Welcome To The Zduriencik Era

Dave · October 22, 2008 at 11:54 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The M’s have chosen Jack Zduriencik as their new GM. Despite the fact that he’s the oldest of the candidates interviewed and comes with a scouting background, do not assume that this is just more of the same. Zduriencik has been the best regarded scouting director in baseball for the last few years, and the work he did in building the Brewers through the draft was legendary. If you want to know why the Brewers were in the playoffs this year, it’s because Zduriencik hit home run after home run in the draft. This is a good hire.

Now, Jack Z isn’t exactly the new school analytical type we were all hoping for. His strengths are all scouting based, and he won’t be the kind of guy to come in and turn the Mariners into the next Oakland/Cleveland/Boston/Tampa Bay. With Engle, Fontaine, and now Zduriencik, the Mariners are clearly going to try to win with the Atlanta/Minnesota/Anaheim method of just outscouting everyone else on earth and developing so much good talent from within that they can’t help but be competitive.

Guess what? It can work. It’s not the best possible path, but it’s not doomed for failure, either. If Zduriencik can prove to be as adept at evaluating major league talent as he has been at amateur talent, and the M’s commit to a development pipeline that enables the team to grow a roster of homemade all-stars, they could line themselves up to be a very good team.

If they want to be a great team, they should not stop with Z, but hire a strong analytical department to supplement the scouting strength at the top of the front office. The two can work together, but there has to be a real effort on the M’s part here. If they stop with Zduriencik, it’s not enough – if they let him build a good organization with strong analysts surrounding the Big Three scouting types, this could be a player development machine.

Let’s hope for the best. Welcome to Seattle, Z.

Comments

91 Responses to “Welcome To The Zduriencik Era”

  1. Sports on a Schtick on October 22nd, 2008 12:03 pm

    We welcome our new overlord.

    And Derek is now relegated to being the second-most influential Z-man in Marinerville.

  2. metz123 on October 22nd, 2008 12:16 pm

    Dave, do you really believe what you just wrote or are you trying to spin this in a positive light on how it could be made to work?

    I’m trying to read between the lines and I’m not seeing a lot of positive here.

  3. joser on October 22nd, 2008 12:18 pm

    With regard to your “it’s a good start post,” this comment isn’t exactly encouraging

    Pelekoudas, who joined the organization in December 1979 as the director of travel, is expected to remain with the Mariners as an assistant GM, the same position he held prior to the dismissal of Bavasi.

  4. Joe C on October 22nd, 2008 12:20 pm

    It can only go up from here.

  5. joser on October 22nd, 2008 12:21 pm

    Has Zduriencik shown any evidence he wants “a strong analytical department” or has shown any desire to “build a good organization with strong analysts” to surround the scouts?

  6. Hobo on October 22nd, 2008 12:25 pm

    So is Bob Fontaine under a fixed-length contract, or is he at-will? I’m afraid as soon as Big Bald Bill Bavasi finds an assistant job somewhere Bob will soon follow (as he often has).

    What are the odds of moving Pelekoudas back to the administrative side and Zduriencik bringing in (or promoting up) a real Assistant GM?

  7. BaltimoreDave on October 22nd, 2008 12:30 pm

    Has Zduriencik shown any evidence he wants “a strong analytical department” or has shown any desire to “build a good organization with strong analysts” to surround the scouts?

    He’s had the job for a few hours. Want to give him some time, please?

  8. Mike Snow on October 22nd, 2008 12:31 pm

    Bavasi has already landed with the Reds.

  9. MacMariner on October 22nd, 2008 12:32 pm
  10. terry on October 22nd, 2008 12:33 pm

    Evaluating minor league talent and properly valuing major league talent are two distinct skills and quite often those skilled at the former have a complete blind eye when it comes to the latter.

    Just an anecdotal observation….

  11. Safeco Hobo on October 22nd, 2008 12:33 pm

    Assuming they can retain Bob Fontaine, it would appear the M’s should be set for talent evaluation for the draft and international signings. One would also assume this might also help in a future possible Brewer/Mariner trades (ie: Brad Nelson), instead of just trading with the Padres all the time.

  12. jimmylauderdale on October 22nd, 2008 12:37 pm

    When I first saw the news my heart sank. More of the same, I thought. Dave’s post helped me feel a bit better, but I am still quite skeptical. Here’s hoping for the best.

  13. TomTuttle on October 22nd, 2008 12:38 pm

    Is it just me, or does this guy look a little like Paul Shaffer?

    hahaha, still sounds like a good hire though.

  14. TomTuttle on October 22nd, 2008 12:40 pm

    Is it just me, or does this guy look a little like Paul Shaffer?

    hahaha, still sounds like a good hire though.

  15. Jeff Nye on October 22nd, 2008 12:41 pm

    I expect you all to start practicing how to spell his name now.

    I’m encouraged by the fact that this is apparently a guy who knows how to develop young talent, but it’s not quite as progressive of a hire as I was hoping for.

    Then again, an entire organizational 180 was probably a little too much to expect, and as Dave says, a lot will depend on the staff Zduriencik surrounds himself with.

  16. Jay R. on October 22nd, 2008 12:44 pm

    Argh. If I were to rank the remaining candidates by my preference, Zduriencik would have been lapped by the field.

