When Do People Start Getting Fired?

Dave · April 24, 2013 at 6:55 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

In my pre-season preview of sorts, I wrote the following paragraph:

And, finally, I expect everyone will be back for one more run next year. I think the young guys will show enough to keep anyone from getting fired, though the team won’t win enough to earn long term extensions for everyone in charge either. They’ll get one more shot to win with the young players they’ve acquired. 2014 is the make-or-break year. 2013 is another building-for-the-future season, or will be seen that way in retrospect, at least.

I take it back. This team is going to get people fired. The question now is more when and who than if. And given how badly the team has started, I know a lot of you are hoping to see these changes sooner rather than later.

Side note – I take no pleasure in writing about people potentially losing their jobs. These are still human beings with families to support and bills to pay, and you’d be surprised how little MLB teams pay their front office staff below the GM level. If there is a regime change and the new guy eventually cleans house, there are going to be a lot of people out of work who aren’t independently wealthy. That sucks. I have a lot of empathy for people who might be eventually unemployed because of this team, especially the ones at the lower pay grades. Please don’t take this as rooting for people to get fired.

But, before we go starting any kind of lynch mob, it’s worth remembering that emotional decisions that are solely made to make a point are often regrettable in retrospect. If the Mariners are going to make some changes at the front office or field staff level, they should be able to explain why those changes are going to help move the organization forward. Taking a pound of flesh might appease the angry horde, but the Mariners should be in the business of improving the organization, not simply bowing to public pressure. Responding to the push for “more dingers!” is part of why the 2013 Mariners put together a dreadful roster in the first place.

So, let’s start with the field staff. I’ve never made a big secret out of my disagreements with Eric Wedge, and I don’t think he’s shown that he’s a very good evaluator of talent or that he has a good grasp on what traits should be emphasized to build a winning baseball team. In short, I don’t think Eric Wedge is the right guy to be the Mariners manager long term, and I won’t be too sad to see him move on at some point. But, what good would firing Eric Wedge do right now, really?

You’re not going to go conduct a full managerial search. Those happen in the off-season, not the middle of the year when the candidates are committed to other organizations. And, unless you know for sure that you’re not changing GMs, hiring a permanent manager now just means you have an awkward situation if you do make a change in the front office, since new GMs generally want the power to bring in their own staff. If you lay the blame for this team at the feet of Eric Wedge — certainly, he deserves some of the blame, so I’m not absolving him of responsibility for this roster — all you’re really going to accomplish is removing him so that you can promote a coach that was selected based in large part on his ability to work with Eric Wedge.

Carl Willis is here primarily because of his previous relationship with Wedge. Robby Thompson and Jeff Datz were with Wedge in Cleveland, and Datz was his bench coach, the guy who usually has the most interaction with the manager during games. The only “new guy” on the bench is Dave Hansen, who came over from the Dodgers to serve as hitting coach this year, but are you really excited about promoting the team’s hitting coach right now? Is there any indication that anyone on the staff now would be doing anything any differently?

Making change just for the sake of making change is usually useless. That doesn’t mean I’m completely against the idea of replacing Eric Wedge in-season, but I’d like to see a reason for the change simply beyond “I’m frustrated and someone has to take the fall for this.”

In some ways, managers are hired to be the fall guy for when the roster goes badly, and since Wedge had a lot of input into how this particular roster was built, it’s not totally unfair for him to take the fall for the performance of this team. But, is firing him now going to actually make things any better? If not, then what’s the point? As illogical as some of Wedge’s decisions are, it’s not like the team has a bunch of talented reserves who are getting shut out of playing time right now. The Mariners got rid of all those guys over the winter. The reserves suck now. Getting a new manager to play the bench guys more often would probably make the team worse, not better.

I don’t think it really makes all that much sense to fire Eric Wedge until you’ve also decided you’re going to fire Jack Zduriencik and go another direction. And firing a GM in season comes with some complications.

