area. It’s a tactic familiar to most, but foreign to a guy like Noesi.
Noesi is one of those pitchers who scouts would say has great “stuff.” What is “stuff,” exactly? Basically, “stuff” amounts to a pitcher’s ability to combine a lively fastball with a decent supplementary repertoire. “Stuff,” as it turns out, often equates to talent. Which is to say that Hector Noesi is quite talented. At least in his physical ability to manipulate a baseball.
Where Noesi is not quite as talented comes in his ability to either a) learn, b) remember, or c) execute. He either hasn’t learned to hurl 0-2 pitches away from the batter’s preferred locale, doesn’t remember he needs to do that, or simply can’t execute such a simple task.
To better assist him in learning, remembering, or executing, the M’s recently demoted Noesi to Triple-A Tacoma. The fact that the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic managed to last in the team’s starting rotation through June can either be attributed to Noesi’s vast array of “stuff,” or more likely, a testament to the team’s perennial suckitude.
Either way, had Noesi remained a big leaguer for the duration of the year, he would have been hard-pressed to avoid Jamie Moyer’s single-season team record of 44 home runs allowed. With 20 souvenirs deposited into the seats at the hands of the righty, Noesi was in danger of setting all kinds of marks in longball futility.
But wait, there’s more.
Getting back to that point about 0-2 counts, it should be noted that one-fifth of all the homers Noesi has allowed have come when he was ahead 0-and-2. Twenty-percent wouldn’t seem like such a drastic number, until you figure that home runs on 0-2 counts almost never happen. Seriously. Google “home runs allowed on 0-2 counts.” The first search result that appears? An article on Hector Noesi. I kid you not. He is that synonymous with this statistical anomaly.
Let’s hope that somewhere down the line Noesi figures it out. When it comes to being a big league starter, he has a little work to do. At the very least, though, he’s got the right “stuff.”
Yes, that was a very dumb New Kids on the Block reference. You’re welcome.
7. The offensive exploits of Brendan Ryan and Justin Smoak are sadly disappointing.
Brendan Ryan hasnever hit, so this comes as no surprise. Were he to fall haphazardly from a canoe, there’s no guarantee he’d hit water. That’s how bad of a hitter he is. So bad that I’m resorting to cliches to describe him.
Justin Smoak, on the other hand, was supposed to be a hitter. He was once an über-prospect with a potential All-Star bat on his shoulder. Instead, he’s been nothing short of a complete disappointment during his near-two-year stint in Seattle.
Though no hitter in the Mariners’ lineup is particularly adept at putting bat on ball, Smoak and Ryan have been dismally bad in their offensive efforts this season. While Ryan’s defensive prowess warrants playing him most days, one has to wonder how long any team can continue trotting out a sub-.200 hitter, no matter how fancy his glovework may be.
With Smoak, the failure is more evident. From each side of the plate, the switch-hitting first baseman displays a long, loopy uppercut that isn’t conducive to line drive balls in play. Sure, it may be easy to send Smoak to Triple-A to work on his approach, but why not put hitting coach Chris Chambliss to work and fix the physical nature of an all-but-broken swing? That’s what hitting coaches are paid to do, is it not?
By contrast, there is nothing that will conquer Ryan’s demons in the batter’s box. He’s not a big league hitter. Thankfully for him, though, he’s an above-average big league defender. Essentially, he’s the white Rey Ordoñez.
Should two of the M’s regulars continue to hover around the Mendoza Line all season long, it’s no wonder this team will find itself in the cellar yet again.
6. Jesus Montero is slower than…
He is the ultimate liability on the basepaths. Honestly, I have never seen a slower 22-year-old that wasn’t morbidly obese. This guy would get lapped at a retirement home. They should give him a Rascal scooter to ride around the diamond. You have to wonder if his legs are okay, or if he was once stricken by polio. I’m guessing he may qualify for the Special Olympics. It takes him an hour to run 30 minutes on a treadmill. If he got caught on second base during a rain delay, he’d drown. His 40 time is measured by a sundial. Vultures circle his home run trot.
Okay. You get the picture. Jesus is slllllloooooowwwww.
