Carmen Fusco Fired

Dave · September 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

As first reported by King5, and now confirmed by the team, the Mariners have fired Carmen Fusco, who was serving as the director of professional scouting. It was originally reported that he would be relieved of duties at the end of the year, but it’s now been made effective immediately, likely due to the fact that this became public – hard to have a guy hanging around who knows he’s a dead man walking.

I’m working on a longer post that I’ll publish tomorrow about how this move fits into what we’ve seen happen since the Cliff Lee trade went down. I’m still gathering information, so I don’t want to comment about Fusco’s firing prematurely. I did, however, want to tell the Carmen Fusco story. Those of you who have been around a while have already heard this, but for those of you who have found the blog in the last year or so, here’s why I’m a Carmen Fusco fan.

A few months after the Mariners hired Jack Zduriencik and re-tooled the front office, I invited him to come hang out with us at the Seattle Central Library for a Q&A with the readers. We’d done these with Bavasi and other friends of mine in the past, but I didn’t know Jack at all, and I wasn’t sure how the new front office would take to us. Due to a radio commitment, Jack couldn’t make it, but he made sure to send all of his top lieutenants in order to make sure the event was a success. Along with Tony Blengino, Tom McNamara, and Pedro Grifol, Carmen came and introduced himself to 275 of our readers on a Saturday afternoon.

It’s the only event we’ve ever had that I couldn’t attend. I really wanted to be there, but I just couldn’t make it happen. After the event was over, I got a report from Derek on how it went, and while it seemed like a success, he threw out one thing that I thought was odd – apparently, Fusco went through about half of the two dozen water bottles we had provided on stage. Everyone I talked to couldn’t stop talking about how much water Fusco drank. It was the story of the day.

Fast forward to last August. I went to Burlington to watch Pulaski, the Mariners rookie level affiliate in the Appalachian League. I wanted to see Steve Baron, Gabriel Noriega, and a few of the other interesting guys on the roster. Sitting behind me? Carmen Fusco. I introduced myself, and we started talking about the event in January. He talked about how he had a great time, and it was something he would love to do again. I brought up the water drinking, and here’s a paraphrase of his response:

“You want to know the story behind that? I was in so much pain, and I was just trying to stay hydrated. I went home when it was over and passed two kidney stones.”

Carmen Fusco spent four hours talking baseball with USSM readers on a Saturday in January while passing two kidney stones. And he had a blast doing it. After that, he could strangle puppies in front of my bedroom window at 2 am and I would still be a fan of his.

Comments

45 Responses to “Carmen Fusco Fired”

  1. Xteve X on September 13th, 2010 12:54 pm

    So this is apparently for Fusco not doing some kind of due diligence in the Josh Lueke deal?

    Or in other words, PR concerns trumped how Fusco went about his actual job functions?

    I’m no apologist for Lueke, but from the polls around including on this site it didn’t appear that most of fandom really took exception to his acquisition.

  2. BrianV on September 13th, 2010 12:56 pm

    This actually sounds more like someone at the ownership level deciding someone in the front office needed to fall on their sword for the Lueke deal and Fusco got the shaft.

    Just how it feels, I have no other information.

  3. Ralph_Malph on September 13th, 2010 1:07 pm

    I’m no apologist for Lueke, but from the polls around including on this site it didn’t appear that most of fandom really took exception to his acquisition.

    Lueke is a minor leaguer. Most of fandom doesn’t know Josh Lueke from Josh Gibson. The reaction will come when he gets called up some day.

  4. ivan on September 13th, 2010 1:09 pm

    I hope you’ll gather all the information you can, Dave, and will report it without fear or favor.

    I am guessing that you will find that Fusco was fired because the Lueke acquisition embarrassed Chuck Armstrong. I await your report.

  5. SeasonTix on September 13th, 2010 1:52 pm

    I was at the USSM event and you forgot to mention that not only did Carmen drink several bottles of water … he never got up to go the bathroom!

    That’s stamina.

    He was very good at the event and the firing must be very painful because Carmen is longtime friend of Jack Z’s … as I recall, I think he said they group up together and have known each other since they were kids.

