What does it mean?
With little fanfare and next to no publicity the Seattle Mariners brass, Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have almost secretly given Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik a 1-year contract extension this week.
Big Jack’s contract had been set to expire at the end of the 2013 season.
We are not talking about giving a 38-year-old Ken Griffey Jr. a 1-year extension as the sunset of his career fades into the twilight. This is a 1-year extension for a major league General Manager.
The last thing I’d call it is a ringing endorsement of a job well done.
This was a message of another type and it goes something like this: ”Jack, we see flickers of hope with your system and players. You’ve got 1 more year, and only 1 more year, to make this thing competitive.”
I wrote near the trading deadline that the best thing for the Mariners would be for Zduriencik to pull the plug on this season and trade veterans and failing younger players including the likes of Dustin Ackley.
Anything short of that I thought was just Jack trying to save his job. Apparently Big Jack thought that too, because as we all know Jack did not make any significant moves at the deadline, and as a result the Mariners will probably finish in sight of .500 at the best.
It looks to me now as if those few extra wins this year have bought Mr. Z an extra year.
I’m not so sure that it will be an entire extra year though. A 1-year contract for a GM says to me that Zduriencik is on a pretty short leash in 2014. Not coincidently, Mariners’ skipper Eric Wedge also has a contract that expires at the end of 2013.
Right now Wedge is still recovering the mild stroke he experienced mid-season. Rumors suggest that Wedge might return from his stroke and to the dugout this Friday.
But will Wedge return next season?
The likely scenario will be yes. It’s most likely that Wedge’s extension was simply held up due to his medical issues.
I think Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln will put down the same terms for Wedge as they did Zduriencik: ”You’ve got 1 more year to make it happen, Eric.”
Jack and Eric are going to have to win early in 2014 to guarantee themselves the whole year and win without the additional talent that might have come in had they done the smart thing and let players like Raul Ibanez, Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, and Dustin Ackley hit the trading block.
Of course had Jack made those players available, he might be gone now without those precious few, meaningless wins they bought him this year.
There are serious holes to fill in 2014 as a result of not bringing in more young talent in exchange for those vets. Aaron Harang is nightmare of a starter that will have to replaced. “The Bartender” Tom Wilhelmsen, our lights out, flame throwing closer, has apparently had a few himself and wound up back in AAA, unable to throw a strike.
The veterans I just mentioned, Ibanez, Morales, and Morse, are all free agents whom have to either re-sign or be replaced with other free agents.
If the Mariners start sluggish out of the gate in 2014 and aren’t competitive within their division as the All-Star break approaches it’s going to be goodnight Big Jack, and your little skipper too.