As the Times noted today, the organizational shakeup that I mentioned was coming Sunday night is beginning to become public. The “retirement” of Roger Jongewaard and the resignation of Charley Kerfeld continue to bring about the evolution of the Mariners from the Gillick regime to Bavasi’s crew. As I mentioned, Gillick himself is likely the next to officially leave the organization.
We’ve gotten some questions as to what the effects of these resignations will be and what it all means. I’ll try to answer those questions here.
The probably-temporary-retirement of Jongewaard isn’t a big surprise. He took a reduced workload for ’04, moving into more of a consulting role under Bavasi, rather than the day-to-day administrative role he held when Gillick was in charge. Even under Gillick, however, he had less to do with the state of the current farm system than most are giving him credit for. The current prospects in the system were mostly the work of Benny Looper, Frank Mattox, and to a smaller degree, Bob Fontaine and Jim Colborn. Jongewaard has a long history with the club, but he’s also a loyal guy, and he saw the writing on the wall. Bit by bit, the front office that was in place from 2000-2003 is going to be replaced, and Roger figured this was as good a time to go as any.
Kerfeld was a Gillick hire and left of his own accord. While the Mariners success in the independant leagues with Madritsch and Sherrill have made him a mini-celebrity among M’s scouts, the M’s aren’t losing the only guy on the planet capable of scouting the indy leagues, and he’s gotten a bit too much credit for having Mads/Sherrill make the show. The Mariners didn’t outscout everyone to get Madritsch; they outbid them. Eight teams made significant offers after he dominated the Northern League, but the Mariners offered more money than any other team. A $50,000 signing bonus for a player out of the Indy leagues is unheard of, but the price they paid for Madritsch reflected the fact that he was not a hidden gem. Sherrill got a recommendation from Mads, and the organization signed Sherrill more as organizational filler than an actual prospect. Sherrill’s signing looks tremendous now, but no one mentions the hoard of indy league guys the M’s brought into the organization over the past several years. Kerfeld is a good scout, but let’s not ring our hands too much over his loss. It isn’t a crippling defection.
When Gillick offiically leaves (and right now, he’s a big time favorite to get the Washington job, especially if MLB retains control of the club), expect more people to follow him out the door. There are a good number of people loyal to him in the organization, and Bavasi wouldn’t mind filling the front office with his own guys. While we certainly have been vocal critics of Bavasi’s moves since taking over, removing the factions that have existed in the front office the past year are a good thing.