The Mariners baseball club today announced Jack Zduriencik (pronounced zur-EN-sik) as their new General Manager. This is a good hire, according to analysts, but I will hold my optimism for a bit.
Deciding whether this is indeed a good hire or not will depend mostly on the kind of autonomy that Z will be given (I will be referring to him as Z, much easier!). If team president, Chuck Armstrong, and CEO, Howard Lincoln, want to continue down the path of meddling and making sure that they sign off on anything that Z does, then this is going to be same old, same old for Seattle Mariners fans.
Also, Z is a very good talent appraiser, and has a good eye for not just acquiring talent, but developing it. But what that means is that in order to succeed, two other things need to happen:
1. The old guard throughout the organization needs to be let go. We need a clean slate to start from. Thank you notes need to be sent out to them, but they need to be informed that their services are no longer needed. How can you start off anew when that means that you need to make changes to personnel and roster, which means in a most direct way indicting the decisions made by the old guard regarding the same players and coaches that they acquired or hired. That's' why they need to go.
2. Z needs to get one or two of those highly intellectual Ivy League graduates who are good with the new statistical analysis that permeates the Major Leagues these days. Those have been proven to improve the odds dramatically in favor of the organizations that utilize those statistics, and don't rely solely on scouting. I believe a hybrid of the two, headed by a man with a keen eye for talent such as Z, with the power of statistical analysis can work even better than expected, and bring in the turnaround that all fans are craving for in a much shorter time.
Moving the M's forward will not be an easy task. A 100 million dollar roster needs to be reevaluated. Positioning of players needs to be reconsidered. Fresh talent needs to be infused. Smart, cheap free agents need to be brought in for leadership and stop gap measures. Coaches need to be hired. Front Office personnel need to be evaluated. And the most important thing, a fan base needs to be re-energized.
The good thing is that the resources are there. Now we need to see if the will is there as well.