Report On The Wreckage From A Bomb Long Exploded

Jeff Sullivan · December 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I’ve seen comments from a number of people that they can’t wait to read what certain writers have to say about the Geoff Baker piece. Overnight, Seattle Mariners organizational dysfunction has become national news, with the obligatory Deadspin link and everything. From those most closely linked to the team, though, the response has been…not non-existent, but perhaps underwhelming, relative to what outsiders might expect. Everyone has acknowledged the piece and talked at least a little about it. It’s well-sourced, well-crafted, and extremely thorough. It’s a big deal. But we simply didn’t learn a whole lot. Those paying attention have hardly been caught by surprise.

Last night, I said that Geoff Baker dropped the bomb. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’d like to back away from that phrasing. Nothing has been destroyed by Baker’s outstanding article. Rather, the article details what was destroyed many moons back, gradually over the course of months and years. For many, most certainly, the information is eye-opening, but from here, what’s new are some of the details and anecdotes. What’s not new is the substance of the message. The organization’s not in great shape, in so many ways lacking the right kind of leadership.

Don’t focus too much on the timing of the article, right on the heels of the Robinson Cano acquisition. This article has been in the works for longer than the Mariners and Cano were negotiating, and so in that sense the timing is a coincidence. It benefits the Times that people are paying attention to the Mariners again all of a sudden, but this was getting published regardless once Baker had completed all the legwork. Things like this take a while. Baker, for as much as we’ve picked on him, is a qualified investigative journalist who did his job to address what had become a hurricane of whispers. This was all going to come out.

Similarly, don’t over-analyze the timing of the Cano signing. The Mariners knew that this article was coming, but they didn’t drop a quarter of a billion dollars just to make people feel better about the state of things. The Mariners aren’t changing their plans in response to this. Teams don’t respond to the media like that, and the surest cure is winning. They’re trying to win, as soon as they can. Also, don’t over-analyze the fact that the Mariners declined to issue much in the way of a rebuttal. They’re not automatically conceding that everything’s true. They just don’t see any point in getting caught up in a war of words. What could they possibly gain? There’s nothing, really, to be done when a piece like this is hitting the papers. They, rightly, are electing to focus on the baseball.

A perfectly valid observation is that the bulk of the sourcing comes from ex-employees. Many of them were forced out or marginalized against their will. So there’s a bit of a revenge angle, and there’s certain bias, and, probably, some details have been exaggerated. But it’s not like Baker talked to one or two people. Read the article again. It’s not that we’re getting one side out of two; it’s that we’re getting X out of X + 1 or X + 2, where X is a pretty big number as these things go. Lots of people have bad things to say about how this organization is run.

And it’s not limited to ex-employees. Very little of this should come as a shock to the industry, because, people know, or have at least had a sense. There’s long been talk that the Mariners are mismanaged, that Jack Zduriencik is awful to work for, that the GM is in over his head, that the team is run by a small number of big egos. Dave has remarked that Zduriencik has burned an awful lot of bridges, and while that doesn’t automatically make him a disaster, it suggests he doesn’t quite have the people skills you usually look for in a GM candidate. They said Paul DePodesta was under-qualified because he didn’t know how to lead. Zduriencik is an opposite sort of general manager, but he’s got a very similar flaw, and things have gotten worse over time.

It’s not like Blengino was the team’s only analyst. A specific angle is that Blengino was pushed out. A more general angle is that the organization shifted its philosophies away from what we might refer to as the cutting edge. At least, away from the contemporary. That much has been pretty obvious, and while Blengino presumably exaggerated the extent to which Zduriencik is personally ignorant, this is not a forward-thinking team. It does have a staff of analysts, paid little, making little difference. The call is always made by Jack, and Jack isn’t how he was presented toward the beginning.

Regarding some of the alleged personality traits, do remember that people don’t get to elevated positions of power in America by being sweethearts. A lot of well-to-do people can come off like dicks because a lot of the time you have to be a dick to become a well-to-do person. Baseball executives are going to have egos just like how baseball players are going to have egos. They have to think primarily about themselves, and all their lives they’ve been successful. There’s a limit beyond which an ego is unacceptable, if it’s affecting the way things work, but lots of people running things in baseball could be portrayed poorly.

And that’s a critical point — we’ve seen this article written about the Mariners. How do other organizations work? This makes the Mariners appear not unlike the Marlins in a way, but of course there have been ugly incidents everywhere. Overall, you have to think the Mariners are below average, but we don’t know where the average is. There was an awful lot of stuff written about the dysfunctional Red Sox there for a bit, and now look at them. They were a model franchise, then they sucked, now they’re almost a model franchise again. I don’t know if things there are righted behind the scenes, but on stage, the team just won the championship.

All this is important because it speaks to how the Mariners are run. We think it could mean a lot going forward, with regard to how the rosters shape up. The Mariners, today, are on the brink of signing Robinson Cano, and there is plenty of young talent, and winning right away isn’t impossible. Ultimately, what matters is just the team, and if the Mariners are good it doesn’t matter if Howard Lincoln is baseball-ignorant. It didn’t really matter when the Mariners were awesome between 2000 and 2003. This reads ugly because the Mariners have been ugly, and it suggests the Mariners are destined to make some more ugly decisions, but the bottom line is that it’s about the roster, as far as any of us are concerned. If they target good players, or if they get lucky, then they win, and who cares about a soap opera? 95 wins and a berth in the playoffs makes all this a hell of a lot easier to shrug off. Egos being egos.

But what are the chances of achieving those 95 wins? What are the chances of achieving sustainable success, like Jack always used to talk about? Maybe he truly, deeply believed in his old words, and maybe the people above him did, too, but they all changed course, perhaps irreversibly. Maybe Jack was influenced by Armstrong and Lincoln, and that’s how he wound up butting heads with Eric Wedge, but Jack is what he is now and the root cause is not important. The rebuild, as it was, is over, perhaps prematurely. Now they’ve got a whole new blueprint.

For all of us, this was a difficult article to read. It was powerful and worrying and it’s come at almost the worst possible time. It was difficult for me not because it’s going to change anything. The Mariners didn’t suddenly develop worse leadership. They’re not going to suddenly have a more negative perception around baseball. It was difficult for me because it supports the worst feelings I’ve had about the organization for what feels like a handful of years. The message is that the way things are is about as bad as people have feared. People around the Mariners already knew that. People elsewhere in baseball already knew that. Now the people in Seattle can know that. The team’s going to bring in a lot of new talent, but are these the people we trust to make that happen in a responsible, intelligent way? For a while, we’ve been cynical. Now it’s been laid out for us why we’re not wrong.

