In some ways this can be looked at as a tiresome question that's been rehashed time and again. But this particular question is more focused, and I have added the followup question about any change in your views to spice it up. I'm not suggesting there's a definitive right or wrong answer. Rather I'm trying to canvas the community.
Here's the quote from a Brock and Salk segment discussing whether or not it is fair to blame Jack Zduriencik for the offensive failures of this team:
(Context) The point is being discussed that so many players are hitting well below their career averages.
"I'm not sure I can blame Jack Zduriencik for all of those things," Salk said. "I can't blame him because Robbie Cano is hitting that far below his career average. There is an element that is on a player or on the manager to get something out of that player where he's got to find a way to hit at his career average. It's not entirely up to a general manager to know that every player he brings in is going to immediately come to a crushing halt. I don't know how I can fault the general manager for all of those things."
Apparently the segment is in response to this article where Kieth Law does in fact blame Zduriencik:
Myself, I am squarely in Law's corner, primarily because this is not a one-season phenomenon. It is a consistent feature of Zduriencik's regime for seven years.
Whadda y'all think?
Also, how has your opinion of Jack Zduriencik changed, if at all, as this season has unfolded?
But no longer. He needs to be fired after this season, unless he pulls a miracle out of his hat. This mess of a team can be laid squarely at his feet. This is his crowning achievement, what he has built up for, and it is a sight to avoid.
I whole heartily believe that this team would be at least above .500 if Cano had similar numbers to last year, yet alone his normal years with the Yankees. Further, I love the trades for Seth Smith, Montgomery, LoMo, Castillo, Austin Jackson, and really even the Ruggliano and Trumbo trades were very good even though the results are not good... so Jack is making quality moves.. BUT...
Then I look at this 25 man and 40 man rosters... and they are a mess. Jack really struggles with how to set up a solid 25 and 40 man roster. In his time in Seattle, we have lived through some of the worst 25 man rosters this franchise has ever seen.
I mean just look what has to happen over the next week or so with the pitching staff... Kuma and Rollins have to be added to this pitching staff - a staff I might add that is already lacking a right handed reliever and already has plenty of lefties. While it is true the Mariners could just cut Rollins, that would be just dumping talent, there by proving the lack of Jack's planning. Worse yet, the players on the 40 man but not on the 25 man roster includes another 4 lefties ( 5 if you include Paxton), while only having 2 righties - Farquhar and Guaipe. There are plenty of trade pieces on this 40 man, but if you don't trade... then having 12 lefties on the 40 man? Really?? Especially when you have only 2 extremely young unproven SS's, maybe 3 CF's if your generous, no viable offensive presence at C, and the OF this year just brings tears to our eyes. Then as DaddyO and Law mentioned, this year is the norm - not the exception. Last year the M's could not hit lefties... now this year it is right handers, and in prior years it has been hitting anyone.
But then in somewhat of defense of Jack - although it is also damning as well... the failure of the farm system to produce hitters for 40 years or really the entire history, with the exception of a few 1st rounders. This lack of offense pre-dates Jack, but Jack has yet to change that as well.
One thing I think most would agree about is that we really do not want Howard or the new Armstrong getting a chance to pick the next GM... as I do not know how you can defend their processes for selecting GM's, let alone the selections themselves.
One of the things that disturbed me early on in the Zduriencik regime was the clear tendency to flip excess pieces that ought to have had some value for others who ended up being just so much flotsam and jetsom. Most of those looked like junk at the time, though we tried to excite ourselves by playing up potential strengths that "just might develope into something useful." The first and worst indicator of this was the Doug Fister trade, but there are plenty of other examples.
Of course, some of the ones we traded who we thought had some value floundered elsewhere as well. And people can always counter with the example of the Putz trade netting Guttierez. Funny, but the Guttierez trade seems emblematic of the Mariners' fortunes, a trade that looked to turn out very good went sour when Franklin's health suddenly deteriorated.
I think the blame does lie with Jack but, then, I'm kind of a "the buck stops here" kind of guy. I've been patient with the ground-up rebuild - more patient than I should have been. But that well has run dry.
Jack has to own the failures of the minor leagues to develop hitters, nobody else. It's his guys doing the drafting, it's his guys doing the player development and it's him calling these guys up when they aren't ready. He has to own the yearly kluge of a roster since he's the guy that has assembled it. He has to own the coaching carousel that's been spinning with little stability since he showed up since he's the guy making the hires.
Purge is the word.
If Mac is blamed for this mess, then Jack should also, as he hired him and all those clowns before him. There is plenty of blame to go around, including the players. I've seen players at various levels from youth on up that were so full of themselves as we see with Cano. They lack focus, play like losers, as if it doesn't matter. Is there anyone on the roster that would put Cano or others in a headlock for playing stupidly or underperforming. Do we have no Buhner? Who is it going to be, Felix, Cruz?
I'm firmly in the TopCat school of blame... I don't particularly blame Z, but lay it at the feet of ownership.
HOWEVER, the team HAS had success before, so I can't support 7 years of repeated failure either.
Yeah, some of it is the Committee doing things like nixing Cruz last year.
But like Tacoma says, Z's roster management makes no sense and it lacks coherence OR fungibility.
Under Z, the M's have repeatedly shown..
- Ability to develop and find starting pitching.
- Ability to develop and find relief pitching.
- Favoritism towards 'his guys' (e.g. no to Fister, yes to Weeks, Figgins, etc.)
- Questionable use of fungible assets (will trade a penny, but never a quarter)
- Questionable results in the free agent market (Cano is still a question mark, Cruz too... other than that, a lot of busts)
- Questionable, if not incoherent, prospect developent at the MLB level (the rotating door at SS, CF in particular)
- Questinable personnel decisions that don't make a lot of sense (4 managers, and the EDGAR move)
- Repeated clubhouse insurrections by players and personnel of varying stature (Figgins, Franklin, Saunders, Ruggiano, the entire front office and clubhouse that was fired or resigned during the regime)
- Repeated, inexplicable, trash talk from the Front Office (especially from Z himself)
The top two are nice, but when you can come up with 4 times as many negatives, I don't know what you can get from that list other than LOSER.
And the last two are particularly frustrating to see, since you almost NEVER see that sort of problem and continued success outside of New York or Boston.
Organizations that have had dynasties like St. Louis, San Francisco and Atlanta have had their share, but the gossip isn't nearly as common there either.
I was totally againts re-signing Z when the question came up a year or two back.
So, my opinion was already low to begin with!
Maybe it's fair to criticize Jack for the roster makeup of the team, that the hitters don't match the park. We can turn mediocre pitchers into good ones at the Safe, but in general, our hitters have warning track power and can't themselves out of a bag. Moving in the fences apparently only helped the visitors (well, maybe). Our hitters aren't desperate enough to take an infield hit against the shift, but rather stubbornly hit into it with the usual outcome. Why the heck isn't the manager/coaching staff calling for hitters to hit the other way? If we don't have the offensive juggernaut that we expect to have, then play small ball and score some runs for our pitchers that are doing their job. Small ball means being smart on the basepaths, not stupid, and taking advantage of the other teams' mistakes. Don't tell me that Trumbo, Zunino, Ackley, or any other major leaguer can't hit it the other way against the shift. The defense is counting on our prideful players to continue to hit into the shift, but our hitters have little to be proud of.