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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

September 28, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Armstrong: Jack Zduriencik will be back next year

I wrote two weeks ago that my sources were telling me Jack Zduriencik would likely survive this messy season, and now it’s official. Ken Rosenthal of FOXsports was the first to get team president Chuck Armstrong to go on the record with this quote: “We’re not thinking about changing the general manager at all.”

Of course, Jack Zduriencik also said “Don Wakamatsu is our manager” a week or so before firing him.”

I called Armstrong and asked him whether he could be more definitive. Here is my resulting story, but the key quote is this: “He’s going to be back. We’re not even contemplating changing general managers. Jack Zduriencik is our general manager. In Jack we trust — isn’t that what the button says?”

In fact, he went on to say that he and Zduriencik — who flew home early from the Mariners series in Texas — met for 2 1/2 hours today at Safeco Field to plan for the offseason and discuss matters such as the search for a new manager and pro scouting director.

No question that Zduriencik has had a very poor season, as verified in the standings every day. Many of his off-season personnel moves have not worked out, and the Josh Lueke aspect of the Cliff Lee trade was clearly not handled well (and that’s being charitable). That’s above and beyond the ongoing question (the answer to which will be revealed over time) of whether the Justin Smoak package he took from the Rangers for was better than the one offered by the Yankees and topped by Jesus Montero.

But I still remember the Jack Zduriencik who was hailed as a genius after a series of moves that helped turn the Mariners from 101 losses to 85 wins in his first season. I do believe that good things are happening in the realm of player development. I think the Mariners have been victimized by a perfect storm of under-achievement across the board. In other words, I believe Zduriencik deserves more than two seasons to execute the turnaround of the mess of a team he inherited.

But I fully agree with Dave Cameron that Zduriencik’s rope is much shorter than it used to be. In fact, I’d say that Howard Lincoln’s famous “hot seat” has never been more scorching.

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