Two Cheers for "Plan Z"
Hip, hip, hoo- ... um ... sometimes the wise commander makes an orderly retreat to await reinforcements


It was a brutal week for Jack Zduriencik and his Z-Crew.  Right?

  • Two of his three "flagship" prospect acquisitions got shipped out to AAA (Dustin Ackley; Jesus Montero)
  • The third was just hanging on, but with an OBP higher than his SLG (Justin Smoak)
  • The guy many considered the key piece of his Doug Fister trade was quietly slipped onto the "discard" pile (Francisco Martinez (Talk40 #40))
  • A mid-level off-season acquisition with modest, but real, expectations crashed and burned (Robert Andino)
  • A promising young starter got sent down (Brandon Maurer) raising the possibility of three retreads at the back of the rotation.


There's no way to sugar-coat that, and it's all true.

But ... let's not underestimate the power of "Plan B."

Think about it.  Doesn't it seem like the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals have won every World Series in recent memory?  Yes, it does. [Memo to Bud: it's not a good sign when folks who are huge baseball fans have a hard time remembering the last few World Series.]

And doesn't it seem like they've been doing with guys who weren't necessarily part of the Master Plan?  Aubrey Huff?  David Freese?

Let's put it this way:

  • "Plan B" matters.
  • The Bavasi era barely had "Plan A" but it certainly didn't have "Plan B."

At 35,000 feet, as my senior partner likes to say, are they worse off after the brutal week?


So let's see where we're at:

Catcher: Montero was Plan A.  And let's be frank: a lot of commentators said to dump Montero's receiving gear in the dumpster on Day One.  The Z-Crew, instead, gave him a lot of rope.  It didn't work, but they tried. 

But ... "Plan B, Part 1" is Jesus Sucre (Watch List), a guy the Z-Crew salvaged from the Braves organization.  "Freely available," so to speak, but someone had to spot him and get him signed.  Z immediately was touting his skills behind the plate, and potential to be a big-league backup with a non-disastrous bat.

And, obviously, "Plan B, Part 2" is Mike Zunino (Talk40 #1).  Already off the charts with leadership skills and power, Zunino has work to do on strikeouts, and figuring out how to hit in the general vacinity of Puget Sound.  If he figures those things out, he ought to be an MLB starter for a long, long time.


Second base:  "Plan A" was Ackley, who was the Golden Boy in college, and in the minors, and even at the beginning of his MLB career.  It would have been hard to make a safer bet.

  • Note: only guy taken ahead of Ackley in the 2009 draft: Stephen Strasburg.

But even safe bets don't always pay off.

I'm one of those who remains convinced Ackley will pay off, but ...

"Plan B" is already in town, and it's not scrounging around for Jack Hanrahan, it's Nick Franklin (Talk40 #7), who's a tip-top prospect himself and who already has a pair of gorgeous home runs in his first weekend.

  • Note: Little Nicky was widely panned on draft day as a "Willlie Bloomquist" type who would never hit.  Somebody had to disregard that scouting report.

Too many second basemen?  Let's not worry about that problem yet.


First base: As I said, "Plan A" Smoak is just holding on, but he's not the only game in town anymore. Kendrys Morales has played 1b for seven games in a row while Smoak nurses an injury.  They prefer him as a DH, but playing in the field hasn't slowed down his bat (1.065 OPS in those seven games).

And ... catching "Plan A" is now first base "Plan B."  Montero faces knee surgery and an extended trip to the DL, but, if he rediscovers his massive bat, then he can still be an impact player.

  • Note: only two guys ranked ahead of Montero in the Baseball America 2011 prospect rankings:  Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.


Rotation: Unlike Doc, I don't beat up on the Fister trade in concept.  Whenever an NFL team has a backup quarterback with unexpected value, they ship him out for a package of draft picks.  That's what the Fister deal was.  But it was poorly executed.  Fister was undervalued, and Casper Wells and Martinez wayyyyy overvalued.  But I don't fault the idea behind the trade.