    At least the waiting is over. Now we get to cross our fingers and hope.

  17. smb on October 22nd, 2008 12:44 pm

    I’m sure Chuck is handing him a list of low-end FA starters to target as soon as he gets into town, if he’s not here already.

  18. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 12:46 pm

    When I first saw the news my heart sank. More of the same, I thought. Dave’s post helped me feel a bit better, but I am still quite skeptical. Here’s hoping for the best.

    This really isn’t a good sign on all sorts of levels:

    Pelekoudas, who joined the organization in December 1979 as the director of travel, is expected to remain with the Mariners as an assistant GM, the same position he held prior to the dismissal of Bavasi.

  19. gwangung on October 22nd, 2008 12:50 pm

    This really isn’t a good sign on all sorts of levels:

    Meh. We don’t know enough about Pelekoudas’ work to say how well he’s been doing.

    And expecing a sea change right off the bat is way too much. For all we know, this is just a trainsition period where Lee gradually gets moved out from the inner circle to the pasture.

  20. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 12:53 pm

    Meh. We don’t know enough about Pelekoudas’ work to say how well he’s been doing.

    You may be right but color me skeptical. It says to me that they’re content to fiddle around the edges – just change the dude in the big chair and everything’s going to be fine.

    That or it says that Z’s going to have a pretty restricted hand when it comes to making changes.

    Like I said, you might be right but when this is the first indicator that comes out…c’mon, there’s no way that’s good news.

  21. PinataMateo on October 22nd, 2008 12:54 pm

    Question is now does the Dale Sveum era start.

  22. bakomariner on October 22nd, 2008 12:57 pm

    I’m torn…I hope he will make the Ms into WS Champions, but I just don’t know…

    As for his name, I’m going with the new “Jay-Z”

    Hopefully he can run this business as well and have hit after hit like the original…

  23. Steve T on October 22nd, 2008 1:04 pm

    Me? I’m pissed off. I think we blew it. There will be no significant change in organizational philosophy, and the M’s will never be a team that’s comfortable to root for.

  24. Mike Snow on October 22nd, 2008 1:08 pm

    Question is now does the Dale Sveum era start.

    Not about Sveum specifically – I don’t know what to make of a two-week managerial stint – but I will be less impressed if this turns into a wholesale import of everything connected with Milwaukee, the way Bavasi always used to go to his Angels well. No doubt Zduriencik may draw on his roots in a spot or two, but rather than overdoing it, let’s stick with getting the best available candidate.

    I see that Sveum is a cousin of John Olerud, though. No doubt that will be just the right tidbit to convince Armstrong and Lincoln to go along with the idea.

  25. terry on October 22nd, 2008 1:56 pm

    To be fair, no one on the final list of 4 was going to revolutionize the Ms. It was a list of compromises from that standpoint.

    Youngsters are the latest rage and the Ms picked the shiniest youngster catcher they could find. I’m afraid that’s about as deep as it gets concerning an expectation that the culture in the Ms organization will radically change.

    Hey, if the farm could actually be leveraged more efficiently, there is at least hope. Before there was none.

    I give ‘em a B-.

  26. The Ancient Mariner on October 22nd, 2008 1:58 pm

    Actually, Steve T, I think there’s good reason to say there will be a significant change in organizational philosophy: from an approach to developing prospects that burns them out (Bavasi and his giant ramrod) to one that works. Milwaukee’s done a pretty good job in that respect.

  27. Some Dude on October 22nd, 2008 2:00 pm

    Can someone spell out phonetically the correct way to say this guy’s name?

  28. gwangung on October 22nd, 2008 2:02 pm

    You may be right but color me skeptical. It says to me that they’re content to fiddle around the edges – just change the dude in the big chair and everything’s going to be fine.

    Well, you might be right; heck, given the way these bozos have implemented the “Mariner philosophy of Baseball” over the past two decades, you probably are right.

    However, I always thought it unlikely that a complete housecleaning of the Mariner organization was going to take place (as bad as it needs it). This club is way too hidebound and too attached to their Stone Age-level tools. Perhaps the best way to modernize them is to do it gradually.

  29. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 2:14 pm

    However, I always thought it unlikely that a complete housecleaning of the Mariner organization was going to take place (as bad as it needs it). This club is way too hidebound and too attached to their Stone Age-level tools. Perhaps the best way to modernize them is to do it gradually.

    Yeah, but the problem as Dave put it:

    If they want to be a great team, they should not stop with Z, but hire a strong analytical department to supplement the scouting strength at the top of the front office. The two can work together, but there has to be a real effort on the M’s part here. If they stop with Zduriencik, it’s not enough

    I’ll concede ahead of time that I’m jumping to conclusions. But here’s the problem I have – the first inkling of future moves was that Lee P was probably going to stick around. Either it reflects Z’s opinion that he doesn’t need to do a housecleaning, or it reflects the same opinion but coming from management.

    Either way, it’s an indication that they don’t see any pressing need to make deeper organizational changes.

    Hope I’m jumping to unwarranted conclusions here.

  30. marc w on October 22nd, 2008 2:14 pm

    Some Dude: it’s Zur-EN-sik.