The main one is the draft. We’re six weeks away from the Mariners selecting 12th overall, and there’s a lot of work that has already been done to get the staff prepared to pick another crop of young prospects. Making a change at the GM level doesn’t mean that Tom McNamara would do his job any differently, but it adds another variable to the mix. Does whoever get promoted from within to hold the job on an interim basis — the most likely candidate would be Assistant GM Jeff Kingston, though Tony Blengino is also still on the team’s payroll, and would give the team a different voice than what they have at the moment — decide to pull rank and exercise more control in the draft room in order to try and make a name for himself in hopes of landing the full time job? You’d hope not, but is that a dynamic you really want to mess with right now? If there’s one area the organization has succeeded at in the Jack Zduriencik era, it’s been drafting. I’m not sure I’d want to mess with the current organizational structure before these guys got to do the thing they’re best at.

After the draft, it’s a little more palatable to make a change, but it’s still not the easiest transition ever. At that point, you’d be looking at seven weeks before the trade deadline, so it’s a time where a lot of important decisions are going to have to be made, including some that could have some long term ramifications for the franchise. Maybe the Mariners will decide that they don’t want Jack to be the guy making those calls if they’ve already determined that he won’t be back next year, but would you feel any better with an interim GM making those decisions? Remember when Lee Pelekoudas was the interim GM of the Mariners in 2008, and he was reportedly overruled on several veterans-for-prospects trades he attempted to make? Are the Mariners really better off with a guy who isn’t empowered to make the final call than they are with a lame duck?

A few years ago, Jim Hendry was fired by the Cubs on July 22nd but stayed on until August 19th in order to help the club transition through the deadline. Bavasi was fired mid-season, as we noted. Josh Byrnes was fired by the Diamondbacks on July 1st, 2010, and then replaced by Kevin Towers a few months later. But there aren’t a lot of other examples of in-season GM changes. Baseball America has an executive database and you can go through each team’s GM history and see the date of the hirings and firings; they’re almost all in October or November.

Realistically, if you’ve gotten to the point where you think the organization is headed in the wrong direction — I reached that point this off-season — and are in need of new blood, then you’re probably going to be waiting until this coming winter to see the new GM brought in. Making a change now might guarantee that a change is made, but it doesn’t necessarily put you in a better position long term, unless you think Jack, Wedge, and company are actively undermining the development of the players on the roster with their presence. Maybe they are, I don’t know. But “maybe, I don’t know” isn’t a reason for me to throw my full support behind a house cleaning that will lead to a bunch of interim replacements.

My sense is that the guys in charge needed a non-embarrassing season to keep their jobs, to keep organizational faith in the process, and show that there were positive steps in the right direction, even if those steps didn’t result in a winning season just yet. They needed Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, and Justin Smoak to hit. They needed Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton to pitch well enough in the minors to justify the hype. They needed to get Mike Zunino to the big leagues without it feeling like he was rushed to try and save someone’s job. They needed to establish that the young players were worth building around.

They needed this April to not happen. Embarrassing is the only word I can use to describe this. The team is publicly stating that they think they can win while starting Endy Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Robert Andino, and Kelly Shoppach. They traded for Aaron Harang to save the pitching staff. This roster is embarrassing. This roster is probably going to get everyone fired. This roster should get everyone fired.

But, I don’t know that it’s all that helpful if it gets them fired soon. If it happens, I’m not going to be against the decision, and I don’t think having an interim manager or GM would lead to impending doom. But, I don’t know that it would really help anything either.

During a season, there’s only so much an organization can really do. The Mariners made this bed when they let the front office try and build a winning team around dingers and voodoo. It has blown up in their faces in a comical way, and it’s probably going to cost the people in charge their jobs. But, I don’t know that it needs to cost them their jobs in a RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE I DEMAND CHANGE kind of way.

Firing people shouldn’t just be about making yourself feel better because you fired someone. Firing people should happen because you think you have someone who can do a better job. Maybe the Mariners have those people in place and think it’s the right time to make the move. From the outside, it’s impossible to know whether or not that’s true. But we shouldn’t demand change without knowing whether there are actually better options internally.

The time for change is coming. If ownership decides its here already, I’m okay with that. If they decide to wait a while, I’m okay with that too. I’d rather have them make an informed decision after seeing all the evidence over a longer period of time than see an emotional reaction to 23 bad games. If they don’t need any more time to make a rational, informed decision, so be it, but that’s a different reason for firing everyone than “this team sucks and you’re going to pay for building it.”


93 Responses to “When Do People Start Getting Fired?”

  1. djw on April 25th, 2013 7:42 am

    Really, the next GM has serious work to do — complete roster makeover, and still re-stocking the minor leagues. Gonna be a long time before we see progress, I believe.