Some time ago, the Mariners exploded. They’ve since been in the process of reconstruction, but the architects might be drunk. The hope we get to cling to is that the mission’s not impossible. For the Seattle Mariners, winning is not impossible. That’s the very most that I’m honestly able to say.


72 Responses to “Report On The Wreckage From A Bomb Long Exploded”

  1. Hutch on December 8th, 2013 4:38 pm

    It doesn’t necessarily detract from the main thesis of the article, but it’s hilarious to me that the same people that were dogging on Eric Wedge last year for his terrible tactics and lineups are now getting behind an article that treats him like some sort of martyr and features meaningless old school drivel quotes about “respecting the game.”

  2. Jeff Sullivan on December 8th, 2013 4:57 pm

    It’s possible for Eric Wedge to be simultaneously flawed and observant.

  3. islandan on December 8th, 2013 5:00 pm

    It’s nice to think of 95 wins, but, to achieve that, realize what that will take.
    4 reliable starters. Right now, there’s two, and its a stretch to think Paxton and Taijuan (both rookies) can do that.
    A solid pen.
    A leadoff hitter with a 350 OBP. A very good middle (3-4-5) of the order. No DEAD spots in the order, usually means a catcher that can hit.
    I don’t see that in Seattle, not yet. The pieces are there for future possibilities, but those players to fill those holes (Miller, Zunino, Paxton, Walker) are still too young and inexperienced to be that reliable. Not saying they’re not good, just not ready yet.
    Sorry, maybe 2015 for 95 wins is a stronger possibility, that is if Z doesn’t Bavasi the team (trade away all the good yutes for a rental player)

  4. porkyfour on December 8th, 2013 5:03 pm

    Oh please let someone drop some sodium pentothal in Woody Woodward’s eggnog or get Pat Gillick to come clean about why he REALLY left the M’s.

  5. kuptain on December 8th, 2013 5:10 pm

    I have no idea why we are complaining about Lincoln and Armstrong. We were perfectly able to make the playoffs (and have some of the best years of winning baseball) since both of them were under the helm. They didn’t make this team horrible, that was Bavasi… remember him? Yeah, horrible.

    Jack might not be great to work with. Lincoln and Armstrong might be idiots. But the ballclub is in a far better position than we were in when Bavasi was trading away our entire farm system for Silva and all the other crap that we got.

    If we were winning, we wouldn’t care about the M’s leadership. Because we’ve been so bad for so long, we just want to point fingers at people to make us feel better.

  6. Section329 on December 8th, 2013 5:10 pm

    It confirms how I have felt since last off season about this organization. If it was just Wedge I would write it off as sour grapes, but with Tony and Carmen chiming in the article is dead on. Well done, Geoff Baker.

  7. ChrisFB on December 8th, 2013 5:14 pm

    Awesome and thorough insights as always, man. I’m left with 2 thoughts, after this piece, other weekend analysis and thinking about it a bit.

    1. I have to wonder how Drayer feels about all this, and if she’s going to say anything. She gets unfairly and incorrectly painted as a front office shill quite a bit. I don’t think there’s anything she can say – including saying nothing – that won’t bring some noise from some quarters.

    2. I hope – as you touch on at the end of the post – that no one in baseball or among fans actually thinks this piece is going to change anything.

    It shouldn’t affect the M’s ability to do business at the winter meetings. It’s not going to give divine inspiration to their coaches to finally turn supposedly top-rated prospects into above-average ballplayers. The front office will not have a “The Grinch’s heart grew 3 sizes that day” moment. Lincoln will not call a press conference and say “sorry I’ve been an asshole all these years”. Z will not call up Tony B to talk about his recent Fangraphs article. And so on.

    Dysfunctional offices produce millions in profits for companies all the time. Companies with great, professional, caring people, go under all the time. Baseball dynasties have been built on the backs of rampaging unlikable people before.

    It is unfortunate that the Mariners front office may not be a great place to work, and that there are conflicting reports about where they get their info from. And it’s unfortunate that a lot of the insights from Baker’s piece really emphasize even more how much this franchise seems to luck into success when it does encounter it, instead of great execution on a plan.

    But really, apart from an isolated blog / Times commenter here or there noting that they won’t be buying a ticket package… what’s going to change?

    As you note, likely nothing.

    If the M’s win, people will show up. If they don’t, they won’t. Same as before Baker’s piece.

  8. ck on December 8th, 2013 5:27 pm

    Regarding today’s Baker article: Although I wondered why Mgr. Hargrove would walk away in the middle of the season on an eight game winning streak — And also about the Jack Z. obsession with dingers ( see Sexson, Beltre, Branyan, Peguero, Cust, Bay, Ibanez, Morse etc ) but I never knew why MLB players would shun Seattle…Now I think we are learning what the MLB already suspected, or knew — Welcome to Safeco Field, Howard and Jack’s baseball theme park. For Seattle’s long-suffering fans ? Abandon Hope, All Ye That Enter Here.

  9. John Morgan on December 8th, 2013 5:37 pm

    I think you’re treading a very fine line here. What I think you are saying is, though Baker’s piece is news insomuch as it wasn’t publicly known until now, it’s not news insomuch that the dysfunction itself is new. And that, ultimately, the team will win or lose based on the quality of the roster. Which may be true, but …

    The roster is still being assembled, and we now have damning evidence that the people assembling it are incompetent and probably desperately scrambling to save their jobs. And while inside baseball this may have been well known, making this public to the consumer matters. Other teams, free agents–there’s a difference between rumor, innuendo, speculation and on the record and publicly available. Associating with the Mariners now is embarrassing in a way it was not before. The desperation level of this FO is ratcheted up that much more, because the standard of success needed for retaining their jobs is that much higher. It may impact ticket sales. It certainly must at least put some fear into the hearts of the Mariners brass that it could impact ticket sales. This is an organization that prioritizes image and a family friendly atmosphere. Public embarrassment is destabilizing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a sacrificial firing took place to save face. Why not Jack?

    And, and of course we can’t know this but, it’s probably not good for player development. No one likes to think they’re working for a clown shoes organization, and I think motivation must factor in somewhat–especially in the minor leagues. We say this was all known, but was it known by D.J. Peterson?

    The bomb may have been long exploded but the fallout was contained. Now it’s as if the Mariners have been publicly declared radioactive. I think that matters.

    I hope this gets bad enough that Seattle cleans house, maybe all the way up to ownership. Why not? Mariners have had limited success over three+ decades. What possible loyalty could anyone have for Lincoln, Armstrong, etc? It’s not as if they need some new disaster. This is but a recent black eye for one of the worst-run franchises in baseball history.