5. Why is Chone Figgins still here?
Chone Figgins may in fact be the luckiest man on the planet. He is making $9 million to be an ineffective super-sub. He really should be playing in someone’s farm system, if not a slow-pitch softball league somewhere. He is the most reviled sports figure Seattle has ever had the privilege of hosting. And yet he continues to fester on the Mariners’ bench like a gangrenous rash on the bedridden underside of a man so disgustingly fat he must be removed via forklift from his decrepit home.
There are so many things wrong with Figgins’ mere presence that I barely know where to start.
Why, for one, did this organization ever think they could resurrect this tiny little flea’s career by batting him leadoff? What on earth has Figgins done in the past few years to warrant a move atop the lineup? And did anyone not see the impending backfire? It was bound to happen. This is Chone Flippin’ Figgins! He’s terrible!
Two, where did this team get off trying to tell us that Figgins, and not Kyle Seager, would be our third baseman to start the year? Seager has emerged as one of 2012′s pleasant surprises — and he wasn’t even supposed to be a starter! His time in the lineup is due in part to a slew of outfield injuries, as well as Figgins’ own impotence. Were it not for extraneous factors, we wouldn’t have even known what Seager was capable of this season.
Three, when Miguel Olivo returned from the disabled list, why did the team not seize the opportunity to release Figgins? Why, instead, did they send their current best-hitter-du-jour, Casper Wells, to Triple-A? Wells did not need to go to Triple-A. He simply went because someone found some reason to keep Figgins on the roster.
Not only has Figgins been a bust himself, his staying power has impacted or was destined to impact the development of others, such as Seager and Wells. With each passing day that Figgins remains a Mariner, he’s taking chances away from a younger player who could benefit from service time at the big league level. There’s no longer any excuse for keeping him around. Cut Figgins. It should have been done months ago. This is getting ridiculous.
4. Miguel Olivo is toast.
Miguel Olivo seems like a pretty decent guy. He tries hard, he hustles, he’s scrappy, and in interviews he appears to be quite pleasant. As a baseball player, however, Olivo is probably not cut out to play at the major league level any longer. And that’s the unfortunate reality of this situation.
Olivo is just 33 years of age, but he may be the most ancient 33-year-old on the earth’s surface. Maybe it’s just me, but the guy seems to move around with all the spryness of an older Jesus Montero. He’s also balding to a severe degree, and on top of that is a grandfather. Really. He’s a 33-year-old grandpa.
When Olivo isn’t putting children on his knee, rocking himself to sleep in a La-Z-Boy, or drinking Metamucil, he’s batting an anorexic .201 and letting roughly every other pitch find its way between his loins. Olivo is not so much a backstop as he is a gatewayto the backstop. He has a problem catching. Which is quite the dilemma, since his job title calls for him to, you know, catch.
Perhaps if Olivo was some sort of defensive saint like the apostle Brendan Ryan, the Mariners could find excuses for keeping him in the lineup each day. Alas, his defense is just as vomit-inducing as his Ryan-esque batting average. So why does he retain duties as the team’s primary catcher? That’s a great effing question that no one seems to have the answer to.
I like Olivo as a person. I’d like it even more if we could bid him adieu and wish him well as he rode off into the sunset. Presumably in an Oldsmobile.
3. The decision to replace Dustin Ackley as leadoff hitter is the SINGLE WORST DECISION the organization has made this year.
Yes. It really is. And I don’t have much else to say. Why you would demote a guy doing a great job for one performing below-average is beyond my comprehension level.
The Mariners have stunted Ackley’s growth by replacing him atop the batting order with Ichiro. Ichiro won’t (or at least, shouldn’t) be on this team next year. Ackley has the talent and ability to be the face of this franchise within the next five years.You interrupted his development to fulfill the selfish needs of a 38-year-old outfielder who has no future with your team.
This is just unbelievable.
The Mariners, more often than not, exhibit the dumbest Goddamn behavior. Serenity now…
2. This team can’t hit at home.
Blame the fences. Blame the marine layer. Blame the batter’s eye in center field. Blame whatever you like.
The fences don’t need to be moved in. The weather doesn’t need to be controlled. The roof doesn’t need to be closed. The backdrop doesn’t need to be altered.
The players. The players need to get better. And that’s just the fact of the matter. Better players equal better results. And these players are not good enough. Period.