    This seems like an odd comment to write about an organization with the #2 minor league system in the league, according to John Sickels as well as Baseball America.

    Really, this should be an extremely attractive GM job. All the embarrassments and dubious acquisitions are on one year deals. How often does a GM step into a situation with a top rated farm system, zero albatross contracts, and a likely payroll increase?

  2. thurston24 on April 25th, 2013 7:57 am

    There’s a few things I just don’t get. The first is that Smoak, Ackley, and Montero were all top rated hitting prospects who are failing miserably. If two of those lived up to their potential, would we be having this conversatio?. Then Gutierrez cannot stay healthy, he was playing like an all star caliber player before his latest voodoo doll attack. Again, if he wasn’t made of glass, would we be having this conversation? I agree, fire Wedge as soon as possible, he’s terrible and I think he does a lot of stupid things.

    However, I just don’t see the point of firing GMZ. He’s made a lot of moves that were pretty well lauded at the time and they have backfired terribly. Everyone though Drafting Ackley was the best pick, Justin Smoak was supposed to be awesome, and so was Montero. A ton of GM’s would have made similar moves. Then, we have three really good pitching prospects in the minors, the best catching prospect in the minors, as well as a lot of other potential major league players like Miller and Franklin. Also, while we discuss crappy player development, we fail to mention that Kyle Seager has been an above average third baseman and reached the majors pretty quickly.

    Call me crazy, but I don’t think the answer is firing Jack. Give him more time and more money and I think that long term the Mariners will be a much better team.

  3. djw on April 25th, 2013 8:38 am

    There’s a few things I just don’t get. The first is that Smoak, Ackley, and Montero were all top rated hitting prospects who are failing miserably. If two of those lived up to their potential, would we be having this conversatio?. Then Gutierrez cannot stay healthy, he was playing like an all star caliber player before his latest voodoo doll attack. Again, if he wasn’t made of glass, would we be having this conversation?

    This point is well taken, I think, and I agree that a) the firings wouldn’t be imminent, probably , if these prospects had developed normally and Guti hadn’t been cursed. Zduriencik doesn’t deserve to be fired for this reason. He does deserve to be fired for his plan B in the face of adversity. The front office seemed, from where i sit, to say to themselves something to the effect of “if prospects and defensive excellence aren’t working, let’s try broken down 40 year olds who can’t play defense”. They completely lost the thread in the face of some legitimately bad luck. It’s not the bad luck that should get them fired, it’s the inability to cope with it.

  4. RaoulDuke37 on April 25th, 2013 8:55 am

    I hear Luke Edwards is available. He did well in his last stint.

  5. Bryce on April 25th, 2013 9:06 am

    Why are we assuming prospects flaming out is purely bad luck? Why is it not an inability to identify good talent?

    In the end process is important, but if your supposedly good process results in consistently terrible results and prospects bombing out right and left there’s probably something wrong with your process. Either way, you don’t deserve to keep your job if you can’t do anything but put a losing team on the field.

  6. stevemotivateir on April 25th, 2013 9:12 am

    What indications are there that show more money will make Jack a better GM? He was suppose to have more to work with this offseason, yet look what we ended up with.

    This goes beyond drafting success as well, though I’d give more credit for that to McNamara and the scouts anyway. Trades and acquisitions are just as important and Jack hardly has a great track record in those departments.

  7. dantheman on April 25th, 2013 9:33 am

    You start out by talking about people getting fired – and end up coming up with a very long list of excuses to justify….NOT FIRING ANYONE. Why the disclaimer about taking no pleasure in writing about people losing their jobs when the whole point of what you’ve written is that no one should lose their jobs? Let me get this straight – Jeff Datz isn’t the answer so there is no point in doing anything. Presumably this is the same kind of analysis that Chuck and Howard have adopted and hey, they certainly know what they are doing.

    How bad does this team have to get before you say firing someone – now – is justified?

    And could we please play yet another round of “It’s all Bavasi’s fault”? Personally, I think the team is still reeling from Lou Gorman’s draft decisions (Al Chambers? Really? How could any team ever recover from that?).