Of course, that left them counting on a bunch of young arms, and the two most-ready of them, Erasmo Ramirez and Danny Hultzen (Talk40 #4) got hurt at the wrong moment.

That's resulted in a much-more-Bavasi-like "Plan B" with the fringier Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi swapping fill-in starts with some hangers-on (or Harang-er-on), and still-raw Maurer pressed into premature duty.

But Ramirez and Hultzen are the real deal, and so is Taijuan Walker (Talk40 #2).  They've all got track records that scream MLB success.  (My doubts about James Paxton (Talk40 #3) grow with each 90-pitch, 5.0 IP outing, though I still hope he's "fixable.")


So ... awaiting reinforcements can be an acceptable strategy if there are actual reinforcements.  Trading Shin-Soo Choo and then hoping that T.J. Bohn is better than you thought ... not a good plan.




blissedj's picture

Another day, another disappointment. Potentially losing Catricala for a handful of Bonderman starts? Why not just use Noesi or Ruffin and keep Vinnnie? That is a horrible move. How can they keep with some of these guys in the majors so long but give up on Vinnie so quickly? Trading Doug Fister, the gift that keeps on taking. We are witnessing one of the most akward, backwards rebuilds in history. 3 SP with absolutely no future in our rotation. Garbage. How many players 30+ are you supposed to roster when "doing it the right way"? How do you build such a ripe farm system over 5 long years and then start giving players away while clogging every hole with 1 year veterans? Do the M's realize they are in yet another rebuilding season and that literally half the roster will be FA's and hardly any young player is gaining valuable MLB experience? Who is being prepared to take on any responsibility in 2014? Franklin. Hopefully Erasmo if healthy. Please M's, continue to cycle some young players through the openings. I'm begging you! No reason for a washed up vet like Bonderman as your fifth starter when you already have the same at 3 and 4. This moment in time of being and M's fan is so frustrating! I hope this all passes and is forgotten ASAP!


Bonderman was horrible with location from what I saw, but haven't looked back at the graph yet.
I would say it seems to be injuries that are keeping the young players down, not the M's brass. 3 retreads, yeah it shouldn't be that bad right now but the Mariners didn't just decide to lose Ramirez and Hultzen to injury or Beaven, Noesi, Maurer and Paxton to ineffectiveness. Waiting on plan B is what I see too. It does seem the smartest likely recourse. Trades at this time in the year are rarely very impactful players or moves. The best development path for Noesi and Beaven at this point...I'm pretty sure the team has a better idea than I. Their track record with pitchers hasn't inspired me to second guess them much on handling them lately, it seems they know what they're doing with them. That we're down 2 guys who would possibly otherwise have kept this conversation unspoken is the real problem.
I am wondering if there's anything more to Cat's DFA than just what we see in his performances. He still doesn't seem like the best choice from what I'm seeing.

blissedj's picture

While the M's should be cut some slack for injuries piling up this year we still sit here after 5 years into a rebuild having developed a 3B and maybe an OF we can move forward with. We have nearly half a roster stacked with older free agents with few replacements being seasoned in the majors. Yes, injuries are hurting us with pitching the past few weeks. Instead of putting a band aid on with Noesi (part of our return for a young all star pitcher), Ruffin (part of our return for a different #2/#3 starter) or Beavan (part of return for ACE) we decide it best to put retreads in for just a handful of starts and then simply give away yet another part of the #2/#3 pitcher trade (FMart) and a corner player that OPS over 1.000 in AA 1 1/2 years ago (VCat). We draft the college hitter of the decade who as of this moment has failed. The centerpiece return for our young all star pitcher is being moved off his most valuable position and as of this moment has failed. Our centerpiece return for an ACE pitcher has spent 90% of his time in the big leagues failing to an unprecedented degree for first basemen. We draft 2 highly touted college arms that are injured in the minors. Even if the 2 highly drafted arms were both in the rotation we are still a barren wasteland on offense.
As it currently stands this regime has produced 0 SP's and 1 starting 3b in five years. We will potentially have a lightly seasoned second baseman in 2014 if Franklin pans out. That's just not acceptable. SS and C have a chance to be filled for 2014 from AAA, but neither will be ready to carry the team as a MOTO hitter. Our OF will be nearly empty or empty if Saunders continues to slip. Nobody ready in AAA to fill a MOTO slot from the OF. No DH either. How exactly do we plan on not breaking our own records for offensive futility in 2014?


