Report Describes Dysfunction In Mariners’ Front Office

The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker is out with a new article that calls into question the leadership of the Mariners' front office just days after reports that the team inked Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240MM contract. In the piece, former Manager Eric Wedge and former Special Assistant Tony Blengino allege meddling by ownership, bullying by GM Jack Zduriencik and a unwillingness to support young players.

The article gives a withering depiction of Zduriencik, who Blengino says "never has understood one iota about statistical analysis." It's concerning criticism for the GM, who was hired in 2008 with a reputation for being able to incorporate both scouting- and statistics-based analysis. According to the article, most of the job application Zduriencik submitted to the Mariners in 2008 was actually written by Blengino, who worked with Zduriencik for the Brewers. "Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job," Blengino commented.

In an episode that's perhaps representative of the criticisms in the article, Blengino recounts a presentation he gave to baseball operations officials in 2012 on how the Mariners could make use of computerized hitting data. Sitting in on the presentation, Zduriencik "nitpicked about font sizes and column widths," according to Blengino. "He did what he always does and made fun of something he couldn’t understand."

Meanwhile, Wedge details a troubled relationship with President Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln, saying the executives frequently criticized the club's young players to him in meetings. Wedge described "a ferocious, venom-filled tirade" after the 2012 season about the club's coaches and players in which Armstrong said the club "sickened" him, was "disgusting" and "disturbing."

Given the chance to respond to the charges, Armstrong declined. Lincoln says comments by Wedge "mischaracterized much of what occurred over the past three baseball seasons," while Zduriencik refused to discuss specifics. "I don’t believe the airing of 'dirty laundry' should take place in the public arena," the GM said. Baker says he spoke with more than two dozen people for the article who questioned the direction of the club. 

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