The Mariners made the biggest move of baseball's offseason to date by signing second baseman Robinson Cano to a 10-year, $240 million contract. But everything isn't so rosy in Seattle, per a scathing story on the Mariners front office by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
Former manager Eric Wedge, who resigned on Sept. 27, characterized the front office and ownership as one of "total dysfunction and a lack of leadership," mostly aimed at general manager Jack Zduriencik, team president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln.
Baker spoke to more than two dozen either current or past Mariners baseball operations employees, including former special assistant to GM Tony Blengino (let go after the 2013 season) who said he prepared the job application for Zduriencik to help him land the GM job in the first place:
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."
In addition, Lincoln and Armstrong are portrayed as frequent meddlers, and sources told Baker that "Zduriencik has kept his job only because Lincoln and Armstrong won’t admit another critical hiring mistake."
In five years under Zduriencik, the Mariners have averaged 90 losses per season. After winning 85 games in his first season as GM in 2009, they have not won more than 75 games in any one season. Seattle was 71-91 in 2013, finishing fourth in the American League West.
International scout Patrick Guerrero was fired in 2012, and longtime vice president of international scouting Bob Engle soon followed him out the door. Both were hired by the Dodgers shortly after.
"They’ve humiliated people they’ve let go," a current scout said. "And the ones still here hate it. They hate the way they’re treated."
"They don’t want people to tell them the truth about what they want to do," Guerrero said. "They want people who tell them what they want to hear."
While much of the criticism could be seen as disgruntled former employees venting about their old bosses, the sheer volume of people Baker reportedly interviewed and the number of people quoted on record in the story makes it damning.
Though Zduriencik didn't have much to say about the accusations against him and the front office, he did focus on new manager Lloyd McClendon, who was hired in Seattle on Nov. 5.
"We are all looking forward to him and his staff wrapping their arms around these players and helping to create a winner in Seattle. That is our sole focus and anything else is an unneeded distraction."