Jack Zduriencik Rumors

Zduriencik On Pitching, Trades, Safeco

The Mariners successfully prevented their opponents from scoring in 2012 — just two American League clubs allowed fewer runs. However, no AL team had more trouble generating offense than Seattle, which finished last in the league in scoring. Will the Mariners swap arms for bats, or will moving the fences in at Safeco Field be enough? GM Jack Zduriencik checked in with MLBTR at the 2012 GM Meetings at Indian Wells, California. Here are some highlights…

  • The Mariners have lots of young pitching, and they’re not going to rule out the possibility of trading it to strengthen other areas of the team. “You have to keep your options open,” Zduriencik said. “At this stage people are feeling each other out, people are lining their ducks up in a row. All 30 clubs are doing this and everybody has their Christmas list if you will.”
  • Zduriencik will consider trades and free agency as the Mariners search for offense. “You never know what’s going to be out there,” the GM said.
  • Early on in the offseason, there’s “an awareness” from free agents that the Mariners will be moving the fences in at Safeco Field in 2013. “It certainly becomes a conversation piece and hopefully it helps us.”

Zduriencik On Mariners Offseason

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says the Mariners are looking to acquire starting pitching depth, relief help, a backup shortstop and offense this offseason. Here are more of Zduriencik's updates on the Mariners from an afternoon conference call with reporters:

  • Zduriencik declined to comment on negotiations with specific free agents, including Prince Fielder (the Mariners are interested). The GM said the Mariners may turn to the free agent market for offense if they can match up with available players in terms of years and dollars.
  • "We will explore several options, even trades," he said. "But there aren't any promises on these things. You don't know where you're going to end up at."
  • The Mariners are looking forward to bounce-back years from Franklin Gutierrez and others who struggled with injuries in 2011.
  • Zduriencik will explore ways of adding starting pitching, but feels that arms such as Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen give the Mariners pitching that may contribute soon.
  • "When you look at some arms that are pretty close and you look at some arms we have in the Major Leagues, we have some pretty strong assets here," he said.
  • The Mariners will again be a young team in 2012, but the front office will likely add some veterans to complement the existing group.
  • Zduriencik expects restrictions on spending in Latin America to have more of an effect after this year. He likes the options on the international free agent market, but isn't promising to sign any of them.
  • "There are some nice pieces out there," he said. "But they're not going to come inexpensively."

Jack Zduriencik, Mariners Agree To Extension

SATURDAY: Zduriencik's new deal is for two years, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.

WEDNESDAY: The Mariners announced a multiyear extension for GM Jack Zduriencik. Despite the team's place at the bottom of the American League West standings, president & CEO Chuck Armstrong says the club is headed in the right direction for long-term success.

“Jack arrived in Seattle with a clear plan, and he has not deviated from that plan,” Armstrong said in a team press release. “Jack wanted to increase the talent base in our organization through scouting and player development. That is exactly what he has done.”

Zduriencik, whose contract was set to expire after 2011, said today that he intends "to continue to acquire talent at all levels of [the] organization" as the Mariners look to improve.

MLBTR's extension tracker has all of the moves Zduriencik has made since taking over baseball operations in October of 2008. His most memorable deals to date include the two Cliff Lee trades, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow swap, the three-team J.J. Putz deal and the Milton Bradley for Carlos Silva trade. He also signed Felix Hernandez and Franklin Gutierrez to extensions and spent $36MM on free agent Chone Figgins. In total, Zduriencik and his staff acquired 28 of the 32 players currently on Seattle's active roster and disabled list.

The Mariners won 85 games in 2009, the club's first season under Zduriencik. However, they lost 101 games last year and are now 57-77, last in the AL West.

Zduriencik became the first non-GM to win Baseball America's executive of the year award in 2007, when he was Milwaukee's scouting director. He has spent 28 years working for MLB organizations, including nine with the Brewers (1999-2008).

Mike Salk of 710 ESPN first reported the deal.



