Three decades have passed since Jack Zdurencik was first tied to Major League front office relations. In this time he has earned himself a reputation as a 'draft wizard'. As Special Assistant to the General Manager in 2008 Zdurencik was heavily credited by the longtime Milwaukee General Manager, Doug Melvin, for the Brewers' success in reaching the playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons. Rightfully so as five members of that playoff team were drafted in five consecutive years leading up to that season; James Hardy (2001), Prince Fielder (2002), Rickie Weeks (2003), Yovani Gallardo (2004), and Ryan Braun (2005).
His style of youth infusion has followed him to Seattle as the club has seen their average batter-age dip from 29.7 in 2009 to 27.1, the third lowest number in baseball, during the 2012 season.The Mariners were playing with fire moving into the 2009 season with their minor league system ranked 24th overall by Baseball America and their average batter-age, seen above, nearly a whole year above league average. While Zdurencik has made draft day an enjoyable calendar day for the city of Seattle once again there is credit to be given elsewhere in his front office managerial profile.
Listed below are 18 trades that Zduriencik has made since becoming the General Manger of the Seattle Mariners. These trades are separated from the others based on the criteria below and once we have reviewed the trades themselves we can resume talking about the managerial decisions of Zduriencik in the Mariners front office.This is how it works:
In order to declare ‘victory' in a trade the team's reward must outweigh their risk. Risk and reward each have four different levels at which a trade can be evaluated. A team's reward can be ‘Significant', ‘Favoring', ‘Positive', or ‘None' and is assessed in hindsight of the deal. A team's risk can be ‘Great', ‘Fair', ‘Minimal', or ‘None' and is assessed as if the deal just took place. Each ‘victor' will have their selection in the following tables bolded.
Trades involving non Major League impacting players (I.E. Bill Hall for Ruben Flores) will not be included if no position player accrued 81 Major League games and no pitchers accrued 20 Major League games (time permitting) in any given season with the team they were traded to.
Let's get started:
Seattle Mariners send: Sean Green, J.J. Putz and Jeremy Reed to the New York Mets and Luis Valbuena to the Cleveland Indians.
New York Mets send: Mike Carp, Ezequiel Carrera, Endy Chavez, Maikel Cleto, Aaron Heilman, and Jason Vargas to the Seattle Mariners and Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland Indians send: Franklin Gutierrez to the Seattle Mariners.
|New York Mets||Fair||None|
While the Indians made a positive deal for Joe Smith who has tossed 208 innings at a 2.90 ERA since the trade they cannot match the return of three active roster starters for the Seattle Mariners in Carp, Vargas, and Gutierrez. There are no positive words regarding New York on this deal as Putz would throw only 30 innings in a Mets uniform posting an ERA of 5.22. Of note is that when healthy the three Mariners above accounted for 12% of the Seattle Mariners active-roster in 2012.
Seattle Mariners send: Yuniesky Betancourt to Kansas City.
Kansas City Royals send: Derrick Saito and Dan Cortes to Seattle.
|Kansas City Royals||Minimal||Positive|
The Mariners minimal risk comes from not having a solid replacement for 2010 before dealing their young shortstop. Kansas City parlayed Betancourt, who hit 16 home runs in 2010, into a deal for Zack Greinke down the road.
Seattle Mariners send: Justin Souza to the Oakland Athletics.
Oakland Athletics send: Jack Hannahan to the Seattle Mariners
Seattle gains the advantage simply based on Hannahan's time spent on their active roster not to mention some nifty plays in the field while with the club.
Seattle Mariners send: Jeff Clement, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, Ronny Cedeno, and Nathan Adcock to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pittsburgh Pirates send: Ian Snell and Jack Wilson to the Seattle Mariners
Pittsburgh would see Adcock and Lorin leave via Rule-5 in 2010 and 2011 while using Ronny Cedeno to fill their infield needs over the next three seasons. Pribanic still pitches within their system while Clement continues his hit-or-miss offensive style in their minor league system as well. Seattle gets the nod for using Snell and Wilson regularly down the stretch to climb back above .500 and finish the season at 85-77, a full ten games ahead of their calculated season total.
Seattle Mariners send: Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers send: Mauricio Robles and Luke French to the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle gets the better end of this deal due to the Detroit Tigers dislike of all things that rhyme with Washburn following the 2009 season. They followed their plan to unload Washburn if not seriously contending at the trade deadline. While French is no longer in the organization a healthy Mauricio Robles can catch the eye of scouts when he steps on the mound.