    Screw it, I’m just going to be optimistic. Zduriencik may not be exactly what Dave (or I) would’ve wanted – he’s not Woodfork – but it’s pretty tough to overestimate just how good he’s been with Milwaukee. If you’re a team that really needed a great corner OF and instead got Felix, yeah, that doesn’t fix that hole in your line-up but… you just got Felix.

    Obviously, if Z’s undercut by Lincoln/Armstrong, or if he clashes with others in the org, if he steadfastly refuses to engage with more analytical types, yeah, this might not work. But there’s a ton of conjecture there. What we *know* right now is that he’s among the best talent evaluators alive, at least in the amateur/minors arena. That’s a really cool skill to have in this job.

    I just hope that he learned from Tampa and from his own experience in Milwaukee that defense matters. BOTH TB and Mil had great seasons because 1) they drafted skilled players and developed them into cheap contributors and 2) they turned abysmal, cover-your-eyes defenses in 2007 into world-beaters in 2008 (Milwaukee saved twice as many runs on D than Tampa Bay). Maybe Zduriencik wasn’t directly involved in that, but you’d think just being in the room and seeing the results would make an impression.

    I’m rambling, but I’m excited about this. Go M’s.

  31. khardy on October 22nd, 2008 2:20 pm

    I don’t wanna learn how to spell his name.

    Henceforth I propose he is known as GM-Z.

    USS Marinernerds will now have a GMZ to go with DMZ.

  32. bakomariner on October 22nd, 2008 2:30 pm

    Let’s just hope he takes a decent farm system and continues to do what he does best and builds it even more.

    If he can just do what Bavasi couldn’t, evaluate major league talent, we should be okay.

    How awesome will it be to see home-grown, all-star level players again?

  33. smb on October 22nd, 2008 2:32 pm

    We’ll probably need some time to evaluate his decisions before we want to potentially blight Derek with association by acronym.

    I will be using my pronouns, just like anytime I can’t remember someone’s name. “Hey…you,” or start every reference with “he” or something. Rude, dismissive? Maybe. Technically correct and probably better than badly botching his name? I think so.

    I understand that his drafting/scouting skills have panned out well for the Brew Crew, but I wonder how much, if any, input he had on the, say, Sabathia signing. How does he view FA signings in terms of roster construction?

  34. egreenlaw9 on October 22nd, 2008 2:32 pm

    He hasn’t done one thing yet as GM.

    Let’s wait and see who else get hired, what he does with Ibanez…

    For one, I’ll be VERY interested to see if he lets Fields go and uses the pick in next year’s draft to get his guy.

    I think it’s faulty to try and assume what Z will do.

    Let him screw up at least before you crucify him.

  35. Breadbaker on October 22nd, 2008 2:35 pm

    I see a lot of value in constructive comments on how best to build the organization, but not a lot of value in speculation until the guy at least has a chance to say what he plans to do.

    I’m hoping for a press conference that is not just pablum.

  36. TumwaterMike on October 22nd, 2008 2:43 pm

    With possibly the most important draft in Mariners history coming up in June, its important that we have a GM that can assess young talent. I think he’s the right man for the job at this point in time.

  37. Karen on October 22nd, 2008 2:43 pm

    Some Dude: it’s Zur-EN-sik.

    I had a feeling it’d be like pronouncing Doug Mientkiewicz’ last name…

    Dale Sveum was panned by every Red Sox fan who spent his working hours on Red Sox blogs and message boards as the worst 3B coach they’d ever seen…worse than what the Yankees had to endure with Bobby Meachum (now fired) this last season, I would bet.

    Yeah, that’d be about right. Dale Sveum, our next M’s field manager, in the tradition of Tommy LaSorda, who used to coach 3B every once in a while when he was Dodger manager.

  38. TumwaterMike on October 22nd, 2008 2:43 pm

    With possibly the most important draft in Mariners history coming up in June, its important that we have a GM that can assess young talent. I think he’s the right man for the job at this point in time.

  39. Hobo on October 22nd, 2008 2:48 pm

    Geoff Baker, John Hickey, and Jim Street all wrote Z’s name is pronounced: Zu-REN-sik, but then again they might all be using each other as references….

    Anyone know what stat analysts the Brewers have been using (other than Doug Melvin)?

  40. Xteve X on October 22nd, 2008 2:54 pm

    I want to like this hiring but color me extremely skeptical. This was more or less the hiring I expected out of Stincoln and Armstrong.

    Those two couldn’t think out of the box with a boxcar load of extra “THIS END UP” arrows. I think they picked a candidate that most reflected themselves and their perspective as franchise managers.

    I agree with Dave that a great next step would be to hire a stat department to supplement their scouting perspective, but I’m not holding my breath that Stinkchuck will ever allow it.

  41. horatiosanzserif on October 22nd, 2008 2:58 pm

    You know, everything I’ve read about this guy talks about his genius scouting skills. But of his first five #1 DPs, there appears to be only one keeper (two, if you count Weeks … I don’t, yet):

    2000 — OF Dave Krynzel (11th overall)
    2001 — RHP Mike Jones (12th)
    2002 — 1B Prince Fielder (7th)
    2003 — 2B Rickie Weeks (2nd, before Markakis, Danks, Quentin, etc.)
    2004 — RHP Mark Rogers (5th)

    The rub on him also appears to be that he’s not a great evaluator of pitching talent — which is unfortunate, given the potential makeup of our 2009 MLB roster and the less-than-solid pitcher-related decisions of the past few years.