1. Trusting Jack Zduriencik is becoming increasingly more difficult to do.
This is Year Four of the Jack Zduriencik era. In three-and-a-half seasons, the Mariners have posted a 249-324 record (.435 winning percentage) with Zduriencik at the helm. They are on pace to lose between 90 and 100 games yet again this season. The farm system is coming along, but so far hasn’t produced much of note for the big league club. In Jack We Trust, as a result, is starting to lose its luster.
The disclaimer here is that Zduriencik may or may not be handcuffed by his bosses, the notorious duo of team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Armstrong and Lincoln have cast a shadow over this franchise for years, and to think that they have no impact on the current state of the team would be incredibly naive. Their roles have been discussed ad nauseam, both on this website and in other forums, so no need to digress. The fact is, when evaluating someone like Jack Zduriencik, one must carefully consider the impact of the men responsible for overseeing the entire operation. Fair or unfair, however, it’s time we placed some blame at the general manager’s doorstep.
When Zduriencik came aboard in 2009, the cupboard, as the saying goes, was bare. The farm system was depleted. The talent on the big league roster was minimal. The present was disappointing. The future was bleak.
What Jack Z. was tasked with at the time was rebuilding an entire organization, top to bottom. There’s nothing easy about that. He adequately got the job done in certain areas, pulling off a signature deal by offloading J.J. Putz, Sean Green, Jeremy Reed, and Luis Valbuena in exchange for Franklin Gutierrez, Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, and a couple minor leaguers.
While Putz has reemerged in Arizona as a closer, he is nowhere near the pitcher he was when he was in Seattle. Green and Reed have essentially become irrelevant, and though Valbuena reached the bigs with Cleveland, his impact has been minimal.
Gutierrez, Carp, and Vargas have all played significant roles with the Mariners since their arrival. Though none of the trio has really approached stardom, no one can argue that all three have been relatively solid and met, if not exceeded, expectations.
The Putz deal, as it will forever be known, has become Zduriencik’s hallmark for the past three-plus years. When supporters of the Z movement want to call out the man’s penchant for unearthing talent, they point to this deal as the one that stands above the rest.
There have been other deals that have seemingly worked in the Mariners’ favor during Zduriencik’s tenure. The trade of Doug Fister and David Pauley (who the Mariners re-signed to a minor league deal on July 12th) to Detroit for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez. The heist of Cliff Lee from Philadelphia in exchange for three seemingly irrelevant prospects. The swap of Michael Pineda and Jose Campos for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi.
But there have been a handful of duds, as well.
Sending pitcher Brandon Morrow to Toronto for Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez has had its up and downs; Morrow’s development as a Blue Jay, though, would indicate the Canucks got the better end of the deal.
Pawning Cliff Lee off on Texas for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke hasn’t worked out nearly as planned. Smoak, as we all know, hasn’t developed the way anyone thought he would. Beavan appears to be, at most, an okay back-of-the-rotation starter. And Lueke, though his stay was brief, might be the biggest surprise of the deal thus far, as he netted the team catcher John Jaso in a subsequent trade this past offseason.
Signing Chone Figgins to a multi-year contract has certainly been a bust. Dealing Carlos Silva and cash for Milton Bradley was a complete disaster. A real sadist might bring up the fact that the M’s let 2012 All-Stars Bryan LaHair and R.A. Dickey go before they really developed. And then there are the moves that weren’t made.
The biggest failures of the Zduriencik era, in my mind, are those transactions that never occurred. This organization has a knack for holding onto players after their peak value has elapsed. League, as mentioned above, is one of those players. The same could be said for Erik Bedard and David Aardsma, two additional pitchers who the M’s relinquished for pennies on the dollar. The lack of foresight to perceive a player’s decline has been an obstacle the Mariners’ front office must overcome.