  6. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2010 1:59 pm

    Just when you think the organization might start being less dysfunctional… this has to happen.

    What a mess.

  7. snapper on September 13th, 2010 2:00 pm

    I don’t see how they can fire Fusco while not cutting/trading back to Texas Lueke.

    They basically are admitting they don’t care what Lueke did, all they care about is the bad PR they got.

    Shameful.

  8. Swungonandbelted on September 13th, 2010 2:06 pm

    Makes you wonder how much time Jack Z. himself has left with the M’s…

  9. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2010 2:07 pm

    I don’t see how they can fire Fusco while not firing Zduriencik.

    Fixed your post.

    I suspect Jack’s on a very thin, very crumbling ledge. I have a feeling a number of moves (Wakamatsu, Fusco, Griffey) have basically been forced on him from above. Hey, when the ship’s sinking, better be sure those deck chairs are arranged properly!

    I won’t be shocked at this point to see the 2011 Mariners with a new GM. I’m dreading when Cam Bonifay shows up on the dais…

  10. snapper on September 13th, 2010 2:10 pm

    I don’t see how they can fire Fusco while not firing Zduriencik.

    Well, if the honest truth was they didn’t know, and it was Fusco’s job to find out then you could fire Fusco and cut Lueke.

    But if you keep Lueke, you’re saying his offenses weren’t bad enough to fire him, so how can you fire the guy that acquired him?

  11. Sports on a Schtick on September 13th, 2010 2:12 pm

    Damn that’s an awesome anecdote. Wish Carmen nothing but the best.

  12. eponymous coward on September 13th, 2010 2:13 pm

    But if you keep Lueke, you’re saying his offenses weren’t bad enough to fire him, so how can you fire the guy that acquired him?

    I feel pretty confident that Lueke won’t pitch in a Mariners uniform, given how this is going down. I’m thinking “traded for a delicious cold Sprite at the winter meetings”.

    The difference is you can’t trade a scouting director.

  13. snapper on September 13th, 2010 2:17 pm

    I feel pretty confident that Lueke won’t pitch in a Mariners uniform, given how this is going down. I’m thinking “traded for a delicious cold Sprite at the winter meetings”.

    The difference is you can’t trade a scouting director.

    Probably true, but still very classless to fire Fusco while Lueke is still wearing your uniform.

    It’s an announcement to the world that you will stand on principal only when it costs you absolutely nothing.

  14. MKT on September 13th, 2010 2:24 pm

    Damn that’s an awesome anecdote. Wish Carmen nothing but the best.

    Yeah, I reminded of one of Dave’s Bavasi anecdotes, where there was some major glitch at a USSM event (Dave and Derek getting caught in traffic or something) and Bavasi went way beyond the call of duty to hold the fort and keep things going until Dave and Derek arrived. Bavasi had to improvise and more important he had to put in some work for something that let’s face it he wasn’t getting paid for. Lousy GM, but great human being was my take-away from that anecdote.

  15. Swungonandbelted on September 13th, 2010 2:27 pm

    The only thing more depressing than this organization, is that the other team that I’ve followed for almost 30 years, the first team I ever loved as a kid, the team I bought a hat for and wore proudly after seeing my first MBL game in Fenway park (Boston over Texas 9 – 5)has turned into “Cirque de McCourt(tm)” :(

  16. spankystout on September 13th, 2010 2:33 pm

    This organization is in complete disarray.

  17. spankystout on September 13th, 2010 2:38 pm

    Is the organizational motto ‘shit rolls downhill’? Too many people being fired, that aren’t dragging the organization down.

  18. jephdood on September 13th, 2010 2:38 pm

    Suck it, Armstrong and Lincoln! Let people do their damn jobs! You continue to wreck this team with your baseball ignorance. If this is, indeed, some kind of ‘warning shot’ for Z, and they end up firing him sometime next year before his minor league acquisitions come to fruition, I am DONE with this poorly-run organization until those two suited corpses leave my team to someone with actual competence.