  8. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2013 9:49 am

    Just checking ESPN’s RSS the top headline was “SweetSpot TV: Managers On The Hot Seat”, and when I clicked, who do you think was in the video still??? Wedge….the blogger (David Schoenfield), self proclaimed Seattle Mariners fan, has some pretty entertaining insights.


  9. amnizu on April 25th, 2013 9:53 am

    Personally, I am going to reserve my judgement on drafting success until we start to see draft picks translating to quality every day MLB players. So far we’ve seen some pretty good bullpen arms come through, that and a “positive outlook on the near future” is better than where we were pre-Z but still not success in my opinion.

    As far as Wedge being fired, to me it makes no difference. Wedge, for all is faults is not the reason this team is lousy. By my count the M’s have 5 MLB average (at best) daily starters: Seager, Morse (playing hurt), Saunders (hurt), Ryan and Moralis. Guti on a good team is a 4th outfielder / DH candidate due to his injury history its pretty clear he can no longer be counted on for 150+ games. The rest of the team is made up with could be’s (Ackley, Montero) and splitting hairs between bad choices.

    We can be pissed all we like about Bay or Ibanez making the team over Wells all we like but Casper Wells does not have the talent to transform this team into a contender.

    The Mariners have a MLB talent problem, that problem is caused by the people who choose the talent in the organization. That is the front office and that is where the M’s need to change.

    Finally, I also think the ownership may have a motivation problem. If the team has the cash to buy Root sports then they certainly are not hurting financially, even though attendance is at 1982 levels. Perhaps with TV money and revenue sharing, ownership no longer need to put a winning product on the field to turn a profit. If that is the case, then any change to the FO could have little to no impact on the quality of the product on the field.

  10. Westside guy on April 25th, 2013 10:00 am

    Nice straw man argument, Dan. But I can relate to the obvious frustration that’s behind it.

  11. WTF_Ms on April 25th, 2013 10:15 am

    Also, a bit of a shocker in that video from ESPN, was Mike Scocia…It seemed the main argument was that he’d been around a long time, and maybe players were tuning him out??? I’d never heard that argument before.

    There’s got to be a reason that big name players stay away from Seattle, and it isn’t the weather/field/home runs. I think there’s an ownership problem that agents know about, and tell their players. When it comes to talks with Seattle, it doesn’t matter the GM/Manager/Team, the agents tell their clients to stay away, the ownership isn’t committed to winning.

    At least I’d like to think that…maybe it’s just that we suck, and there’s no way around it?

  12. Ichirolling51 on April 25th, 2013 10:18 am

    Would a Joe Maddon be a viable option in the off-season? We’ve seen managerial trades before, including one involving these same two teams. Just a thought.

  13. amnizu on April 25th, 2013 10:26 am

    If the Mariners are going to trade with Tampa I’d rather see it for some of their on field talent.

  14. Ichirolling51 on April 25th, 2013 10:29 am

    Most of their on-field talent is in their pitching staff, an organizational strength for us. But if we’re talking Evan Longoria, then I would be all over that. I just feel that we need a proven “New school” manager, and Joe Maddon is the poster child for that. In my opinion, he’s the best manager in baseball.

  15. CCW on April 25th, 2013 10:51 am

    The M’s had a .500 team from July – October in 2012. They were basically neutral in runs scored and runs allowed. It should not have been that difficult to produce a .500 team, especially with so much of the roster young and (theoretically) improving.

  16. djw on April 25th, 2013 10:52 am

    Why are we assuming prospects flaming out is purely bad luck? Why is it not an inability to identify good talent?

    Well, there’s a lot of guesswork and circumstantial evidence involved here, and we can’t know for sure, but one reason to tend against that view, at least with respect to the big three, is that the evaluation of the M’s front office appears to have been broadly shared across both the league, and non-affiliated talent evaluators who have a strong track record (ie, Baseball America).

    I’m not saying I know it was bad luck not bad talent evaluation. I’m saying a) we can’t know, and b) the case for the former is probably a bit stronger than the case for the latter.

  17. glove20 on April 25th, 2013 10:53 am

    I live in Vegas and went up for 3 games during opening week…sad to say I didn’t stay for 9 innings during any of them. Got to say more excited to see Rainers here in Vegas tonight, pretty sad. My buddy was down from Seattle this week also and we could have watched M’s in sportsbook, he declined…pretty sad that besides a Felix start no reason to waste time or money on this current squad.

