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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

Topic: Jack Zduriencik

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March 12, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Mariners turned a profit of just under $5.9 million last season

This item came out over the weekend while I wasn’t here, but the Mariners have reported a profit of $5.86 million for the 2012 season, despite an 87-loss campaign and plummeting attendance.

The team is required to report annual profits and losses to the Public Facilities District board as part of its Safeco Field lease agreement, which runs through 2018. A big reason the team was able to turn the profit trick despite all the losing?

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Comments | More in payroll | Topics: brandon league, Chone Figgins, ichiro

February 26, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Modern players, including several Mariners, relying on more than just teams in seeking improvement

Some of you may have already read my story in today’s paper about how several Mariners are continuing an MLB-wide trend of going outside their teams for more personalized skills training and conditioning. Much of this is driven by player agents, who recognize the fact that a healthy, productive player at the top of his game is going to command a bigger salary than the struggling player who isn’t being all he can be.

And when those players make more money, the agents themselves do. So, it’s in their best interests to work as a team with their player/client in order to strive for on-field production. That’s also, naturally, the end goal of the team itself, which invests millions every year in players and their development. With higher-end draft picks, the millions are invested the day the player signs. Then millions more once they go on to become a major league piece with a little service time. Even with low-cost players, if a young one doesn’t pan out, or a rebuilding plan fails, it can cost teams untold millions in lost revenue opportunities.

So, needless to say the stakes here are very high. And everybody wants a say in what type of training a player is going to be doing. Everybody wants their input into the development process. Where it gets complicated — and you see the potential for some real head-butting between teams and agents for control of the process — is once the players head home for the winter. As Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik correctly states in the story, no team has the resources to supervise every single player each and every day when they are scattered across the country and even the world.

Teams can pick and choose, maybe send a trainer to make a personal visit to a very special player’s home. But the resources just aren’t there. In the end, in many cases, the agents themselves have known the players since they were teenagers, have a vested interest in their individual development (as opposed to an interest in the entire team) and when you break it all down, they are probably best-positioned to be making the on-the-ground decisions regarding a player’s day-to-day well-being in the off-season.

It’s all great until somebody disagrees. And it happens, believe me. I once saw a former MLB power-hitter take his game to the next level when he stopped listening to what his manager wanted him to do when it came to being a pull-hitter. That manager — a very good hitter in his day and a former hitting coach as well — kept on that player until he wasn’t the manager any more. In comes a new manager and hitting coach, out goes the pull-hitting approach and what do you know? The hitter becomes a star and goes on to pull down eight-figures per year.

Like I said, this happens more often than you think in baseball, where the boss is still the boss and players are required to listen. This manager happened to be very good at what he did, but like all humans, he could be wrong from time to time. Mostly, he got it right, but that player and his agent — one of the biggest in the game at the time — weren’t so much concerned with the manager’s record on guiding the other 24 guys. It’s every man for himself in this rough-and-tumble business of professional — not high school, or Little League, or American Legion, but professional – baseball, where life isn’t always fair and players do get messed around with in the name of the greater good.

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, michael saunders, nick franklin

February 20, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Mariners are looking at group of four non-premium minor leaguers as return in Mike Carp deal

The Mariners will pick from a list of four lower-level, non-premium minor leaguers as the player-to-be-named in the Mike Carp trade. Photo Credit: AP

Many of you have written in asking who the Mariners are likely to get in the Mike Carp deal. I can tell you that the Mariners are looking to pick from a list of four non-premium minor leaguers, all in the lower levels. In other words, no “A” level or even “B” level prospects. Also, nobody from Class AAA or AA.








Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told me he was negotiating with four clubs at one point, then it got down to two at the end. Zduriencik didn’t name the clubs, but we know one was the Boston Red Sox and I’ll assume the Twins were another since they were linked to Carp in various reports.

Anyhow, that’s what you get in deals like this one.

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Comments | More in trades | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, Mike Carp, shawn kelley

February 20, 2013 at 7:20 AM

Mike Carp traded to Red Sox for player-to-be-named or cash

Mariners outfielder Mike Carp was traded to the Boston Red Sox earlier today. Photo Credit: AP

Mike Carp has been sitting “in limbo” in his Los Angeles area home waiting for the Mariners to trade him someplace. Yesterday, he was told that place would be the Boston Red Sox. He just had to wait until this morning for all the paperwork to go through. Now, he’s getting ready to head to Fort Myers, Fla. for spring training and excited about the opportunity.

“It’s definitely a better opportunity for me than staying in Seattle as far as their needs go and my chance to get as many at-bats as possible,” Carp told me moments ago.

The Mariners will get a player-to-be-named in the deal, or cash considerations.

Carp said he’s been told he’ll be used at first base, in left field and at designated hitter, so he will have a shot at quite a few at-bats if things go as planned.

