Monday, July 18, 2011
In Jack Z we trust? I'm not so sure about that
The Seattle Mariners have hit rock bottom in the Jack Zduriencik era recently having lost nine straight games all to division opponents. The Mariners have scored just two runs total in their last 44 innings in year three of the Zduriencik regime. The Mariners are coming off a disasterous season last year which saw them lose over 100 games for the second time in a three year span. The Mariners as of July 5th were just 2.5 games out of first place. Now the Mariners on July 17th find themselves 11.5 games out of first place and in distant third place. Whenever a professional sports team starts losing the blame game is tossed around. For the first time in Zduriencik's regime there appears to be doubt on whether or not he is the guy. One thing that can't be ignored is that he hasn't done a very good job the last two season. You already saw Insider Steve make his case on why we should still trust Jack Z. In this following piece I'm not saying the Mariners should fire Zduriencik but I will point out his flaws.
Before I break down Zduriencik's short comings I'll bring up the terrible mess he appeared to have inherited. By the time Bill Bavasi was fired in the middle of the 2008 season the Mariners were on their way to losing 101 games and finishing last place in the division for the fourth time in five seasons. Bavasi was the mastermind of the first ever team to lose 100+ games with a 100+ million dollar payroll. Ownership was pretty pissed off that they were spending so much money on a crappy product have decided to decrease payroll by 25% in the Zduriencik years. The team had no major league ready up and coming players in the system and some pretty bad contracts as well. Zduriencik inherited a mess from Bavasi but how much of a mess is sometimes lost. The Mariners were bad but the the part of the team that is carrying them right now is the starting pitching staff. Felix Hernandez, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard and Michael Pineda were all in the system before Zduriencik took over the team. With the Mariners being so terrible they also had the #2 pick overall in the draft which allowed them to select Dustin Ackley. So while Bavasi did a terrible job he didn't leave Zduriencik as big of a mess as his apologist want to paint.
The Mariners offense is pathetic and Zduriencik has let three hitters who would produce on this team go under his watch. The first one is Mike Morse who he traded in 2009 to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Langerhans who is currently rotting away in Triple A Tacoma. Morse for the season is hitting .300/.348/.523 on the season with 15 home runs and 49 RBI's which would be nice right about now. Instead of having Morse get the DH AB's against left handers Zduriencik decided to go with the veteran Mike Sweeney. The Mariners also let go of Adrian Beltre after the 2009 season and Beltre now plays for division rival Texas Rangers. Beltre on the season is hitting .268/.309/.488 with 19 home runs and 72 RBI's with gold glove defense. The Mariners decided to go with Chone Figgins instead at third base for four years and 36 million dollars. Figgins on the year is hitting .183/.230/.243 with one home run and 14 RBI's with just nine stolen bases and six caught stealings. Not to mention his defense has been very average and he currently has the worst WAR(wins above replacement level) amongst all starters. Another guy Zduriencik let go was Raul Ibanez who is hitting .249/.293/.426 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI's on this year. Imagine this offense with Ibanez at DH instead of Cust against right handers and playing some left field(we had Peguero who also sucks on defense), with Morse playing DH against left handers and playing some outfield as well and Beltre at third base? This offense goes from Triple A to average offense.
The Mariners this season are hitting as a team .221/.286/.325 which ranks last place in the majors in all three categories. The Mariners have also scored the fewest runs in the major leagues this season. Last year the Mariners hit .236/.298/.339 which also ranked last place in all three major categories. The Mariners ranked dead last in runs scored and home runs last season. The Mariners who had a winning season in 2009 ranked 28th out of 30 teams in runs scored. Zduriencik tried to build a team based on run prevention but failed to realize you do need some offense. Zduriencik has yet to find a DH and now third base not to mention left field appear to be huge black holes. With the recent play of Franklin Gutierrez who is hitting .190/.224/.233 with just one home run in 163 at bats makes you wonder if he is the answer in centerfield. The strength of the team is the pitching which Zduriencik inherited from the Bavasi years while the major weakness is the hitting which Zduriencik has a hand on eight of the nine players who play every day. Zduriencik's eye for talent has to be questioned given that he has built the worst offense of the last three years.
For those who trust Zduriencik's eye for talent I ask how can you do that when his manager that he personally hand picked was fired after just a season and a half? Zduriencik showed he is a coward by blaming Don Wakamatsu for a roster that he built. Unfortunately for Zduriencik he can't blame the manager this time around. Bill Bavasi did the same thing he fired Bob Melvin but he did admit if he is forced to fire Mike Hargrove that will result in him losing his job as well. Zduriencik has already showed that his eye for talent is flawed given that the manager he hand picked was canned less than two years on the job. Then Zduriencik also looked foolish last year claiming he had no clue about Josh Lueke's background which a quick five second google search would have discovered that. You also have to wonder how great of an eye for talent Zduriencik really has when his old team the Milwaukee Brewers have made the playoffs just once in the past 29 seasons. I know the Brew Crew appears to have some talented pieces but in professional sports you are measured by wins and losses. Another thing that worries me is the people who hired Zduriencik.
Everyone is on to Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong by now. We are fully aware these two are morons and shouldn't be running a baseball team. Does it concern anyone that these two hand picked Zduriencik? They whiffed on Bavasi and appear to whiff on every manager since Piniella was traded away. Nobody trusts those two to make any decisions correctly so why trust them now? I'm not willing to give Dumb(Lincoln) and Dumber(Armstrong) the benefit of the doubt that they aced this hire. Zduriencik for all the complaining about cheap ownership currently is working with a 94 million dollar salary cap. Of course there is some dead money in there that isn't contributing which has nothing to do with Zduriencik which accounts for 13 million. I'm sorry you should be able to put together a major league offense for 81 million. Nobody forced Zduriencik to wrongfully pay Chone Figgins nine million a year or to trade Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley. It wasn't a bad contract for bad contract swap as Silva made 12 million compared to Bradley's 13.3 not to mention the Mariners are paying 5.5 million of Silva's contract. Nobody forced Zduriencik to trade for Jack Wilson then give him a contract extention worth five million this season. That is 19.5 million that Zduriencik lit on fire and burned it down. The team is spending enough money to put together a major league offense which Zduriencik has yet to do in any of his three seasons with the Mariners. Just remember dumb(Lincoln) and dumber(Armstrong) are the ones that nobody should trust yet they hand picked this guy.
All in all, think what you want about Zduriencik but please don't "trust" him. The Mariners don't deserve our trust one bit. The Mariners are that girl friend who is constantly cheating on us would you would "trust" her to have a weekend to herself in Las Vegas? Hell no! Just like you shouldn't trust this Mariners team. The Mariners product is an embarassment to any fan who has spent money on this team the last decade. Nobody should be given a free pass on this team yet so many fans seem very quick to defend Zduriencik just like Huskies fans defended Tyrone Willingham or how current Cougars fans defend Paul Wulff. This is sports not T-Ball you are measured by wins and losses and to date Zduriencik while in Seattle is 189-230(.451) which isn't horrible but not good. This is a make or break offseason for Zduriencik as it should be. If he can't get at least 85 wins by next season he should be shown the door and if the team wins 85 games while having the worst offense he should still be shown the door! A good general manager by now would be having his major league team show some progress by now which the only bright spot he had nothing to do with. So remember fans not saying to fire Zduriencik but stop this "trust" business. Why should this franchise deserve our trust after cheating on us for 36 seasons? Just remember the people you don't trust also hired Zduriencik.