I recall a dysmal farm. 5 years, this will be his 5th draft here. 5 years come this October 22 (he was hired on Ichiro's 35th Birthday).
I guess it's all in how you word the question. Would I be disappointed to find the Mariners listed as top 5 farm system by most rankings? Of course not. That would have been incredible to believe. Only established 2 productive players outside of the bullpen? That doesn't sound good, but that could actually be better than the 10 years good are they and why do you have to say "outside of the bullpen"? The production of the farm has been more than that even before considering those that are close. There's no shortage of young guys who could be a big part of next year or the year after. A Catcher, 2B, 3B, CF, 3 Starters and 5 Relievers next year wouldn't be surprising would it? 1B, SS and Corner outfield are possibilities. I wish there was more, but it's more than just "a 3B".

blissedj's picture

And now we are just giving away depth when there is no reason to. Our farm has produced Felix, Saunders, Choo, A Cabrera, Adam Jones, Doug Fister, Pineda not too long prior to Z. That list even without Felix may be more successful than Z farm system and trades (Montero, Smoak) in the long run. That was not a dismal farm system looking at that list, we just didn't keep them around.
Does the bullpen really count all that much? What do they pitch, 1/3 of the innings in a season? So account for roughly 1/6 of the team. We pulled Wilhelmsen off the scrap heap and drafted Capps and Prior. Cool, kudos. Love the bullpen. Great finds but not building my team around those guys.
So for next year, after 5 years we should be happy to be JUST STARTING to get a look at rookies at Catcher (again), 2B (again), SS, 1 OF and 3 starters? We just spent 2 years doing something similar and came out with a 3B and no SP (Iwakuma not "developed", finished product). That looks like 2 years completely wasted and now we trot out a team full of 1 year free agents and start the whole process again with a fresh crop in 2014? How many 2 year tryouts with dead ball levels of offense are we expected to endure. We went through all of that and have exactly Seager and I guess Capps to show for it. Yes, I did expect more.

blissedj's picture

Please don't take me getting all bent out of shape as being upset with you. You make good points. I'm just so frustrated being an avid M's fan right now. This is the most frustrated I have ever been with the team. This season and the recent moves have finally pushed me over the edge! It is really tainting my view of 2014 and 2015 shaping up to be a couple of the worst years in franchise history, record wise. Please serve me a 7 course meal of crow Z! I will eat every bite and come back to tell everyone what a fool I was.

GLS's picture

Your expectations aren't especially realistic considering the method of team building the Mariners chose to employ. Had they gone a different route and signed more free agents and perhaps traded Ichiro following the 2008, 2009, or 2010 seasons, and perhaps traded Felix as well, the process could have been accelerated. But, they chose to hold on to what few star players they had and tread water and let contracts expire. I'm not his biggest fan, but Baker has been all over the positioning of the team for a sale, which probably has at least something to do with the decisions that have been made.
Building through the draft/IFA is a long process and you know, this time around we didn't get a Griffey or an Alex Rodriguez. We didn't get that transcendent once in a generation position player that people can point to. With our premium draft picks we got Ackley, Hultzen, and Zunino. Ackley is stalled (best case), Hultzen is injured, and Zunino is coming along. We have other players coming along as well and things are looking good, but it's going to take time. Figure if you draft a kid out of high school at 17 or 18, it's likely 7 or 8 years before he's in his athletic prime. College hitters and pitchers obviously can develop a bit faster than that, but may not have as much upside. Of course, some don't develop at all, even high picks. See Clement, Jeff.
If we had a better starting rotation right now, this team would be a lot better. The bottom three spots are a complete disaster. Despite all the other holes on the team, and the continuing need to build an everyday lineup, the "young core", the starting pitching is what's killing us. If there's one thing I would put squarely on the shoulders of Zduriencik it's the failure to build a starting rotation for THIS YEAR. This team would at least be interesting THIS YEAR if we had better starting pitching. Even with Montero regressing and Ackley continuing to confound, the main thing is the starting rotation.


