Results tagged ‘ Jack Zduriencik ’

Zduriencik expects Figgins to remain a Mariner

Lots of reports from reliable journalists today about the Mariners and A’s talking trade, with Chone Figgins going to Oakland for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and likely a pitcher.

FigginsChone.jpgBut Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was very adamant in telling me this afternoon that his plan is for Figgins to remain with the Mariners.

“I’m looking forward to Figgins being our starting third baseman,” Zduriencik said. “He’ll be here tomorrow [for the Mariners' FanFest]. He’s been agreeable to moving back to third base and that’s our plan, to have Chone be our Opening Day third baseman.”

Things can always change, of course, but that doesn’t sound like a man who thinks that trade is coming down.

Joe Stiglich of the Contra Costa Times first bounced the story out that the A’s were trying to trade for Figgins in this report and Ken Rosenthal of FOX and Buster Olney of ESPN followed up, with Olney saying the Blue Jays might be involved in a three-way deal.

There are reasons the initial report could make sense from a Mariners’ perspective. Kouzmanoff has more power than Figgins and Seattle certainly can use all the pop it can find. But that same thing holds true for the A’s. And Oakland has Coco Crisp in the leadoff role and isn’t normally a team that looks to take on salary.

My assumption is the A’s would want Seattle to take on some of Figgins’ remaining salary, since Kouzmanoff is owed a far-more palatable $4.75 million in a deal he just signed to avoid arbitration.

The Mariners also are operating on a tight payroll situation this season, due in part to several contracts like Figgins’ deal, which still has three years and $26 million remaining. He struggled a lot in his initial foray with Seattle after both he and the team got off to slow starts.

But Figgins also played much better in the closing months, hitting .286 with a .688 OPS in the second half after posting .235 and .608 pre-All-Star numbers. There were reasons Zduriencik coveted Figgins last year and he’s not going to just dump him without reasonable return.

Much of Zduriencik’s offseason talk has been of getting players to bounce back and be what they expected last year and Figgins is at the top of that list. Moving back to third, where he stood out for the Angels, and having a year’s adjustment to hitting second behind Ichiro could help.

So I’d be surprised if the Mariners give up on the investment they made in Figgins at this point unless the right offer comes into play. And that right offer, at this point, clearly hasn’t been made.

Zduriencik says Milton Bradley will get a chance

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik was on KJR-AM 950 this morning and told Dave “Softy” Mahler that Milton Bradley will be given a chance to win a roster spot this Spring Training despite his latest off-field incident.

BradleyMiltonMug.jpgBradley was arrested last week for allegedly threatening a woman in his Los Angeles-area home and faces a Feb. 8 court date.

“Milton is going to get a chance to come in and compete for a job,” Zduriencik told Mahler. “When we acquired him, we felt he had a chance to be a middle-of-the order hitter. Obviously some things fell apart for him last year and he had one thing happen this winter. We’re hoping he comes in and competes for a job.”

Zduriencik said Bradley’s $12 million salary will not determine whether he is kept on the roster or not.

“What we hope is he bounces back to be the player he was in the past and that will dictate whether he’s on the club,” he said. “I’d like to see Milton have a bounce-back year.”

Bradley hit just .205 last year before going on the Disabled List at the end of July with a knee problem. But he wasn’t alone in his struggles.

Zduriencik called last year’s squad “the most-underachieving group I’ve ever been around” in terms of how they performed and indicated again that much of the key to this coming season will be getting veterans like Chone Figgins, Franklin Gutierrez and Jack Wilson to return to their normal production.

Zduriencik: ‘It’s a construction process on-going’

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik added a short-term piece to the puzzle on Friday with the official signing of veteran designated hitter Jack Cust. But he went out of his way to note that the over-arching plan of the club continues to be building for the long haul.

Cust, 31, is the type of veteran the Mariners want to bring in to supplement their young crew. A year ago, Zduriencik brought back Russell Branyan in midseason to provide some protection in the middle of the order and add some leadership.