Seattle Mariners send: Phillipe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Philadelphia Phillies send: Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle had a plan from the get go on acquiring Cliff Lee and it was simple. Rent him to begin the 2010 season and sell high at the deadline. Lee dazzled with the club in 103.2 innings of 2.34 ERA baseball prior to being dealt. The club would later parlay one of the members of their return on Lee into John Jaso, who has been the strongest club contributor of the group. The Phillies take this trade as they begin 2013 with three prospects making strides within their organization and a young relief pitcher ready to take the next step full-time in Aumont, a former Top-100 prospect with Seattle, who was productive for the club in 2012 tossing 14.2 innings in September .
Seattle Mariners send: Carlos Silva and cash considerations to the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago Cubs send: Milton Bradley to the Seattle Mariners.
No one was a winner when either of these players took the field later in their careers but each team had a reason to rid themselves of one and pick up the other. Edge to the Cubs for squeezing a productive season from Silva before releasing him after his contract had run it's course.
Seattle Mariners send: Brandon Morrow to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays send: Brandon League and Johermyn Chavez to the Seattle Mariners.
|Toronto Blue Jays||Minimal||Favoring|
The Blue Jays get the edge in this deal as Morrow led the American League in K/9 in 2011 at 10.2 striking out 203 batters and posted a 2.96 ERA through 21 starts in 2012 winning double digit contests for the third straight year. League would pitch solidly for the Mariners (3.42) in 2010 before saving 37 games in 2011 and being dealt in a productive deal of his own during the 2012 season. If there was a Jack Zduriencik deal that could sway direction it would be this move due to the other player named, Johermyn Chavez, and the return on their 2012 flip of League to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Seattle Mariners send: Bill Hall and PTBNL to the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox send: Casey Kotchman to the Seattle Mariners.
|Boston Red Sox||Minimal||Positive|
The Red Sox take the better end of this trade as Hall went on to hit 18 home runs during the 2010 season, the second highest total of his career, and Kotchman would hit a full-season career low. 217 with Seattle. Both players were released following the 2010 season.
Seattle Mariners send:Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe to the Texas Rangers.
Texas Rangers send: Matt Lawson, Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, and Josh Lueke to the Seattle Mariners.
As tempering of our expectations as this trade has become for Seattle Mariners fans the club wins this trade due in-part because the Rangers failed to win the World Series in the one season they would employ Lee.
Seattle Mariners send: Maikel Cleto to the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals send: Brendan Ryan to the Seattle Mariners.
|St Louis Cardinals||Minimal||Minimal|
Brendan Ryan was developing a profile as a streaky hitter with a gold glove at shortstop before he left the Cardinals organization. Maikel Cleto has a live arm but has struggled since moving over to the Cardinals with 2012 marking back-to-back unsuccessful September call-up opportunities for the right-hander. Ryan, who hit a career low .194 in 2012, led all of baseball in Defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 3.6 during his tumultuous season, the second time Ryan has earned that reward since 2010.
Seattle Mariners send: Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit Tigers send: Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, and Charie Furbush to the Seattle Mariners.
No one expected Doug Fister to complete the Verlander/Scherzer trio moving forward into the 2012 playoffs. After a strong 2011 season the club took a manageable risk in dealing the tall right-hander with the opportunity to acquire Francisco Martinez in trade. The young third baseman hit only 2 home runs in 2012 through 103 games while hitting .232 on the season. Furbush established himself as a left-handed relief pitcher while Wells introduced his above league average arm to the AL West.
Seattle Mariners send: Erik Bedard and Josh Fields to the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox send: Stephen Fife, Tim Federowicz, and Juan Rodriguez to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chih-Hsien Chiang to the Seattle Mariners.
Los Angeles Dodgers send: Trayvon Robinson to the Seattle Mariners.
|Boston Red Sox||Fair||None|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Minimal||Minimal|
Erik Bedard would throw just 8 contests for the Red Sox before being granted free agency in the 2011 off-season. Stephen Fife threw 26.2 innings of 2.70 ERA baseball for the Dodgers this season while Trayvon Robinson has failed to impress with his bat in Seattle but has been excellent with his glove-work and fielding. The Mariners take the top marks away from this trade as they offloaded the remaining salary on Bedard's contract and acquired two outfielders with everyday Major League potential in Chiang and Robinson.