  19. ppl on September 13th, 2010 2:49 pm

    This move looks bad all-around as it stands today.

    Nothing brings out the “Trolls and ranters” in droves more effectively than discussions regarding the Front office.

    But today it looks like “The organization” has given them something legitimate to rant about.

  20. jwgrandsalami on September 13th, 2010 3:19 pm

    To me, this is akin to forcing a manager to fire one of his coaches as a precursor to the ax falling on the manager himself.

    Jack Z has this organization on the right track, so this would be extremely sad and detrimental to the future of the franchise on the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack is already planning his own exit strategy, seeing where he could land on his feet. Anyone know how long Zduriencik’s contract is?

  21. Elwood P. Dowd on September 13th, 2010 3:39 pm

    At last, something here I can offer an expert opinion on:
    Nothing hurts worse than kidney stones!

  22. Liam on September 13th, 2010 3:47 pm

    We don’t know the details of Jack Zduriencik’s contract, but it wouldn’t be a factor in whether he is let go. Josh Byrnes was fired as GM of the Diamondbacks this season and his contract ran through 2015.

  23. jephdood on September 13th, 2010 3:57 pm

    I would not be surprised if this dipshit FO fired Z for lack of immediate results, even during a rebuilding period. Would fit their modus operandi to a tee. Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have absolutely no clue, and the M’s will not win a thing while those two monkeys are still around.

  24. G-Man on September 13th, 2010 4:25 pm

    Didn’t somebody from Bavasi’s front office get canned for no more apparent reason than an attempt to scapegoat someone for the team’s miserable performance? Who was that?

    Then, how long after was that before Bavasi got fired?

  25. firova2 on September 13th, 2010 4:43 pm

    Check out Churchill.

  26. IdahoFan on September 13th, 2010 5:02 pm

    I don’t like this firing, nor the firing of the hitting coach, however, I do have a question. Setting aside the Lueke trade, would the performance of this year’s free agent signings warrant not renewing the contract of the director of pro scouting? This was a bad year made worse by the bumbling acquisition of Josh Lueke.

  27. ivan on September 13th, 2010 5:07 pm

    “Bumbling acquisition of Josh Lueke?” Maybe you haven’t seen this guy pitch.

  28. bermanator on September 13th, 2010 5:29 pm

    If the upper management thinks that Josh Lueke is utterly irredeemable and a disgrace to the organization, I wish they would just cut him rather than undo so much of the good that has been done over the past couple of years.

    This seems like such a terrible overreaction. Lueke was, at best, the third piece of the Lee trade. Let him go, write up a “Lessons Learned: Do Extensive Due Diligence on All Potential Acquisitions’ Off-Field Incidents,” and be done with it.

  29. spankystout on September 13th, 2010 5:37 pm

    Ivan

    Regardless of how Lueke throws, it was a ‘bumbling acquisition’. Either they ignored Luekes’ past or didn’t perform due diligence before making the deal.

  30. littlesongs on September 13th, 2010 5:43 pm

    According to our good friend Jay, here is the irreversible damage that Carmen Fusco had a hand in causing during his tenure:

    Tacoma: Playoffs!
    West Tennessee: Playoffs!
    High Desert: Playoffs!
    Clinton: Playoffs!
    Everett: LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!
    Pulaski: Playoffs!
    Aguirre: Playoffs!
    Yamasa: Playoffs!

    Looking at that sort of minor league performance within the organization, I would assume that he was fired for the fourth place finish of the Peoria squad?

    This is just sad.

  31. jephdood on September 13th, 2010 5:50 pm

    Granted, Lueke’s past is pretty sick, and NOT in the positive sense of the word… but does that make him a “throw-away” person forever? Can one never redeem themselves in life? I dunno. Just a thought.

  32. bongo on September 13th, 2010 6:04 pm

    Lueke throws 95+ mph and if he ever gets any command will represent excellent compensation for Mark Lowe.

    I’d suggest that the Mariners didn’t take Texas up on their offer to exchange him for another player because they think that Lueke is potentially valuable and as long as he doesn’t reoffend, they figure that they can continue to develop him and increase his value, leaving the big decision (to call him up or trade him) until later.