West Notes: Pentland, Bell, Breslow, Bedard

The latest on a few AL and NL West clubs…

  • The Dodgers fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland and named Dave Hansen interim coach through season's end, the team announced on Twitter.  Not that it's entirely Pentland's fault, but the Dodgers are 15th in the NL with 3.63 runs scored per game.
  • Padres closer Heath Bell appeared on ESPN's Doug Gottlieb show yesterday.  He thinks his top three suitors are the Rangers, Phillies, and Cardinals, and believes he'd probably close only for the Cards.  SI's Jon Heyman says the Padres have considered taking draft picks for Bell after the season or re-signing him if they don't get what they want this month.  Heyman lists the Phillies, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals, Pirates, Angels, (and the White Sox and Yankees to a lesser degree) as suitors.  By the way, check out our Bell archive over at CloserNews for fantasy advice.
  • Athletics lefty Craig Breslow interests the Brewers, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Morosi expects many A's to be dealt this month, and notes that the Rangers, Orioles, Giants, Pirates, Blue Jays, Brewers and Reds scouted Tuesday's game in Detroit.
  • Trade candidate Erik Bedard will likely have his return delayed until after the Mariners' series with Boston at Fenway this weekend, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  He might have one start to display his health prior to the July deadline.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told SI's Jon Heyman he hasn't heard nor has he asked about his situation.  Zduriencik's contract is up after this season.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti explained to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that "it's not that cut and dry" to label his club buyers or sellers.  Though the team has no chance in 2011, Colletti may be willing to acquire players who are controlled beyond this year.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Fusco, Thome, Cubs, Jeter

On this date in 1998, former New York Highlander and St. Louis Brown Red Hoff passed away. At 107 years, four months, and nine days old, the left-handed pitcher had the longest life span of any player in Major League history, out-living his closest competition by more than five years. He pitched to a 2.49 ERA in 83 innings from 1911-1915, but never played after serving in World War I.

Here are a few interesting links from around the blogosphere…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Odds & Ends: Brewers, Molina, Zduriencik, White Sox

Friday Night Lights Links…

  • Brewers' GM Doug Melvin said that they're finished signing "impact" free agents according to a tweet from MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. He did not, however, rule out a trade with payroll implications.
  • Ed Price of AOL FanHouse says (via Twitter) that Bengie Molina passed up an extra $1MM in salary for 2010 from the Mets for a familiarity of San Francisco.
  • David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus sat down for a must read interview with Mariners' GM Jack Zduriencik. Best of all, it's not behind their subscriber wall.
  • An interesting quote by White Sox GM Kenny Williams at SoxFest today, courtesy of a tweet from Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune: "There's always one more move to be made."

Odds & Ends: Arbitration Filings, Brewers, Blue Jays

Got some more links for you on a hectic Tuesday…

  • Ed Price of AOL FanHouse has a list of salary figures exchanged by players and their teams at today's arbitration filing deadline.
  • MLB.com's Adam McCalvy breaks down the exchanged figures and the situations of the Brewers' remaining arbitration-eligible players.
  • Jordan Bastian of MLB.com says the Blue Jays' payroll "will probably be in the $60-63MM range" next season, down from a previously reported figure of $80MM.  Toronto's payroll, however, is "really a fluid number" according to Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.
  • Colorado may sign veteran catcher Paul Lo Duca to a minor-league deal, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
  • In a text message to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times (via Twitter), Johnny Damon said he's "sure things will work out somewhere." Damon added that he hasn't ruled out a return the Yankees either.
  • The Phillies are discussing a multi-year deal with arbitration eligible center fielder Shane Victorino, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
  • With Bengie Molina returning to San Francisco, the Mets primary catching target is now Yorvit Torrealba, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
  • Morosi tweets that Joe Blanton filed for $10.25MM in arbitration today, but the Phillies countered with $7.5MM.
  • Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (via Twitter) spoke to a scout who saw Ben Sheets' throwing session today. "He threw very well. He threw easy," said the scout, who guessed that Mets, Cubs, and Rangers were the leaders for his services.
  • Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald tweets that the Marlins and Cody Ross are going to an arbitration hearing over a $250K difference.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that the Astros and Wandy Rodriguez are $2MM apart in their arbitration case.
  • The Rays and B.J. Upton did not reach a deal today, and his agent indicated that the two sides will head to an arbitration hearing according to Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter). He later tweets that they may be just $300K apart.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reports that the Cubs, Cardinals, and Dodgers are monitoring free agent lefty Mark Mulder. Late last week we learned that the Brewers were going to wait before deciding whether or not to offer Mulder a deal.
  • The Blue Jays have signed outfielder Jeremy Reed and righty Steven Register to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training according to a team press release.
  • MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets that the Dodgers have signed catcher J.D. Closser to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. The former top Rockies' prospect last appeared in the big leagues back in 2006.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick penned a must-read on how Jack Zduriencik has transformed the Mariners in his short time at the helm.
  • SI.com's Tom Verducci took a look at the most efficient teams of the last decade. The Marlins, Athletics, and Rays highlight the best, while the Mets were among the least efficient.

