Trader Jack Zduriencik as General Manager is doing everything he can to save his job in Seattle.
With another season having turned sour, the Mariners needed to sell off what they could as the team continues to rebuild in year three since Zduriencik took over the M's front office.
Over the weekend, Jack Z managed to turn Doug Fister and Erik Bedard into prospects, which in itself is no small task as both are back-end rotation pitchers with several question marks. While neither were exciting, both pitched well enough to keep the M's in games throughout the first half of the year, but neither were part of the long-term plan.
For Fister, the M's received outfielder Casper Wells, infielder Francisco Martinez, left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush and a player to be named later. In return for Bedard, two outfielders in Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang.
Hard to tell at this point if any of these players will contribute, but Wells was in the lineup Sunday and drove in the team's lone run. Furbush also joined the 25-man roster, but the remaining players from the deal will either be at AAA Tacoma (Robinson) or AA Jackson (Chiang and Martinez) for the time being.
From these deals, what stands out is the stockpiling of power.
Does this mean the M's are shifting gears from the defense, pitching and timely contact hitting? The first two have worked, but the timely hitting has been missing for the equation for the better part of the past two seasons.
On the other hand, Safeco is hardly a launchpad—just ask Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre. So is this a wise approach or a desperate one?
Which brings me back to Jack Z's legacy and job security.
Rewind to this time last year when the M's held the hottest trade chip on the market in Cliff Lee. Instead of dealing Lee to the Yankees for a package featuring Jesus Montero, the Mariners took the Texas Rangers deal featuring Justin Smoak and several pitching prospects.
At the time it was a questionable deal, by early June this year it looked like pure genius, and now just a few weeks later it's even harder to pass judgment. It's been quite a year for Justin Smoak. After losing his dad early in the season, the young first baseman went on a tear that made every M's fan proud, not to mention excited about the future. Then just as suddenly Smoak proceeded to swing and miss...at everything.
It's disappointing and raises a lot of questions for this year and beyond. Who is the real Justin Smoak and can the M's pencil him in at first base for the next decade or not?
As of today the only untouchable franchise cornerstones are Felix, Pineda and Ackley. Beyond that, anyone could be had for the right price.
What Smoak does on the field, though, is critical to the organization's long-term health, especially for Jack Z. Until we find out, Jack Z is going to keep searching for complimentary pieces for Smoak and now Ackley; he has no choice.
Justin and Dustin sure has a nice ring to it and hopefully they can be together for years to come on the right side at Safeco, otherwise Jack Z could end up wondering if Jesus and the New York Yankees would have saved him.
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