In an article in the Seattle Times former Mariner manager Eric Wedge and former front office personnel and scouts painted a negative portrayal of Mariner GM Jack Zduriencik and the front office. Truthfully it was more than negative. Jack was seen as a micromanager, one who throws people under the bus, including friends and confidants, is over demanding, and is ineffective. Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong came in for a share of the dysfunction as well.
Just as washing your car brings rain, signing a Yankee superstar brings turmoil and chaos. Robinson Cano should be accustomed to a dysfunctional franchise, after all he worked for George Steinbrenner. Cano is probably laughing all the way to the bank, which he now probably owns.
It is brave of Wedge to air dirty laundry as other GM’s and organizations may shy away from hiring him for going public with internal squabbles. Organizations like to keep the dirty laundry in house. And why did Eric Wedge say when he quit that he would never accept a multi year deal from the Mariners when a day or two before quitting he was telling management he wanted a multi year deal?
On MLB Network this morning Jack was interviewed and when asked about the Times article, Jack said, “Case closed, we are moving forward.” When asked the question in a different way, Jack answered ” It is our policy to not comment on internal affairs.” One could say he was dodging the question, but there is no point in getting into a pissing contest about critical comments, especially when they came from multiple sources. There is nothing to be gained by exacerbating the story. And I am sure there will be more coming from Jeff Baker who wrote the article for the Times.
The truth is none of us know what goes on behind closed doors. We only see the public face. But here is a cliché-where there is smoke there is fire. How about another cliché-sour grapes from fired employees.
The Mariners lost the absentee owner who died, they lost a manger, they are losing Chuck Armstrong to retirement, and now we hear the front office is dysfunctional. But we have Robinson Cano and more players are coming within the week, I am sure of it. And if the Mariners win this season, no one will care about perceived dysfunction. Winning is a cure. If they lose, the dysfunction continues.
Here is a link to the article http://seattletimes.com/html/mariners/2022420240_mariners08xml.html
Seattle manager Eric Wedge insisted his resignation had nothing to do with him not being offered an extension or long term contract. I would like to take him at his word, but with General Manager Jack Zduriencik getting a one year extension, it makes you wonder.
Wedge did say his vision is different than Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln, who along with Trader Jack make the big decisions. Wedge is for the youth movement. “It’s just about sticking with the kids that you believe in, adding to it and being patient,” he said. Adding that “Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”
So, if Wedge is leaving because upper management has a different vision, and if Wedge’s vision is for being patient with the youth movement, one could conclude the Mariners are planning on another turnover, perhaps unloading some of the young players for some veterans. At least that is what it sounds like.
But that makes little sense. They spent a lot of time developing these kids and many show promise. Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Taijuan Walker, Jimmy Paxton look like major leaguers. Would they be traded? Certainly not Walker or Paxton with pitching at a premium. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders will not get much in return.
Wedge also mentioned the Mariners roster was heavy with older players. It is true that Jason Bay, Michael Morse, Aaron Harang, Jeremy Bonderman, and according to wedge, Franklin Gutierrez, did not work out well. But Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales did work out. And he mentioned the failure of Brendan Ryan and Jesus Montero, and having to send down Dustin Ackley. The problem with what he is talking about can be said for every team. There are always some players that do not work out, and some that return to the minors and get recalled.
What a manager says to the press and what he thinks privately are not always the same, so Wedge’s reasons could be anything. It is clear Mariner upper management has no 20-20 vision. I do not know how the new ownership is going to fall out, but someone needs to take control, say adios to Chuck and Howard, putting them in a dinghy, giving them a compass and map to Pitcairn Island. They can take some Mariner dogs with them of course.
The Mariners like to tease, leading their fans on by playing great baseball, then smack, they slap you in the face like a trampy femme fatale. How else can one explain that going into Tuesdays action the Mariners had lost 11of their last 17 games after a win streak that saw them get within four games of .500?
Maybe it is coincidence, but this bad streak started when two things happened. Mike Zunino got hurt and manager Eric Wedge had his ‘minor’ stroke. But Blanco and Qunitero have hit 5 home runs with 18 rbis between them. Perhaps the M’s miss Wedge, the rudder that steers the Good Ship Mariner, or they are what they are, and that is not a good team.
Despite this recent nose dive, in which the Milwaukee Brewers, with fewer wins than Seattle, managed to score twenty runs in two games against the M’s at the Safe, no less, the Mariners are still in third place, one game ahead of the Los Angeles Angels at Disneyland. Still in third place during this losing jag. And that is good news.