  10. diderot on December 8th, 2013 5:46 pm

    I was absorbed by this for a couple hours…then I watched the Seahawks game…then I ordered a couple presents online.
    And now I don’t care anymore.
    I care about who we put on the field next April.

    Which I think is what Jeff was saying.

  11. GarForever on December 8th, 2013 5:49 pm

    However one reads or doesn’t read the article, let’s at least get our team history right, folks: Bavasi was responsible for Sexson and Beltre, he traded the farm away for the likes of Erik Bedard, Eduardo Perez, Ben Broussard, and Horacio Ramirez; Silva was a free agent. And Hargrove quit on Bavasi’s watch, not Z’s: given what the article said about Lincoln and Armstrong, we might imagine why…

    Not trying to defend Z; just saying let’s keep our facts straight as we overreact ;)

  12. killeverything on December 8th, 2013 5:52 pm

    I think we all know nothing is going to change and this article sheds light on what we’ve basically all suspected, that Z is moron of the highest degree who stands in polar opposite of brilliant GMs.

    I could care less if he’s a big meanie. What terrifies me is I think he’s about to Bavasi us at the winter meetings.

    Andrew Friedman is about to take Baby Huey to the cleaners I’m afraid.

  13. Westside guy on December 8th, 2013 6:37 pm

    Going into the off-season, I said I was as pessimistic as I’ve ever been. After the Cano signing, I said what mattered is what Z did along with that. So I guess I have to stick by that and play “wait and see”. Jeff is right – what matters is what the team and the organization look like ome March.

    Baker’s piece was, in a way, a lot like the Snowden revelations about the NSA. It didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already strongly suspect, so I guess I shouldn’t be pulling the knee-jerk reaction thing I’ve been doing yesterday and today.

    Who knows – maybe last season taught Jack Z that his ideas didn’t work, and now he’s finally listening to the advice of people smarter than him. It would be way out of character with my perception of the person he is; but weirder things have been known to happen, albeit rarely.

    Thanks, Jeff.

  14. TumwaterMike on December 8th, 2013 6:42 pm

    I have an example of how irrelevant the M’s have become. Albertson’s has a promotion; if you are wearing a Seahawks shirt on any day they are playing you get 10% off your purchase. I walked in wearing a M’s shirt and got the discount.

  15. amnizu on December 8th, 2013 7:22 pm

    > Hargrove quit on Bavasi’s watch, not Z’s:

    Yes, but both quit on Lincoln and Howard’s watch. If the FO is meddling and inter-fearing now, it is not too far of a leap to assume they the may have been doing so for a much longer time than presented.

  16. bookbook on December 8th, 2013 7:26 pm

    I’m sorry to ask this, but maybe it’s time you pulled a Nate Silver and brought your commonsense, let’s-not-overreact-to-every-revelation sensibility to politics? The political blogosphere could use some cooler heads even more than the sports blogosphere these days.

    Baseball would miss you, but your country is in need…

  17. GarForever on December 8th, 2013 7:46 pm

    >>>Yes, but both quit on Lincoln and Howard’s watch. If the FO is meddling and inter-fearing now, it is not too far of a leap to assume they the may have been doing so for a much longer time than presented.<<<

    Yes, and as I acknowledged, given what what said about Lincoln and Armstrong in the article, we can imagine why Hargrove quit. I just wanted to push back against the all-too-convenient but inaccurate collapsing of all the franchise's ills under Zduriencik. It seems he has enough shortcomings on his own without hanging Bavasi's mistakes on him as well.

    And as for Lincoln and Armstrong, I lay much of this squarely at their feet: THEY hired Bavasi, THEY hired Z (though if Blengino is to be believed, under false pretenses; still, their fault for not doing more due diligence on such an important hire), and I am starting to credit more and more the persistent stories that Gillick refused to even consider working for the M's again so long as Lincoln was in charge.

  18. MrZDevotee on December 8th, 2013 8:20 pm

    Thanks Jeff for writing this. I was pushing back probably harder than necessary yesterday, but it was just so one-sided and I hate those sorts of stories when they’re relied upon as “truth”.

    Gar brings up the point of if we believe Blengino, Z was hired under false pretenses. That sort of hides/encapsules exactly what I meant yesterday by I don’t trust these sorts of stories.

    I mean, what we take away is “Z mislead the franchise” and what we skip over is “Blengino did TOO” and didn’t seem to have a problem with it. I don’t recall “No, that’s awful, I won’t do that… That’s wrong. And I’m certainly not going to move all the way out to Seattle and work for someone like that!”

    They came as a team, and as soon as Z didn’t want him on the team anymore (whatever the reasons, right or wrong) suddenly Blengino finds his sense of ethics.

    Why is one vilified, and the other not only exonerated, but applauded for being brave and coming forward?

    I just don’t trust these stories– even though I believe the holes in the Good Ship Mariner are every bit as bad as the story talks about… I question the motives, and the character, and the timing of the people who are all part of this article.

    It’s like when you have two kids (voice of experience here) and one runs to the parents to tattle on the other, when they were BOTH guilty of the crime, but the first to tell is hoping to avoid the spotlight, or help shine it where it “needs to be shined”.

    Or like Republicans and Democrats trying to blame the economy, or lack of ethics in politics, or the war, or (insert issue) on each other, when EVERYONE caused the problem.

    So yeah, no more rants. But thanks for level-headed reassessment Jeff. Honestly. Nice move.

  19. argh on December 8th, 2013 8:21 pm

    “don’t over-analyze the fact that the Mariners declined to issue much in the way of a rebuttal”

    Puts me in mind of the time, way back in the 1970′s, when the lefty muck raking magazine ‘New Times’ ran a story purportedly containing the results of a survey of Hill staff members as to which member of Congress was the dumbest. The winner, in a landslide, was Virginia Republican Senator William Scott. When the story appeared to much tittering inside the Belt Way, Sen. Scott immediately called a press conference to publicly deny that he was, in fact, *the* stupidest member of Congress. You can’t buy publicity like that.

  20. Hunter S. Thompson on December 8th, 2013 9:02 pm


    The issue with Jack Z and Blengino preparing the stat portion of his application, is that Jack Z or Blengino misrepresented themselves. Often an assistant or chief second, will prepare part or all of a application packet.

    Usually thought the candidate would believe in and have decent knowledge of the subject that is being prepared. He may not be a master at the subject, no one can know everything, but you want people strong in what you are weak in on your team.