I am worried for the same reasons. Just looking more at the bright side.
Choo, Cabrerra and Jones were gone already. Morse, Fister, Morrow and Clement could have lost a lot of games together, but that list is brutal. I'm sure there's others, the point is there wasn't anything close to a team on the farm. It seems there's possibilities at every position within 2 years now.
I want to see as many younger players getting PA as is good for them too. The team has changed so many times this year including playing time distribution for quite a few. They're trying to change in other players and added youth in the Andino/Ackley/Montero-Franklin/Triunfel/Sucre exchange.
I'm frustrated with the back of the rotation too, but have hope that a couple weeks can change things. Pushing past possible pertinent deadlines doesn't seem to be the issue right now with any though.
With each no you get closer to a yes. A couple of failures hurt, but not so much when you've got more internal talent at the same positions that are pushing for their shot. Franklin's up and looks like Seagers perfect sidekick so far.
Not everything is bad, just the retread 3-5 mainly. Team hitting is improving and was not last in the league even with Montero,Ackley,Andino and Ryan combining for so many...outs in so few appearances.
The Mariners will hit on some prospects in the next 2 years. How many chances and what are their chances? I get that none of that easily consoles people watching losing now. I don't see this as losing, it actually looked like a .500 team not long ago. I see no reason to think they're not still about that. I see some help coming to the rotation shortly though. It can't go with nothing more than hope that something emerges between the 8 or so options internally that could step up very long though. 2 weeks max? I'm still watching so far.

blissedj's picture

The method of putting a winning team on the field, for the M's recently, is flawed for sure. And you have to think winning wasn't a consideration. It is virtually impossible to build a lineup of hitters from just the farm. Maybe 3-4 pieces. 5 if you are super lucky. You CAN pretty much build your starting pitching from the farm, but not hitters. It is very important to succeed when trading for other teams top prospects/other hitters. We killed ourselves there mostly. We did good trading for Morse/Morales, but they will be gone again in a year. Of course free agency is a must. Another area we have had moderate success but not enough.
Look at poster team Tampa Bay. Developed players in their lineup Longoria, Jennings, Zobrist. Last year had Upton.
KC is a disaster "doing it the right way". Over the past few years they have been the shining example of how to rebuild with youth. Top rated farm system! How many years have they been at it? Butler very good, Gordon finally panned out, S Perez is hanging in there. Hosmer/Moustakas looking like AAA bound, two of their centerpiece prospects.
How about Oakland? They always put together a great team on the cheap. What hitters did Beane develop? Cespedes was a finished product, pretty much a FA signing. Josh Donaldson and .......... what other prospects? He traded for or signed the rest of his offense. Built the pitching staff from the minors. He builds his offense trading for other teams young players and mid/lower tier free agents.
San Fran! World Series Champs! Posey and Sandoval. Belt is OK. Crawford has had a couple good months this year.
St. Louis is always in the hunt. They had Pujols. Now with Molina, Craig, Carpenter, Freese. Very solid. One of the best case scenarios
Pittsburgh took 20 years to rebuild. How many homegrown hitters leading the resurgence? McCutchen, Marte, Walker. Alvarez holding on by his fingernails.
Baltimore has come back from the dead. Did it last year with just Markakis, Wieters. Now add Machado.
Jack Z has to be able to sign a decent free agent hitter. Actually we need 2 or 3 along with 2 or 3 hitters from other teams. Work is cut out for you buddy!

blissedj's picture

Atlanta. Couldn't forget about them! They are one of the best case scenario having developed Freeman, Heyward, McCann and now Gattis. Might be able to throw Simmons in there but he is regressing badly this year.
Texas - Kinsler, Profar, Moreland and I guess we can throw L Martin in there but a nearly polished Cuban signing similar to Cespedes.
Even the best of the best have to build their offense with key trades and FA's.


