Fresh off the Mariners signing Robinson Cano to a mammoth 10 year, $240 million deal former Mariners and Tribe manager Eric Wedge is one of many to offer their criticism of the Seattle front office. In a Seattle Times article this weekend by Geoff Baker, Wedge and other former members of the Mariners chastise the leadership of the Mariners franchise, more specifically Mariners’ President Chuck Armstrong and Mariners’ CEO Howard Lincoln.
It was 14 months ago, two days after the 2012 season, and Mariners president Chuck Armstrong unleashed what Wedge calls “a ferocious, venom-filled tirade” about the team, coaches and players. Armstrong told him the club “sickened” him and was “disgusting” and “disturbing,” while Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln agreed and added choice barbs of his own.
Wedge said general manager Jack Zduriencik had assured him earlier that the duo was pleased with the 75-87 team, winners of eight more games than in 2011 and 14 more than in 2010.
Now, he felt blindsided and let down by Zduriencik. He waited until Lincoln was done, then, unable to hold back, let him and Armstrong know how he felt.
Along with Wedge, the Seattle times spoke to two dozen former Mariners’ baseball operations employees who believe “any manager — and the players under him — will fall short of success without a halt to ongoing interference from Lincoln and whomever succeeds Armstrong, who will retire Jan. 31.”
The Mariners have already been facing a public relations beating in Seattle over the last few years due to years of losing, high turnover rates, reluctance to raise the payroll, and failing to provide a fan experience that is anywhere close to that of the Seahawks or the Sounders.
Wedge left the Mariners at the conclusion of last season, leaving behind what h described “total dysfunction and lack of leadership”.
Alongside Wedge in the criticism is general manager Jack Zduriencik’s former number two Tony Biengino. Biengino who was recently let go by the Marniners also worked with Zduriencik in Milwaukee and is taking credit for preparing the package that led to Zduriencik’s hiring Armstrong and Lincoln — a move that Armstrong and Lincoln are still being criticized for.
“Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”
The Seattle Times obtained a copy of the package, which talks of rebuilding with minimal pain through shrewd drafts, undervalued free agents and a “vast pipeline of young, homegrown star-caliber talent.” Advanced stats charts ranked every major-leaguer and top minor-leaguers, while computer spreadsheets depicted each team’s positional depth and payroll commitments.
Zduriencik declined to speak about his stats knowledge or Blengino’s role in the package.
It’s hardly unusual in the corporate world for trusted assistants to design job applications. But after initial success, Zduriencik had a slew of failed player moves — coinciding with his eventual decision to push Blengino out
Geoff Baker’s article is an eye opener and a public relations nightmare for a franchise for the Mariners’ franchise.