    If Jack Z isn’t strong with SABR like stuff that’s fine as lone as he knows it and knows it value, he can have someone else crunch the numbers for him.

    The issue is that Jack Z used Blengino’s work to get the position and then exiled that man to a position of lesser value. The M’s bought Z with the knowledge Blengino or someone like him would be there. If Jack Z though Blengino wasn’t fullfilling his job he should have replaced him. That he never did is what is troubling.

  21. Longgeorge1 on December 8th, 2013 9:07 pm

    Please all you “geniuses” check out Calvin and Hobbes @ Go Comics for today 12/08/13 and get back to reality!

  22. killeverything on December 8th, 2013 9:21 pm
  23. matthew on December 8th, 2013 9:36 pm

    So when is the next USSM get together/questionnaire with Zduriencik and staff? ;)

  24. gwangung on December 8th, 2013 9:51 pm

    The issue is that Jack Z used Blengino’s work to get the position and then exiled that man to a position of lesser value. The M’s bought Z with the knowledge Blengino or someone like him would be there.

    And, wasn’t the trades in the first few years a bit smarter? The first Cliff Lee trade? The trade for Guti and Vargas?

    With Blengino supposedly sidelined, didn’t the trades and signings take a significant dip in quality?

  25. smb on December 8th, 2013 10:34 pm

    Superbly written response, Jeff. Addressed several of my concerns and questions directly, so thanks for that.

    One other concern I have is the demoralizing nature of the knowledge that your org is not altogether competent at the top echelon. It makes for a depressing atmosphere. We all probably know that feeling. I know everyone is a professional and there would be no good way to measure impact anyway, but it makes me wonder if it doesn’t negatively affect everyone, including the players.

  26. MrZDevotee on December 8th, 2013 11:52 pm

    I’m just saying, Baker has miscategorized things for decades, because it gets him noticed. I’m not ever saying I don’t believe the idea has merit. It most like does. My whole point is that Baker isn’t the lightning bolt that grounds you to the truth. He likes publicity. He’s Tom Green. Miley Cyrus. Sinead O’Connor ripping up the Pope’s picture. It’s all a show and truth is sort of periphery to the point.

    Look up the now legendary “White Jays” article he wrote for the Toronto Star (June 28th, 2003)… He linked the Jays having the fewest non-white ballplayers to racist practices by the front office. He wrote a front page story for that paper all about how the Jays were a racist organization, purposely seeking out white players, so they could pay them less and be cheap without people complaining. A superficial, outrageous story about THEIR front office being idiots, for their idea of how to build a baseball game. Just because he felt like it and wanted a controversy.

    Heck, read the genius of the guy from the Star who came to Baker’s defense back then, publicly, via the paper, when they had to practically apologize to their readership for the story because of the reaction…

    “Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi along with Oakland’s Billy Beane and other new-wavers believe in building offence through patience at the plate and taking no chances on the bases. That’s a pre-WWII style of play. Under those criteria, Jackie Robinson could not have played in the majors.”

    All is not as it appears. Don’t bite the hook, no matter how attractive the bait. These type of guys dedicate all their energy to the “pazazz” of their story, not the truth, or what’s good for the community. You have to sprinkle truth in there, or you wo’t be around long (see Baker & the Toronto Star), but if you’re truly a “great artiste” you know how to straddle the line between fiction and fact, for the entertainment of the readers, and the ratings that sell ads.

    That’s all.

    Hell, while he was here at The Times he took long distance shots at the Jays, the same sort of revenge without “looking them in the eyes” (look up that classic Baker moment, belittling and discrediting the work of blogs– like this one) Wedge and Blengino could be accuse of, that sound eerily similar to Baker’s more recent “rich guys with money who don’t wanna spend” mantra he belches about the Mariners…

    Baker’s own words, via the Times:
    “Look at the Blue Jays. Not the for-public-consumption story of a little team trying to go up against the payroll giants of the AL East. No, I mean the real story of how baseball’s once top-spending team and two-time World Series champions degenerated into an afterthought on the baseball scene while its behemoth corporate owners consolidated a sports empire.”

    Whoops, he forgot the racist angle, but still…

    Someone from Toronto noticed and called him out, making the same accusations I’m making about THIS article about the M’s…

    “He mentions how Toronto was the top spending team and two-time World Series champion at one time, but fails to show how they came to be such a franchise, likely because it doesn’t match his wavering narrative that reads more like sour grapes than valid points.”

    Just don’t believe everything you read. That’s all. Y’know, like we USED to think of Baker before this article fit people’s conspiracy theories of “What the Evil M’s are Really Like”.

  27. PackBob on December 9th, 2013 12:09 am

    Obviously the former employees quoted in the story were not happy with their working situation and feel to various levels like they were screwed. Maybe they were and have been treated unfairly. But you would think for a blog based on data analysis, there would be more data required before arriving at conclusions and damnation.

    There is a lot of noise here. Coincidental occurrence is not cause and effect. You can run a lot of different ways with many of the accusations and the tendency is to take them to a bad place when a team is losing, and disregard them when a team is winning so as not to distract from the high. This is like peering through a tiny crack in the doorway and reaching conclusions about a social event going on inside.

    For all we know the Chone Figgens deal ended so badly that Lincoln made an executive decision and passed down from on high that there would be no more of that! That would be a bad decision with a likely ripple effect, but those kinds of things happen even in great companies.

    We know a little more of the story now than we did, and it doesn’t sound pretty, but we still know very little of the whole story and likely never will know much more. There is an incredibly small sample size here, even if it jives with what people may want to believe.

    If Jack makes a few savvy moves and the team starts winning, this will all be as forgotten as a golden sombrero the day before a walk-off grand slam.

  28. Naliamegod on December 9th, 2013 1:01 am

    I would just to point out that this isn’t just one article. This has been an issue for years, going back to the Lueke fiasco. Hell, I remember Jason Churchill commenting on his blog back around 2009/2010ish talking about how many scouts were unhappy with Jack’s management style. Dave has made numerous references to this over the past season over this stuff. And right now, the general reaction by the Seattle news and those connected have been “Sounds about right” with Divish stating that this has been common knowledge for a while.

    Some minor details might be off but the general conclusion matches up with everything else we have seen over the last couple years.

  29. LongDistance on December 9th, 2013 1:32 am

    Good post Jeff. Baker’s article does, indeed, need to be analyzed in terms of veracity and impact.

    Also, I’m impressed by the general tone of the discussion. Baker’s article won’t have any impact on anyone outside of — lets face it — MLB talking heads, and those Seattle Times readers who follow in any way the Mariners Saga.