    Of course, Mariner’s management didn’t bargain on their own dissembling and dysfunction becoming more of an issue than Lueke’s past.

    Given what Lueke was accused of, that says it all.

  33. GoldenGutz on September 13th, 2010 6:11 pm

    I’m sick of this. The common fan won’t even know about Josh Lueke until the media hypes him up and people go home and google him. Then when they wake up they’ll be like “What?” If anyone should be fired it needs to be Armstrong for keeping a great icon way to long and just being an idiot for this stupid rule.

  34. G-Man on September 13th, 2010 6:14 pm

    I’d suggest that the Mariners didn’t take Texas up on their offer to exchange him for another player because they think that Lueke is potentially valuable and as long as he doesn’t reoffend, they figure that they can continue to develop him and increase his value, leaving the big decision (to call him up or trade him) until later.

    I’ll bet they aren’t going to give an equally valuable prospect in the purely baseball sense for one who has to wear the scarlet letter, especially now that his past has been widely publicized during the last couple months. Organizational filler (a non-prospect) is more likely their offer.

  35. bongo on September 13th, 2010 6:43 pm

    At the moment, yes. But given how Lueke has been pitching, I’d say he is only mildly more erratic than Brandon Morrow was at the same stage. The kid throws *hard*. Give him half of next season in Tacoma to develop a repertoire and then some major league appearances to showcase him, and you might be surprised what you come up with in terms of offers, assuming he keeps his nose clean.

  36. joser on September 13th, 2010 7:09 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that everybody up to the Zduriencik level knew the whole story (in fact I’m certain of this) but didn’t see the need to keep Armstrong/Lincoln/ownership in the loop since this was a purely baseball decision (I doubt they ran the Snell or Morrow trades by them either). But somebody wasn’t happy when they found out their “family-friendly” team had been sullied, and demanded a show of contrition — and since Adair was already fired, Fusco was the last best guy to get the knife.

    Lueke throws 95+ mph and if he ever gets any command will represent excellent compensation for Mark Lowe.

    He throws 95+ with a really violent motion. Not saying that’s going to lead to problems, but it certainly was something that jumped out at me the first time I saw him pitch. Whether or not it’s a red flag for injuries down the road, I’m sure it’s a part of his command problems.

  37. Jay Yencich on September 13th, 2010 7:13 pm

    According to our good friend Jay, here is the irreversible damage that Carmen Fusco had a hand in causing during his tenure: [snip]

    While I appreciate the shoutout there, a lot more of the credit should probably go to Tom MacNamara, who heads up amateur scouting and would be responsible for drafting and signing the domestic players from Peoria on up. Fusco’s role was more in line with players that were already around, so he probably had a hand in Lueke, Lawson, Robles, Saito, and the others.

    It’s a bit of a stretch to credit Fusco for the minor league turnaround.

  38. gwangung on September 13th, 2010 8:14 pm

    It’s a bit of a stretch to credit Fusco for the minor league turnaround.

    Hm. What WOULDN’T be a stretch to blame Fusco for, in this year of disastrous results?

  39. JMHawkins on September 13th, 2010 9:57 pm

    When Dave mentioned this as fallout of the Cliff Lee trade, my first thought was that they were mad at Fusco for getting the scouting report on Smoak’s defense so wrong.

    I mean, what’s the explanation for that?

  40. diderot on September 13th, 2010 10:51 pm

    wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that everybody up to the Zduriencik level knew the whole story (in fact I’m certain of this)

    Joser, as someone who’s not given to hyperbole, how exactly are you certain of this?

  41. littlesongs on September 14th, 2010 12:29 am

    While I appreciate the shoutout there, a lot more of the credit should probably go to Tom MacNamara, who heads up amateur scouting and would be responsible for drafting and signing the domestic players from Peoria on up. Fusco’s role was more in line with players that were already around, so he probably had a hand in Lueke, Lawson, Robles, Saito, and the others.

