Jack Zduriencik is on a once-in-a-lifetime roll, and the biggest question is why it took baseball so long to give him the opportunity to get it started.
This winter, he’s acquired Cliff Lee, Milton Bradley – trading the untradeable Carlos Silva! – Chone Figgins, Brandon League, Casey Kotchman, Eric Byrnes, Ryan Garko and another season of Junior.
Under Zduriencik, the Mariners rebuilt their front office and scouting department, then began restocking their minor league system with new talent, from draftees like Dustin Ackley to a power-hitting first base like Tommy Everidge.
This week, Zduriencik ushered in a pre-spring training crash course for 41 of the Mariners most promising youngsters at the team’s Peoria, Ariz. complex. There, they’re taught not just how to play the game but how to understand it. There are seminars on working with the media, and before the mini-camp ends, each player will be given a detailed analysis of his strengths and weaknesses – and 2010 goals.
And Zduriencik took his entire front office staff with him to the Dominican Republic this week, where they’re finalizing plans for the Mariners baseball complex there.
Oh yes, and from a distance he’s monitoring free agent Erik Bedard.
In 15 1/2 months, Zduriencik has put his stamp on the team and the franchise, in the process turning a 101-loss group into one that won 85 games in 2009 and is expected to contend in 2010.
Along the way, he’s been honored by his peers, cheered by fans who’d never heard his name until he was hired, and brought in a manager and coaching staff who torched a losing environment.
Makes one wonder where the Mariners might be today if Zduriencik had succeeded a retiring Pat Gillick …
And now, a few links:
- Shortstop Jack Wilson lives in Southern California, where he is now the proud owner of local batting cage complex. No cheap shots, please.
- Jamie Moyer hadn’t undergone an operation in his career, but he’s had three since October – and still, at 47, thinks he’ll be pitching by opening day. Don’t bet against him.
- Orlando Hudson, who was going to be a Mariner, a National, an Indian, an Athletic, a White Sox and a Ray this off-season, signed a one-year, $5 million deal – and became a Twin.
- No sooner had Hudson signed with Minnesota than Washington signed Adam Kennedy to play second base – after making him wait two weeks to see what Hudson did.
- Add Hudson: The New York Post, snarky as ever, says the Dodgers thought Hudson had lost so much speed last year they started calling the ‘O-Dog’ the ‘Slow-Dog.’ Ouch.
- What did catcher Rob Johnson endure last season before undergoing a pair of hip surgeries? Trainer Rick Griffin tells Everett’s Kirby Arnold that Johnson had trouble crouching.
- Chicago GM Ken Williams says the key to the White Sox rotation this season could be “the anchor” – No. 5 starter Freddy Garcia.
- When NW product Grady Sizemore met with the media at a Cleveland event this week, he discussed his future with the Indians – and those semi-nude photos that hit the internet. A female reporter, apparently, told Grady she enjoyed them. Yikes.