Sadly, our key trades and FA's, like our prospect development, seem to have been poorly executed. As you say, others have done things effectively. What the Mariners have tried in the Zduriencik regime, though not how I would have approached things, is not necessarily a design problem. My guess? It's possible to have succeeded with a few key tweaks. There's several ways to build a successful franchise. But no matter which way you choose, if you do not execute well you will not be successful.
The M's have not been successful because they have implemented their plan poorly. Poor player development when excellent development was the key to the plan. Some key bad trades. A glaring mistake in 2012 asking the kids to carry the load offensively without a sufficient veteran core. The failure over the last two years to trade for or sign a veteran core player (this year's emergent veteran core are on 1-year contracts, I don't count that).

blissedj's picture

We failed trading our chips in Cliff Lee, Doug Fister and held Ichiro. Now we have Morse/Morales as our established trade chips and apparently our prospects will not land an elite young hitter. At least they couldn't last winter. Will the prospects have the required MLB seasoning given as our excuse for no trade last winter? Or will the trade chips still be in AAA and require 2014 in the majors to acquire the seasoning so they can be traded in the offseason leading into 2015?
We failed wave 1 of hitter development. There is a wave 2 of hitter ready to storm the shore in AAA and as of today 2 more promising hitters in AA. There is no wave 3 of hitters in the low minors.
We failed in FA hitter signings and show no willingness to spend or overspend to correct the problem.
It feels as if we are starting over again after soon to be 5 years. And if wave 2 of hitters doesn't pan out, we can repeat the process again with a new GM.

GLS's picture

I think prospect development has gone pretty well, all things considered. Other than Walker, all of our top guys are at Triple A or on the Major League roster. Ackley got sent down but has frankly been dominant in a limited number of games. Romero and Miller are both hitting over .300. Zunino is more than holding his own, especially considering he has less than a full season in professional ball.
Trades haven't been great. It's hard to give a grade to FA acquisition without know what the goals were. I would have liked to see them get at least one other starting pitcher in the last year or two and would have like to see them go hard after Russell Martin this last offseason. I know their name was mentioned in connection with Martin, but I don't think we have any idea how serious those talks were.


I meant development that resulted in actual MLB success, i.e., the actual fielding at the MLB level of a young core player developed by our farm system, installed at a position, who has demonstrated MLB success. Seager would be an example of what I mean, and also the lone exception to the poor results so far. Michael Saunders, if he recovers, could be a second one. He was definitely on the way until his injury.


Current roster:
Ryan - trade acquisition - (poor bat, but plus-plus glove).
Jason Bay - currently hitting .796
Mike Morse - currently hitting .789
Kendrys Morales - currently hitting .857
Raul Ibanez - currently hitting .759
Kelly Shoppach - currently hitting .649 at catcher
Mind you, Bay and Ibanez were not intended to play as much as they have.
Gutierrez - trade acquisition is hurt, (but hopefully will return soon), and has an .823 in his limited 2013 play before hitting the DL.
Claiming that this team is built "completely" via the farm is just blatnatly false.
But ... all that aside, the lineup ... even with the "Big 3" prospects struggling has a 97 OPS+ this year ... the best since 2007.
The problem this year has been from day one on the pitching side:
Saunders, Beavan and Maurer have all been dreadful.
Harang is only a minor step up from Beavan. (But, of course, Harang and Saunders were trade/FA choices).
Which is not to say EVERY Z pitching move has failed. He did pick up Cliff Lee for a nice rental. He did pick up Vargas and develop him into a successful arm.
Before the season began, I was saying the questionable part of the 2013 team was pitching. But, I wasn't overly worried because the farm has sooooo much talent at this point, it would be likely that someone would emerge to plug holes. Of course, this did not take into account injuries to Erasmo and Hultzen, the two guys who are most likely to remedy the current problems in the rotation. And Maurer, (like Noesi), could easily remedy his problems and come back a stronger pitcher for the experience.
Has Z signed a "high priced, big name FA?" No.
He signed Kendrys Morales (.857)
He signed Mike Morse (.789)
Would fans (or Seattle) be better off with?
Josh Hamilton: .657
Albert Pujols: .736
Adam Dunn: .633
Just spending lots of money or trading for big name players does not guarantee anything.
Talk to the Dodgers, who spent $211 million this year to be in last place (23-32).
Talk to Toronto, who jacked their payroll up to $125 million with results nearly identical to Seattle's.