  42. Spanky on October 22nd, 2008 2:59 pm

    Let him screw up at least before you crucify him.

    Yes…this is what I said when the M’s hired Bavasi…and when they hired Grover…and McLaren…

    And where did that get us? Four years of 90+ Loses and one winning season, the team in shambles, and the heart of a farm system gutted for a single player. The M’s have used up their chances. I’m tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and this looks like more of the same. We had 3 out of 4 candidates that looked like a new direction…I thought the team was showing a commitement to a new approach by focusing on the young guns in baseball. But no…they choked and couldn’t pull the trigger for them and so went back to their old ways and chose more of the same.

    Thanks but no thanks Mariners. I’m not buying it. For 20 years I’ve been hoping that things will change and thought we had made it with Jr., RJ, Edgar, Bone, ARod, and the new stadium. But you’ve wasted your inheritance with your lack of humility, ineptitude, and blindness. Be content to be a division door mat for the Angels and A’s. You’ve wasted some great players and years and fans. I think I’m a Rays fan now.

  43. Typical Idiot Fan on October 22nd, 2008 3:13 pm

    The negativity from some of the commenters around the blog-o-sphere has been nearly appalling. It’s a betrayal of how jaded and cynical we have become. Let’s let the dude do something before we doom and gloom, eh?

  44. mkd on October 22nd, 2008 3:19 pm

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m calling him Zardoz

  45. terry on October 22nd, 2008 3:22 pm

    I just think that, if the hire wasn’t about reinventing the organization (aka total integration of scouting/stats to in essence vertically integrate all levels of the organization), what the Ms needed most was a person who was setting the bar for his work with payroll/roster building.

  46. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 3:23 pm

    Let’s let the dude do something before we doom and gloom, eh?

    Dave: “…but there has to be a real effort on the M’s part here. If they stop with Zduriencik, it’s not enough – if they let him build a good organization with strong analysts surrounding the Big Three scouting types, this could be a player development machine.”

    M’s: Lee P is staying put as an AtGM.

    So yeah, totally willing to give the guy some time but the early indication (singular) isn’t promising.

  47. Mike G. on October 22nd, 2008 3:25 pm

    This hire definitely fits in with the tear it down/long rebuild route the ownership wants to take.

    Winning next year is definitely out the window now.

    Given Zduriencik’s track record with the Brewers we should project to return to the play-offs somewhere around 2017.

  48. msb on October 22nd, 2008 3:44 pm

    Milwaukee reporter now on KJR raving about Zod, and opined that guys like Silva and Was might be gone sooner rather than later…

  49. dchappelle on October 22nd, 2008 3:45 pm

    Bleh… given the M’s existing strength in scouting, unless Fontaine and Engle were already leaving, this seems like a terrible hire to me. Also looks a bit too much like trying to find “veteran grit” and “looking at their track record” (when luck is still a huge factor in his previous success) in choosing a GM. Worst of all, since we’re already expecting a rebuild, it’ll be at least 5 years of him.

  50. Spanky on October 22nd, 2008 3:46 pm

    It’s a betrayal of how jaded and cynical we have become.

    How long does failure have to go on before what you call “cynism” is recognized as valid critisms and/or true reality? You’re misinterpreting my comments as cynism about Zduriencik when in reality, it’s valid critism of Lincoln/Armstrong. It’s kind of like letting the politicians “FIX” the problem THE IDIOTS created in the first place! As a true fan…it makes me mad as hell and I’m not going to take it sitting down until the true problem (aka: Lincoln/Armstrong) is fixed.

  51. Willmore2000 on October 22nd, 2008 3:48 pm

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m calling him Zardoz

    I don’t know about you guys, but I’m calling his Zathras.

  52. JMHawkins on October 22nd, 2008 3:50 pm

    I’ll give the M’s a grade of “Incomplete” on this hire. He’s definitely the least compelling of the ones left on the board, and I really think the M’s should have been able to do much better. Yes, they could have done worse. Kind of like an 88 win season and watching the Angels go to the playoffs…

    Anywho, they still need to do some serious hiring to convince me to keep sending my dollars their way. I don’t read too much into the Pelekoudas staying on announcement. That could be the standard placeholder deal until he signs on somewhere else, or he could be there to give Zuder…, Zedri…, Zdurno…, the new GM an introduction to the existing organization. The real question is whether Zduriencik shows an understanding of the whole problem with the M’s. If all he does is play to his strengths and revamp the development pipeline, it’s not near enough. He’s got to show that there’s more to his game that what he’s done so far in his career.

    As far as giving him time? Sure. I’ll give him time. But no money. Not yet.

  53. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 3:57 pm

    I don’t read too much into the Pelekoudas staying on announcement. That could be the standard placeholder deal until he signs on somewhere else, or he could be there to give the new GM an introduction to the existing organization.

