BY SPNW Staff 04:18PM 12/09/2013

Mariners’ GM challenges Wedge’s criticisms

Firing back at scathing criticism in the Seattle Times made by former Mariners manager Eric Wedge and other former baseball employees, general manager Jack Zduriencik wrote in a club release that Wedge did not complain of communication problems as manager and suggested his anger came from being denied a contract extension for more than a year.The response was unusual because, as Zduriencik wrote himself, the Mariners have consistently refused to discuss publicly any issues with former Mariners, choosing “to take the high road.” But an exception was made because the Times story “required a brief response.”

Here is the statement:

Over the years, we have chosen to take the high road in talking about former Mariners personnel. It hasn’t always been easy but we always felt it was important to do so, not just for the club but also for the individual. And in every case, it proved to be the right way to handle things. However, we believe the comments made by former members of our organization that appeared in the Sunday Seattle Times require a brief response.

Eric Wedge, our former manager, criticized our organization, accusing Howard Lincoln, Chuck Armstrong and me of meddling.

Everyone in our organization, including Howard and Chuck, is focused on putting a championship team on the field. We all care very deeply about this team, just like the fans do. We all see when the team is playing well, and when it isn’t.

I’ve worked for several Major League organizations. Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organization do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning. We all want to win as soon as possible.

When there are areas that need improvement, it’s my job to ask questions, suggest ideas and give direction to the field staff. When our upper management has questions or suggestions, it’s my job to respond to them.  I don’t believe meddling is a fair portrayal.

One good example is the issue of the Mariners doing extra work last September. That suggestion was mine. Everyone in the baseball department thought this would be a good teaching time to help us improve our fundamentals with a young team, and help set the tone for spring training.

Howard, Chuck, Eric and I met every five to six weeks the past couple of seasons to make sure we were all on the same page. Never once did Eric complain about our communications during those meetings. In fact, we all agreed that this was a good time to offer and share ideas.

Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract. Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension.

I can also say that our current statistical analysis group is doing excellent work. Our dedicated staff and the tools they are using are a key component in our decision-making process, and are light years ahead of where we have been. I am engaged with their work on a daily basis and very excited in the improvements made.

We have never deviated from our rebuilding plan. We have stayed the course, and we now have a talented group of young players. We are hard at work looking into every option to add to this core group, as we said we would, and we are looking forward to 2014 and beyond.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    Oh, Good Grief. Never deviated from their rebuilding plan? They’re changing everything every month! They called up Ackley and Smoak before they were ready. They put Ackley in the OF. They called up the entire farm last season way before they were ready. And now they’re going for free agent All-Stars a la the Blue Jays and Marlins. Plus they moved in the fences. They’ve canned half the scouting department. They change managers every other year. What are they rebuilding with all this? The Kingdome?

    I’d love to hear the statistical analysis for their free agents. So what is it about Aaron Harang that was so good? Or Kelly Shoppach? Why give up on Shoppach and call up Zunino before he was ready?

    The fact that Jack (probably at the behest of Howard) responded to the Times column suggests that Eric and the other employees struck a nerve. But since they’re so unified and consistent in their statements and that the words of the statement from the Mariners is counter to their actions (IMHO) shows how they’re just hanging by a thread right now. I remember Howard saying that Tom Hicks was a fool to sign ARod to such a large contract and now he’s doing that with Cano. Contradictions abound with this club.

  • Geoff

    We have never deviated from the rebuilding plan, whether it was rebuilding with youth or getting a bunch of veteran’s for leadership in the clubhouse. I love the new stats like RBI and it’s just amazing how some players hit left or right handed pitchers better. We hope to make use of that information someday.

  • Matt712

    The beauty of this statement is that Z actually validated the Baker story – Wedge’s complaints in particular. The ugliness is that he obviously doesn’t realize he did.

