Mariners Insider

Must-read: Jack Zduriencik Q and A with Baseball Prospectus

Post by Ryan Divish on Jan. 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm with 1 Comment »
January 22, 2010 6:36 pm
AP photo

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik did a Q & A with David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus. It’s very candid, well as much as Jack will allow it to be. But it touches on a lot of things and pretty interesting.

Here’s a bit of it …

DL: Talking about the advancement of defensive metrics, Bill James recently said, “The only difference between our ability to evaluate defense and offense, at this point, is confidence.” Do you agree with that?

JZ: Well, Bill James is a hell of a lot smarter than I am and he’s got an enormous amount more experience than I do, but I’d have to read the entire context of how he said that in order to be able to interpret it exactly. I know we have confidence in our own information. We have confidence in what we’re doing and it goes hand in hand with how we’ll try to solidify something through defensive metrics or whatever type of form we’re looking at. We also try to have a scout in the ballpark to see what he thinks. It’s checks and balances because I like to have a lot of information before we make a call. Using Ryan Langerhans as an example, we made calls to scouts. Can he play center field? Can he play left field? Can he play right field? But as far as (defensive metrics) go, yeah, it is a new frontier and I think that’s what (James) was probably referring to. People haven’t all jumped out there and said, “This is what we’re going to do because we believe in these numbers,” but we’ve taken steps. Any decision we’ve made in terms of addressing our club, in regards to defense, was made with a lot of information and we’re continuing to go that route.

The site is great and is a must-read for fans. But most content is subscriber only. This interview is not, so click HERE and enjoy.

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  1. SharkHawk says:

    Excellent article indeed. It really lets you in on his thought process. I like how he says that he isn’t trying to get over on anybody in trades, and is just trying to make matches.

    You see guys that were really big on getting over on folks, and weren’t able to find work once their ship sank. Dan Duquette is one that comes to mind for me. The guy was ALWAYS in the media yapping and trying to bully other teams into giving up their players. Now what is he doing? Nothing, that’s what. He got a bad reputation and wasn’t a good guy to work with and came across as arrogant beyond arrogant. Even with all of the success and great players he acquired in Boston, he is persona non grata in baseball it seems.

    On the other side you have guys like Woody Woodward and Bill Bavasi who were frequently getting ripped off. So we always had trade partners lining up… to raid our minor league system over and over because the management was awful.

    Jack is the perfect balance. A guy that finds people that he can work with. Works as a professional and does what is best for both sides. He isn’t out trying to fleece anybody. His discussion on Langerhans was interesting to me, because that is an example of what I’m talking about. He gave a guy who was stuck at Triple-A a chance, and the player appreciates that, the team that you took him from appreciates that because they hate having a guy stuck there that by all rights should be at the majors, but is stuck behind somebody or doesn’t quite fit their need, and it ends up helping all parties involved. That builds positive relationships amongst players and other organizations. When you come calling then teams are more willing to listen and work with you, especially if they are out of the race and have multiple trade options. Who do they go with? The team that is always lowballing them and treating them like garbage in trade discussions, or the the guy who has been straight up and fair in dealings? Easy answer.

    For all of the stuff you’d hear about Pat Gillick (good, bad, and indifferent), the one thing that always held true was that he was respected. He got things done because other teams were always willing to work with Pat because he was a good guy to deal with (for the most part). Very straightforward no bullcrap. None of the sneaky trying to get over on deals. He would take veteran contracts back and try to build a team, and teams appreciated that as did the players who felt they were unwanted elsewhere and they typically produced pretty well. Pat was good at putting together a team that could contend by using good scouting and using connections and getting leaders.

    Jack seems to be a perfect combination between the old schoolers like Pat that could get things done by having connections and a good sense for how to win, and the young statheads that can build a team based on measurables. I think it takes both. He isn’t going to overload a team with old guys though to make a run for one year and screw the franchise for the next ten (which was what Gillick did to some degree in different places). But he’s also not going to fill the team with nothing but rookies and hope like crazy that a few develop. It is going to be a sustained effort to make sure you have the best guy at each position at all times, and you have a guy lined up to slot in once the current guy moves on through retirement, leaving via free agency, or in case of injury. It’s a great plan. So simple… but so few teams seem to “get it” like he does. Thanks for the link!

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