    They didn’t have to say anything at all:

    Reporter: “So what about Lee P? ”

    Ms: “Z is going to have free reign to build the team he needs. This will include some in-house folks as well as outsiders.”

    There’s no reason to comment that Lee P is staying. It’s either crappy PR (because they’re going to toss him overboard after making the comment to a reporter) or it’s an indication that they want him sticking around.

    I’m hoping for the former but suspecting the latter.

  54. tomas on October 22nd, 2008 4:01 pm

    What happened to the new direction? I’m bummed. Howie and Chuckie chickened out. They droned on about a new direction, but when it came time they chose the old white guy, who may ruin or disrupt the one good aspect of the M’s org, Engle and Fontaine. It’s like a Republican talking about switching sides,when when it comes time to pull the lever they go with the devil they know. I’m out. They didn’t really have the stones. It was all talk.

  55. Dobbs on October 22nd, 2008 4:07 pm

    So we’ve got a guy who can build up our minor league system…

    and Bavasi’s main skill was getting good prospects.

    The difference between the two is that Z hasn’t had the opportunity to waste all the minor league talent he drafted by trading them or letting them sit in the minors or rushing them through the system?

    I’ll be happy if he makes 9 out of 10 moves that Dave loves this off-season, but anything less and you start wondering why they still haven’t hired Dave.

  56. Mike Snow on October 22nd, 2008 4:11 pm

    There’s no reason to comment that Lee P is staying.

    Sure, there is. It’s a way of letting everyone know that when they ask loyal, long-time staff to take on a new, totally thankless responsibility, they don’t kick them out the door as soon as the task has been accomplished. Whether Pelekoudas will be an important part of the new regime, or this is the prelude to a graceful retirement or different assignment, doesn’t have to be answered today.

  57. the other benno on October 22nd, 2008 4:13 pm

    This hire definitely fits in with the tear it down/long rebuild route the ownership wants to take.

    I agree with Mike G. What this hire says to me is that the FO believes the Bavasi era has made it impossible to contend in the next 2-3 years, despite ideas such as Dave’s plan posted a week or so ago. They believe they have to tear it down and rebuild from the ground up. So they went with the candidate that appears from here at least to best fit that strategy. I think that many of us here don’t agree that that’s the case, and while I don’t think Z was the best pick from the final four, none of them was a bad pick.

  58. tomas on October 22nd, 2008 4:13 pm

    and Z, as a scouting man, will have no idea how to negate The Magoo Effect. Ng was the only option for me. Instant credibility, the ability to do deals everywhere. Why do we never make deals with any of the big teams? because we keep having GM’s like Bavasi (and now Z) Here comes the stream of crummy deals with Milwaukee. Ng was the only one with the brains and toughness to make it all fly. I had hope,but of course, when the chips were down, Howie and Chuckie made the worst choice. I’ll be watching the Sounders next year

  59. qwerty on October 22nd, 2008 4:15 pm

    If they want to be a great team, they should not stop with Z, but hire a strong analytical department to supplement the scouting strength at the top of the front office.

    I’ll say it: Hire Dave!”

  60. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 4:19 pm

    Sure, there is. It’s a way of letting everyone know that when they ask loyal, long-time staff to take on a new, totally thankless responsibility, they don’t kick them out the door as soon as the task has been accomplished.

    Totally thankless? They made him the GM – it’s not like they made him clean the toilets after games. It’s a given that key positions, like AtGM and field Manager are going to be at the discretion of the GM – at least they should be.

  61. Jeff Nye on October 22nd, 2008 4:34 pm

    Man, and I thought I was cynical.

    They could have made a LOT worse hires; Zduriencik isn’t a cutting-edge sabermetric guy, no, but he’s by all accounts not only excellent at evaluating talent, but at developing it.

    While I was more excited about LaCava or Ng myself, this is still a significant step forward for this organization.

    Pelekoudas being retained at this point means nothing; there’s no way of telling at this point whether he’ll actually have any significant involvement in operations going forward.

    Like Mike said, he might be told to just sit in his office and play with a Slinky until Zduriencik brings in his own AGM.

    You guys really need to calm down.

  62. msb on October 22nd, 2008 4:43 pm

    a couple of brief blog notes on Zod from Milwaukee here and here, and a blog note about what Melvin is looking for in a new field manager

  63. Nate Dogg on October 22nd, 2008 4:43 pm

    In all of Dave’s “How to fix the Mariners” posts he’s had trades with the Brewers as a centerpiece of his plan. Does hiring Zoidberg make it more likely to see one of those trades, or some variation of them, actually happen?

  64. Wolfman on October 22nd, 2008 4:49 pm

    Part of me is excited about this hire. The guy is the ONLY non-GM to win Executive of the Year. He’s known for having a great eye for talent. So there’s some real positives.

    The other part of me is wondering if he felt compelled to take this job despite Chuck & Howies’ promises of them ‘being fully involved in all decisions’. After all, he’s 57 and may be running out of time to get a GM gig. He may have been a little more desperate to take the job and that scares me. As posters said, ‘more of the same’. I hope my first paragraph turns out to be the case!

