And Deservedly So, I Might Add
The 2014 Seattle Mariners are just full of surprises. After giving their GM, Jack Zduriencik, a “do or die” one-year deal preceding the season, the M’s brass has now apparently seen enough to be satisfied.
That’s right, Jack Zduriencik has just been extended as the M’s GM for multiple years. The exact number of years has not been released as of yet.
Look, no one has been tougher on Jack than I have coming into this year. Had I been in Howard Lincoln and John Ellis’s shoes a year or so ago, I probably would have cut him loose.
And I would have been wrong.
Why? Because Jack Zduriencik has earned this extension at this time from the Mariners.
Zduriencik took the bull by the horns in the offseason and answered my call to sign Robinson Cano. At the time, I didn’t think Jack had the guts to make a move like that. He proved me wrong, inking Cano to a 10-year, $240 million deal.
He also found Chris Young, a guy everyone thought was a throw away that couldn’t stay healthy. I simply thought he was being cheap, not wanting to keep Randy Wolf for a mere $1 million and went with a cheaper option.
I was wrong again. Young has been one of the brightest starts in the Mariners’ rotation this season and is surely a candidate for Comeback player of the Year.
Jack also had to find a new Manager this year. No easy task when you are labeled as being on the hot seat by your own one-year deal. I’m sure Jack was also not taken seriously be top managerial candidates because of his rocky break up with former M’s skipper Eric Wedge, either.
Despite those crutches, Zduriencik found Lloyd McClendon .
All McClendon has done is put the M’s in contention for the playoffs and caused a very young group of players to believe in themselves. They have realized, quite possibly for the first time in their careers, that they can compete at this level.
If the M’s do make the playoffs in 2014, I’d be stunned if Lloyd McClendon is not named AL Manager of the Year.
On more than one occasion, I have said Jack needed to trade Dustin Ackley. Wrong again, Brian! Zduriencik has held on to Ackley, who is now hitting well over .300 after 7/1.
Maybe Ackley has just gotten hot again like he did in the second half last year and will revert yet again to his non hitting ways, but something tells me that’s not the case this time. The real Dustin Ackley has just now arrived.
In another amazingly brilliant move, Jack signed aging closer Fernando Rodney to a big money deal. I was flabbergasted at the time. Rodney has too many walks, is on the decline, is too old — you name it, I probably said it about Rodney.
Yes, he walks guys and sometimes makes it far too interesting, but he gets it done a lot more often than not and he’s going to break the Mariners’ single-season club record for saves this year.
Oh sure, haters are going to hate still. The M’s still have their issues and it’s easy to point fingers at offensive stats like the fact that they are last in the AL in OPS.
That’s not the stat this team is built on, however. This is team-built pitching; pitching the likes of which has rarely been seen in the modern era. Pitching that features the league’s best bullpen and one of the best starters that has ever played the game in Felix Hernandez.
It’s entirely possible the M’s still miss the playoffs as a direct result of not scoring often enough, but no matter what happens these final five weeks, no one can say the M’s aren’t legit contenders.
They have already won as many games this year as they did all of last season with more than 30 games left to be played. This team will fight for the playoff spot till the bitter end.
They are in a pennant chase for the first time in a over a decade. Enjoy the ride.
And the guy you have to thank? Well, that’s Jack Zduriencik. And that’s why he got this extension.