On October 22, 2008, Jack Zduriencik was hired by the Seattle Mariners to be their General Manager. Here are the major player personnel moves the Mariners have made in that time.
For the 2009 Season:
12/3/2008 – Signed Russell Branyan to 1-year contract
12/10/2008 – Traded J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green, and others for Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and others.
1/20/2009 – Traded for David Aardsma
1/29/2009 – Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
2/18/2009 – Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
7/29/2009 – Traded for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell
For the 2010 Season:
11/11/2009 – Re-Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
12/8/2009 – Signed Chone Figgins to 4-year contract
12/16/2009 – Traded for Cliff Lee
12/18/2009 – Traded Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley
12/23/2009 – Traded Brandon Morrow for Brandon League
1/7/2010 – Traded for Casey Kotchman
1/21/2010 – Re-Signed Felix Hernandez to 5-year extension
1/29/2010 – Signed Eric Byrnes to 1-year contract
2/6/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
2/12/2010 – Re-Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
6/27/2010 – Traded for Russell Branyan
7/9/2010 – Traded Cliff Lee & Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan & others
For the 2011 Season:
12/2/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
12/10/2010 – Signed Jack Cust to 1-year contract
12/12/2010 – Traded for Brendan Ryan
1/3/2011 – Signed Miguel Olivo to 2-year contract
1/10/2011 – Signed Adam Kennedy to 1-year contract
7/30/2011 – Traded Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, & others
7/31/2011 – Traded Erik Bedard & others for Trayvon Robinson & others
For the 2012 Season:
11/27/2011 – Traded Josh Lueke for John Jaso
12/8/2011 – Claimed Lucas Luetge in Rule 5 Draft
12/21/2011 – Signed Munenori Kawasaki to 1-year contract
12/30/2011 – Signed George Sherrill to 1-year contract
1/5/2012 – Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 1-year contract
1/18/2012 – Signed Oliver Perez to 1-year contract
1/23/2012 – Traded Michael Pineda & Jose Campos for Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi
1/24/2012 – Signed Kevin Millwood to 1-year contract
7/31/2012 – Traded Steve Delabar for Eric Thames. Traded Brandon League for others
For the 2013 Season:
11/2/2012 – Re-Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 2-3-year contract
11/3/2012 – Re-Signed Oliver Perez to a 1-year contract
These by no means comprise ALL of the moves, but if I tried to list ALL the moves I’d be here all fucking month. These are the guys who, more or less, made some kind of an impact on the major league ballclub. I left out anything related to the draft, because it’s not draft season and that’s not really the point of this post.
What has Jackie Z done to improve the Major League ballclub?
You can see on the timeline where it all went awry. Just about all of his major moves before the 2009 season were solid gold! And, of course, what happened in 2009? The Mariners ended up with 85 wins and somehow found themselves contending to the last month (or so). It was only natural to think, given a few tweaks here and there, the 2010 season could be pure magic.
So, what did Jackie Z do? He brought out the whuppin’ stick. Within a 10-day period, we had our first MAJOR major signing of the Jack Zduriencik era: Chone Figgins, 4 years. No one at the time thought that was a stupid idea. Piggybacking on that, in the aforementioned 10-day period, we brought in Cliff Lee to have one of the better 1-2 punches of all baseball starting rotations; and THEN we traded the dead weight of Carlos Silva for a possible reclamation project in Milton Bradley! Hell, a bag of turds would’ve been better than Carlos Silva, so either way, there’s no losing THAT deal, right? To top off his offseson, Jackie Z traded for League (to bolster the back-end of our bullpen), Kotchman (to give us some defense and decent pop at first base), and re-signed Felix to a 5-year extension.
I mean, my GOD, if Jackie Z wanted me to suck his dick after that string of moves, I gladly would’ve closed my eyes and opened my mouth. THIS is exactly what we’ve been missing out of our baseball GM all these years! He was doing it, he was really doing it! There could be no downside to these moves!