Seattle Mariners send: Josh Lueke to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Tampa Bay Rays send: John Jaso to the Seattle Mariners.
|Tampa Bay Rays||Minimal||None|
The Mariners receive a significant mark in reward for unloading the negative publicity that followed Josh Lueke to Seattle and turning John Jaso in profit. Jaso was fifth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 for the Rays walking 59 times while striking out in 39 at-bats. The acquisition of Jaso should be credited to the scouting background of Zduriencik in truly finding a diamond in the rough.
Seattle Mariners send:Michael Pineda and Jose Campos to the New York Yankees.
New York Yankees send: Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners.
|New York Yankees||Great||None|
We are nearly 9 months removed from the Mariners/Yankees blockbuster and Michael Pineda has yet to throw a baseball for his new club. The Yankees to some degree are uncertain on his time table in getting healthy and the skill-set that will be available to him once he is. Jesus Montero, who has long been labeled as a ‘sure thing' in hitting development, looked a lot like a rookie with Seattle in 2012. He will benefit from the stadium dimension changes in 2013 and will continue to find more quality at-bats as the club develops at the plate and he gains additional Major League experience. Jose Campos and Hector Noesi are comparable, possessing Major League stuff; but both will certainly have to work to make it to the Major Leagues. Campos spent the majority of 2012 on the disabled list as well throwing only 24.2 innings.
Seattle Mariners send: Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees.
New York Yankees send: D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the Seattle Mariners.
|New York Yankees||Minimal||Positive|
The above marks are from a media standpoint as well as an on-field point of view. Seattle raised season ticket prices and decried a popular arena measure in the months following their split from team icon Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees received vintage production from the Japanese right fielder as he slid into the bottom of their order all the way into the postseason. Mitchell and Farquhar have borderline MLB packages and may drown in such a deep pitching organization if they do not throw themselves into the forefront in 2013. For now I give this one to the Yankees, even with the Mariners freeing themselves of the inevitable situation of resigning or not resigning the outfielder.
Seattle Mariners send: Brandon League to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers send: Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom to the Seattle Mariners.
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Fair||Minimal|
Seattle sent Logan Bawcom to the Arizona Fall League as one of their eight participants while Leon Landry hit for the cycle in his first week post-trade finishing 2012 at a sweltering .341 pace and leading minor league baseball with 18 triples. League was a positive addition for the Dodgers in 2012 but the team failed to make the postseason missing the second wild-card spot by just two games.
Seattle Mariners send: Steve Delabar to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Toronto Blue Jays send: Eric Thames to the Seattle Mariners.
|Toronto Blue Jays||None||Positive|
Seattle receives a mark of minimal in risk because of their deep bullpen but should not be off the hook for the Ks that Delabar hangs over the American League for the next half-decade and beyond. The powerful right hander would strike out 46 in 29.1 innings following the trade for a league best 14.1 K/9 over that time. Eric Thames moves into 2013 competing for a spot in the Mariners outfield, which I believe will improve this off-season either through trade or free agency.
On our final tally of the trades above Zduriencik puts the organization up 10-8. The Mariners dealt just one Top-100 prospect, Phillipe Aumont (98th), at the time of transaction while adding two in Justin Smoak (13th) and Jesus Montero (3rd).
The eye of Jack Zduriencik is all-seeing and all-knowing across his organization. There was a time during the 2012 season where 12 of the 25 (48%) players on the Mariners active roster were from the trades above. The 61-year old General Manager is taking his mid-market club in a positive direction. By completing low-risk trades off his own scouting knowledge he keeps his Major League team relevant while investing the time needed to develop a top-tier minor league system. The Tampa Bay Rays took a similar path from 2003-2006 before unleashing five straight winning seasons, reaching the postseason three times, with a large number of in-house players on their Major League roster.
Need another example? Take a look at the club Zduriencik left to acquire the post of General Manager with Seattle, the Milwaukee Brewers. We touched briefly on the level of talent he drafted into their organization, leading them to their lone play-off season since the 1980's. During the past four seasons since Zduriencik came to Seattle the Brewers have reached the playoffs while each season their strongest contributor based on WAR (Wins Above Replacement) has been a player he drafted. The Brewers have scored over 750 runs five of the past six seasons, an accomplishment the team had not fulfilled since 1999.
The hardest message in sports to broadcast is faith. This is especially true in baseball where development can be hit-or-miss on a player that was long reveled by your cities media as being the savior of your franchise. Be smarter than the media. Open your mind and take a look at the organization from the top down.
Have faith in your General Manager, Seattle.
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