Additionally, there appears to be a certain aversion to risk among the Zduriencik regime. The players the team tends to acquire are those who many onlookers would say are “safe.” They possess low risk, and in turn offer a lower reward. They are not flashy. They are not potential superstars. They’re simply destined to become adequate major leaguers, at best, that get the job done on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps the three most recent examples of this can be found in the team’s high first round draft picks: Dustin Ackley in 2009, Danny Hultzen in 2011, and Mike Zunino in 2012. Though the jury is still out on all three of these guys, it’s been deemed by the speculative gallery that none possesses quite the same sizzle as other players in their respective draft classes. Ackley and Hultzen were taken with the second overall picks in their drafts; Zunino was selected third overall. If any of these players fails to provide either a) measurable impact with the Mariners or b) an equitable return on the trade market, you can expect Zduriencik and Co. to lose their jobs sooner rather than later. With such an emphasis on the farm system during the Zduriencik era, such lofty draft picks must produce — and produce at a high level — for the current management group to be successful.
I want to believe in Jack Zduriencik. I want to trust the movement. But what have Jack and his cohorts given us to be happy about since 2009? There isn’t much, and with another 90-plus-loss season on the horizon, time, unfortunately, is running out for the organization.
Filed under: Mariners, Top 11
Last July Jack Zduriencik traded Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush and Francisco Martinez. At the time Fister was 3-12 here but as we all know now he went on to go 8-1 down the stretch for the Tigers and became somewhat of a fan favorite in Detroit. Meanwhile back at the ranch Charlie Furbush has been converted to an adequate left-handed reliever and Casper Wells languishes on the bench. So tonight turned out to be sort of a groundhog experience for Fister as he made his first start coming off the DL against his old team.
After watching the lanky Fister hold the Mariners scoreless for eight innings tonight there is no doubt in my mind that this deal was not one that Jack Z. can brag about. Not that many fans I know have any ill feelings towards Fister, nor do I think he has any animosity towards the Seattle Mariners or the fans but after tonight’s meltdown in the ninth by Octavio Dotel to allow the Mariners to come back and win 3-2, I’m sure Doug Fister doesn’t miss Seattle a bit.
Just like in his days here Doug Fister pitched a masterpiece and got only minimal run-support that just didn’t hold-up thanks to a clutch double by Montero in the ninth along with some wild pitching by the veteran Dotel and a game-winning RBI sacrifice fly by John Jaso to drive the stake into Fister and the Tigers collective hearts.
This was the sort of Mariners game that sucked for eight innings then became a blast for about 15 minutes as I was writing this post! The win is the fourth straight over the Tigers this year and may be enough to get me down to Safeco Field tomorrow night to see if we can keep it up.
The Mariners need this sort of game now and then to make this whole fan thing bearable for as you can see in Geoff Baker’s article today :The perils of rebuilding: how “the right way” in theory can be absolutely the wrong way in real life the fan support for the Mariners is dwindling and reaching a crucial tipping point these days after so many disappointing seasons.Tonight’s thrilling game was a good start! Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
It took 10 innings and 13 runs on 18 hits for the Seattle Mariners to pick-up their first win of the 2011 Spring Training season 13-12 over the San Diego Padres down here in Peoria on this cloudy and chilly day. Josh Bard the veteran catcher drove-in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 10th with a bases loaded single up the middle in front of a small but lively crowd who were on their feet as the 3-2 pitch with t down was served-up to Bard.
Outside of the impressive first inning by Mariners Pitcher Erik Bedard, this game was all about offense for both sides as the respective managers just kept sending out young pitchers to get battered. The Mariners offense was more lively than I can remember in any game last year with a bunch of guys coming-up with clutch hits including Jack Wilson who had a couple of base knocks that drove in runs for Eric Wedge and his scrappy club.
But 24 year-old outfielder Carlos Peguero had perhaps the biggest day of all the M’s with his 2-run homer with two down in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game and send it into 10th inning. In the Padres half of the 10th Peguero threw a bullet from left to nail the potential go-ahead run for the Padres at the plate in dramatic style, allowing Josh Bard to knock home the winning run in a game that lasted almost 3 1/2 hours. Carlos Peguero hit 23 dingers down in AA West Tennessee to lead the league, and at 6’5” and built like an ox he stands a good chance of pushing a few of the AAA guys we all know of out of the way, if he can keep playing like he did today.
After watching today’s game I am starting to believe what Jack Zduriencik has been talking about in regard to the Mariners bright future. Peguero along with Johermyn Chavez who also played in AA last year, are both on the 40 man roster, and I can see why now. I have a hunch that guys like Michael Saunders, Greg Hallman, and Mike Wilson better keep an eye on these youngsters or they may get left in the dust.