  65. JerBear on October 22nd, 2008 4:56 pm

    No, I wouldn’t read much into the Lee P. comment yet either. First of all, AFAIK, there was no definite statement from the M’s that he was staying. The quote was just from Jim Street, who said Lee

    is expected to remain with the Mariners as an assistant GM, the same position he held prior to the dismissal of Bavasi.

    The quote from Lincoln was simply that they

    thank Lee Pelekoudas for his efforts as interim general manager…

    “Interim” label or not, he was the guy presently holding the position, and was also “considered” one of the candidates – even though everyone, including Lee himself, likely knew that his candidacy was for show. From a PR standpoint, they would be remiss not to say anything about him. I’ve never gotten the idea that Lincoln/Armstrong are very loyal to Lee P. or any other front office personnell besides themselves. I’m sure if Big Z wants to hire his own AtGM they won’t have any problem with it.

  66. Gregor on October 22nd, 2008 4:58 pm

    How about a “Zduriencik” button for the comment editing box?

  67. eponymous coward on October 22nd, 2008 5:03 pm

    Calm down, people.

    The big differencse between Zduriencik and Bavasi (since people are determined to bring them up) are that a) I’m pretty sure Z’s daddy wasn’t part of baseball’s management royalty, which gave Bavasi a HUGE advantage in the old boy’s club that is still around in MLB, and, b) Z didn’t have a record of bad decisions and poor performance in his LAST GM job (keep in mind Bavasi signed Mo Vaughn to a deal paying him $Texas, and couldn’t win out with Anaheim, either, despite the Rangers and Mariners not exactly being world-beaters. I remember being HUGELY skpetical of Bavasi, for precisely those reasons).

    People should reread this point from Dave…

    With Engle, Fontaine, and now Zduriencik, the Mariners are clearly going to try to win with the Atlanta/Minnesota/Anaheim method of just outscouting everyone else on earth and developing so much good talent from within that they can’t help but be competitive.

    I’d like to point out that in addition to what Dave pointed out, that in Minnesota’s case, they have accomplished every bit as much as Oakland and Saint Billy Beane have from 2001-2008: multiple division titles, solid teams, producing talent, sharp trades, while keeping the salary budget somewhat low and having to shed players as their salaries balloon. People really need to get over the idea that there’s only one way to run a railroad when it comes to being a MLB GM.

  68. John in L.A. on October 22nd, 2008 5:08 pm

    Disappointing, but whatever. The disappointment had already set in when I realized Chuck and Howard got to keep their jobs.

    Also, and I’m going to be completely unfair to Dave here… This support/endorsement/optimism, whatever, feels like exactly the same tone used by this site to occasionally praise/defend Geoff Baker. Since that praise never meshed with what I actually read from Baker, the similarity doesn’t make me feel fuzzy about Zduriencik.

    What evidence is there that he cares much about sabermetrics or, just as an example, defense?

  69. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 5:15 pm

    b) Z didn’t have a record of bad decisions and poor performance in his LAST GM job (keep in mind Bavasi signed Mo Vaughn to a deal paying him $Texas, and couldn’t win out with Anaheim, either, despite the Rangers and Mariners not exactly being world-beaters.

    Sure, that’s a huge point in his favor but ‘Better than Bavasi’ isn’t exactly a high bar to clear.

    What’s really frustrating is that the team had a massive blind spot (under BB) when it came to evaluation of MLB level talent.

    So the hiring of Z could fix this…if he’s willing to hire some other people (analysts) to help him with MLB level talent.

    If they had learned their lesson, why the runaround – why wouldn’t they start with the analytical background?

    That’s why the Lee P comment irritates me – it just screams out that they don’t see anything wrong with their approach.

  70. JerBear on October 22nd, 2008 5:17 pm

    paying him $Texas

    Classic. :)

    I also think Z-Man’s getting a bad break here because he was such a late-entry dark horse candidate. He never really rated a mention all year until recent weeks. If Dave and Derek had been following his chances and emphasizing his strengths, he would be much better received.

    No, he’s probably not the best they could have done, but he’s light years ahead of their previous hires. Plus, it’s just unfair to make assumptions about exactly what kind of GM he will be, when he has no GM track record for us to base those assumptions on. Although just from my limited knowledge of him, I’m going to say that trades like the Adam Jones debacle probably wouldn’t happen under his watch. And that is something to be excited about.

    If he turns out to be incapable of major league talent evaluation, and somehow manages to screw the organization up worse than it already is, I’ll be just as pissed as anyone. But I think he represents progress, and I’m willing to give him a chance.

  71. Gregor on October 22nd, 2008 5:24 pm

    I think y’all are reading way too much into the fact that Lee P is returning to his previous position. For now, this only means that his temporary gig as GM has ended. To make any other changes should be up to the new GM, and I would have been surprised if they had been announced today.

  72. Jeff Nye on October 22nd, 2008 5:26 pm

    So the hiring of Z could fix this…if he’s willing to hire some other people (analysts) to help him with MLB level talent.

    What evidence do you have to support the position that Zduriencik can’t evaluate MLB talent?

  73. Max Power on October 22nd, 2008 5:27 pm

    What evidence do you have that Zduriencik can’t evaluate MLB talent?