Now it’s Cust coming in on a one-year deal.

“We’re not going to deviate from the long-range plan,” Zduriencik said. “We want to be as competitive as we can be, but we are still building this organization. We’re laying the cement,we’re putting up the pillars. It’s a construction process on-going.

“But you’d like to be as competitive as competitive as you can at the big-league level and  maybe you’re fortunate and some things happen. Last year we weren’t fortunate. What we’re trying to do is stay the course and build the organization and add pieces when we think they’re appropriate.”

Zduriencik: ‘Everybody in baseball should be happy for Pat Gillick’

GillickPat.jpgJack Zduriencik knows a little about what Pat Gillick has accomplished, walking now in his shoes as the general manager of the Mariners. Like Gillick, Zduriencik’s background is in scouting and player development and he appreciates the path his predecessor took that ended with a Hall of Fame election Monday.

“I think everybody in the industry is really happy that Pat collected today,” Zduriencik said. “If you talk to any scout that’s ever been in the game, they’ve always viewed Pat as a general manager who kind of paid his dues. When he had opportunities, he did a tremendous job.”

You sense Zduriencik is taking some clues from how Gillick molded his original team in Toronto, where the Blue Jays mined every avenue and built for the long run.

“I heard some of his press conference today and it brought back a lot of memories of how Toronto did that thing, how they were going to get players to go to Canada, how the dollars were different,” Zduriencik said. “They invested heavily in Latin America and did just a great job.

“When he was there those years how terrific that organization was viewed and how they took care of their people. And then winning two World Series. I think everybody in baseball should be happy for Pat Gillick.

“I remember years and years ago, back in the early ’80s and Pat would come in with the area scouts and see Seminole Junior College or Oklahoma State or something like that, where he’d come in traveling with the scouts and watching games. We’ve seen that over the years with him. Anybody who has ever worked with Pat Gillick, all I’ve heard is nice things”

If you missed it, here’s my story from earlier in the day on Gillick’s memories of Seattle’s 116-win season in 2001 and Chuck Armstrong’s thoughts on the former GM.

So much for the quiet off-season …

While the Mariners have been pretty low-key in the initial weeks of the Hot Stove League, GM Jack Zduriencik certainly got a few burners lit Thursday in a busy day that included the trading of Jose Lopez, the surprising return of Erik Bedard, the departure of Ryan Rowland-Smith and four moves to retain arbitration-eligible players.

Pitchers David Aardsma, Brandon League and Jason Vargas were all tendered offers as expected, which means they’ll either head into arbitration or come to agreements prior to that process. Utility infielder Josh Wilson agreed to a one-year deal Thursday night to avoid the whole tender/arbitration issue.

ZduriencikJackMug.jpgNow Zduriencik and his staff can head to next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando with a better grasp of their roster situation.

Moving Lopez and cutting ties with Rowland-Smith opens up a little payroll and roster space, with Zduriencik saying he’ll pursue veterans in a couple positions to help solidify a roster that is rebuilding around some promising young prospects like Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Michael Pineda, Adam Moore and Michael Saunders.

“They’re young and talented,” Zduriencik said of that group. “But it would be nice to land a few pieces that would bring us a degree of veteran leadership and fill some of the needs we still have.”

Zduriencik didn’t rule out the continued pursuit of starting pitching despite the return of Bedard, who he expects to be ready to challenge for a rotation spot. That re-signing will raise a lot of eyebrows from frustrated Mariners’ fans, but it’s a low-risk, potentially high-reward gamble given Bedard’s willingness to agree to a non-guaranteed contract.

If he goes to Spring Training and throws like the Bedard who went 28-16 with an ERA around 3.50 for Baltimore in 2006-07, the Mariners will have a quality No. 2 starter behind Felix Hernandez. If not, well, that’s why both parties agreed to a non-guaranteed contract, something of a rarity in Major League baseball.