  18. dantheman on April 25th, 2013 10:58 am

    “Nice straw man argument, Dan. But I can relate to the obvious frustration that’s behind it.”

    Well, that was really the point. How do you write a column about firing people, only to end up advocating that no one get fired?

  19. hahanson on April 25th, 2013 11:18 am

    “If there’s one area the organization has succeeded at in the Jack Zduriencik era, it’s been drafting.”

    I don’t understand that; aside from Seager, who has shown “flashes” of being able to hit in the majors, who else has succeeded? Accumulated highly touted “prospects” does not signify a good farm system; having those prospects succeed at the major league level is what shows that drafting has succeeded. I have seen no proof of this in the last 5 years…

  20. djw on April 25th, 2013 11:20 am

    Dan, read it again. Dave is arguing he’s on board with the argument for firings. The post is an extended argument about the best timing for said firings. The way you characterized it in your previous comment elided that important point entirely, characterizing the only available positions in the dispute as firings now and firings never. This enabled you to disagree with Dave and accuse him of contradicting himself, without ever addressing his argument that mid-season firings don’t have any real advantages over end of season firings.

    Others in this thread have disputed Dave’s argument on his own, actual terms, offering up possible arguments for mid-season firings. Instead of doing that, you chose to grossly mischaracterize the argument made in the post in order to discredit it.

  21. Section329 on April 25th, 2013 11:29 am

    “Dingers and voodoo” made my day, Dave. And i agree as usual with your analysis. This season thus far has confirmed my thoughts/depression based on the off-season moves. Z finally lost me with the Jaso for Morse trade, so I was not surprised when they kept Bay rather than Wells.

    On another note, I have been hoping for another annual Seattle Dave, Jeff, Mathew, etc gathering this year. Wonder who they would send from the front office?

  22. henryv on April 25th, 2013 11:56 am

    Let Jack draft (one of his unique skills) and then start looking for a new staff.

    This is a team that needs to spend some money to fill the UNIVERSE-sized holes in the organization. They are going to need to over pay for some free agents, as there is not enough talent to fill a MLB roster in the organization.

    But now they do have the money to spend (or should) with the new TV deal, and the small money that are due to be spent next year. And Jack has shown that he isn’t very good at spending money correctly. We need someone with that skill set.

    Quite simply, I don’t see this organization with the skills needed to go where they need to go over the next couple years.

  23. qwerty on April 25th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Griffey’s 2nd year (along with Sweeney) was the beginning of the Head slapping for me….

  24. MKT on April 25th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Yeah, re-signing Griffey was when I wondered if Jack Z was being forced to sign players that he didn’t want, or if he truly thought bringing Griffey back was a good idea. Either way, it was a bad sign.

    I was against bringing Griffey back the first time, but the Ms lucked out with him having a semi-decent year. But to then sign him for yet another year — that was almost Heathcliff Slocumb imbecilic, and it blew up in the Mariners’ faces.

    But at least it was a Hall of Famer that the Ms brought back. This off-season, they brought back … Raul Ibanez. Who’s the next over-the-hill Mariner they’ll bring in? I think Willie Bloomquist is available.

  25. eponymous coward on April 25th, 2013 1:09 pm

    Call me crazy, but I don’t think the answer is firing Jack. Give him more time and more money and I think that long term the Mariners will be a much better team.

    You realize you can legitimately point to good moves Bill Bavasi made, right? Do you think we made a hasty decision on him?

    At some point you get judged on your work product if you’re a MLB GM. The “well, he didn’t have much to work with” excuse runs pretty thin when Billy Beane spends considerably less and has NEVER had a rotten team with this many holes- even when the A’s are having a down year it’s 75 losses, not looking like a complete joke and playing clearly bad players.

  26. JasonJ on April 25th, 2013 1:14 pm

    That’s why the FO is taking so much heat. A team that is rebuilding and/or possibly coming out of a rebuilding phase has no business signing players like Ibanez and Jason Bay to guaranteed contracts.

    It’s not even because the players they displaced were much better, but when you bring in washed up players under the guise of “veteran leadership” it makes you like you aren’t serious about winning. I’m sure the FO wants to win, but I have serious doubts about their competence when they actually believed filling 2 roster spots with Ibanez and Bay was a good idea.