    I might add one point. The discussion often revolves around Baker, as though he’s working in a vacuum as a one-man carnival act. He isn’t. Although the Times editorial staff probably doesn’t spend too much of the very little time they have on their hands to glance at Baker’s everyday columns… here, a howitzer shot directly at the management structure and personalities of a major regional corporation, is going to get discussed. Especially in terms of anything that approaches the libel/slander threshold — although Jack Z and the rest are public enough figures that nearly anything goes.

    But, it does help explain things. Especially the why Cano question.

    Cano is an old-school acquisition. Given Baker’s insistence that that’s the gas the Mariners engine is now fully running on, the pieces come together. It all fits now.

    What I’m taking out of the Cano-Baker montage now, is that the building process we can (hopefully) expect to continue this winter, will no doubt be old-school as well.

    Forget +WAR. We’re back to HRs and ERA.

  30. LongDistance on December 9th, 2013 3:36 am

    For those of you wondering… if it looks like sarcasm and smells like sarcasm, it probably is.

  31. ripperlv on December 9th, 2013 4:51 am

    Teams have been dysfunctional since way before George Steinbrenner and Bill Veeck. Just look at the Angels pot of stew. Now, let’s win some games.

  32. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 8:00 am

    Interesting to think back to Mike Hargrove and realize the Mariners have had 2 managers walk away from their jobs in the past 6 years. How many other organizations can you say that about? Managerial jobs are few and far between and truly walking away from one, as opposed to resigning in lieu of being fired, is exceedingly rare. And the Mariners have had it happen twice in a very short time.

  33. casey on December 9th, 2013 8:35 am

    have to remember these are also high pressure, work 16 hour days 360 days per year, all under intense public scrutiny type jobs. Not sure how many could do this for long even for the crazy money these guys get paid – would quickly go from passion / dream job to run away as fast you can especially when you factor in some of the egos and management styles being reported….and its professional sports not just the M’s.

  34. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 8:42 am

    But what do we know about these things? Neither of those guys have managed since leaving the M’s. Is it them, is it us? Is it both (our lousy leadership leads to lousy hires)?

    On the surface–
    1) Hargrove said he’d lost his passion and it wasn’t fair to his players. And indeed, hasn’t managed at the Major League level since then.

    2) Wedge, requested a sit down with Z on the Thursday preceding the final weekend of the season. He asked for an extension at the meeting. Got rebuffed, even though they claim they were gonna extend him but wanted to wait till AFTER their post-season assessment meeting with him. (Literally days away.) Instead, suddenly Wedge says he’s leaving, claiming “I wouldn’t have stayed if they offered me 5 years”– while oddly, leaving stemmed from HIM asking for an extension? (Any one see a contradiction in Wedge’s statement and actions?)

    I always laughed a bit at the negative reaction to the Wedge fiasco…

    General consensus– “Something’s wrong with this organization when managers we don’t like or want quit the team instead of taking an extension.”

    (scratches head)

  35. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 8:52 am

    “have to remember these are also high pressure, work 16 hour days 360 days per year, all under intense public scrutiny type jobs. Not sure how many could do this for long even for the crazy money these guys get paid – would quickly go from passion / dream job to run away as fast you can especially when you factor in some of the egos and management styles being reported….and its professional sports not just the M’s.”

    If that’s true, we should be seeing lots of other managers quitting but we don’t. Name another organization in which 2 managers have quit in a short period of time.

    Amazing to see people continue to defend the Mariners front office. It’s pretty obvious that, for some people, no amount of evidence or incompetence will allow them to admit just how awful these people are.

  36. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 9:09 am

    Don’t mistake my questions about a Baker article as defending the front office.

    Wedge and Blengino’s motivations as the source of “truth” about the Mariners office can certainly be questioned at the same time that I believe the M’s are a horribly run organization.

    Bias confirmation is NOT the same thing as the truth, just because it agrees with your own personal position. My complaint all along is that providing only ONE side of the story is by definition biased. And I don’t trust biased assessments of things. There’s a reason auditors and arbitrators exist.

    My personal beliefs:
    1) The M’s would be a better organization with an entire shakeup in the ownership and management.

    2) Baker has a history of exaggeration and sensationalism– and his sources for this article provide GREAT story fodder, but not as great of a behind the scenes picture of clarity and truth.

    Like almost EVERY situation, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, most likely.

  37. Eastside Crank on December 9th, 2013 9:28 am

    All you have to do is look at last year’s abomination of a team to know that the FO/GM truly does not understand how to put together a winning baseball team. It actually takes some creativity to put players on the field who cannot play defense, get on base, or pitch. Jack has one position player to his credit who is above league average in hitting and fielding. In five years! That is pathetic. And people are questioning the quotes from Baker’s article? Get a grip and look at the teams the Mariners have fielded since Bavasi left. The saving grace will be Root Sports demanding that the Mariners put a team on the field that will draw TV viewers.

  38. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 9:54 am

    Mr. Z: I am somewhat sympathetic to your position, but in suggesting that Baker purposely presented only one side of the story you are doing a little of what you accuse Baker of doing – pushing a half-truth to fit the picture you want to paint of the article, Baker’s motivations, and so forth.

    Baker asked for comment from the M’s FO and got nothing. What was he supposed to do, not run a story as well-sourced otherwise as this one is? You’re not suggesting their refusal to engage the story was somehow his fault, are you?

    Without their comments, we are left to judge the credibility and weigh the motivations and veracity of those who did speak. I think you point out the obvious questions there, and you are right to do so. But the fact that there are *so many,* with sometimes different or differing motivations! all painting the same picture! for me overcomes whatever skepticism I have about Baker’s penchant for exaggeration and sensationalism. In this instance, I give him kudos for getting all those people on the record. It’s good reporting.

  39. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 9:55 am

    Not disagreeing with the story… Disagreeing with his methods as a journalist.

    And YES I’m suggesting their refusal to engage the story is his fault… His job is to get their side of the story too. Or SOMEBODY’s other side of the story… A ball boy… Anyone’s.

    That’s all. Former employees, driven out? Fired? Whatever you view it.

    And again… Throw out the management, replace them please. I’m on board. Baker is still a feeble excuse for a journalist.

    I’m NOT quibbling with the information… I’m quibbling with HOW it’s being delivered.

  40. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 10:07 am

    I get that, you’ve said that many times. I agree with you about Baker and his methods as a journalist in most cases (really more so about his analytical skills, and defense of his own opinions and conclusions, than his reporting skills.

