COMMENTARY | Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik has been at the helm of the club for more than five years now, and it hasn't translated to many wins.
Zduriencik hasn't been all bad, as he has an impressive track record with drafting. The problem has been that he has been hit-and-miss with trades and in free agency during the offseason.
The Mariners seem to have a propensity for overpaying for veterans who predictably fall apart, and for not spending money when they have a chance to land a great player. With money to spend and a team that needs to improve to save jobs within the organization, Seattle figures to have an impact this offseason.
Here is what I would do if I were GM of the Mariners for one day:
Throw Money at Jacoby Ellsbury
It's finally time for the Mariners to make a splash in free agency. Everyone has linked Seattle to Ellsbury, and for once the Mariners need to make something happen instead of just being another rumor.
He won't come remotely cheap. Ken Rosenthal predicted the Mariners signing Ellsbury at $126 million over 6 years about a month ago, and it could be even more than that. Still, his production can make it worthwhile.
I'll excuse Ellsbury's 32-home run season as a relative fluke, but he can still make an impact in all phases of the game. Ellsbury is a great fielder at a position the Mariners desperately need an upgrade in. He stole 53 bases a season ago, and was just a couple points shy of hitting .300. Overall, he was worth 5.8 WAR in 134 games.
The Mariners need someone to inspire some sort of hope or confidence, and Ellsbury just might be the guy to do it.
If that doesn't work, call Shin-Soo Choo
If Ellsbury goes somewhere else, than Choo is far from a bad consolation prize. The former Mariner would obviously be an upgrade for Seattle's current outfield.
Choo put up 5.2 WAR last season, largely due to a strong OBP of .423. It sure would be nice to have someone to get on base in front of Kyle Seager and whatever other bat the Mariners decide to bring in.
Beware of Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran
Both of these players are great hitters. If Cruz, or especially Beltran, was on the Mariners' opening-day roster next year, I wouldn't complain much.
The problem is the Mariners are reportedly interested in both of them, rather than Ellsbury. Last season, Seattle's outfield defense was incredibly horrible, and it cost the Mariners. Sign both Beltran and Cruz, and the problem is likely to repeat in 2014.
Avoid overpaying for a starting pitcher
The Mariners have a great top two in their rotation, and an interesting mix of prospects behind them. That leaves a spot open in the middle, presumably for a veteran free agent.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of veteran pitchers that seem like the kind the Mariners would spend a lot of money on. A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo would probably do just fine in Seattle, but both will be very expensive and of not much value to the Mariners past this season. Seattle should instead look for a more cost-effective option at the starting position spot, like Dan Haren or Scott Baker.
Recommend that Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln be removed
This would likely get me fired during my day as the Seattle Mariners general manager, but someone has to do it.
Through all the losing, managerial changes and turmoil in the front office for the last decade, two constants have remained: president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. It seems unlikely that the Mariners will ever win with these two around
Everyone in Seattle knows it, and it's time someone besides fans said so.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
- Sports & Recreation
- Seattle Mariners
- The Mariners
- Jacoby Ellsbury