Armstrong Gives Jack Z A Vote Of Confidence
In an article written by Ken Rosenthal, Armstrong said that he’s “not thinking about changing the general manager at all.” Rosenthal’s headline, “Mariners to retain Zduriencik as GM” is more declarative, and its likely that Rosenthal has some extra information that wasn’t quotable that led him to making that kind of statement. The piece reads as confirmed news, in fact, where Rosenthal is essentially reporting that Zduriencik won’t be fired as factual. He has more sources in baseball than anyone else, and his reports are almost always correct, so we can probably expect that the team will not shake up the front office this winter.
That said, there’s a reason that Rosenthal had to write this story in the first place. Ever since the Cliff Lee trade, rumors have been swirling that Jack was on thin ice with upper management, and I know quite a few people in the game who didn’t think he’d survive this. The dreaded vote of confidence is often a two-edged sword, as it essentially means that they’re not firing him right now, but if it wasn’t a possibility, they wouldn’t have had to issue the statement in the first place.
I’m sure Jack knows that his rope is not as long as it was last winter. He won’t survive another disastrous season. If the 2011 team isn’t significantly improved, he will almost certainly lose his job. They don’t necessarily have to win the division, but they can’t be terrible again. He’ll need to be able to point to the success of some good young players and new acquisitions as evidence that the team is going in the right direction. Even if catching Texas next year may be unrealistic, putting a respectable team on the field is not. Just like in his first season, he’ll have to balance building for the future with putting out a big league product that fans will enjoy watching.
Only now, he’ll have to do it without a safety net. And we’ll have to see how that affects the decision making process this winter. Most of us think next year is a non-contending year with a focus on young players, and the team should prioritize building for the future, but Jack probably needs the team to finish around .500 or better to keep his job. That’s a factor, even if just a subconscious one. Will he be willing to take risks on guys with little or no track record, knowing that if they don’t perform, he’s out? I don’t know. We’ll find out, I guess.
Update: Larry Stone gets confirmation that Jack will return, and a few additional quotes, including this one: “In Jack we trust — isn’t that what the button says?”