It shows how bad the Angels are playing. They have Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Jered Weaver, to mention a few. The Angels roster is high rent, they are Boardwalk on the Monopoly board, the Mariners are an alley on the other side of the railroad tracks.
Yet the lowly Mariners maintain their hold on their place. Of course, had they been playing well, they might have gone a long way to secure third place, which may not be much, but it is something to crow about.
But it is nice, for the moment at least, to think that the Mariners with a K-Mart payroll are outplaying the Angels with a Tiffany’s payroll. I take delight in that during this downslide and in baseball you take what you can get, brief though it could be.
Baseball truly is a long season. Through Saturday, June 29, the Mariners played 81 games, the half way point of their voyage. When you compare the lineups of the opener on April 1 and of Saturday night, you see how long a season it is.
April 1st vs Oakland
1 Gutierrez, CF: Mariners were hoping his injury plagued days were behind him. They aren’t. When healthy is a solid starter, but he is never healthy. His Mariner future is bleak.
2 Saunders, RF: This was to be his break out year. He started season like an all-star, but now looks overmatched. Luckily for him, the Mariners have outfield shortage. Future questionable.
3 Morales DH: One of a handful who has performed to expectations. Played a lot at first because Smoak couldn’t hit and was then injured.
4 Michael Morse, LF: Started the season like he would hit 60 homers, but injuries have set him back. When healthy will be valuable.
5 Smoak, 1B: The less said the better.
6 Kyle Seager, 3B: In second full year is establishing himself has solid everyday player who should be with Seattle for many years. Among league leaders in doubles.
8 Dustin Ackley, 2B: followed .220 season with more of same. Seems lost at plate, sent to AAA Tacoma to play outfield. Injured thumb last night. Future is undecided.
9 Brendan Ryan, SS: Great fielder, terrible hitter, and lost job-for now-to Brad Miller, a rookie call up. Future bleak if Miller hits. Might be tradable for low level minor leaguer.
This lineup looked good on April 1st, and Felix and the boys shutout Oakland 2-0. They won the next game and were 2-0. How times have changed and losing brings changes. Here is the lineup for June 29.
1 Chavez, RF: solid fourth outfielder called up from Tacoma because of injury to Gutierrez. If Seattle is smart they will keep him for 2014. He has a lot of value.
3 Kyle Seager, 3B: See above
4 Kendrys Morales, DH; See above
5 Raul Ibanez, LF: Signed for third tour of duty with Mariners as back-up outfielder . Pressed into more duty than planned, leads Mariners with 18 homers. He hits, he plays.
6 Smoak, 1B: When the Mariners find a first baseman, he is gone.
7 Zunino, C: like Brad Miller, Zunino is a player of the future playing today. His job to take or lose.
8 Ackley, CF: See Above.
9 Ryan, SS:He played because Wedge likes to play everyone from time to time, but Nick Franklin is the future second baseman and Miller future shortstop.
As mentioned earlier the M’s need to quit shuffling rookies around, tell them this is your position and let them play everyday, bringing continuity and stability. Three rookies, Zunino, Miller, and Franklin, are now in the lineup. When players do not perform, others should be given the chance to contribute, to prove over time they can help the team win. There s nothing to lose but another game, and Mariner fans are accustomed to that. Through 81 games in 2012 they were 34-47 and in 2013 they are 35-46. We have improved on game. We shall see what the kids do in the next 81 games.
I don’t understand Mariner manager Eric Wedge. Monday night against Houston he let Aaron Harang pitch the ninth with a 4-0 lead. I applaud that. When a pitcher is dominating as Harang was, then why bring in another pitcher to finish the game. It was probably a good thing the score was not 3-0, for if it was, Wedge may have brought in struggling closer Tom Wilhelmsen in the 9th. But there is no save with a four run lead. Harang gave up two hits, walked no one, and struck out ten. He deserved to complete the game.
But Tuesday night Wedge did not do the same for Jeremy Bonderman. He pitched eight innings, allowed three hits, walked two and struck out five, throwing only 89 pitches in a dominating performance. Instead of letting Bonderman finish the game, giving the Mariners a chance for two consecutive complete game shutouts from two journeymen pitchers from whom little was expected, he was taken out for Tom Wilhelmsen the Mariner closer.