blissedj's picture

listed at the top (excluding Ryan) are just 1 year stopgaps. All may very well be gone in 4 months or less. Z and Co. keep saying this is a long term process. It is not building a team when all but one of your best hitters are rental players. Z has not signed a high priced free agent, but he did not sign either Morales or Morse. They were both acquired via trade, fantastic trades! Bay and Ibanez along with Branyan are some of the best hitting free agents he has signed. Are there any other FA on the market next year with local ties for us to sign ;)

GLS's picture

...but I guess I'm disagreeing with the central premise. What I see is a process that is working pretty well. The test can't simply be major league success within the time period that began when Zduriencik took the job. I think what you look at is how well the players are progressing relative to when they were drafted and how high and probably if they were HS or college players. My argument is that, in general, we should have a different expectation of a fifth round pick in 2010 than we do of a first rounder from 2009. I don't consider every player that fails to succeed at the major league level an organizational failure when it comes to talent evaluation and development. If you draft a guy in the 10th round and he becomes a good AAA player and fringy ML guy, that's not a bad return for a 10th round pick. But, if my first and second round picks consistently fail to develop, that's a problem. That tells me that, systemically, I'm doing something very, very wrong.


The veterans he picked up are producing at a level we haven't seen around here since the early 2000's. Jack made a lot of mistakes over his reign but I don't think he's made them this season. And, since he's not making them this season, I don't think he's going to make them going forward. Geoff Baker would fault him for not signing Bourn, but that would have taken a 4-5 year commitment on our part, and it's very possible that Saunders will end up outproducing Bourn, even this season. With Frankie G and Michael on the team, it's better to focus elsewhere - at the corners. Jack's biggest and boldest move - the "thwarted through no fault of his own" Justin Upton trade - has to excite us. He smartly left the back end of the rotation open because he have 4 hot prospects and we don't need a 4 year contract for this year's Jarrod Washburn or Carlos Silva clogging the roster. He counted on 4 hot pitching prospects to make 2 - those are good odds. Swapping Vargas for JSaunders and getting Morales in the deal as well - brilliant.
We still need to figure out what we've got, so it makes sense to focus on building the offense at the corners - LF and RF and 1st base/DH. He's done a remarkable job of that, and will need to continue to do so. If we give up on 2013, I'm interested to find space for some at bats for Romero, Morban, perhaps Almonte - get their feet wet while being mentored by fellow outfielders Ibanez, Morse and Bay. Bay was an inspired pickup - the kind we need Jack to make.
Going forward, we need to either sign Morales to a big contract, or trade for an even bigger MOTO bat. We need a big bat we can build the lineup around, and for now, Kendry can do it. But I wouldn't be surprised if Jack is eyeing even bigger fish, based on the Upton near trade.
I like the one year rentals, and if he can follow these up with a long term contract for Morales, then I think we'll be OK. I can't fault Jack (yet) for anything he's done for 2013. He's actually done a remarkable job. It's been hidden by injuries mostly, and the debt of paying for things he did 1-2 years ago still. But if we are going to fault him for the failures of the youngsters or the injuries, then we are faulting him for yesterday's mistakes, not for this season's. And Smoak vs. Carp...the book is not closed on either this season. Smoak's OPS+ has risen from 86 this season to 100 to date. We have to let it play out. Also, while we're at it, let's give Jack kudos for developing Wilhelmsen, and bringing in Oliver Perez for the pen.
Jack made some real shrewd moves in 2009 that excited us and gave us a winning season. He followed that up with the Cliff Lee steal. He was on a roll, so long as plan A kept working. But instead, it all fell apart. That can happen when the pantry is bare and you are busy working miracles due to lack of a plan B. That, after all, is when you need to work miracles - when you have no alternatives, no plan B. Kotchman and Milton Bradley fell flat, and Guti turned out to be injury prone. Figgins was a disaster, not merely a bad signing, but a figgin disaster.
But I really think he's gotten his mojo back. We just can't see it because of the injuries and the horrible moves he's made in between that we are still paying for. As Spec says, Bavasi never had a plan B (unless you count trading ACab and Choo for a DH as plan B in the event Carl Everett didn't work out). In 2009 and 2010, out of necessity, Z had no plan B. There was no possibility of having one. It was plan A or bust.
So, by comparison, plan B looks pretty good as well. That's a credit to Jack.