Except, Figgins turned to crap. Kotchman continued being crap. Bradley continued being crap. Griffey fell off the map. Cliff Lee was hurt for the first month of the season. League was nothing special (and Morrow still might be for someone else). Byrnes was a fucking disgrace to the game of baseball. We eventually had to bring back Branyan in a mid-season trade (and even THAT couldn’t prevent our offense from being the worst in the modern era). And, since we weren’t contending, there was no point in holding onto Cliff Lee; we traded him for what looks like utter shit and disappointment.
Every move for that 2010 season (save re-signing Felix) COMPLETELY backfired. And yet, at the time, every move was completely defensible! The only thing you could possibly argue is: the Mariners didn’t go far ENOUGH. Of course, that’s the story of this franchise (see: 1996-2003).
After that, the organization put a total and complete halt on trying to contend whatsoever. Going into 2011, the Mariners signed two veterans at the minimum (Cust & Kennedy), traded for a defense-only shortstop (Ryan), and their only major signing was Olivo on a 2-year deal with an option for a 3rd (that has since been denied, because Olivo). That was it! Four guys! One of which was released before season’s end!
2012 was no picnic either. Three more veterans at the minimum (Millwood, Sherrill, Perez), a backup shortstop (Kawasaki) who was somehow worse at the plate than Ryan, a Japanese pitcher coming off a major shoulder injury (Iwakuma), a Rule 5 reliever (Luetge), a backup catcher who somehow turned into the cream of the crop (Jaso), and another backup catcher in trade (Montero) who will hopefully be a future designated hitter for years to come.
It’s been two straight years of sifting through a muddy river of shit hoping to find a few tiny flecks of gold.
Now, with enough money off the books, and with the fanbase completely up in arms over all the losing, the Mariners are ready to spend money and hopefully try to compete once again.
Which got me to thinking. Well, this blog post by Geoff Baker got me to thinking. The money quote:
Towards the end of the call, I asked Zduriencik about the Chone Figgins experience and whether it caused any hesitation for him going forward when it comes to this winter’s crop of free agents — especially when it comes to inking longer-term deals of more than three years. I wasn’t doing it to rub his face in the Figgins mess — which no one really could have seen imploding as badly as it did — but rather to gauge whether this current administration is prepared to go longer than three years on any deal this winter.
The two biggest free agent acquisitions of the Jack Zduriencik era (not counting Felix, since he was already under contract) before this offseason’s Iwakuma deal have been Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million) and Miguel Olivo (2 years, $7 million). That’s IT! The rest of his moves have either been in trade or of the bottom-feeding veteran minimum variety.
Obviously, this has been by design. The organization wanted to rid itself of burdensome contracts. The organization wanted to let some of the young kids play, to see if a “youth movement” could jumpstart things. But, also, the organization was patently unwilling to increase payroll for the types of free agents that were becoming available the last two offseasons. Let’s call a spade a spade here; the Seattle Mariners were pushing the Reset Button on this whole thing and starting over from scratch. I don’t mean that literally, of course; it’s not like they could just waive everyone they didn’t like and bring up all new guys. But, essentially, the Reset Button is what they did.
Up until now, I would say that the Figgins contract had little to do with the Mariners’ overall plan (except, obviously, they needed to fill their third base position with a rookie). I don’t think being gunshy about Figgins’ 4-year deal prevented the Mariners from signing other guys to long-term contracts. I think it was all the reasons I stated above. That having been said, though, if the Mariners don’t sign someone to a long-term contract THIS off-season … then I’d have to say the Figgins deal is weighing on them.
It would only be natural, after all. I mean, who WOULDN’T be gunshy?! From the day Jackie Z took this job, give me the names of the free agents who have worked out beyond even a decent first season? Yeah, the answer you’re looking for is ZERO. Hisashi Iwakuma would be the first, if he comes back in 2013 and does well (which is no guarantee, let me tell you).
So, yeah, they SHOULD be apprehensive! They SHOULD do as much due diligence as humanly possible on this offseason’s free agent crop. Because it’s fucking NASTY out there! You’ve got lemons and land mines all OVER the place!