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Comments | More in trades | Topics: Jack Zduriencik, Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp

February 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Justin Smoak hopes his last September surge different from those before it

Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak takes a cut from left side during live batting practice today in Peoria, AZ.

Spoke briefly with Justin Smoak this morning about his plans for the spring and how he hopes to carry over the success he enjoyed last September. Let’s face it: September surges have happened for Smoak before.

In 2010, he hit .340 in September with an OPS of 1.001. Had anybody really dug into it, though, they’d have noticed the whole month was fueled by a lone 10-day stretch that began in Texas — where Smoak tends to hit very well — and saw him go 16-for-33 (.485) with four homers. He only appeared in six other games that entire month.

And yet, following that, there were pronunciations that Smoak was somehow “cured” of all that plagued him.

Fast-forward to 2011 and after a good start, Smoak eventually faded for four months. Then came September, when he hit .301 with a .793 OPS.

No, it wasn’t as good as his 2010 numbers, but they were still his best since April and done over 22 games instead of the 15 he’d had the prior September. And I don’t think anybody will complain too much about Smoak if he hits .300 with an OPS near .800 for the rest of his career.

Problem is, he hasn’t.

Along came 2012 and the strong September for Smoak faded into oblivion. He had his worst year yet, until…September! Smoak spent the final month hitting .345 with an OPS of 1.005 — this time over 26 games.

I mean, you really, really want to believe Smoak has turned the corner this time. Jack Zduriencik wants it even more, believe me. He staked his reputation on the Cliff Lee trade and Blake Beavan, John Jaso/Michael Morse or not, if Smoak doesn’t pan out, the mega-deal goes down as a bust.

So, I asked Smoak,what’s different this time?

“This past one was different for me, compared to the other two,” he said. “The other two were good Septembers, but I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

Come again?

“At the end of last year, I got something from it,” he said. “The other two before that were good, but I don’t really know what I did. The last one, I made some adjustments and it was a confidence-builder for me.”

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Comments | More in spring training | Topics: cliff lee, Jack Zduriencik, Justin Smoak

February 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Mariners owners took first step with Felix Hernandez, but the follow-through will ultimately determine their legacy

Mariners president Chuck Armstrong (left) and chairman Howard Lincoln (right) honor Felix Hernandez after last year’s perfect game. Photo Credit: AP

Read some interesting comments this morning by Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, who told Jerry Brewer that the seven-year, $175 million contract given to ace pitcher Felix Hernandez is a sign the team’s ownership is committed to building a winner.

“This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Lincoln said. “It ought to remove any doubts about how the ownership group feels and what its objectives are.”

If only things were that simple.

Lincoln is right about the team’s commitment to Hernandez being huge and, frankly, imperative. For fans desperate for some positive sign from ownership, this was a big step indeed.

But Lincoln sounds as if he believes Hernandez is the cherry on the team’s championship sundae. In reality, Hernandez right now is exactly what he was three years ago, the last time the Mariners gave him an early extension — a true ace pitcher on a fourth-place team. Yes, the Mariners should win more than they lose this year and might even secure 85 victories like they did back in 2009, the last time they didn’t finish fourth. But looking at the AL West on paper, few experts anywhere are going to pick the Mariners to finish any higher than the Rangers, Angels and Athletics in their own division.

And unless the Mariners can beat out two of those teams, they won’t be going to the post-season anytime soon.

To make that jump will require more than just locking up Hernandez. Those lessons of the past three seasons — when the team lost 101, 95 and 87 games, respectively, with Hernandez fronting the rotation — should be abundanty clear by now.

The hard, factual history of this team is that the ownership group touted by Lincoln has been cutting payroll ever since the collapse of the world’s stock markets towards the end of 2008 and the decline in personal wealth of Hiroshi Yamauchi and Chris Larson, the team’s two largest owners with roughly 85 percent combined control. Yamauchi did cede his ownership shares to Redmond-based Nintendo of America prior to that for “estate planning purposes” but retains titular control of the team.

That decision to cut payroll by the Mariners coincided with the collapse of the 101-loss team in 2008 — which cost $117 million to assemble — and has enabled a selective, fortuitous retelling of history where the team is concerned.

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Comments | More in payroll | Topics: contract, felix hernandez, howard lincoln

February 13, 2013 at 8:18 AM

As Mariners prepare for Felix Hernandez press conference, Joe Saunders begins next career stage in Mariners rotation

Felix Hernandez will have his press conference at Safeco Field this afternoon, but down here in Arizona, the rest of his pitching and catching teammates are preparing for their first workout of spring training. The team is presently meeting with manager Eric Wedge and the coaching staff in the clubhouse. Among those taking the field at 8:30 a.m. PT will be Joe Saunders, recently signed to shore-up the middle of the rotation following the departure of Jason Vargas for the Angels.

Newest Mariners starting pitcher Joe Saunders takes the field this morning for team’s first workout in Peoria, AZ.

