The Remaking of the Seattle Mariners

In 1995 all things looked very bright for the Seattle Mariners. Remember, the playoff bound Yankee Killers? After the strike shortened 1994 season, the Mariners came out in 95′ ( Refuse to Lose) looking like a new team after their first 20 years of futility. Starting the twenty first century off right, the Mariners looked as if… well their records speak volumes.

already though before the 1999 season, they traded Randy Johnson, best pitcher in the major Leagues, at his request, then join the elite teams in the American League. Next, Ken Griffey, Jr. requested to be traded. The Mariners nevertheless manage to win 91 games on their way to the AL Wild card berth in the 2000 post season. Next they lose A-Rod, best young player in the majors. Guess what? they win a record 116 games in 2001. In 2002 they won 93 games, but unfortunately that was Lou Piniella’s last year, as he left town, too. They again won 93 games in 2003. However, Pat Gillick then left town. Need I say more?

In late 2003 The Mariner’s leadership cuts their throats by hiring Bill Bavasi as GM and he closest began to implement his witchcraft . The Mariners records since that fateful back step: 2004 63-99, 2005 69- 93, 2006 78-84, in 2007 a false glimmer of hope, 88-74, and in 2008 expected to win the division, they use well over $100 Million dollars on payroll and proceed to lose a record 101 games. The first team ever, to lose over 100 games while spending over $100 Million Dollars. Ownership finally realizes the ship is sinking fast and will take a miracle to turn it around in the near future – first step – FIRE Bavasi, however, the momentum drags them down by the complete season.

Let’s see what Mr. Bill did to destroy a very good team in a very short four years. He gave an overrated RICHie Sexton a enormous contract. In 2008 he made $15.5 Million and was cut from the team, that’s how bad he was, unfortunately it took too long to realize it. The other option at the time was Carlos Delgado, who has had four very nice years. Second he gives a enormous contract to Adrianne Beltre instead of Miguel Tejada. His disastrous trades include Chris Snelling a rookie with much possible for a washed up Jose Vidro .Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago, Randy Winn for Jessee Foppert, & Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez . And his other terrible free agent signings, high Aurilia, Matt Lawton, Carl Everett, Scott Spiezio, and Jeff Weaver.

Then he signs a washed-up Brad Wilkerson to play outfield and sends Jeremy Reed back to Tacoma. And, of course his Crowning Jewel was trading five, count them 5, very good or potentially good players for Eric Bedard, who did nothing for the team in 2008. So they are now looking for 5 players just like the ones they GAVE away. WHAT was this guy thinking?

NOW, Out with the BAD and in with the Good. On June 16, 2008 the Mariners woke up and relieved Billy Bob Bavasi of his duties with the club. “Change is in order,”Howard Lincoln said “WE have determined new leadership is needed in the GM position. ( Duh ) With a new leader will come a new plan and a new approach. A search will begin closest.”

On June 19, they fired Manager John McLaren, a little late, but better late than not at all. Jim Riggleman was ask to pilot the sinking ship.

On July 10 , RICHie Sexton was waived, finally, thank goodness.

On August 13, Jose Vidro was released.

NOW , how do you hire some New Blood with unlimited baseball smarts, a superb eye for talent, and fresh ideas !!! WOW , how in the world did Howard Lincoln pull this off ? Let’s give credit where credit is due. Excellent job Mr. Lincoln . He said an “exhaustive and extensive” search, which took more than three months resulted in the “Genius hire”.

10/24/2008 ( mark that date ) The Seattle Mariners hire Jack Zduriencik ( distinct zur-EN- sik). Looking forward to the challenge , he said his goal is to help build the Ms into a position to compete with the best clubs in baseball as quickly as possible. A priority is to create a TEAM from top to bottom.

The Ms new General Manager has 25 years of front office experience. His background is in scouting and player development. He has been exposed to and involved in every aspect of the game. Zduriencik’s talent-evaluating skills are so good, in fact, that his First-Year Player Drafts are almost mythical and Baseball America named him the 2007 Major League Executive of the Year , the first non-GM to win the award. Let the ” Z Era ” begin !

The first internal change under Mr. Z , the mariners dismissed Bob Fontaine as the scouting director.( hired by Bavasi) Next, he hired Tony Blengino, his top assistant when at Milwaukee, as special assistant to the GM. He authored the book” Future Stars, ” an annual scouting and statistical review of minor league prospects. He also hired Tom McNamara, before with the Ms from 1994 to 2000 as a scout, as director of amateur scouting. He has 15 years experience as a complete time scout. He also hired Carmen Fusco as director of pro scouting. Mr. Z said “all three of these guys have different baseball backgrounds with a great deal of experience” and ” they each bring a high level passion and skill in their area of responsibility.”

Big Jack said” Talent wins”, when ask about his ideas on how to get the ship turned around. The Ms have scouts that have seen all of the talent in Japan. Maybe, they can sign Junichi Tazawa, a hard throwing ( mid 90s mph ) pitcher. His approach to hiring the new Manager was fresh, out of the box, makes sense, and of course only time will tell how that decision will work out.

Jack Zduriensik, announced the hiring of Don Wakamatsu as the new manager of the Seattle Mariners.The teams 16th field boss. Out of the field of seven hopefuls , Wakamatsu appears to be an excellent choice. He served as The Oakland “A”s bench coach last year. Prior to that from 2003 till last year he was a coach with the Texas Rangers. He also has worked for the California Angels, giving him experience with all three of the Mariners division rivals. He is well respected throughout the game for his excellent preparation.

Some points of interest from the Mariners 16 Managers. First, Darrell Johnson 1977-80, record 226-362 , Not much of a chance with an Expansion team. Next was Maury Wills, Dodger great, was probably the worst manager in baseball history 1980-81 26-56 record. One of the best moves the Seattle Mariners ever made was hiring Lou Piniella 1993-2002 W 840 L 711 .542 winning pct. Gets the Ms to the post season four times. Yes these were the Glory days. In 2005 Ms hired Mike Hargrove who quit in the middle of the 2007 season , a sign of what was in store the next few years. 192-210. 2007-208 John McLaren 68-88, fired after 25-47 start of 2008 season, Perhaps a little too late. Jim Riggleman directed a sinking ship for the balance of the 2008 season. Mariner fans are praying that Wakamatsu is a skipper with Piniella kind results.

Next order of business sign the 2007 draft pick hard throwing Josh Fields. That Bavasi was unable to do. Offer Tazawa a contract. Work his magic in this years draft with the number 2 overall pick. Keep tuned for Free agent signings, Trades, and AA promotions.

Add in the hope of the future, up and comers. Pitchers , Brandon Morrow and Ryan Rowland Smith to go with Felix( King) Hernandez, and Eric Bedard. Look at Jeff Clement catcher, Jeremy Reed outfielder, and Mike Morse 1B/OF. Then don’t forget Ichiro Suzuki ! and Wallah The Seattle Mariners will be back in the playoff hunt for 2009, YES 2009 ! And what could be more fitting, the Mariners are going back to the best Sports radio stop in Seattle , KIRO. This will give the Mariners a year round presence. Go Mariners! You deserve it. MAY ALL OF YOUR SPORTS DREAMS COME TRUE >>>

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