Again I go back to the main point. Other than Seager, and possibly Saunders (though this is not yet certain), the M's have not fielded any MLB-demonstrated Young Core players. This is a direct result of two of their key, identified young core players flaming out SO FAR. Baker points out that it is fair to expect more at this point of the rebuild. My chosen terminology is that this points to a poor execution of the overall plan. And by the way, to say that some FA signings and trades have worked out is to miss the prima facie evidence of the state of the rebuild. We cannot point to a successful core AT THIS TIME, this far into the rebuild. That can, of course, change. And there are a myriad of reasons people can point to for the results so far. But none of it controverts the record, with which we are ALL familiar:
2013, year 5, 24-33 (.421), fourth place (a truly woeful Houston team occupying last place)
2012, year 4, 75-87 (.463), fourth place, last place
2011, year 3, 67-95 (.414), fourth place, last place
2010, year 2, 61-101 (.377), fourth place, last place
2009, year 1, 85-77 (.525), third place
That such a stretch is not at least ameliorated by the evidence of an increasingly established young core; that instead three of the centerpieces of what was to be the young core (Smoak, Ackley and Montero) have regressed since their initial success, two of them to the point of being sent down to AAA, these are not signs that inspire confidence. And it's tough to point to isolated transactions that may have worked to some degree as counteracting that record.


and I cannot rule out, nor do I really WANT to rule out that they may prove in the end more significant than the record to this point. In fact, I absolutely prefer that they DO work out, and "V" is not for "Vendetta" but for "Vindication" for Jack Zduriencik. Still, I cannot shake this nagging scenario, "At what point are we forced to look at the forest? Sure, we got all these trees growing. Some of them look like they have the potential to grow rather tall. And we have a bevy of saplings struggling for what sunlight and moisture is available. But at what point does the actual overall condition of the forest begin to be the essential thing, the thing that ought to command our attention?" I cannot answer that question. But it started nagging me last year, and it hasn't stopped nagging me. If anything, it's nagging me more.

blissedj's picture

That so long as the process is sound the results are just arbitrary noise left to the whims of chance. Positive results from what is deemed incorrect process (Morse/Jaso) are ignored or overlooked.


And I pretend that Jack is someone else, some smart guy with a pedigree, doing Jack's job since October, then here's what I would be writing (trying to be honest): I would be writing about how this new guy hasn't exactly set the world on fire, but he inherited a mess not of his own making, and is going about setting things right. I'd be writing about how Jack saddled him with busted prospects, prospects who aren't ready, and whose major fault was that he put too much pressure and showed too much confidence in the kids. And I'd be writing about how this new guy gets it, and is working hard to undue all the mistakes of the previous administration, and had the guts to try to trade away a lot of prospects that the old guy was in love with, and almost got us JUSTIN UPTON, and look at what Upton is doing now, and this is how a smarter GM who understands that baseball is more than prospects does things. And yes, there have been injuries, and I would not blame the new guy for them. I would be crediting this new guy for making the tough call of sending Jack's protegees to Tacoma (he gave them one last chance, but it had to be done) etc. etc. I would be writing about how the Ibanez signing looked weird, but in retrospect this new guy was right to jettison Wells (a favorite of Jack's) and brought in a couple of different handed bats from veterans, and wasn't that brilliant.
So, anyway, when do I stop giving Jack the benefit of the doubt here? Probably if he starts to demonstrate he really hasn't learned anything from his previous mistakes, but continues to make them. This is Jackie reboot I'm watching now.
If this were not Jackie, but some new guy who did all the same things Jackie has done since the end of last season, then I would be disappointed about the season so far, but very optimistic about the direction the new administration is taking things.
I'm not interested in firing a guy for mistakes he made a couple years ago, unless I truly think he's going to make them again. I don't think that.


