So, this is a story. I, like most in Seattle, am not surprised by this. I, like most in Seattle, think this is a good thing.
It’ll be interesting to see where this goes from here. I thought USSMariner had a brilliant article today, with the crux of the argument being: now that we’ve built up all this minor league talent, how is Jackie Z going to transition that into wins and losses for the Major League team?
These things have a way of repeating themselves. A GM is hired most likely because the previous GM was fired. So, the GM inherits a pretty bad team and it’s his duty to build that team back up through shrewd moves in drafts, trades, and free agency. However, where things go awry is when a GM is hired, inherits a bad team, but that same team is coming off of a season in which they were winning a lot of games.
That’s pretty much what Bill Bavasi ran into when he was hired (though, if memory serves, Pat Gillick wasn’t fired; he just left). Bill Bavasi inherited a good team that flat-out collapsed. So, he wasn’t necessarily charged with bringing this organization back to respectability through building up the minor leagues; he was charged with quickly returning them to prominence. Not that I’m defending the guy; he was as bad at drafting as he was at signing free agents and trading (which, as we all know, is really really bad!). Nevertheless, this is the first real Re-Build the Mariners have ever done.
Jackie Z is entering uncharted waters. And, so far, he’s done a pretty brilliant job. Various draft picks are shooting through the minor leagues, he’s been able to unload useless (and not-so-useless) veterans and get back some quality prospects, and here we sit with our minor leagues stocked with all this … potential! While that’s all well and good (and a sight for sore fucking eyes compared to the black hole that was the Bavasi minor league system), the Seattle Mariners baseball team won’t be winning too many baseball games based on the potential of the underlings in the Seattle Mariners organization.
We need Major League-ready baseball talent, and a lot of it, if we’re ever going to do anything truly special.
This is where Jackie Z has yet to be tested. And, unforunately, until he does better, every move he makes for the big league club is going to be compared to the Chone Figgins signing; his first major free agent splash and his first major backfire. It’s unfair because his hands have been pretty tied the last couple of years (especially this past offseason when no new money was put into the coffer). And it’s not like people ever give him credit for his very best move: re-signing Felix Hernandez to a long-term extension (especially when we all thought Felix was a goner as soon as he was to be up for free agency).
I’m just saying, if you gave Jackie Z $110 million to muck around with, there would be a lot more Felix Hernandez-type moves and a whole lot less Chone Figgins-type moves.
Of course, he won’t have $110 million. But, he should have SOME millions. And I fully expect these Jack Cust and Mike Sweeney-type signings to be a thing of the past. A couple big bats and a big arm would go a long way for this team. Now, he’s got the cash and the trade chips to do it. All we needed to do was re-sign the man and now that’s been taken care of.
How will Jackie Z do as a big league GM who now must provide for the big league ballclub? I think he’ll do quite well. But, don’t take my word for it. I’m sure we’ll be offered a dazzling showcase this offseason.