Again I want to reiterate that Erik Bedard looked smooth and in total command in the first inning as he struck out 2 Padres and got the third out on a routine grounder. This is potentially great news for Seattle as from the looks of the rest of the guys who threw today including Luke French, we will be needing Bedard to complete the starting rotation. Franklin Gutierrez and Jack Cust were not in the lineup today and hopefully I will get a chance to see them play in tomorrow’s 1pm game here in Peoria.
On a side-note I ran into a few familiar names in Mariners history in the stands today, one was Rick the peanut man who has been with the club since the begining and is always a fun and comforting figure to be around. The other two were none other than Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong who were sitting close to me. I have pictures and video clips of all three and may try to get them up later tonight after I come back from dinner.
It was a fun and invigorating day for Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog today down here in Peoria as the Mariners put on an offensive display that hopefully will continue the rest of the season! Go M’s….www.jeffsmariners.com
Things were pretty loose down here in Peoria today and thus I got a chance to get up close with Rick Rizzs and Jack Zduriencik and tried to have a meaningful conversation with these two public figures. I have run into Rizzs several times over the years and as you will notice in the clip he is a pretty open and honest guy off the air. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik on the other hand is a bit more elusive and prone to give out sound-bites in order to protect the organization.
It is hard to say what really is going on with this organization after all we have been through in the past year, but I would venture to say that a lot of people at the top are ready to move on with 2011. Actually that is fine by me as the game of baseball is always moving forward with familiar patterns and rhythm’s which is probably why it is so soothing these days in a world full of turmoil. I would not go so far as to say there is confidence in the air down here in Peoria this year, but there is certainly a feeling of a club preparing in a tight and well orchestrated manner. This of course is a tribute to the Mariners new manager Eric Wedge who manages to appear both loose and intense at the same time, which is the perfect state of mind for a baseball team and it’s players.
I am looking forward to the game tomorrow afternoon so we can begin to get a picture of how this team is going to shape-up in 2011. I am enjoying my trip thus far though I must say this whole Arizona thing does not sit well with my Maritime background. This is a fine Port to visit every Spring, but I am glad that my Home Port is Seattle. This area has been ravaged by the housing bust ,and the summers of 110 degree weather are not what this old sailor would consider to be a Snug Harbor.
I grabbed a seat 5 rows behind home plate for $23 so look for me if you happen to be watching this first game of the long voyage tomorrow. Till then….smooth sailing.Go M’s! www.jeffsmariners.com
Tags: Jack Zduriencik
In case you were wondering, the Seattle Mariners will not be firing general manager Jack Zduriencik.
Here is an unconfirmed short list of some other folks who, like Zduriencik, will also not be fired from their jobs:
- Barack Obama
- Ronald McDonald
- Sienna West
- Peyton Manning
- Kim Jong-Il
In other news, the sun will likely rise tomorrow. Probably in the east.
Filed under: Mariners
Tags: Jack Zduriencik
Felix Hernandez continued to force the question of who is the best pitcher in the American League in 2010 with another dominant performance today, as the Mariners beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 on a perfect September day in Seattle.
The King actually received some run support today as well, thanks primarily to Russell “The Muscle” Branyan who is on a roll himself driving in a pair of runs including a homer in the sixth. Branyan knows his return next year as the Mariners DH depends on how he finishes out the season and has homered in three of the last four games, making his bat hard to ignore as well.
Hernandez had command of all three of his pitches today and was able to fan 9 Indians giving him the AL lead with 209 on the year. It seems as if Hernandez is in the zone so to speak, showing more confidence and savvy as the season moves on. Of course for Felix to win the Cy Young award he will need to continue to pitch this way and receive run support if he has any hopes of getting the votes needed to win this coveted award, due to the East Coast bias in the press and the fact that Hernandez is only 11-10.
It is nice for the fans to have something to follow as the fall air creeps into the Puget Sound. Both Felix and Ichiro are in the hunt for something special as Ichiro shoots for his tenth year in a row with 200 hits (got 2 today) and Hernandez chases the prestigious Cy Young award.