    Jay, I love reading your work and really appreciate the insight.

    With the roles clearly defined, this firing seems more out of spite and embarrassment than anything else. It leads me to the believe that firing Fusco was done solely to punish Zduriencik.

    What do the Mariners stand to gain by replacing Carmen with someone new?

    It’s a bit of a stretch to credit Fusco for the minor league turnaround.

    Agreed, but I think it is less of a stretch than singling out and firing Carmen Fusco for his contribution to Leuke acquisition. The kid can pitch and the move made sense from a purely baseball standpoint.

  42. Greeff on September 14th, 2010 1:20 am

    This sucks bigtime.

    Doesn’t anybody in management believe in second chances ? sure Lueke did a bad thing. but shouldn’t a baseball team be about winning game instead of image and PR ?

  43. joser on September 14th, 2010 12:53 pm

    Joser, as someone who’s not given to hyperbole, how exactly are you certain of this?

    You’re right, I wasn’t in the room so I don’t know for sure, and I should be called out on that. It’s just that we have press accounts that quote Adair saying he told Zduriencik “everything” and Armstrong saying he only learned about it after the trade. So while it’s possible Adair is lying, it seems more credible to me that the information percolated up to Zduriencik but went no higher.

    (If that’s the case, though, you could interpret this as good news for Zduriencik: Armstrong et al wanted someone fired, and they didn’t want it to be Zduriencik, so Fusco was left to fall on a sword. Which is still a crappy way to run an organization, but not surprising given how publicity-conscious this one seems to be.)

    As Dave says in his more recent post, though, we don’t really know and all any of us have is theories. This is mine.

  44. G-Man on September 14th, 2010 7:40 pm

    As Dave says in his more recent post, though, we don’t really know and all any of us have is theories. This is mine.

    And as I said in the thread for that post, I agree with joser’s theory.

  45. ZoinksScoob on September 17th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Fusco was the head of PRO scouting, which is very important. That not only covers scouting players and prospects on other teams for trades, but also advanced scouting for upcoming games so that the Mariners have (or in this case, should have) good information and statistics from which to prepare for the teams they are facing. For example, what kind of stuff does the guy we’re facing on Wednesday night throw? Is he a flyball pitcher? If you wait on him, will he eventually throw a meatball? You know, actual important questions for the here and how.

    On that front, the Mariners have been abysmal for years now. They make rookie pitchers look like Cy Young, and they have no game plan when they go up to the plate. Did the hitting improve when Alonzo Powell took over for Alan Cockrell? No. Did the hitting improve when Daren Brown took over for Don Wakamatsu? No. And it isn’t all because our hitters are that bad… it’s partially because they have been badly prepared for the games they play.

    Here is a prime example (and an example of how other teams scout much better than we do.) Up until Wednesday night, every (and I mean EVERY) Mariners hitter who got a 3-0 count at the plate took the next pitch (as you should do most of the time) but automatically took a swing on 3-1… despite the fact that the ball was ALWAYS low and out of the zone. The result? Predictably a swing and miss, a foul ball or a weak groundout. Michael Saunders took a 3-1 pitch after taking a 3-0 on Wednesday which was low and, lo and behold, took a walk! It was literally the first time all season that an M’s hitter took a 3-1 pitch after taking a 3-0 pitch all season. You know why the opposing pitcher kept throwing dirt balls against us on 3-1 counts? Because they KNEW we’d swing at it! How did they know? Because they scouted us.

    We’re simply not good at that. They can talk all they want about Jack Z coming from a scouting background and how they have a new baseball information department in the FO, but they’re not doing their jobs properly. The manager and coaches should have enough information to give their hitter and pitchers a specific game plan going in, not winging it as they have been. The M’s hitters are in desperation mode now, but even so, there has to be a sense of discipline at the plate in order for opposing pitchers not to giggle with delight every time our guys come up to bat.

    Fusco was more than a scapegoat for the Lueke mishap; this was definitely a shot across Jack Z’s bow that he needs to get a handle on scouting other teams so that the M’s don’t get embarrassed every night.

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