    Okay – I worded that poorly. I’m still hung up on this part of Dave’s intro:

    If they want to be a great team, they should not stop with Z, but hire a strong analytical department to supplement the scouting strength at the top of the front office. The two can work together, but there has to be a real effort on the M’s part here. If they stop with Zduriencik, it’s not enough – if they let him build a good organization with strong analysts surrounding the Big Three scouting types, this could be a player development machine.

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting Dave’s point here but I think he’s saying that there’s no reason to expect that he brings any particular MLB-level talent evaluation to the table. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t – it’s an unknown.

  74. msb on October 22nd, 2008 5:50 pm

    Andriesen on the to-do list, Larry Stone has a general piece, and Baker blogs about it

  75. egreenlaw9 on October 22nd, 2008 5:53 pm

    Even more than waiting till Z’s first move, can we at least get to the press conference?

    I actually like their move of giving a press release and then planning the news conference a couple of days later. I know it was dictated by Selig (which, btw, wasn’t he supposed to ‘step down’ after this year?) because of the World Series, but it gives the media a chance to collect their opinions and hopefully ask some decent questions.

    I don’t see how this could be in any way – at this point – be considered a bad hire.

    He’s obviously leaps and bounds above Bavasi, Gillick, and Woody. Let’s see what he can do.

  76. msb on October 22nd, 2008 5:57 pm

    “On January 17, 2008, Selig’s contract was extended by the MLB through 2012, at which point he plans to retire.”

  77. Mike Snow on October 22nd, 2008 6:04 pm

    I think it’s reasonable to assume that if someone can evaluate amateur and minor league talent well, they have a good chance at being a skilled evaluator of major league talent. It’s the same notion we constantly push about players, that minor league performance is a perfectly good indicator of major league performance. Apply it to player evaluators, whether they’re inclined to scouting or statistics, and the principle is entirely the same.

    Now in either situation, there will be those who don’t successfully navigate the transition. Or the performance may have been misleading in some way. That seems to have been the case with Bavasi – surrounding himself with talented guys like Fontaine made his player development skills look better, but evaluating major league talent on his own without that support, it’s a disaster.

  78. Wishhiker on October 22nd, 2008 6:07 pm

    He wasn’t my favorite, but among ones that fell off the list in the last few weeks I like him better than Hahn, Beattie, Evans, White, a Duquette or 2 and who could forget Pelekoudas?

    I’m hopeful but will be watching. The #2 pick is important to be made correctly as well as the fact that the team could have up to 5 of the first 50 or so picks (I think #51 or so will be their Second rounder). Don’t forget the Rule V draft either, this team is prime to be carrying a prospect all year. There is a pretty good possibility that Zduriencik was the best possible guy to handle those factors. It’s not like they were even able to consider some of the guys I would have preferred with so many backing out, not being allowed to interview and choosing not to interview. I think he’s an excellent choice for the moment and if in 2 years he’s proved to have a handle on evaluating Major League talent, trades, implements more advanced stat use and not being handcuffed by slot money picks (while continuing to show his strengths of prep/college/minor league/front office talent evaluating, leadership) he’s probably on his way to being the best GM we’ve seen here. I’ve read good things about his assessments of peoples talents inside the front office as well. Maybe he won’t get all those balls rolling, but if he doesn’t hamstring the team with bad moves and signs like Bavasi did the team should have a strong core of young players on the way for a GM that knows how to build around them once they’re up. I think this was the right hire after all the dropouts for the situation the team is presently in.

    Someone linked this article in an earlier post:

    Top 10 GM Prospects

    2. Jack Zduriencik (Scouting Director, Brewers)
    The first non-GM to ever win Baseball America’s Executive of the Year Award, Zduriencik doesn’t have to pronounce his name for owners anymore; they know who he is and what his track record has been. His drafts for the Brewers are not just legendary to scouts, they’re now producing results on the field for the Brewers. The knock on Zduriencik is that he doesn’t have much experience dealing with the media or in managing an organization. I don’t think this is an issue at all. First, he has managed one of the best scouting systems in the league, as well as growing several employees into scouting directors—Tom Allison in Arizona, and Bobby Heck in Houston. He’s also made a concerted effort to be more accessible to the media. Zduriencik would be a perfect candidate for an organization needing to rebuild from the bottom up and working without the budget to go after big-name free agents. Several people have indicated that Zduriencik’s hiring would help in another way: “That team would get flooded with resumés. People love working for Jack,” said one NL exec.

  79. Wishhiker on October 22nd, 2008 6:12 pm
  80. G-Man on October 22nd, 2008 7:38 pm

    Not a sexy pick, but sexy doesn’t win games. I like the likelihood that win-now is tabled for a rebuilding period.

    But lest I appear to like the choice, I fear that Chuck and Howard picked the guy most like themselves, or the biggest yes-man.

    We’ll see.

  81. Ninja Jordan on October 22nd, 2008 7:52 pm

    Wow, what a terrible hire.

  82. jephdood on October 22nd, 2008 7:58 pm

    Wow, what a terrible post.

  83. Sklyansky on October 22nd, 2008 8:36 pm

    Zartan isn’t ideal, but it could’ve been a million times worse. I’m just thankful they didn’t hire Randy Smith or Cam Bonifay.