Wanted to note that I attended the event put on by the blogs: USS Mariner and Lookout Landing on Saturday night and though the game kind of sucked, it was great to talk to fellow bloggers as well as get to hear Jack Zduriencik address the group of a hundred or so before the game.
Jack Z. was fairly candid and did admit that this year has been a big disappointment but he emphasized that we have a lot of talent developing in the minors that could help the big club in years to come. He chose to avoid answering a question about the whole Griffey fiasco, and gave the same stock responses that a media savvy guy like him would give around the whole Josh Lueke situation. The event was certainly no love-fest but the questions were civil and it is a testament to the power of the internet that a GM would even take the time to talk to a group of bloggers and their readers.
So after salvaging a split with the Indians our boys head down the Coast for a visit to the Oakland Coliseum for a series with our division rivals the Athletics to see if we can play the role of spoiler and dash any lingering hopes the feisty A’s have of catching the Rangers. The pennant races around the majors are still very interesting to follow and I look forward to reporting on an exciting postseason. Alas it would be much sweeter for us all if our sailors were in the race, but I guess we will have to focus on the consolation prizes of the Ichiro and Hernandez runs for glory. Http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Felix Hernandez Cy Young, Jack Zduriencik, Lookout Landing, USS Mariners
The Mariners rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning tonight scoring three runs to beat the Angels 3-1. That’s the good news, the bad news is that despite going seven innings of 3-hit shutout ball Felix Hernandez was once again denied a victory.
Manager Daren Brown decided to pull Felix after he had thrown only 103 pitches tonight bringing in Brandon League in a strategy that looked for a minute like it would backfire as League was tagged for a pair of doubles that resulted in a run for the Angels. Fortunately League was able to get out of the inning without further damage thanks to a double-play.
The Mariners put together a sweet little rally of their own in the bottom half of the eighth thanks to hits by Lopez, Moore and Josh Wilson combined with a walk to Branyan to lead-off the frame and a nice sac-fly by Michael Saunders that also drove-in a run. This 3-run outburst came a few innings too late once again for Felix Hernandez who desperately needs to add a few more wins to his total of 10 in order to have a shot at the Cy Young award this year.Full Box Score
I don’t usually subscribe to players playing for stats or awards in lost seasons like this, but Felix is having a heck of a year and it would be nice to salvage something in the way of hometown bragging rights if Felix continues to blow teams away and somehow gets the votes to win the Cy Young award.
Believe it or not tomorrow is September 1st which usually means it is time to expand the roster and bring-up some of the AAA guys to get a taste of “The Show”. However due to the fact that the Rainiers have a good shot at making the play-offs, it looks like the Mariners will be holding-off on bringing guys up till the Rainiers are done with their run at glory. Once again like the decision to pull Felix after only allowing him to throw 103 pitches, the decision to let the AAA guys finish out their season is the right thing to do, but it sure doesn’t seem fair to us fans who have suffered so much in 2010.
On a couple other random notes it seems that Mike Sweeney is being well received by his new team the Phillies and their fans. I’m glad to see him get a chance to play for a contender and to be appreciated after all the snide comments tossed his way here in the local press and blogosphere. I also wanted to note that Milton Bradley who is out for the year with an injury, seems to be completely forgotten as a part of the various 2011 visions for the Mariners which are being thrown around. Milton may have been a disappointment this year but we are still on the hook for $12 million next year so look for his name to resurface in the offseason once the denial of his potential return fades away. If Jack Zduriencik wants to get his growing flock of doubters off his back in a hurry I can’t think of a better way than to somehow trade him away even if we have to eat most of his salary. Of course I have no idea who would take a chance on Bradley at this point in his bizarre career, so we may just have to give him a shot at a position next spring and if he doesn’t produce simply let him go…
Still trying to decide which game I’m going to attend in this homestand, I was trying to wait for the Indians but may just sneak down tomorrow for the rubber-match of this series with the Angels. Ciao……http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Cy Young, Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Mike Sweeney
Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announced today that manager Don Wakamatsu along with pitching coach Rick Adair and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo have all been fired. Zduriencik said: “I have concluded that these changes needed to be made now and that they are in the best interest of the Mariners as we move forward,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. “Don, Ty and Rick are all good baseball men and they have done their very best. But we are where we are. I no longer have confidence that Don, Ty and Rick are the right long-term fit for our organization. New leadership is needed and it is needed now.”