Saunders, 31, is coming off a 2012 season in which he was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles and actually started — and won — the inagural wild-card play-in game against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards last October.

“It was a lot of fun,” Saunders said. “It was nerve-wracking as heck. My numbers in that ballpark obviously weren’t very good. It was just another…you look at it asanother opportunity to prove people wrong. I just tried to go out there and give the team a chance to win. We won that game and then we took the Yankees to five games and lost in New York. It was a fun run.”

Saunders has had the opportunity to pitch in several post-seasons already between his time with the Angels, the Diamondbacks and the Orioles.

“I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to be in the post-season five times,” he added. “It’s definitely a great opportunity, you cherish it. Each and every time you get there, you want to get back there again because you never know when it’s going to come again. So, you just kind of relish it and do everything you can.”

Mariners pitchers and catchers take the field this morning for first workout in Peoria, AZ.

Which sort of begs the question of why Saunders chose to come to Seattle, which has not made the playoffs since 2001. Saunders did, after all, have a chance to go back to Baltimore and was courted by several teams.

“I liked where this organization was going,” he said. “I thought they made some good moves, some good trades. I’m familliar with the division and hoping to have some fun. Try to take another team, hopefully, to the post-season, so we’ll see where it goes.”

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Comments | More in Free agents | Topics: felix hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, joe saunders

February 12, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Felix Hernandez deal is done; press conference in Seattle tomorrow at 2 p.m. PT

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announces the contract extension for Felix Hernandez in Peoria, Ariz. moments ago.

A relieved-looking Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik just walked into the media room here in Peoria and announced that, as expected, the contract extension for Felix Hernandez is now complete.

A press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. PT tomorrow at Safeco Field.

“We’re headed out right now and Felix will be headed out shortly as well,” Zduriencik said. “We’ll give you all the details at that time.”

It is being reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that Hernandez’s old deal will, in fact, be torn up and replaced with a brand new seven-year, $175 million extension.

There will likely be a signing bonus attached to that, meaning Hernandez will very likely be earning far more than the $20.7 million he was initially slotted to make this year in base salary and a pro-rated bonus. That will impact the budget short-term and could be a reason the Mariners did not make any significant payroll additions the past few weeks.

Payroll was at $85 million as of today, with the potential to go to about $91 million if players reach easily-attainable incentives. We’ll see how Hernandez’s new deal breaks down.

Zduriencik sent out congratulations to Hernandez’s agents, Scott Pucino and Wil Polidor, calling them “very professional” in how they handled negotiations.

“I think it’s a great thing for the Seattle Mariners, it’s a great thing for Felix Hernandez and we’re looking forward to this guy being here for a long time, obviously,” Zduriencik said.

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Comments | More in Felix Hernandez | Topics: contract extension, elbow, Jack Zduriencik

February 12, 2013 at 8:19 AM

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik expresses optimism that Felix Hernandez contract talks will conclude “sooner than later”

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has declined all comment up until now on the fact he is close to a contract extension with Felix Hernandez. But today, for the first time, he acknowledged that there have been ongoing talks that he says are close to being concluded.

“It’s no secret that we’ve been in negotiations,” Zduriencik told media members moments ago at the team’s spring training facility. “We’ve had really good discussions with his two representatives…so, although I don’t have an update for you right now, I will say that I think things have been very positive. There has been a good tone to our discussions. And I hope, on a positive note, that sooner than later, we’ll be able to announce something. But anything of this magnitude, both in terms of years and dollars, just takes time to work things out.

“But I would say that, at this moment, it’s been real positive, and hopefully sooner than later, we’ll have something to say to you that will be significant.”

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Comments | More in Felix Hernandez | Topics: extension, Jack Zduriencik, jeff kingston

February 11, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Felix Hernandez deal will likely get done soon

It’s a rainy day in Peoria, Ariz. as the Mariners wait for Felix Hernandez to arrive a day ahead of scheduled physicals for pitchers and catchers.

Sitting here at the Peoria Sports Complex awaiting the arrival later today of Felix Hernandez, who is still in negotiations with the Mariners over a long-term contract extension that will keep him here through 2019.

My feeling, from everybody I’ve spoken to the past 24 hours, is that something could be announced in another day or two.

The issues with Hernandez’s elbow and any potential long-term reprecussions from it can be dealt with by implementing new language in the contract. But as of right now, there is no short-term, immediate issue with the elbow. In other words, Hernandez is still the team’s No. 1 starter and is expected to be that on Opening Day. He’ll arrive here today to put stuff in his locker, then take a physical tomorrow along with other pitchers and catchers. It won’t have to be a complete physical like everybody else is doing because parts of it were already covered by stuff he had done in Seattle as part of this contract extension process.

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Comments | More in Felix Hernandez | Topics: contract, elbow, Jack Zduriencik

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