While the 2015 MLB season isn’t over for two more months, Seattle Mariners fans can already look forward to next year. Last Friday, Aug. 28, the Mariners fired general manager Jack Zduriencik. Assistant manager Jeff Kington will conduct the GM duties for the remainder of the season.
Zduriencik, whose tenure with the Mariners’ started in 2009, had a seven-year plan to bring the team back to the playoffs. In his first season with Seattle, the team went 85-77. In the next four years, the Mariners’ had losing seasons and finished fourth in the American League West. Things seemed to turn around in 2014 when Zduriencik led Seattle to an 87-75 record and was one game short of playoff contention. The Mariners’ front office awarded Zduriencik with a contract extension for his efforts.
Despite a successful 2014 and the addition of new players to the roster, including home run king Nelson Cruz, this season seems to be going the way of its 2010-2013 tenure. Ultimately, Zduriencik’s seven-year plan failed.
Many felt Zduriencik’s firing was a long time coming yet his departure gives the Mariners a chance to start fresh and prepare for next season.
Mariners president Kevin Mather is already on the hunt for a new GM. He has contacted the leagues commissioner’s office with a potential list of candidates and hopes to have a new general manager by October in order to get that person ready for next season.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, during a conference call, the commissioner’s office asked Mather if he was looking for a “younger analytic guru, computer nerd type?” to which he responded “Well, everybody else is asking.”
Mather added that the Mariners front office is looking for the “a sabermetric type of GM.”
The younger, analytical manager is a trend that’s going around baseball.
But while Mather wants a candidate younger and more analytic, he is also looking for someone with experience. Some possible candidates for Zduriencik’s replacement include Thad Levine, Texas Rangers assistant general manager; Jason McLeod, senior vice president who oversees the Chicago Cubs’ farm system and Kim Ng, a senior vice president for the league. Ng has been a finalist for several GM positions over the last several years, including the one that went to Zduriencik in 2009. Naming Ng as Seattle’s new GM would give the league its first female general manager.
Whoever becomes the next Mariners GM is to have an uphill battle in the beginning. They are going to have to rebuild a team with a roster that many feel has a lack of talent and depth.
They will also need to rebuild how the team drafts, as well as replenish its farm system.
In addition to learning how to work with players, the new GM is going to have to learn how to work with the coaching staff, including manager Lloyd McClendon, whose status for 2016 seems to be up in the air. While the Mariners will honor McClendon’s contract for next year, he will work under Zduriencik’s replacement. Mather didn’t specify what capacity McClendon will work under the new GM, though he hopes it will still be as the team’s manager.
Despite an imploding bullpen and a bleak offense — especially in the beginning of the season — Mather thinks highly of McClendon and his staff. But Seattle is used to the shaking up of its coaching and office staff. During Zduriencik’s tenure, the Mariners went through two full-time managers, 14 coaches and more than two dozen scouts and front-office workers.
While the commissioner’s’ office can help Seattle narrow down a list of candidates, Mather and the front office will have to pick the right person for the job in hopes of preventing a tenure similar to Zduriencik.
While players and coaches may have trouble adjusting to the new GM, Mariners fans will welcome that person with open arms.
It’s going to take more than a new general manager to get the Mariners back on the winning track, but having a new leader at the helm is a good start.