    And Wedge isn’t really the source of the problem but he’s compounding on the FO’s poor choices by making more poor choices of his own.

  27. Deelron on April 25th, 2013 1:35 pm

    “Who’s the next over-the-hill Mariner they’ll bring in? I think Willie Bloomquist is available.”

    When did he ever reach the top of a hill?

    I kid, but man it’s bleak, it’d be nice to actually have a reason to go to Safeco then Tacoma.

  28. eponymous coward on April 25th, 2013 1:35 pm

    Speaking of Bavasi:

    Bavasi’s record before he was fired as Mariner GM: 322-395.

    If the 2013 Seattle Mariners go 26-20 over their next 46 games (in other words: play like a 90-win playoff team), GMZ will tie Bavasi’s win-loss record. He’s at 296-375 now.

    I have a feeling that might surprise some people- in retrospect the 2009 team was essentially 2007 redux, a fluke that misled people about where the team was, except at the beginning of Zduriencik’s tenure instead of close to the end of Bavasi’s. The quality of the team really hasn’t changed all that much since then- we had some decent players then (Beltre, Ibañez, Felix), and now (Felix, Iwakuma, Seager), with some very smart moves you can point to by each GM, but both teams regularly ended up with rosters crippled by bad decisions in trades (Bedard, Fister, Morrow), poor prospect development (Lopez, Betancourt, Smoak, Ackley), bizarre roster decisions (Vidro, Bay).

    This isn’t to say GMZ is as bad as Bavasi was… but “better than” is not the same as “good enough to win in a division with the Angels, Texas and Billy Beane”.

  29. bluemoonking on April 25th, 2013 1:57 pm

    I don’t really want to see Wedge or GMZ go, not that you could not make more than an argument. I believe that for anything to really change, Howard and Chuck MUST GO FIRST!!! Otherwise it will not matter who the GM or Manager is.

  30. djw on April 25th, 2013 3:16 pm

    Howard and Chuck MUST GO FIRST!!! Otherwise it will not matter who the GM or Manager is.

    Where did this bizarre mindset come from? It’s particularly nonsensical, given that these two men had their current roles with the team during the mostly good years of 1995-2003. There seems to be some segment of the Mariners fan base who believe that after a pretty successful decade, these men decided they were tired of being successful, and have sabotaged the team intentionally sense, either by intentionally hiring bad GMs, or secretly forcing GMs to make bad decisions. After a decade of good baseball, they decided they wanted to bring bad baseball to Seattle? Both those theories seem facially absurd, and lacking in concrete evidence, but a lot of people seem pretty committed to it. Do you see similar conspiracy theories with other teams? Do, say, Pirates fans talk like this?

  31. eponymous coward on April 25th, 2013 4:01 pm

    djw, apparently the working theory is Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong’s evil franchise-killing mojo was thwarted by by Woody Woodward and Pat Gillick, but not Bill Bavasi and Jack Zduriencik.

    I don’t get the logic either- especially given that in the areas that they ARE responsible for (mostly financial/business operations, as opposed to the ballplayers on the field), they seem to do OK, and there is first hand evidence that given a competent GM, they do OK.

    That being said, Wedge was a terrible hire that they certainly had input on, and the messes involving Griffey, Wakamatsu and Josh Lueke also have upper management’s fingerprints on them, and led to some poor outcomes. So while I think it’s overstated to say the franchise can’t succeed with them at their positions, I would also say they’ve been part of the problem too.

    Anyways, for all intents and purposes, Lincoln’s the owner. Good luck firing the owner.

  32. qwerty on April 25th, 2013 4:07 pm

    djw…or they started meddling more.
    The reason is that we’ve seen an increased involvement by the front office in baseball decisions: i.e. Griffey, Griffey again, Kenji, Jarrod Washburn, Vetoing of Lou’s pleas.
    The M’s were successful during the 95-2003 years despite their presence, not because of it.
    When Gilleck left (I believe related to those guys’ presence) was the beginning of the downward spiral.
    I’d also add the public opposition to the Sonics.

    I don’t think it’s conspiracy theories. Their fingerprints are on this.

  33. djw on April 25th, 2013 4:24 pm

    That’s just a list of insinuations, not evidence.

  34. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 5:08 pm

    “The M’s were successful during the 95-2003 years despite their presence, not because of it.”