It is something push button, robotic managers do. Its the ninth inning, closing situation, so bring in the closer. I raise the question again. Why change pitchers when your starter is dominating? If the closer is Mariano Rivera, I give him the ball. But Wilhelmsen has been struggling. Coming into the game Wilhelmsen had given up eight hits, and walked eight in 10 1/3 innings. His earned run average jumped from 0.47 to 2.22 in those 10+ innings. After Tuesdays blown save in which he gave up 3 hits, walked two and was tagged for five runs, his ERA is 3.77. The Bartender is having one bad month.
It happens, all players slump, and Wilhelmsen is the closer, and should close games. But not a 1-0 game when the starter is sailing along, doing fine, thank you very much. Bring in Wilhelmsen with a three or four run lead when he has margin for error. Don’t let him work out his kinks in a one run game. That is tempting the devil called fate.
The Mainers had five hits on the night, three from recently called up rookie Nick Franklin, and one from expected savior and star catcher Mike Zunino. It would be more fun to talk about those two kids and their future than a dumb pitching change from Eric Wedge.
The Mariners made two good off season moves, adding Michael Morse and Kendrys Morales to bolster the offense. Coupled with the expected improvement of Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, Seattle was expected to get better, around .500 or so. I thought with the addition of Houston the Mariners could win 88 games. So where are they one year later.
Last year through June 9th they were 27-34. This season they are 27-37. I don’t see improvement, do you?
The expected power bringing in the fences has helped. Seattle is 8th in the majors in home runs. But it has not translated to wins. In 2012 they hit ..234, this year .237. On base percentage was a pitiful .296 in 2012, still woeful this season at .304. Slugging also has slight increase from .369 to .382. And like 2012, the Mariners still can not hit with men in scoring position. Kendrys Morales being the exception with a .364 average. Raul Ibanez .300 and Brendan Ryan is hitting .296. The worst with men in scoring position are Kelley Shoppach at .054, Michael Saunders at .087 and Justin Smoak at .111.
See ball, hit ball!!!
You know things are bad when Ryan has more runs batted in than Montero, Ackley, Smoak, and Saunders. He gets paid for his glove, the other names get paid for scoring and driving in runs. At least Ryan is earning his salary. Montero and Ackley are back in triple A, with Montero being on DL as well as being investigated for using PEDS. Smoak is also on the DL, but if he were not injured he should be triple A. Saunders is in one horrific slump with no light at the end of his tunnel.
So it would appear that with offensive numbers about the same as last year, it makes sense their record is about the same. My hopes for an 88 win season is gone, so too is any thought of a .500 season. This offense is not making progress and is unlikely to do so. Manager Eric Wedge and GM Trader Jack preach patience with these young guys. I think if Eric and Jack were still with the Mariners-and they won’t be- when these young players reach 30, they would preach the same thing.
The only difference from last year is that attendance continues to decline. I wonder why?
I don’t know if Dustin Ackley was shocked about being sent back to AAA Tacoma, but I was mildly surprised. It was however, a good decision, a wake up call if you will. Eric Wedge jokingly said Ackley was a bit stubborn. Two days later Ackley was sent down. Perhaps Wedge wasn’t joking. One could read into Wedge’s comment that Ackley was resisting coaching suggestions.
He seems to have woken up with the Rainiers. True it is only seven games, but Ackley is 13 for 32, a .406 average with an on base percentage of .513 thanks to seven walks. It is one thing to be aggressive, but his walk ratio is much better at AAA in those seven games than it was for Seattle, where he walked only eight times in 45 games.
It is too early to tell if Dustin got the message and got his game into high gear, or if it is just the mediocre pitching he might be facing. But at least he is hitting, no doubt with an eye to returning to the Mariners. What happens though if Nick Franklin does not stumble, plays his position, and hits between .250 and .280? He already has a two homer game. Ackley had one lone homer in his 45 games.
I feel the Mariners are watching both Ackley and Franklin closely. One of them could be the second baseman of the future, not that the Mariners seem to have a future, at least if the last decade tells us anything. But we can pretend can’t we?
Nick Franklin does not have a shortstop arm, but he does have one for second. Ackley could play the outfield next year, if the Mariners feel Franklin is for real. Of course they said that about Ackley in 2010. It would not surprise if the Mariners traded one of them at the deadline in July. It does not make sense on the surface, given the Mariners stance on building a team with young players for the long term. But consider in the past they traded young players like Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, and Asdrubel Cabrera. All three made all-star teams. So if a trade is made, then watch that player make an all-star team or two, while the player the Mariners keep becomes the next Mario Mendoza.