Jack Zduriencik is safe: Mariners "not thinking about changing the general manager at all"

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Mariners team president Chuck Armstrong told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that general manager Jack Zduriencik will be back in 2011, which isn’t a surprise. In fact, given the praise heaped on him during Zduriencik’s first year on the job the surprising part is that his status is even in question near the end of Year 2.
Zduriencik made some very shrewd moves after being hired in October of 2008, and was quickly singled out as the next big thing in GMs. Too quickly, as it turned out. In his second year on the job Zduriencik went from turning everything he touched into gold to turning everything he touched into … well, Milton Bradley.
Bradley’s inept bat was far more of an issue than his personality, Cliff Lee’s time in Seattle lasted all of three months, Chone Figgins is having the worst season of his career after signing a $36 million deal as a free agent, the Mariners’ offense has been historically inept thanks to a combination of substandard production and Zduriencik’s failure to stockpile any lineup depth, and the front office has come under fire for their handling of the Josh Lueke situation.
Here’s how the GM described the Mariners’ mess of a season:

What I’ve said all along is that we are building this for the long haul, while attempting to stay as competitive as we can. We would all like to win now and are disappointed in how this season has gone, but you can never lose sight of the big picture. Our minor-league system had six of seven clubs in the playoffs, and two league champions. We’ve had two good drafts, we got back some very good pieces in trades. It was a tough year where we never got anything going. We needed a lot of things to go right, and it just didn’t happen.

Zduriencik looked like a genius last year and has looked pretty clueless this year, but as usual the truth is somewhere in between. He has a lot of work to do this offseason, but I still think the Mariners are in good hands long term, and if nothing else they’re certainly right not to panic and let him go because everything went wrong this season.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.