    Come on… That’s just silly. No credit for good/all credit for bad?

    I really wish it was that easy.

    Are you implying we’d have won MORE THAN a history of baseball leading 116 games in 2001 without them at the helm?

    Or maybe, we won the most games in baseball during a 3 year stretch because we have sumo wrestlers holding them down in a back room were they couldn’t muck it up?

    It’s just way more complicated than that. Sorry.

    I’d say Gillick and Lou had more to do with it than Howard and Chuck… Just like Z and Wedge have more to do with the mess now than Howard and Chuck. And YES they’re responsible for who they hire, but much like trying to bring elite free agents to Seattle as players, you don’t just get to hire whoever you want to by you GM and Manager, when the very best at those jobs are already WORKING at those jobs, with better teams.

    A few folks have made the argument, and I’m finding it hard to disagree, that Z has been INCREDIBLY unlucky with his talent. (Which doesn’t require denying bad moves in there too– the very best GM’s make bad moves, a’la Cashman and Theo Epstein)…

    Getting Cliff Lee for scrubs– genius. Getting both Montero AND Smoak, who initially we were in an “either/or” position to have… Pretty awesome (if you’re any other GM in the league, evaluating that situation). Getting Montero (if he had panned out already) is GENIUS given that the guy we gave up for him hasn’t pitched a single inning in the majors since that day (ie, Pineda hasn’t pitched a game since Sept 21, 2011).d

    It’s easy to forget the good, but Aardsma, the first year of Guty, Wilhelmsen, getting OUT of Kenji Johjima without owing him a $$$, moving Carlos Silva (bad result, good process)… The FRONT end of ACQUIRING John Jaso, Casper Wells, Doug Fister– losing them only sucks because we FOUND them and like them, when nobody saw ANY of them becoming precious commodities before coming to Seattle…

    Figgins, Montero, Smoak, Ackley– EVERY GM in baseball would make those moves, without much hesitation (at the time they were made).

    AND… Lincoln and Armstrong had absolutely nothing to do with any of that (maybe Figgins).

  35. Bryce on April 25th, 2013 5:21 pm

    MrZDevotee, you may be right that every GM in baseball would have done what Z did in the way he did it to get Figgins, Montero, Smoak, and Ackley. And every GM would also get fired if/when none of those moves panned out and the team still sucked.

  36. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 5:28 pm

    Agreed. I’ve already lamented needing to change my name here, because of that. And wishing there was a way to convince a GM he should stick around and be our ‘draft’ guy, when we replace him.

    Still unlucky though. He didn’t screw anything up with his choices– is the point. They just didn’t pan out. C’est la vie.. Again, good process/bad results.

  37. djw on April 25th, 2013 6:18 pm

    What I want is the account of motivation and agency 2within the organization that the Lincoln/Armstrong conspiracy theorists adhere to. The qwerty version is that they’ve always been sleeper agents committed to Mariners failure, but were thwarted by crafty underlings until 2003. Alternatively, they tolerated winning ways for a while, but eventually got with that and hired Bavasi. What both these narratives lack is a shred of evidence, but beyond that they lack a plausible narrative. What kind of monster works as president of a sports team, secretly committed to losing as much as possible? Unless the theory involves Billy Beane having photos of what they did to that prostitute back in ’83 or something, this conspiracy theory lacks a crucial feature for a good conspiracy-an account of the nature of the malign motives behind the conspiracy. UFO, JFK, and 9/11 truthers all provide as much, but Lincoln/Armstrong conspiracists can’t even take this simple step. The just want to lose-no other explanation needed.

  38. MrZDevotee on April 25th, 2013 6:39 pm

    I believe it’s all tied to the high number of vapor trails from commercial airliners… Have you seen how many airliners pass near Safeco… THAT is why the numbers are so bad there. Boeing has a thing going with the front office… A poison that thwarts offense. It was supposed to affect the OTHER team, but because we’re there so much more often than our opponents, traces of it have built up in the Mariner’s system… That’s why the guys who have been there the longest are the worst hitters…

    Ichiro seemed immune to it, but that actually ended up being a boon to the project, because they were able to refine it until Ichiro sucked too!