Total regime change is not the answer. How many times can you change the regime. Taking that step can backfire just as much as staying the course. If things do not show clear signs of improvement by season's end, I would be inviting a Pat Gillick in to lend expertise and a fresh perspective as part of a complete organizational review in October, with the idea that perhaps he might be willing to serve as a savvy, behind the scenes big picture strategist and resource. Let Jack do what Jack focus on what Jack does best, but give him help from above. Let him retain the GM title, but perhaps not the Vice President title. Give that to Gillick. Tell him he doesn't have to kill himself with day-to-day stuff, just give Jack the best chance for MLB-level success. Gilllick may not be willing, but hey, it can't hurt to ask. Granted, you take a chance on a too-many-cooks-spoil-the-broth scenario and a whole lot of infighting. But you try your best to iron things out during the organizational review and make a decision at the end of it. You would have three options: Leave Jack in place with his current responsibilities, in which case you've gained some valuable third-party advice and persepective, go with the two-headed approach, or, if what you find out in the review leads you to conclude a more drastic change simply must be made, give the whole thing to Gillick if he wants it, or have another GM candidate in your back pocket.
I'd much rather things don't come to this.


Replacing Armstrong with Gillick would be a massive front-office upgrade. He sold his house in Toronto and lives in Seattle full time now. He wouldn't do it if Lincoln is still involved with the club, though.

GLS's picture

Can I ask what you know about this? I've heard a few offhand remarks here and there, but never anything definitive. I feel like I'm the one guy in the room that doesn't know the secret.


I like your idea better than mine. Shake up more than the GM duties, but make the regime change higher than Zduriencik. One thing's for sure, Gillick is DRIVEN to win. I can't see him just accepting a series of losing seasons. He will figure out what it takes or die trying.


Read the book "Shipwrecked". I'm not sure if he would come back into baseball at all but it's pretty clear he wouldn't work for Lincoln again.

GLS's picture

I just ordered it.


Exactly why I say having Gillick as President would make the Front Office uncomfortable. They wouldn't have to do it HIS way - as long as they're getting it done! He's wise enough to let JackZ run it his way, but, as you say, driven to ask the questions and ensure the moves that are being made make the Ms stronger. Then with a supportive member of ownership taking a proprietorial view, rather than a trusteeship view, as Chairman - it could be what is needed. And Yamauchi and Arakawa could then cash out when and if they want, but with not only a profitable, but a winning club to make their capital gain on.


If we brought Gillick on board, I'd much rather it be part of a broader push from the Ownership to reorganize. Make Lincoln another chairman emeritus, make Armstrong president emeritus, and make Stanton or Larson chairman and Gillick president. Let Aylward and Mather run the business end - it's a well oiled machine. Keep Jack exactly where (and how-titled) he is and let him roll on, but with an oversight that is both focused on winning and knowledgeable. It might be less comfortable for the Front Office, but sometimes winning requires it.


Absolutely -- It only works if the Ownership decides it's time for a new look at what's important and decides it's time to win and to get attendance back to the 3Million level it belongs at. The business side works, and the foundation for budgets is now established with the ROOTNW deal. Take a bow, Mr Lincoln and Mr. Armstrong, become valued advisors (when asked), be fiduciarily aware, but let some new guys take a swing. It doesn't have to be a sale - Messrs Yamauchi and Arakawa just need to let some of the other owners run it for a while; the money and organization is there to protect the investment - but winning franchises are ALWAYS worth more.

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.