    • Trygvesture

      You nailed it. Jack just did all that he is accused of doing– scapegoating and obfuscating to provide cover for the demonstrated incompetence that defines he and Lincoln and Armstrong.
      May NOA take note of Lincoln’s legacy and ongoing boondoggling. Nothing to be wisely associated with; nothing to be proud of; nothing to build a sustainable business upon; nothing to maintain stature in a community. He, Chuck and Jack just sow for more well-deserved ridicule, time after time. The crops are coming in.

  • SandlotSam

    Bob Nightengale of USA Today called the Geoff Baker article a character assassination. And I agree. Personally, and this is just a gut feeling, but I think Baker was trying to get publicity for his brand new column by picking on the unloved team in town, the Mariners. And boy did he succeed. And he puts all these quotes in the article as if merely quoting people proves something, but quotes are just that, quotes and nothing more. Quotes are not facts. But if you flood an article with quotes you can fool a lot of people into thinking that an article is “factual”, when in fact it’s just verbiage. Jack Z had to respond, it was turning into a hurricane. The national media picked it up as if Jack Z was slashing prostitutes to death with a sharp implement. Jack the Zipper! Let’s get back to baseball, shall we? Play ball!

    • RadioGuy

      In one corner, you have Bob Nightengale in Phoenix, which isn’t even an American League city, and writes about all MLB teams but rarely touches upon the Mariners. Has he even been in Seattle since Safeco hosted the All-Star Game over a decade ago?

      In the other corner, you have Geoff Baker in Seattle, who has covered the Mariners regularly for several years now and was able to get quotes for this story from people even though the negative nature of them could be harmful to their present or future employment.

      Gee, Sam, I just don’t know who to believe. I do know I’ll be getting back to baseball…very soon. It just won’t be the Mariners version.

    • Trygvesture

      Another Mariner’s apologist scapegoating and screaming at the messenger: not too hard to figure out who’s on the payroll.
      Factual? The piece presented the experiences ( experiences) and observations (observations) of more than 2 dozen corroborators.
      Ever done any research to discover reliable information? Research of any kind? Ever had a tough editor with serious journaistic standards to answer to? Ever written or created word by scrutinized word, line by scrutinized line, an investigative piece that depended upon authenticity to be published?
      Oh– writing IS verbiage, BTW– yours included. Your verbiage, however, is self-generated speculation and opinion, by your admission, and has no corroboration in experience or direct observation. Therein lies the difference.

    • Mike

      The Mariners front office & ownership contributed to this by being incredibly opaque and rarely talking to the public or media over the years. So, they basically have let the independent media fill in the gaps, and all good politicians know that’s a very bad thing. IMO the M’s have tried to foster an antagonistic attitude towards any media person that wrote unflattering items about them; I sort of recall Larry Larue being on the receiving end of some unjust artillery over his reporting of Griffey-gate, for instance. Did you see the [leaked] internal memo from Howard Lincoln to the entire Mariners organization that attacked Baker? It got posted on the Times maybe 2 years ago. I think there would be a different tone to the article if the M’s had tried to foster a better relationship with the media, but that probably runs counter to the control-freak attitude in the front office that appears to be in place.

      As the old saying goes, never pick a fight with a man that buys ink by the barrel.

    • SUDS

      I’m curious – you’re basing your assumptions of success by the Seattle Mariners management on what exactly? The abysmal record of the club is not due to happenstance. It’s clearly been mismanaged through poor personnel decisions and impatience with their on-field managers. In fact, they’ve scapegoated them when they should be focusing on themselves. Lincoln is clearly in the throes of the management disease of thinking he knows more than anyone, simply because he’s the CEO. Management arrogance has run more businesses down the tubes than just about any other error.

  • rick penix

    Only 30 people in the world get the opportunity to manage the best players on the planet. Managers get fired, some retire but no one quits. In the last 11 years The M’s have went through 7 managers (not counting interim) and 3 of them quit. I guess that’s just bad luck,,, Not a Baker fan,, but there’s no doubt in my mind he hit this one right between the eyes