Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik's Unenviable Position

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIIDecember 11, 2012

SEATTLE - JULY 09:  Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik of the Seattle Mariners speaks to the media at a press conference announcing a trade of starting pitcher Cliff Lee in exchange for first baseman Justin Smoak, pitcher Blake Beavan, Double-A Frisco reliever Josh Lueke and second baseman Matt Lawson of the Texas Rangers on July 9, 2010 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Right now I do not envy Jack Zduriencik.

Once again, the Seattle Mariners general manager has been tasked with overhauling the team's roster while trying to compete within arguably one of the more top-heavy divisions in baseball.

At the same time, after a decade of disappointment fans and pundits alike are finding themselves wondering if the M's will ever turn the corner.

So far the fruits of Zduriencik's labor have been met mostly with skepticism, as outlined by Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, who helps provide context following the team's recent signing of Jason Bay.

The hopes and dreams of the Mariners, and especially their fans, are not centered on a 34-year-old outfielder who hit .165 last year. Bay represents, if all works out for the best, a bonus prize, an unexpected gift — the sort of serendipity that all clubs need in a winning season.

But by virtue of a fluke of timing, Bay also represents to the cynical Seattle baseball fan another symbol that the Mariners aren't ready to go all-in on pushing this young team toward contention.

If Bay had signed after a major acquisition, his arrival certainly would have been greeted with fewer eye-rolls and mutterings of, "Typical Mariners." The Mariners, by all accounts, have been working all winter toward landing a bigger prize. But right now, he and utility man Robert Andino represent the only new blood. And with big-ticket items like Zack Greinke, Mike Napoli, B.J. Upton and Wil Myers flying off the shelf, it just adds to the frustration. And the impatience.

Oh the impatience. Let's all own up to the fact that we are feeling both impatient and frustrated. I would  like to add that I'm not entirely sure if any move Zduriencik makes will soothe the masses. 

For you see, I think the M's are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

If the team does not sign or trade, everyone will sit back and say, "Typical Mariners, all talk no action" as Stone said on Tuesday.  

Yet if they do sign or trade, everyone will complain that they overpaid or gave up a prospect who will only come back to haunt us long after Zduriencik and half the current lineup is gone.

So what can Zduriencik do?

This is the big question that no one has an answer for. 

Today, my best guess is that the M's like the taste of champagne but are working with a beer budget.

Tomorrow however I could be proven wrong, which is what is so vexing here.  

Basically the Mariners are all over the place. One minute they are seriously courting Mike Napoli, the next they are signing Jason Bay and before all is said and done we start hearing rumors about Josh Hamilton. 

On the surface it should be taken as a good sign that the team pursued Napoli and that he visited, yet at the same time you have to wonder if players like him and their agents are using the M's as leverage to work on deals elsewhere.

The situation with Josh Hamilton could prove telling in the coming days, but what other options can Zduriencik work on?

Some might suggest the Mariners should work out a trade rather than spend big on a free agent.

It is easy to pose ideas, for example trading for Logan Morrison can net the M's a potential up and coming talent without having to pay too much in terms of money or prospects, but is that easier said than done as well?

A good portion of us fancy ourselves capable of doing the GM's job, especially now with fantasy sports helping provide us a seasonal-monthly-weekly-daily barometer of our successes and failures, but the reality is that there is a big difference between proposing deals and actually getting them done.

Understand I'm not making excuses or offering up apologies for Zduriencik, as I believe that the M's at some point soon need to show tangible evidence of improvement in order for him and manager Eric Wedge to keep their jobs. 

And yet, what happens if the M's don't sign or trade for somebody beyond Jason Bay and Robert Andino that can actually make an impact?

With the current roster in place, no one in their right mind would pick this team to finish better than maybe third place in the AL West, as another season of Eric Wedge and the kids does not seem like a good idea for anyone in the entire organization.

Of course at this point it is tempting to sharpen up our pitchforks and say the team needs to be sold or point fingers at Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong, but for the moment they are not going anywhere, so it is a moot point that leaves us right where we started.

I do not envy Zduriencik, but what can he honestly do?

Will the M's make a move?

It is certainly possible, but I would not go as far as saying it is probable.  Especially if we are talking about a move that could actually be one that helps bolster the starting lineup and reestablish fans faith in the team. 

Each day the plot thickens, but conversely the Mariners options dwindle. 

All we can do is watch, wait, and hope that Zduriencik has an ace up his sleeve.

And I do not mean Felix Hernandez.


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