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
It was reported by Ken Rosenthal that Seattle reached out to former manager Lou Piniella to see if he would return as the Mariners manager? Assuming the report is accurate, it is clear why the Mariners continue to flounder. The brain trust (satirically written) does not know what they are doing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a Piniella fan. He did a great job in Seattle and if the brain trust had a better relationship with Lou, he may not have left. Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong and perhaps Jackie Z, if that is the brain trust, are going in the wrong direction trying to get Lou.
Jackie Z said the Mariners were looking for manager, most likely a bench coach with minor league experience who would be a teacher. Lou does not fit the profile they claim to be looking for. Lou is great with a veteran team, but is impatient with young players and the Mariners are loaded with young players. He is not the type of manager you hire in a rebuilding process, he is the man you hire when you are ready to take the next step with a veteran team poised to do something.
And besides Lou is seventy and does not want to manage, and if he did, why would he come back to Seattle when he would rather stay retired. The brain trust (still being used sarcastically) could throw some big money at him, but they are throwing money at an ancient Mariner, when they should be spending money on free agents.
The best thing the Mariners did was hiring Lou in the first place. They should have done everything to keep him. But that ship as sailed. You cannot go back in time. You can not turn the clock back to 1995. Obviously Howard and Chuck have no clue on how to develop a team. They hire a GM and manager every few years and continue to reboot. And this latest attempt at rebooting will crash the computer.
Do what Jackie Z says and go after a teaching bench coach. The team needs to work on fundamentals, not just in Spring Training, but throughout the season, something they did not do in 2013. Take infield drills before games, work on plays, sharpen defensive skills. Move forward, not backward.
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 news is not good. In fact it is downright scary.
Consider this: of all franchises in all sports, the lowly Seattle Mariners have seen the biggest drop in attendance. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, group them all together and Mariner fans have left what they perceive as a sinking ship at a faster rate than anyone.
Between 2002 and 2012, according to the website 24/7 Wall Street, the attendance at Mariner games at Safeco dropped like a deadened bunt, to the thud of 51%.
Losing half your fan base in a decade says a lot. One can blame the economy and rising gas prices that keep those outside King County from going to many games, but that is, to some extent, a red herring.
The real problem is ownership and a string of poor General Managers who traded away promising rookies, or lost them to free agency, and signing, or trading for players who stunk up Seattle like rotting fish in a Pike Street Market dumpster. Adam Jones, Shin-Soo Choo, and Mike Morse are three former Mariners that have gone on to star for other teams. What a big difference thy could have made, had they stayed in Seattle.
Fans have sent a message to the Mariner brass. They are tired of bad player moves, they are tired of losing every season, they are tired rising ticket prices for mediocre teams, they are tired of bad community relations like ownership not wanting an arena built in the SoDo district.The message ownership sent was clear. They said they were interested in profits, not going to the World Series. Thank you Howard Lincoln. They were unwilling to spend money to bring in a winner. I can understand how over the years they became gun shy. Consider Chone Figgins. When they did try to land free agents, they were often burned. But that gets back to wrong decisions. Figgins and Ichiro were the same type of player, both singles hitters. Third base is a power slot. The signing made no sense.
But you still must spend money to make money. You can always make a profit, make up the money spent by fielding a winner, getting into the playoffs. More games, more marketing, more money. Fans in today’s age want to see a winner, especially when they are overpaying on seats and concessions. But the Mariners were content with profits they continued to make. Until recently.
I wonder if the brass has read the article that said the Mariners have dropped 51% of their fans. Are they now going to wake up? Are they now going to bring in the right players to get the good ship Mariner sailing fast in deep waters? Or are they going to continue to sail in shallow waters, probably running aground on a sandy beach on an uncharted island?
If the downward spiral continues, maybe the Mariners will follow the Sonics to Oklahoma City.