GM Trade Histories: AL West

Brendan Bianowicz has one more big update to our GM Trade History Series.  Check out the AL West spreadsheets below for GM information on trades, free agent signings, and more.


Odds & Ends: Peavy, Fielder, Mets, M’s

A nice helping of links to get us going here Wednesday night…

  • According to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, Jake Peavy is doubtful to make his White Sox debut on Saturday.  The newly acquired right-hander was unable to throw a scheduled side session Wednesday afternoon due to lingering elbow soreness.
  • Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel agrees with Dave Cameron's philosophy that the Brewers should trade first baseman Prince Fielder if they have no intention of improving their starting rotation through free agency this offseason.  "I understand the team would take a PR hit if they traded a star like Prince," writes Haudricourt,"but for the betterment of the organization, it makes sense to deal him if you can't improve around him."
  • FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says evidence suggests that the Mets, who have sent 19 men to the DL this season, are not taking care of their players. "The Mets can say what they want, writes Rosenthal.  "After a while, the disabled list does not lie."
  • Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks the Mariners are finally moving in the right direction, and gives a good chunk of the credit to general manager Jack Zduriencik.  "Wait 'til next year now means something again for Mariners fans," says LaRue.

Insight On Zduriencik

Mariners fans and those that would like insight on where their new GM Jack Zduriencik will take the team should read this piece from Geoff Baker’s Mariners Blog. 

Baker praises Zduriencik (whose name I will copy and paste for the rest of this post) for his low key nature and respect of the organization and positions as currently arranged. While he seeks to make sweeping changes, he carries no agenda to do so abruptly. This refers not only to players but also employees and scouts within the organization. Says Baker,

"The best GMs in this game are the ones who know how to use the people who work under them. Look at Billy Beane in Oakland and the parade of fine assistants he relies on. Or at Gillick in Philadelphia, who holds weekly conference calls with the Phillies pro scouting staff — something that truly allows them to feel they are making a difference."

Baker says the most important decision Zduriencik will make could be his choice of manager.  Baker breaks it down eloquently:

"The GM is the master-planner. But the manager is the guy in the field. The guy in the trenches. There is always the theory and the reality of carrying something out. A GM comes up with the theory. And a good manager takes that theory and — providing he has the proper tools and experience — knows how to make in work down on the field."

Baker notes how former GM Bill Bavasi did not communicate his reasons for making certain moves (Rafael Soriano-Horacio Ramirez anyone?) to his fans. Baker warns Zduriencik tends to play it close to the chest as well and how he handles the media will be decisive in his re-engaging and earning the trust of M’s fans.

See also this piece by Phil Rogers where he gives credit to the Mariners for "getting the best baseball mind available." He says Zduriencik’s scouting ability and keen judgment are responsible for the Brewers’ recent successes and should be a GM in the mold of Pat Gillick. Interestingly, Ned Yost is being seriously considered.