Lincoln and Armstrong

Dave · July 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Highighting a paragraph from Drayer’s latest:

We are going to have wheels up in a minute, but before I head off to Cleveland, one quick mention has to go out. Been listening to all sorts of analysis of the first half, first half mvps, awards etc. A big dose of credit should also go to Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong for making the choice of Jack Z, who made the choice of Wak. Howard and Chuck did not know Jack personally, and Jack did not know Wak. They all took risks after doing their homework, and without those works, we would not be where we were right now, which I daresay, is in much better position than this team has been in years.

Over the last five years, Howard Lincoln and Churck Armstrong have taken a massive beating from Mariner fans. There was a sizable part of the fanbase that held all the failures of the organization against them personally, and even during the GM search last winter, it was common to hear people make comments like “it doesn’t matter – this franchise can never win with those two in charge.” They were the least popular guys in the city, and they had to know it.

For instance, here’s one comment from our thread announcing Zduriencik’s hire:

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.

That was how a lot of people reacted to the news, and it was a fairly predictable reaction. Lincoln and Armstrong had to know that the reaction was going to be something like that.

But Shannon is entirely right. Despite some fairly significant momentum for the M’s to hire a different kind of GM than the last few, Lincoln and Armstrong tabbed the candidate who most resembled Bill Bavasi – older, white (and bald – sorry Jack, but it’s true), from the scouting side of baseball, and a guy who came from an organization that wasn’t generally considered one of the “new school” type of teams. But he was the right guy to hire.

Since then, I think absolutely everyone following this team has realized just how great of a hire it was. Zduriencik has proven to not just be open about the new ways of evaluating talent, but excited about using all the information he can get his hands on. Literally, we couldn’t have dreamed of the M’s changing course in the way they have in the last 8 months. They’ve gone from laughingstock to well oiled machine, and they’ve done it because Howard and Chuck hired the right guy.

You might not like the two executives in charge of the team, but you have to admit that they made a great decision, and one that could easily turn out to be the most important in the history of the franchise. They literally changed the entire focus of the organization by hiring Zduriencik and allowing him to build a first class organization in Seattle.

So, congratualations, Messers Lincoln and Armstrong. You made the right choice, and we’ve all got years of great baseball to look forward to because of it.


60 Responses to “Lincoln and Armstrong”

  1. EricL on July 15th, 2009 8:41 pm

    That’s what good executives DO. They make good hires.

    Actually, any executive, good or bad, can make good hires.

    Good executives, on the other hand, let their good hires be good hires.

    The also get rid of the bad hires as soon as feasible.

    The pair are doing right by Z and Wak. And, as it’s the most recent performance, I’m hoping it turns into a trend.

    But it’s a pretty small sample size given their body of work so far.

  2. djw on July 15th, 2009 9:07 pm

    I would wager there were alot of resources used by Howy and Chuck “people that actualy know baseball” to make a final choice in Jak Z.

    I have no idea if this is true, but if it is that would be too their credit, as well. They recognized they needed help to do their jobs properly, and they sought out the necessary help. Good for them!

  3. TomTuttle on July 15th, 2009 10:23 pm

    The blind squirrels FINALLY found the nut after driving Piniella and Gillick out of town and then subjecting us to 5.5 years of Bob Melvin, Mike Hargrove, John McLaren, and of course, those nearly 5 years of Bill Bavasi.

    Thank GOD they got it right.

  4. JMHawkins on July 16th, 2009 12:34 am

    Funny, I was thinking about Lincoln and Armstrong while reading through the JJ Hardy thread. Like several folks commenting in that thread, my initial response to Bedard+Washburn for Hardy was a bit of shock. Surely they would have more value than that. Surely one of them plus Wlad or Clement would get Hardy.

    And a few years ago, that would have been true. A few years ago, a lefty starter with name recognition and a sparkling ERA would have commanded more value. But not any more. Back then there were more Bavasis and fewer Zdurienciks running clubs. The general level of competence in Front Offices around the league has increased quite a bit in recent years. The realization that we suddenly have a smart GM blinds a few of us to the fact that we’re still playing catch-up with a whole bunch of other teams. They got their smart GMs a few years ago, while we were still overpaying for guys with name recognition and intangibles.

    Which is what brought me to thinking about Lincoln and Armstrong. They are late to the party in upgrading the front office, but at least they are finally there. And as Pittsburgh shows, they’re not the last guests to arrive.

    So boo for waiting until Edgar was retired and Ichiro in his mid-thirties before getting smart, but yah for finally doing it.

  5. Rusty on July 16th, 2009 5:38 am

    [this is not a board]

  6. Bryce on July 16th, 2009 6:28 am

    Great post, Dave. I think Armstrong and Lincoln need to be given a huge amount of credit for hiring somebody to run the team that has a completely different philosophy from who they’d hired before.

    It’s not easy for any boss, let alone executives in an extremely visible organization like the Mariners, to publicly fall on their sword and admit that their business philosophy has been a complete failure. A & L did that, to their credit, and then they went out and fixed it when they could have easily kept on doing what they were doing.

    I’m more optimistic about the M’s future than I’ve ever been in 15 years of following the team. Obviously that’s the result of Zduriencik, but like you said, in the end you have to give A & L the credit too. And if the wreckage of Bavasi’s tenure results in many years of success under Zduriencik, then as bad as that time was, it was worth it.

  7. TranquilPsychosis on July 16th, 2009 9:42 am

    And if the wreckage of Bavasi’s tenure results in many years of success under Zduriencik, then as bad as that time was, it was worth it.

    It was worth it? Seriously?

    The last 4 seasons have been as horrific as any fan could bear. Especially after the Piniella years when the Mariners were actually contending.
    The logic that this was ok to go through now that we have Z is eluding me.

  8. joser on July 16th, 2009 2:25 pm

    Getting a couple of draft picks for Raul was the right decision. Outbidding Philly for his services would have been the wrong decision.

    Exactly. We’ll see what the Phaithful think by the end of his deal. Besides, I think you can make a pretty good case that Raul wouldn’t be having the season he’s having (at the plate or in the field) if he was still playing half his games at Safeco.

    The logic that this was ok to go through now that we have Z is eluding me.

    It’s the same logic that puts dessert at the end of the meal.

  9. TranquilPsychosis on July 17th, 2009 12:11 pm

    It’s the same logic that puts dessert at the end of the meal.

    Do you mean the “wrong end” of the meal?

  10. MKT on July 17th, 2009 12:35 pm

    It’s the same logic that puts dessert at the end of the meal.

    Do you mean the “wrong end” of the meal?

    “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”

    Words to live by.

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