All the right moves
From the winter meetings to the draft room and the field, the Mariners latest management team has been busy.
Since the 2011 season, Eric Wedge and Jack Zduriencik have teamed up to build a winner in Seattle.
That goal has yet to be accomplished, but they knew the road would not be short.
The 2007 AL manager of year (with Cleveland), Wedge, has been improving a team that lost 101 games the year before he arrived in Seattle.
His first season saw a 6-win improvement, and he followed up last season with an 8-win improvement. Hopefully, that trend continues.
Zduriencik has brought in talent and sent talent away, but overall, he has given the Seattle fans hope for the future.
Here are the 5 things that this team has brought to the table.
1. Player development in the minor leagues
Mike Zunino and the big 3 are not even in the big leagues yet, but M’s fans have already begun to see their potential (Zunino in 4 AAA games, .500 BA 3 HR and 12 RBI-no big deal).
The M’s went through a bunch of managers.
Since Lou Pinella managed the team last in 2002, the Mariners have had 7 managers (including interim).
The terrible trades and offseason moves from the preceding general manager Bill Bavasi, the main subject of any book written about the Mariners parity in the 2000’s (yet to be written), combined with the horrible inconsistency at the manager position truly put the team on hold.
Young players need development from coaches, but a different voice every season can be a deterrent rather than a positive.
Fresh eyes only go so far, when a positive influence over time can go a lot farther, which is what Eric Wedge has brought to the team.
Hopefully Wedge and Zduriencik are given time to see the product through.
Without sarcasm, finishing with win-improvements is a big deal, especially when rebuilding. To say that this team was not rebuilding would be called “denial.”
The shift to youth could have easily meant a decline in victories, but an improvement in wins combined with a decrease in payroll is absolutely a positive.
4. Pitching and Defense
The emphasis was made clear when Zduriencik arrived, but no one expected it to be so clear. Offensive woes aside, under Zduriencik the M’s have had 2 Gold Gloves, a Cy Young winner and three different pitchers in All-Star games.
Let us never forget the all-perfect game from the King, as well as the mind numbing fielding and throwing from SS Brendan Ryan, who was acquired via trade.
The improvement in pitching has allowed the Mariners to trade out of surplus to attain a need, the best kind of trade.
5. Expectations the right way
Instead of flash-in-the-pan free agent contracts (like Josh Hamilton’s would have been this winter), this management team has done the work the hard way.
Fans have been frustrated watching worst-to-first teams like last season’s Orioles do it and wonder why the Mariners can’t.
Winning takes time and money. To get more money, the product has to bring in viewers. The revenue turns into tv money, and the product on the field can continue to improve in the farm system and through free agency.
I wouldn’t trade with Baltimore right now, one playoff appearance is great, but the Mariners have an Ace, a system, and the right people in leadership.