    This is not an analytical piece, and doesn’t really present opinion. Baker does have a tendency to frame even objective information in such a way as to lead to the conclusion he desires, but the quotes stand for themselves (unless of course taken far out of context, in which case I think we would be hearing that by now).

    My objection is to the suggestion that THIS article is biased, not because of Baker’s reputation per SE, but because he presented just one side of the story. That’s bogus. It isn’t his fault the FO wouldn’t give him their side.

  41. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 10:07 am

    Journalists with these types of stories KNOW it strengthens the controversy to have the subects of the story NOT respond…

    Watch any “reporter on the street” as they hunt somebody down and stick a mic and camera in their face. It’s titillating, but not helpful to the story.

    As a journalist, Baker got to call the M’s front office and tell someone “This is Geoff Baker from the Times, I’m writing an expose on some of the problems with M’s management through the years and would like to get Howard, Chuck or Jack’s thoughts.” It basically puts them on notice that it’s coming, and dares them to respond and go on the record. Journalism 101. (See what Jeff wrote about how it never behooves a corporation to get into a defensive debate with a journalist writing an attack article– because he gets to frame the conversation in its final form however he wants.)

    And again, again, again, again… I’m on board. They need to go. But we already knew all this.

    I’m purely assailing the journalistic trickery going on here…

    Baker is trying to impress William Randolph Hearst and his legacy of baised journalism… I prefer people who hold themselves to the example of Edward R. Murrow.

    (Have you read the “White Sox” controversy? Honestly, it’s worth it if you want to gauge what to think of Geoff Baker and his methods…)

  42. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 10:13 am

    (whoops– meant “White Jays” controversy…)

  43. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 10:17 am

    I understand your position, and I agree that he probably knew they wouldn’t comment, and wasn’t bothered by that even though (I agree) if he had gotten their side it would have improved the objectivity of the story. I don’t think this makes this article “an attack piece” though, and I disagree that Baker is at fault for failing to get “the other side” or the implication that he should have held the story until he got it lest he be open to charges of “attack journalism.” This was news because there is a team clearly struggling, with rumors and whispers that nobody would go on the record about. Getting people to go on the record about this is legitimate journalism. The Mariners’ refusal to engage isn’t a product of Baker’s methods as it is of their own making (and long in the making) and the PR disaster that would result if they did. Also of their own making.

  44. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 10:25 am

    I disagree strongly (this isn’t an “attack piece”) but I respect your position to not agree with me.

    And also, as a PR move, responding to this article, given it’s nature of “the voice of ex employees wronged by an inept corporation”, would have been incredibly stupid. (Jeff agrees in this original post, using kinder words.)

    You can’t win that sort of thing. Though they DID respond to others about the piece. “Miscategorized us… One-sided… Not an honest picture of the last few years…”

    Baker just didn’t want that in his article.

  45. GarForever on December 9th, 2013 10:26 am

    Actually, I’ve been thinking about all of this a little bit more, especially the exchange between MrZ and Pete:

    To Baker’s credit: he sourced the article from a lot of different angles (albeit on one side), he gave the M’s FO a chance to respond directly to his article (they declined) and, as has been variously noted, the quotes speak for themselves and don’t tell us anything many people both inside and outside of baseball have suspected for a while.

    ON THE OTHER HAND: while the quotes themselves may not have been taken out of context, Baker conveniently failed to mention any number of things about the overall context that might ameliorate the more sensational aspects of the story as written. To take but two examples: for a guy allegedly as frustrated with the front office as Wedge was, he sure tried awfully hard to get a long-term extension. And while Blengino is well-respected and for good reasons, the fact of the matter is that, before Z proclaimed they were doing things his way now, they tried it Blengino’s way, and that led to the unwatchable horror show that was the 2010-11 Seattle Mariners. I am inclined to think that there was a lot of good process/unfortunate results in all of that that wasn’t necessarily Blengino’s fault (though I argued at the time that I wouldn’t touch Figgins with a ten-foot pole, but whatever).

    To be clear: I am NOT defending Z and I am NOT saying his way was better or that the M’s shouldn’t clean house. Just saying Baker skewed it as much by what he didn’t say as what he did.

  46. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 10:45 am

    I should point out: Just as Mr. Z isn’t defending the FO by expressing skepticism about any of Baker’s work product, I’m not defending Baker or his reputation.

    I will further point out that saying “Baker just didn’t want that in his article” is not supportable. First, you don’t know that, and second, it DID appear in his article. What didn’t appear in his article is any explanation or counter argument from the M’s. And that was their decision, not his.

    To GarForever: I agree that there are reasons to question the motives and veracity of any of the people quoted, individually. And perhaps the article should have delved into some of their motives for saying what they did. Collectively, though, the stories are very consistent with each other, and with the observable facts. It’s damning, no two ways about it. Which is precisely why the Mariners aren’t engaging: they CAN’T win. And IMO, that’s not because there is an equally valid counter-story; it’s because they’ve f**ked up in ways more or less consistent with the way it’s been presented! they know it, and they know if they deny it a second wave of people who may have declined to speak so far will line up against them publicly.

    In the end, we have two sides whose reputation and history makes me disinclined to believe their presentation of the story: baker, and the M’s FO. Baker overcame my skepticism about his methods by writing a well-sourced article. Yes, I have to weigh each quoted sources motives, but at least they put it out there for me to do that. The M’s gave me NOTHING to go on if they want me to believe “their side.”

  47. GarForever on December 9th, 2013 10:54 am

    Pete — I don’t think you and I really disagree all that much about the substance of the article, or that the M’s don’t have much of a leg to stand on in their defense(though Divish has the M’s response up on his Times blog). I was just merely urging people to consider (a la the “White Jays” kerfluffle) that Baker has a history of not necessarily fabricating, but of certainly constructing a self-serving narrative as much by omission as anything else.

    Look, there’s no way to spin this as other than bad: I agree. But since you and MrZ were having a lively exchange about the journalistic merits, I wanted to weigh in and add whatever perspective I could about what it seemed to me wasn’t said, because what wasn’t said in that piece makes what was said all the more likely to move newspapers (or page-views, for you young-uns).

  48. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 10:56 am

    Oh, yeah, Gar: I also agree with you that not everything about “Blengino’s way” went swimmingly.. In fact, after the Gutierrez/Vargas acquisition, most failed pretty miserably (with the possible acquisition of Lee, though I would argue they just got the acquisition from the Phillies right, and then botched the second trade to the Rangers). Go back and look: I was right there with you arguing against the whole Figgins thing (and several other big name FA acquisitions we just lucked into not making, like Fielder and Hamilton). I don’t believe everything Blengino says, or that Wedge says, or any other one person quoted. I believe the considerable common threads of their stories, though.