Daren Brown manager with the Mariners AAA affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers will be brought-in as the interim manager, along with Carl Willis who will take over as the pitching coach for Rick Adair. Roger Hansen will be the new bench coach for the rest of the season.
While this move does not come as a major shock for most of us fans, it is a bit disturbing in that the Seattle Mariners have gone through 16 managers since the team’s inception in 1977. Only Lou Piniella has survived for more than three seasons out of the whole bunch, and it is no coincidence that the Mariners only real winning era was under Piniella.
It is no secret that Wakamatsu never really had control of the clubhouse especially after the whole Ken Griffey Jr. situation. Wakamatsu ended up being the fall-guy for upper-management to handle that tough scenario that appeared to be still lingering in the dugout when Chone Figgins exploded after being pulled from a game recently by Wakamatsu.
I liked Wakamatsu as an individual, but after seeing how the veterans disrespected him this year down at Peoria for spring training this year, I knew trouble was brewing. Wakamatsu made a lot of questionable moves this year with his odd lineups, difficulty in handling the bullpen, and just being generally indecisive. Of course last year Wakamatsu could do no wrong, but some of that was luck, and some can be attributed to the veterans Griffey and Mike Sweeney helping Wakamatsu out.
So now with roughly 2/3 of the season over we will trudge forward to another off-season of uncertainty where we will continue the never-ending rebuilding project that started in 2003 and has no end in sight. One common denominator through all the years of failure and heartache that we fans have endured here is two names: Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. These two guys manage to keep their jobs no matter who comes or goes. This franchise has some serious problems like lack of goals, unaccountable front office personnel, and an absentee owner. These problems will not go away no matter who is managing this team and it is time for the fans to demand some real change at the top or we will continue to go through managers, GM’s, and players like a sailor blowing his cash after a long voyage. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Chone figgins, Chuck Armstrong, Daren Brown, Don Wakamatsu, Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Ken Griffey Jr., Rick Adair, seattle mariners
I don’t like Don Wakamatsu all that much. I think he’s too passive, he lets the team run itself, and when things start to spiral out of control (as things have had a tendency to do this year) he has no way of reeling the troops back in before they go AWOL.
That said, I really don’t like the way the Mariners organization has continually thrown Wakamatsu under the bus lately.
Wak might not be the right man to lead this ballclub, but he doesn’t need to get screwed by his bosses day after day, either. It’s one thing to suck at your job. It’s another thing to suck at your job and blame someone else.
Between Wakamatsu, general manager Jack Zduriencik, team president Chuck Armstrong, and CEO Howard Lincoln, all four of these men currently suck at their respective jobs. Three of those men — Zduriencik, Armstrong, and Lincoln — are using their authority to make Wakamatsu the scapegoat for their collective failure. That’s f**ked up.
Of course, being Wakamatsu’s superiors, Zduriencik, Armstrong, and Lincoln have every right to blame Wak for their problems if they so choose. But that’s a pretty low thing to do. Real men wouldn’t do that. But then again, we have no proof that Zduriencik, Armstrong, and Lincoln are real men.
Our team is currently being run by a bunch of pansy Benedict Arnolds who can’t even answer our questions, let alone take the blame for the crap product they’re forcing us to stomach. Nut up and stop ducking the media. Nut up and make Chone Figgins apologize for being a bitch and getting in a fight with his manager. Nut up and show the fans that you care. We deserve better than what you’re giving us right now. And frankly, if you don’t find a way to give us better, we’ll find a way to bring your asses down. I promise you that. I’ll keep writing about it for months if I have to. Until we get answers. Because we’ve earned that right.
Now some of you may be wondering why I’d lump Zduriencik in with Armstrong and Lincoln. Well that’s simple. Zduriencik may have made a few nice personnel moves during his tenure with the club, but for the past three months or so, he hasn’t shown any support for Wakamatsu. You need to back your boy, Jack. You hired him, you’re stuck with him, now your ass needs to stand by him. That’s the way these things work. Just because he’s losing, you’re gonna turn on your guy like that? Wow. That’s real classy. Hopefully you pull that knife out of Wak’s back before you kick him out the door.
