On Friday the Seattle Mariners pulled off the shock of the Hot Stove season, agreeing to terms on a 10-year, $240 million deal to pry Robinson Cano away from the New York Yankees. You’d think it would be times for high-fives and back-slapping around the Pacific Northwest. The Mariners have posted four straight sub-.500 seasons and perhaps the Cano deal is the start of a lot more movement with the team linked to trades for David Price and Matt Kemp.
Instead of praise, the Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times goes all-in on the Mariners in the opposite direction with former manager Eric Wedge raking general manager Jack Zduriencik and CEO Howard Lincoln, over the coals.
Wedge left at season’s end, fleeing what he describes as “total dysfunction and a lack of leadership.”
The story paints the Mariners as just that, a dysfunctional mess, basically changing its plan of attack on the fly, season-by-season. Under the watch of Zduriencik the team has started away guys like Doug Fister and Michael Pineda for minimal returns. It helps explain why the team has won 61, 67, 75 and 71 games the last four seasons.
There’s also this unflattering quote from recently dismissed Mariners special assistant Tony Blengino:
“Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”
It only gets worse from there with plenty of allegations of threats, meddling from ownership for on-field managerial decisions and Zduriencik trading for Josh Lueke and claiming not to know about the pitcher’s criminal record.
Here’s another, if not the most damning, of the amazing details from the Times’ story:
The sources say Wedge implored Zduriencik to stand up to unreasonable demands, like Lincoln and Armstrong wanting Felix Hernandez and other pitchers to throw live batting practice between starts so position players could work on bunting and situational hitting.
Read that again and let it sink in. The top decision makers in the Mariners organization wanted Felix Hernandez — arguably the best pitcher in baseball — to throw BP. Unreal.
Good luck Robbie. $240 million probably helps gloss over all this. [H/T @MikeStandish]