  49. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 11:07 am

    Thanks for the link to Jack’s response on Divish’s blog. He really didn’t say much, other than to attempt to claim the high road and to point out the already obvious inconsistencies and motivations of some of those quoted for taking what I’m sure he believes is the low road.

    Interesting he didn’t mention Blengino, but still took the most direct shot at him, noting how the current statistical analysis is “light year’s ahead” of where they’ve been (presumably under Blengino).

    Not much of substance there.

  50. Westside guy on December 9th, 2013 11:59 am

    Did the “current statistical analysis” tell him to move forward with five 1B/DH guys last year? :-)

  51. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 12:01 pm

    Just an FYI…Blengino was interviewed on Sirius. He stands by everything he says, and even says this is “just the tip of the iceberg.” Definitely sounds spurned and angry though.

    [Edited to respond @Westside guy: LOL, no shit....]

  52. GarForever on December 9th, 2013 12:41 pm

    Westside Guy: HA!

    I still contend — unexpected result notwithstanding — that everyone has failed to appreciate the deep analytics that led to Ibanez being signed last year, and why he won’t be back this year. To wit:

    2000: Raul Ibanez plays final season in his first stint with M’s; team wins 91 games.
    2001: In first post-Ibanez season, M’s improve by 25 wins, tie all-time record with 116.

    2008: Raul Ibanez plays final season in his second stint with M’s; team wins 61 games
    2009: In first season after Ibanez’s second departure, M’s improve by 24 games, win 85 and are on fringe of contention into September.

    So here we are: the departure of Raul Ibanez is worth immediately an average of +24.5 wins to the M’s, so next season the M’s should expect to win 95-96 games, surely good enough for a Wild Card spot if not the AL West title in 2014!

    If that isn’t statistical analysis that’s “light years ahead” of where the M’s were, I don’t know what is. The trick now is that Z has to listen to his cutting edge analytics team and not screw this up by re-signing Ibanez for next season.

  53. Westside guy on December 9th, 2013 1:35 pm

    GarForever, that was simply brilliant.

  54. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 1:37 pm

    Mr. ZDevotee said: “Don’t mistake my questions about a Baker article as defending the front office.”

    Right. What exactly does your name tell us?

  55. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 1:42 pm

    “It basically puts them on notice that it’s coming, and dares them to respond and go on the record.”

    Sometimes people have “no comment” or issue the kind of vague grumblings the Mariners have issued because the accusation is true and they can’t credibly deny it.

  56. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 1:46 pm

    Forgive the length, but here is Z’s official response released today:

    ” Over the years, we have chosen to take the high road in talking about former Mariners personnel. It hasn’t always been easy but we always felt it was important to do so, not just for the club but also for the individual. And in every case, it proved to be the right way to handle things. However, we believe the comments made by former members of our organization that appeared in the Sunday Seattle Times require a brief response.

    Eric Wedge, our former manager, criticized our organization, accusing (club chairman and CEO) Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong and me of meddling.

    Everyone in our organization, including Howard and Chuck, is focused on putting a championship team on the field. We all care very deeply about this team, just like the fans do. We all see when the team is playing well, and when it isn’t.

    I’ve worked for several Major League organizations. Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organization do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning. We all want to win as soon as possible.

    When there are areas that need improvement, it’s my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff. When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it’s my job to respond to them. I don’t believe meddling is a fair portrayal.

    One good example is the issue of the Mariners doing extra work last September. That suggestion was mine. Everyone in the baseball department thought this would be a good teaching time to help us improve our fundamentals with a young team, and help set the tone for spring training.

    Howard, Chuck, Eric and I met every five to six weeks the past couple of seasons to make sure we were all on the same page. Never once did Eric complain about our communications during those meetings. In fact, we all agreed that this was a good time to offer and share ideas. Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract. Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.

    I can also say that our current statistical analysis group is doing excellent work. Our dedicated staff and the tools they are using are a key component in our decision making process, and are light years ahead of where we have been. I am engaged with their work on a daily basis and very excited in the improvements made.

    We have never deviated from our rebuilding plan. We have stayed the course, and we now have a talented group of young players. We are hard at work looking into every option to add to this core group, as we said we would, and we are looking forward to 2014 and beyond.”

  57. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 1:48 pm

    Dan wrote:
    “Right. What exactly does your name tell us?”

    That I was naively optimistic 6 years ago. You obviously missed long debates about what my moniker should be changed to during last season, usually along the lines of themes like “er, not so much” “Mr.Whoops” etc… Me being the one who said I needed a new name.

  58. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 1:49 pm

    I am now OFFICIALLY to be known as “GarForeverDevotee” because I want those 24.5 wins this year!

    Consider me a devout follower of that sort of analysis.

  59. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 1:59 pm

    Z’s official statement says: “Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.”

    I pointed this out yesterday as something skimmed over by Baker (skimmed meaning “ignored”)…

    Wedge asked for a meeting with Z to ask for an extension. Z told him to wait till after the season. Wedge took it as a sign he was being fired and quit (my assumption, admittedly), saying he wouldn’t have stayed if they offered him 5 years.

    So to recap this reliable source for Baker’s story:

    “Can I have an extension?”
    “Oh yeah, well I wouldn’t work here another day if you offered me 5 years!”

    (hilarious head scratching ensues)

    Along with Blengino’s: “He was a sham, knew nothing of analytics, he misled the team… Lied on his application…” blah, blah.

    Which Baker handily, in his journalistic integrity, doesn’t bother to ask: “So Blengino, if he was such a sham and so awful, and devoid of ethics… Why did YOU actually write all the misleading stuff he submitted for him, AND follow him out here to be his assistant… Just curious?”

    THESE are the things that bothered me about the article…

    And for the (40th?) time, I too want to see new ownership and a new GM. It’s time.

  60. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 2:09 pm

    “Forgive the length, but here is Z’s official response released today:”

    This is a non-denial denial. So what specific facts in the article does he claim are untrue? The closest he comes is saying it was his idea to require “extra work” (thereby admitting the claim about the extra work). I’m sure it warms the hearts of Chuck and Howard to see Jack Z fall on his sword for them and take the blame for that particular piece of meddling.

  61. MrZDevotee on December 9th, 2013 2:17 pm

    Yay, you have an interpretation of Z’s statement. Like I had an interpretation of Baker’s story.

    Congrats. That’s the point of dialogue. That’s what I wish the article had cared about.