Actions speak louder than words, gentlemen. You can hide in your offices, hide in your suits, hide under your desks and let Wak stand before the press each night and take bullets for a team he probably won’t even represent much longer.
But I’ll tell you this. Even if the man never manages again, even if he never has a winning ballclub to his credit, and even if he never gets that public apology for Chone’s temper tantrum, I’ll always remember Don Wakamatsu as a loyal human being. To the bitter end. He’s a skipper that fully intends to go down with the ship. We should all be so privileged to work with men of his character.
You three, on the other hand, have a sh*tload of work to do.
You’ve done nothing to endear yourselves to an angry, bitter fan base.
You’ve wussed out on answering questions for months in Zduriencik’s case, or years in the cases of Lincoln and Armstrong.
You’ve stabbed people in the back, pointed fingers, and have seemingly never once looked in the mirror.
You lack character.
You don’t deserve to run a baseball team, let alone any team.
You’re poor leaders and it shows in the product you’ve vomited onto the field over the years.
Wakamatsu might be unemployed in a few months. This team may lose 100 games. And yet somehow, some way, you jerks will retain your jobs. What a joke.
Filed under: Mariners
I woke up this morning hoping to discover that the Mariners GM had pulled-off some sort of miracle move to dump a few of our underachievers and pick up some new names to help finish-up the 2010 voyage. But as the trade deadline evaporated all we got was a strange shuffle of names that all seem to have negative baggage attached to them. Perhaps Jack Z. could not unload any of the stowaways who have been collecting paychecks for doing next to nothing this year, and he knows the fans are restless so he tried sort of a homemade blockbuster trade.
I mean what the heck top management probably figures most of the fans will be focusing on Seafair so we will give them a little show like the Hydros at Safeco to entertain them. So here it is the big trade deadline move by Jack Zduriencik in 2010: Justin Smoak goes to AAA Tacoma, Milton Bradley goes on the DL and Sean White and Matt Tuiasosopo come back from Tacoma! Yes that is it folks, our big bat that we got for Cliff Lee can’t hit in the majors yet so he will be replaced by Matt Tuiasosopo another guy who can’t hit in the majors. Sean White who gets bombed almost every time out gets one more shot at redemption. And Milton Bradley has another undefined injury. I can just see the headlines now: “In Jack Z. we Rust”
This is what we get as other clubs are adding to their already powerful arsenals and the Mariners continue to slide into the lower tier of MLB teams in a not so graceful manner. I was hoping that perhaps we would bring-up Matt Mangini who plays third in Tacoma and is hitting .300 with 12 homers. Yes he has 19 errors but I’m tired of watching Tui boot balls, at least this guy Mangini is someone new and has some pop. Of course I know it must be the old belief-system thing again. Either Don Wakamatsu or Jack Z. or possibly both, see something in Sean White and Tuiasosopo that the rest of us must be missing.
Honestly I was caught a little offgaurd when I heard that Justin Smoak will be heading down to Tacoma as well. Yes he is looking terrible at the plate, but I swear I heard both Jack Z. and Wak say this was going to be the everyday first baseman for the rest of the year? It makes it even more disturbing when you look at the fact that we traded Cliff Lee early to get this guy who has already proven he is not ready to hit at this level. Imagine if we would have held out till the trade deadline and been able to actually pick-up a bonafide Major League Player, heck we may have even been able to package up Jose Lopez with Lee instead of Mark Lowe.
I took a look at the Tacoma Rainiers roster today and to be honest I think there really is not much difference anymore with the big club as far as overall talent. And besides the Rainiers are actually winning…..hmm maybe that is the secret strategy that Jack Z. is working on some sort of shadow-team with Smoak, Sweeney, Ackley, Pineda that he is keeping hidden in Tacoma so he can trade the entire starting line-up in Seattle to get Cliff Lee back….I don’t know anymore but I have decided to drive to Tacoma tonight to investigate and watch a competitive team play baseball here in the NW…….http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: AAA Tacoma, homemade blockbuster trade, Jack Zduriencik, Justin Smoak, Mariners, Matt Mangini