When Eric Wedge stepped down as the Seattle Mariners manager on Sept. 27, it was noted that, for the lack of a better term, a wedge had been driven between himself and the Mariners front office that was too deep to repair.
What that entailed exactly was only speculation at the time, but with Seattle making noise this offseason by signing free agent Robinson Cano, Wedge and other former Mariners employees are ready to make a little noise of their own on Seattle’s current power structure.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has the whole story in a lengthy piece published on Saturday night. The article begins by focusing on a closed door meeting Wedge had with with then president Chuck Armstrong, CEO Howard Lincoln and general manager Jack Zduriencik two days after the 2012 season that seemingly pushed the relationship to the point of no return. Wedge says he felt blindsided and let down by Zduriencik, who assured him management had been pleased with their 75-87 season.
Instead, he was met with a "ferocious, venom-filled tirade” about the team's failures.
“It got real heated,” Wedge said. “I started fighting back with Chuck and Howard and it got loud.”
Wedge chided them for their dugout meddling, poor leadership and lack of faith in struggling young players. He argued the Mariners had revamped their foundation and won more despite a roster full of rookies, millions in payroll cuts and an upper management that never fully bought into its own rebuilding plan.
He says he told them: “All I’ve done is exactly what I said I was going to do and all you’ve done is the exact opposite.”
“I think,” Wedge said, “that was the beginning of the end.”
The Mariners would lose 91 games in Wedge's final season, but this time he didn't wait around for a postseason meeting. Before their season-ending series against the Oakland A's, Wedge informed the team he wouldn't be back in 2014 regardless of what their plans might be.
Odds are they wouldn't have included the former Manager of the Year anyway, but he seemed pleased to leave a team with “total dysfunction and a lack of leadership,” as he describes it, behind on his own terms.
That's one interesting aspect of Baker's story. Another comes when the subject of Jack Zduriencik's credentials as a general manager are discussed. Several sources that Baker talked to, many of which were former Mariners baseball operations employees, suggested that Zduriencik will prove incapable of turning the team around and has kept his job "only because Lincoln and Armstrong won’t admit another critical hiring mistake."
The sources also note that it was recently dismissed Mariners special assistant Tony Blengino, not Zduriencik, who put the job application package together that got him hired as GM.
Blengino himself spoke about this subject with Baker.
Blengino said he prepared the package because he was versed in the hot trend of using advanced stats for team decisions.
“Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”
If true, wow.
And that's far from the last "wowing" comment in Baker's detailed, dramatic and extremely well-written piece that essentially covers Zduriencik's tenure inside and out.
There's far too much information involved to cover here, but it's well worth a read if you have some time to set aside on a Sunday morning. It's especially good reading heading into a winter meetings that Zduriencik is expected to be very active at.
Looking for more baseball chatter?
- - - - - - -