    But look how much better people play when they leave and begin to recover? (ie Beltre, Kotchman, Morse, etc.) Look how much better the Mariners played on the road last year… Morse is a great exhibit of evidence, he’s back for less than two months and completely sucks, though he was mostly immune at the beginning of the year…

    It’s real. Very real. It’s secretly known amongst Armstrong and Lincoln as “Agent Teal”… (It’s in the fireworks they occasionally let off too– the WHOLE reason they set them off on opening day, because the intensity if stronger in the fireworks..)

    It’s why the Mariners are against the Sonics building a new arena in SODO… That old abandoned building is where they store it…

    *Man, I’m almost believing myself here…*

  39. Adam S on April 25th, 2013 8:23 pm

    They should fire Wedge today. Not because he’s good or bad or we can find better, but because he doesn’t seem to be on board with the organizational philosophy.

    Regardless how you feel about the Jaso-Morse trade the team’s rationale was they wanted to give Montero a chance to be the everyday catcher and they wanted a hitter with Morales in the middle to take the pressure off the kids. They plucked a couple of warm bodies of the scrap heap to be the backups.

    Montero lasted less than two weeks as the starting catcher and three weeks into the season Smoak is batting cleanup with Ackley 5th even though both have struggled. Under what framework does Jesus Montero, major league backup catcher make sense?

    Datz or Darren Brown or TBD might not be better but at least they might seem to, with GMZ, have a plan.

  40. djw on April 26th, 2013 8:04 am

    Under what framework does Jesus Montero, major league backup catcher make sense?

    Oh, I know this one! It makes perfect sense if you adhere to the “6 DH” theory of roster construction.

  41. kinickers77 on April 26th, 2013 8:37 am

    Dave, I’m not sure I can follow you with this one. I understand your perspective and you are typically right on. Maybe you are here too, I don’t claim to know more about what’s best for the Mariners than you. I would pick your take over mine 9 times out of 10.

    That said, you tend to be a decision-maker based on rational thought, not emotion. I think it’s a little early to conclude this team has hit rock bottom only 23 games into the season. There’s still plenty of time to turn things around, making the FO and management look a lot better. Even talking about firings at all seems like an emotional response to a bad start, still early in the season. The Angels are doing just as bad as us and no one’s demanding people get fired over there yet (whether now or eventually). If anything, it’s more tragic there because expectations are so much higher.

    Secondly, I’m curious how you derived at this comment: “If there’s one area the organization has succeeded at in the Jack Zduriencik era, it’s been drafting.” Where’s this success you are talking about? Sure, there are plenty of highly-touted names – Zunino, Walker, Hultzen, Miller, etc – but those are all “prospects,” also know as “still-unprovens.” In fact, I see more prospects failing in the Big Leagues under Jack – Ackley, Montero and Smoak – than I do successes. Yes, there’s Seager and Saunders I suppose, but neither are big game changers, just decent add-ons. Am I missing something? Show me where I’m off here; what has convinced you that Jack Z has done a good job drafting for the Ms?

    Thanks Dave. I respect your opinion and maybe I’m misunderstanding something here or not seeing the whole picture. What do you think?

  42. djw on April 26th, 2013 9:56 am


    What do Montero and Smoak have to do with evaluating Zduriencik’s drafts?

    If you don’t think building the #2 ranked minor league system after four drafts is something he should get credit for, I don’t really understand chain of thinking. So far, at the major league level, his drafts have produced one disappointment (Ackley) one success (Seager) and a couple of solid relievers (Capps, Pryor).

    Obviously, in 20 years, we’ll evaluate Zduriencik’s drafts by the major league careers that drafted players had. And that evaluation will be a much better one than anything we can do now. But if we’re going to try to evaluate them presently, it would be irrational to ignore what we know about the players drafted from their minor league performances and development so far. There’s just not enough data to evaluate them based on major league performances alone.

  43. MrZDevotee on April 26th, 2013 5:11 pm

    You kinda answerer your own question really. The only point by talking about drafting is that, almost unanimously, the people who evaluate amateur talent as it transitions to pro talent, those people have hailed Z’s results as being just about the very best in baseball.

    Have those kids translated to the majors yet? Well, no… Agreed. But that doesn’t change the fact that basically, having the 2nd best farm system in the league (by some people’s accounts) means all but 1 other team in the league would trade draft results with us over the past 5 years (theoretically, I’m basing this leap off the fact that we were considered one of the WORST farm systems the year Z came in)…

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