  84. RallyFried on October 22nd, 2008 11:42 pm

    This pick is not the “dare to be great” pick I was hoping for.

    Bottom line: Lincoln and Armstrong are still with the M’s. Thus, we are still doomed! We can talk all day long about Zduriencik’s scouting ability and about what he brings to the table. It’s all irrelevant. In the end, Jack still reports to, and runs decisions by men who have a fundamentally flawed view of how players are evaluated.

    I could get kind of excited about this hire if it was in conjunction with Chuck and Howard being shown the door. Until then, we are just going to have to settle for being a poor to potentially mediocre team.

  85. Mike G. on October 23rd, 2008 12:27 am

    My previous post may have been lumped in with the negative (contending in 2017). However my only concern with the hire is (surprise!) ownership. More specifically the patience of Lincoln and Armstrong. It took a long time for the Brewers to turn over the talent to get to where they are now.

    Arm/Linc maybe saying they want a long rebuild (which previously has been the thing they’ve always insisted they would never do) but will they be able to stomach it?

  86. terry on October 23rd, 2008 4:39 am

    Mariner nation,

    Today, via a press release, we wish to tell you about our latest effort to put lipstick on a pig. Our new hire is not Bill Bavasi! Our new hire is not Wayne Krivsky! We can’t pronounce his name either but please rest assured that though he’s new, he’s every bit as old school as we know in our hearts a Mariner GM needs to be. We just haven’t been trying the approach hard enough the last 5 years. We’re confident that with new found vigor and commitment to a traditional approach, we’ll succeed at succeeding rather than succeeding at sucking at succeeding. All we need is good bodies (our youngsters just haven’t been good enough the last 5 years-in other words it’s clear that we scouted our way in to this mess so we have to scout our way out of it too) and we can take care of the rest at the major league level. Please trust us with the roster-we assure you it’s in good hands.

    Thank you and remember we and the Moose hope to see your children at the park next season!

    Mgmt

  87. The Ancient Mariner on October 23rd, 2008 7:31 am

    :rolleyes:

    Well, let’s see . . . we have an Ng fanboy assuring us that Zduriencik won’t have the credibility she would have had (justification?), a whole lot of people dismissing the man as a hack (justification?), and a whole lot more shorting out because Lee Pelekoudas wasn’t unceremoniously fired, and therefore sure that he’s going to be the puppetmaster or something (justification?). For crying out loud, Pelekoudas was the business-side guy; him sticking around means nothing. (This is especially true given that Zduriencik isn’t a 30-something wunderkind, and thus not subject in L&A’s eyes to any experience bias.) This is a guy who has great credibility around MLB, and who’s earned it the old-fashioned way: by being very good at what he does, and (better yet!) by doing so in a way that makes people love to work with him.

    Is he going to be brilliant? Who the heck knows? Who ever knows? When Bavasi traded the Chief, it was a coup . . . until it wasn’t. You make your best predictions, but there are always too many imponderables to be sure. On the percentages, was he the hire likeliest to turn the M’s into a powerhouse? No, I don’t think so. Could he do it anyway? Absolutely. We could become the Atlanta of the AL West. Should we be writing his epitaph when most of us still can’t spell his name? No way. Let’s at least wait until the guy screws up before we bury him, shall we? (And no, Pelekoudas not being immediately and publicly defenestrated doesn’t count as a screwup; Zduriencik doesn’t even know the guy well enough to make that decision yet.)

  88. msb on October 23rd, 2008 8:02 am

    and just what sin has Pelekoudas committed, other than being a company man

  89. JerBear on October 23rd, 2008 8:34 am

    Seriously. Here’s what Lee did in his short, interim stint as GM:

    Fired John McLaren (good), released Richie Sexson (double good), Released Jose Vidro (hallelujah), traded Arthur Rhodes for Gaby Hernandez (widely considered a good move), Got RRS and Morrow onboard the starter train (about time), and – from all accounts – tried to unload Washburn but was simply shot down by Armstrong and his intimate knowledge of baseball.

    So a reporter – not the FO – mentions that he’ll probably go back to his old job (and that’s assumed to be until further notice)… Big friggin deal.

    Lee’s P’s position doesn’t matter right now, and Jack Z’s hiring is a step forward.

  90. RallyFried on October 23rd, 2008 9:40 am

    Arm/Linc maybe saying they want a long rebuild (which previously has been the thing they’ve always insisted they would never do) but will they be able to stomach it?

    Who cares if they’ll be able to stomach it. Can WE stomach it? This hire is Howard and Chuck’s scheme that allows them to keep their jobs with no questions asked for quite some time. “Hey everyone, don’t expect anything for awhile, we’re rebuilding.” It’s a brilliant move for Chuck because he gets to hang on to this great gig for at least another 4 years with no real pressure. And when nothing comes to fruition in a few years then he’ll be back on the famous Mariner’s “hotseat” As it turns out, that seat really never gets that hot.

  91. scott19 on October 24th, 2008 1:50 am

    I’m just thankful they didn’t hire Randy Smith or Cam Bonifay.

    Amen, brother — that would’ve really been sinking the team down to the level of the Arizona Instructional League!

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