We all want to forget last year. Nothing went our way. Key players getting hurt (Erik Bedard, J.J. Putz), slumping players (Miguel Batista, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn...can't really name all), clubhouse issues (someone trying to beat up Ichiro), all those things effected the Mariners' 101-loss season. Former GM Bill Bavasi was ran out of the town during the season, and Jack Zduriencik took over after the season. Now, he is leading this team to right way.
Let's review his work.
Zduriencik is known for scouting talented young players. When he was working for the Brewers, he brought in Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Yovani Gallardo, and many others. The Mariners are clearly in need of rebuilding their team. Zduriencik started doing so.
To kick off the rebuilding process, Zduriencik triggered a three-team (Seattle, New York Mets, Cleveland) trade, involving 12 players. The Mariners acquired Mike Carp, Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman, Maikel Cleto, and two other minor league players for J.J. Putz, Sean Green, and Jeremy Reed. He also acquired Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians for Luis Valbuena.
You may think that trading Putz, their closer, was not a wise move, but think again. Putz went to the DL twice last year, and he is paid well over $8 million. If he blew next season as well, he will quickly turn into a worthless player.
So this deal doesn't have to involve top prospects. Zduriencik did fine. Green was a ground-ball reliever, who we can fill quickly, and Reed has proved nothing in the Majors and he will be 30 in two years.
The biggest loss in the trade was Valbuena. He can provide solid hitting with good defense at second base. But Zduriencik wanted a defensive center fielder, which was Gutierrez.
Gutierrez struggled last season, but he is only 25. He can provide gold-glove defense, but now his hitting needs improvement. If he can hit well in Safeco, this was worth triggering. Plus, this trade gives the Mariners more depth in their farm system. Carp may start at first in a few years, and Cleto is a flame thrower and can turn into an amazing reliever if he can keep his pitches low.
Zduriencik signed cheap free agents in Tyler Walker, Mike Sweeney, Chris Shelton, Russell Branyan, and traded for cheap reliever David Aardsma.
Walker can be in the closer mix if Mark Lowe can't handle the job. Branyan and Shelton will most likely start at first depending on the opponent's starter. Sweeney will battle against Shelton for the last spot on the Opening Day roster.
Aardsma can be productive if he stays healthy. He was a brilliant reliever for the Red Sox before getting hurt and pushing himself. He clocks an average velocity of 94.5 mph, so he can throw the heat.
As expected, Zduriencik quickly traded newly acquired Heilman to the Chicago Cubs, who needed a fifth starter, for former Baltimore Orioles prospect Garrett Olson and Ronny Cedeno. This trade was steal for the Mariners. Getting two young players like Olson and Cedeno for only Heilman is just too good. Olson will try to make the crowded starting rotation and Cedeno will be utility man, also pushing Yuniesky Betancourt at shortstop.
And at last, "The Kid" returned to Seattle. Zduriencik's last big offseason move was to bring back Ken Griffey, Jr. to Seattle. Griffey will be the designated hitter, or play in left field. This move excited the all the Mariners fans. He also will provide great chemistry into the clubhouse along with former American League All-Star Sweeney.
So far, so good for the Mariners. Zduriencik did everything right. The farm system is deeper than when Bavasi was in town. The Mariners won't contend yet, but Zduriencik is rebuilding the team to turn them into a contender.
The fans are excited about the future Seattle Mariners.