Zduriencik the latest GM discarded in MLB's executive shuffle
Some notes on a busy period for executive turnover in Major League Baseball . . .
* We could point out any number of crucial missteps in Jack Zduriencik's tenure as general manager of the Seattle Mariners in the wake of his firing Friday, but my colleague Ken Rosenthal cited perhaps the two most significant: Twice granted the No. 2 overall pick in the MLB Draft, the Mariners came away with Dustin Ackley in 2009 and Danny Hultzen in 2011.
Mike Trout, Mike Leake and A.J. Pollock were available when the Mariners chose Ackley; they picked Hultzen over the likes of Sonny Gray, Jose Fernandez, Anthony Rendon, and George Springer in 2011. Ackley, now with the Yankees, never panned out in Seattle. Hultzen, plagued by arm injuries, has yet to reach the majors.
For Zduriencik, a man hired for his drafting-and-developing acumen, that simply wasn't good enough.
Ultimately, the decisions were reflected in wins and losses: At 505-595, the Mariners had the fifth-worst record in MLB while Zduriencik was on the job. Every other team in the bottom third of the majors during that time changed GMs at least once.
* Four teams made GM-related announcements this month alone: The Tigers promoted Al Avila to replace Dave Dombrowski, while the Red Sox (with Dombrowski as president of baseball operations), Brewers and Mariners began active searches for new general managers. That's in addition to the Angels, who've been looking for a permanent GM since Jerry Dipoto resigned July 1.
Incidentally, both the Brewers and Mariners are expected to consider Dipoto -- a finalist for the Seattle job when it went to Zduriencik in October 2008. Mariners president Kevin Mather made specific mention Friday of wanting a new GM with experience. The end of Dipoto's tenure in Anaheim was linked more to his relationship with manager Mike Scioscia than the team's on-field performance; the Angels have the American League's second-best record since the start of 2014.
*The number of teams seeking a general manager could grow between now and early October. Neither the Phillies nor Reds have committed to bringing back Ruben Amaro Jr. or Walt Jocketty, respectively, for 2016.
* The Toronto Blue Jays' search for a president is ongoing, even as they surge toward their first postseason berth in 22 years. Amid the uncertainty, this much is clear: Ownership will risk a public-relations nightmare if the new president does not retain GM Alex Anthopoulos, whose performance since the start of the 2014-2015 offseason has been one of the industry's best.
It began with the signing of Russell Martin and trade for Josh Donaldson, who's poised to become the first player in more than 30 years to win an MVP Award immediately following an offseason or spring training trade. Then Anthopoulos acquired David Price and Troy Tulowitzki in a trade deadline frenzy, and the Jays have responded with a major-league-best 18-5 record in August.
It's inconceivable that the new club president (who's expected to begin work by early November, if not before) would fail to retain Anthopoulos. Such a move would be heartless, too, since most of the current GM openings will be filled by then.
The Blue Jays' climb to the cusp of a playoff berth has been extraordinarily difficult. The decision to retain Anthopoulos should be the easiest of all.