The departures of Lopez and Rowland-Smith fall into the not-surprising category for a team trying to put a 101-loss season behind them. Both had their moments, but both struggled horribly last season.

Zduriencik didn’t want to risk going to arbitration with Rowland-Smith and worked on signing him to a deal — as the club did with Josh Wilson — right up to the 9 p.m. tender deadline. But the two sides couldn’t agree on what RRS was worth and he opted for free agency.

More power to him as the 27-year-old Australian truly is one of the best people you’ll find in baseball.

Lopez, too, could benefit from a fresh start, not to mention a chance to hit in Coors Field. If he returns to the guy who smacked 25 home runs and 96 RBIs a year ago, the Rockies will be thrilled. And Mariners’ fans will gnash their teeth. But that wasn’t happening for him in Seattle and the Mariners now will see what they got from 24-year-old pitcher Chaz Roe, a former first-round pick of the Rockies who struggled last year in Triple-A Colorado Springs, which isn’t an easy place to pitch.

Whether Roe ever helps the Mariners remains to be seen, but it’s a far better return than most expected from a situation where Lopez was going to be non-tendered and become a free agent if a deal couldn’t be worked out by 9 p.m. Thursday.

So that’s that. A busy day, a little roster reconstruction and the start of what figures to be more moves to come as Zduriencik goes about his business beginning Monday in Orlando.

 

Pineda gets promotion to 40-man roster

The Mariners will make some additions to their 40-man roster this afternoon in order to protect some youngsters from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. And GM Jack Zduriencik already acknowledged the not-surprising news on KJR-AM this morning that one of those players will be top pitching prospect Michael Pineda.

PinedaMichaelMug.jpg
Given that Pineda will be brought to Spring Training with the chance to compete for a spot in the Mariners rotation next season, it’s a given that the youngster would be protected this year, which is the first time he would have been exposed to the Rule 5 draft after five years in Seattle’s system.

Pineda, 21, was the Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year after splitting time between AA West Tenn (8-1, 2.22 ERA) and AAA Tacoma (3-3, 4.76). He racked up 154 strikeouts in 139 1/3 innings.

The Mariners have just 29 players on their current 40-man roster, so expect a good number of promotions today.

Here’s a link to the current 40-man roster as it stands.

The Rule 5 draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 9.

UPDATE (4:39 p.m.): The Mariners just released the names of all 10 players who’ve been added. Here’s the list and I’ll update with full story after a conference call with Jack Zduriencik.

·      OF Johermyn Chávez

·      RHP Maikel Cleto

·      LHP César Jiménez

·      INF Alex Liddi

·      RHP Josh Lueke

·      RHP Yoervis Medina

·      OF Carlos Peguero

·      RHP Michael Pineda

·      LHP Mauricio Robles

·      RHP Tom Wilhelmsen

 

There’s a couple interesting names on that list. Jimenez is a 26-year-old lefty who pitched 31 games of relief for the Mariners in 2008 and four games in 2006, but missed most of 2009 with a torn labrum.

 

He made a nice start on his comeback this past year and is pitching well enough in the Venezuelan League right now that the Mariners chose to protect him.

 

Wilhelmsen is another 26-year-old who pitched very well in the Mariners’ low-minor system after coming back from a six-year absence from baseball.

 

Most of the others are promising young prospects. Only three of the 10 were position players. Liddi is a third baseman from Italy with good power, Chavez is an outfielder they got in the Brandon Morrow-Brandon League trade who hit 32 home runs in A ball this year and Peguero is a big (6-5, 247) kid from the Dominican who played in the Futures Game.

 

Zduriencik said he didn’t know how soon any of these kids would make the big club, but they all are in position to get a chance in what appears a good situation for young prospects to make a name for themselves.

 

Here’s my updated story on mariners.com with quotes from Zduriencik and info on all 10 players. 

 

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