Hubris? Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik to speak at 2014 SABR Analytics Conference in March

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Tremors from Geoff Baker’s earth-shattering piece in the Seattle Times are still being felt. At the same time the Mariners were closing in on a ten-year deal with second baseman Robinson Cano, many were questioning the authenticity and direction of GM Jack Zduriencik’s front office as a result of revelations in Baker’s piece, reliant on quotes from former special assistant Tony Blengino and ex-manager Eric Wedge.

In the piece, Blengino calls into question Zduriencik’s true understanding of analytics, as Zduriencik was hired by the Mariners in large part due to his perceived ability to blend stats and scouting. Blengino, from Baker’s piece:

“Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that’s what he needed to get the job,” Blengino said. “But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door.”

Perhaps this particular domino was set up well in advance of the unexpected column by Baker, but the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) just announced that Zduriencik will be a speaker at the 2014 Analytics Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in March. Interesting timing, yeah?

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves