That’s Detroit out the window of my 54th-floor hotel room at the Marriott Renaissance Center, with Windsor, Ontario, Canada on the far side of the Detroit River. Makes you want to hop on a plane and come visit, doesn’t it? Actually, I kind of like Detroit.
Kudos on an awesome trade-deadline discussion that’s still raging on – nearly 300 posts and rising. The variety of opinion shows two things — the passion of Mariners’ fans, and the complexity of the situation facing Jack Zduriencik.
I talked to Zduriencik about the trade deadline on the Mariners’ last day in Cleveland, and used the interview as the basis for this column that ran today in the Seattle Times. As you can see, in the end I dropped in some of my thoughts from the “Too Legit To Quit” blog post.
I didn’t use all Zduriencik’s quotes, however, so I decided to just post the interview in its entirety. So here it is:
On the “buy or sell” question: “I look at like this: I’m always trying to improve our ballclub. I said a few weeks ago, having (Erik) Bedard back, and (Adrian) Beltre coming back, we have Triple-A pitchers throwing good…those could very well be ways to improve your club.
“General managers talk all the time, so you’ll always have your ears open. But I don’t think it changes any just because there’s a deadline here. You’re always motivated to make your club better. In a lot of ways, it’s guys being healthy, it’s guys we have from within. We have a nice thing going here. If the right thing fell into place, then certainly as a general manager, it’s your responsibility to look at it, and evaluate it, and ask the question: Does this help us get better?
“That’s how I look at it. I don’t feel pressure because we have 11 days, or 12 days, 13 days, something like that, until the trade deadline. I’m not feeling that. I’m feeling that my job is to get this club better short term and long term.
On how much his decision-making is complicated by the fact that some players can walk away after the season as free agents: “Again, the focus right now is just to try to maintain what we’re doing, and try to get better. I’ve not been overly concerned about someone walking away, because no matter what happens, you always have other parties that are involved. There’s no general manager that has a magic wand and is able to say, ‘I’m getting this.’
“I’m not going to do anything that’s foolish. I’m not going to do anything that doesn’t make our club better, this year as well as as we move forward. The fact that guys have contracts, and their contracts are running out, who knows – they might want to stay here. That’s another option. You might look at it and say, you might lose a player. But sometimes you don’t trade a player, and I think that was evident last year with one of our players not being traded, and he’s been a pretty integral part of our season (Note: He’s clearly talking about Jarrod Washburn). I wasn’t here for it, but that’s what I’ve been told. That player has played a big role in where we’re at right now, and will continue to do so.
“I think there’s been an atmosphere created here, I think there’s been an environment here where players realize we do want to win, that this is a nice place to be. I think you have to weigh that with all your other options. Because at the end of the day, just because a players’ contract is up doesn’t mean he won’t be back.”
On whether he’d engage in contract talks in mid-season, and is it occuring now with potential free agents: “Right now, let the pieces fall where they may. I haven’t broached that yet, although I’ve had some talks with some of our guys, cordially. They have said some things to me that are very nice. You evaluate each one on an individual basis. You don’t close the door to anything. You keep your options open. Whether it’s from within, the people you have, or someone talking to you from the outside, you just have to do what’s best for the organization, and that’s what we’ll attempt to do.”
On how important the standings on July 31 will be: “I think it’s a factor. There isn’t any question about it. Any club in baseball, if they’re in first place or 15 games back, that dictates general managers’ decisions. Sitting here in Cleveland, the situation they’re in,, they’ve had injuries and a disappointing season. They’re trying to figure out what they’re going to do, and other clubs as well.
“It’s about winning. It’s about building organizations. I just think the responsibility I have is to make the decisions that are best for this organization. There are people that hired me and trust what I’m doing, and that’s appreciated. I have faith and trust in our players, too.
“I don’t have an answer. I can’t give you a pinpointed answer – we’re going to do this, or we’re not going to do that. You just have to keep your options open, and you weigh everything as time goes forward.
On the complexity of the situation facing him: “A complex situation is when you have 101 losses. That’s pretty complex. Somebody said, you’ve created a problem. I think it’s a nice…I wouldn’t even call it a problem. We’re in a pretty good spot right now.
“Any decision, whether you’re way up or way down, in between, in the outskirts looking in, whatever it is – you’re always evaluating, always trying to do what’s best for your ballclub. I don’t think that’s changing right now.
On whether he’s convinced this team can win the division: “I think with Erik back, that helps us. And eventually with Beltre back, that helps us. Who knows what else is going to happen as we move forward? There’s so much that’s out of your hands…iInjuries to the clubs your chasing, what that club does at the trade deadline. All those things tie into this. We don’t have the answers. If you ask me on the first of August, I’ll have more answers for you than I do today.”
On the potential for making deals in August: “I’m sure there will be. At that time, you’re getting a different type of deal. Right now, you can put some things together that are pretty good. It changes the dynamics later.”
(We talked in the visiting dugout in Cleveland while the Mariners were stretching for batting practice. At this point in the interview, Zduriencik became distracted by the sight of Ken Griffey Jr. tickling Ichiro, as he is wont to do. Zduriencik called over some friends he had visiting from (fairly) nearby Newcastle, Penn., his hometown, to watch the spectacle. That was pretty much the end of the interview).