    If you want to continue, that’s great. We can go back and forth about semantics. Or we could just agree that “man it would be great to have new ownership and a more experienced GM!”

    Argue? Agree?

    Other ideas?

  62. vj on December 9th, 2013 2:19 pm

    What strikes me as odd is Blengino saying that Zduriencik tried to “destroy” him. That is a strange thing to say and makes me worry a little bit about Blengino, who seems to be a good guy.
    And if I recall correctly, Fusco and Blengino were the stars of a USSM-gathering after the 2009 season. Kind of telling that both of them are gone.

  63. dantheman on December 9th, 2013 2:35 pm

    “Or we could just agree that “man it would be great to have new ownership and a more experienced GM!””

    On this we can most certainly agree.

  64. killeverything on December 9th, 2013 2:43 pm

    What I’m curious about is why Z didn’t address (the painfully obvious) accusations that he knows nothing of analysis and statistics, and the statements that Blengino helped him lie to get his position.

    That’s what I want to know about not a manager that I think we all wanted gone anyway having his feelings hurt. Looking at Z’s complete and total failures as a GM, I would assume that matter would be more pressing.

    I’m terrified he’s about to trade away Walker now.

    “You never go full retard. Everyone knows that.”

  65. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 3:01 pm

    Kill, I think he *did* address the accusation that he doesn’t know or use statistical analysis with his none-so-subtle dig at Blengino about how the are now “light years ahead” of where they were, they are part of every decision, etc. There was pretty clearly a real, serious falling out between these two guys. I definitely thought Jack’s only veiled dig in that statement was at Blengino, and Blengino is definitely over-the-top angry with Jack for how his exit was handled (“he tried to destroy me”).

    The thing about the fraudulent misrepresentation of his abilities as a scouting/stats hybrid GM is that it only gets viewed that way in retrospect, in the wake of their falling out. Presumably Tony thought of himself as a more-or-less co-equal, joined at the hip kind of assistant who Jack needed because he so painfully lacked the qualities he assured Lincoln and Armstrong he had. Blengino’s mistake was in assuming that Howard and Chuck themselves knew enough to be monitoring Jack to know whether he was what he represented himself to be in the first place. And/or that they wouldn’t change their minds and demand a course change at the first sign of trouble. Howard and Chuck’s own lack of understanding, and their impatience with any kind of plan that takes too long or has any bumps in the road, enabled Jack to jettison Tony, IMO.

  66. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 3:08 pm

    PS – Mr. Z, I think we all definitely agree on what we want. We’re just discussing whether the story was fair or not, whether it can be trusted at all, a little, or some (don’t really think anybody is saying it is Gospel truth; at best it is a true depiction of the perceptions of jettisoned employees).

  67. vj on December 9th, 2013 3:09 pm

    I disagree with the description that Zduriencik misrepresented his plans to Armstrong and Lincoln. We do not know what precisely was said but most likely, Zduriencik’s plan at the time was to bring along advisers who have the know-how and make use of it. And in the first two offseasons, he did stick with that plan. Only, when this did not work out as expected, he started doing things his way.

  68. Pete Livengood on December 9th, 2013 3:44 pm

    “I disagree with the description that Zduriencik misrepresented his plans to Armstrong and Lincoln.”

    I agree – that’s what I meant when I said it only can be viewed that way in retrospect, after the Jack Z. / Tony B. falling out. At the time, I have to think both men intended to fulfill the promise as a two-headed combination. That they had issues, and Jack decided (and was enabled to so decide by Howard and Chuck, through either being unable to monitor whether he continued to be what they said they wanted when they hired him, or they demanded a course change at the first sign of trouble) to marginalize and then get rid of Blengino, probably came as a surprise to Blengino.

  69. pgreyy on December 9th, 2013 4:36 pm

    At the end of the day…

    1) I’m not any more inclined to miss Eric Wedge now than I was before this article. I didn’t think he was the right guy to be hired, didn’t like how he managed the team, didn’t feel bad when he decided to quit.

    2) I’m not any more inclined to be hopeful about Lloyd McClendon. Nothing about him suggests that he’s the right fit–but I assume big changes are coming, so he’s at best a temporary concern and probably a lame duck headed into this year.

    3) I apologize for giving voice in these comments the idea that it was Wedge conspiring with Lincoln and Armstrong to keep Jack Z from doing things the way he wanted to do them. I thought that Jack Z was more stats-oriented and that he was weakened from pursuing a more forward thinking strategy by bad luck (causing him to lose confidence/power) and a bit of a weak backbone (to stand up against the wrong-headed thoughts of his manager and his bosses). Turns out, he’s just as wrong-headed as they were. (Nope. Still not giving Wedge the benefit of the doubt on this one.)

    4) I will root for the Mariners, because they’re my adopted hometown team. But I can already tell that I won’t love them for awhile. (And I’m still predicting–no, I’m guaranteeing–a sub .500 team this year.) Gotta Love These Guys? Not now, no. Is that because of this article? No. Doesn’t help knowing that the front office and not just fickle fate is to blame. I’ll stay in love with a losing team with hope and the smarts to build towards a brighter future…but I’ll be damned to give my heart to a team this stupid.

    5) My wife’s favorite player is still Raul Ibanez. If they re-sign him, we’ll probably go see a couple of games this year. If not, I’ll be watching this season on ROOT or SportsCenter. (HA! As if SportsCenter would be showing M’s highlights…other than on the night that Cano comes back to Yankee Stadium…where he’ll go 3-4 with 2HRs, Felix pitches eight innings of shut out baseball and we lose 7-6.)

    6) Nobody is getting M’s-based presents from me this Christmas. Bah humbug, indeed!

  70. qwerty on December 9th, 2013 5:24 pm

    So I think I know how Chuck/Howard interviewed the GM’s.
    C/H: We’re in charge. You’ll do what we say. You okay with that?
    Candidate Z: yep.
    C/H; You’re hired!!!

  71. killeverything on December 9th, 2013 10:53 pm

    Pete you brought up a good point in a context I haven’t considered. I just….that guy scares the hell out of me, and maybe it was Howard and Lincoln all along, etc. Like Mr. Z Devotee I was drinkin’ the Kool-Aid

  72. greenwood ave on December 9th, 2013 11:38 pm

    What I find most disturbing from the Baker article is really the treatment of a Bob Engle. He didn’t even go on the attack, but he didn’t have to. And sure, businesses do not have to be led by likable people, but you do not succeed in business without synergy, and the on field results and ill conceived roster of your Seattle Mariners would seem to support some of the flaws in leadership. Also, thanks for the article Jeff!

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