An Interview With Jack Zduriencik, Basically

why - Otto Greule Jr

Lookout Landing was one of the very first blogs in the SB Nation network, but it was not the first blog in the SB Nation network. That would've been Athletics Nation, if it can count as a network when it has one blog in it. Athletics Nation got started way back when by Tyler Bleszinski, and one of the things that put AN on the map were extended interviews with then- and still now-A's general manager Billy Beane. There weren't a whole lot of other blogs doing that, but Bleszinski had access, and he could ask the questions the fans wanted to know about. Beane, for his part, was always very willing to participate, and he was always thorough and reasonably candid. They're still running those interviews to this day. (Although not literally today.) (Probably.)

LL has never really gotten into the interview thing. We talk about it from time to time, we've interviewed people in the past, and we're there for the Q&A events at Safeco Field, but we never sat down to interview Bill Bavasi, and we've never sat down to interview Jack Zduriencik. Fans love to hear from general managers, since general managers are the guys in charge of the whole roster, and maybe this is our own shortcoming. God knows people always look forward to those Beane interviews. Even people who aren't necessarily A's fans. Maybe we should actually try to get some recorded Zduriencik audio.

But we're not going to resolve anything tonight. Right now I don't have the option to interview Jack Zduriencik. The best I can do is to interview Jack Zduriencik, basically.

***

Lookout Landing
Hey, thank you for taking the time. We might as well dive right in. The offseason got going in earnest with the re-signing of Hisashi Iwakuma. Was that sort of offseason goal #1 for the organization?

Basically Jack Zduriencik
It was important to be able to re-sign Iwakuma. We feel like he's a good fit for the ballpark and a good fit for the environment, and we saw him do some good things over the second half of last season. It was his first season here, and obviously he had some adjustments he needed to make, but he's been pitching for a long time, over in Japan, and we like that experience. He has a good idea, and at the end of the day, we like him in this starting rotation.

LL
And Oliver Perez -- that came right on the heels of the Iwakuma news, really. Clearly, you guys saw something you liked.

BJZ
We saw something we liked a year ago. Lefties who throw in the mid-90s out of the bullpen -- you don't find those just anywhere. We like Ollie in this role. He's learned a lot about pitching, a lot about himself, and you know, he's a guy who's been around a long time, he's had his ups and downs and he's plugged away, and we think he can set a good example.

LL
And here I nearly forgot that Dave Hansen replaced Chris Chambliss as the team's hitting coach. How much went into that search, and what were you looking for?

BJZ
Hansen's a guy with a lot of experience, and you know, Chambliss did a great job, but sometimes you just need a new voice in there, and Hansen -- we almost hired him before, but we wanted someone with more experience. Now Davey's got that experience. We think, this is a very young team, this is a critical time for a lot of these players, and we think Hansen's going to be able to give some good instruction.

LL
Yeah, about those young players. The Mariners remain a young team, and they remain in the -- maybe you don't like the word "rebuilding," but the Mariners are clearly developing, as opposed to being a finished product. They've lost 283 games the last three years combined. What do you have to say to those people who are running out of patience?

BJZ
Listen, there's a hasty way to build a team, and there's the right way to build a team. We don't just want this team to win once or twice. We want this team to win all year, every year. We want to build a sustainable winner, and to do that takes time, it takes patience. You need to find the right pieces, and sometimes when you think you have them, you don't. Sometimes other players will take you by surprise. It's all a process, and -- you know, I appreciate the fans' passion. For people to be frustrated, that means that they're passionate. There are a lot of passionate Mariners fans out there, I hear from them all the time (chuckles), and to them I say, we're doing this right. It takes time, but we've gone from 61 wins to 67 to 75. We're seeing pieces fall into place, Saundo, Seager, and we've got a heck of a leader in Wedge. We have a goal and we're going to meet it. These things, sometimes, they just can't be rushed, not if you're doing things the right way.

LL
The longer the team hangs out in the basement, the more people think the Mariners need to trade Felix. Felix, after all, can do a last-place team only so much good.

BJZ
We're not trading Felix. We have a plan, and Felix is a big part of that plan. What do you get, trading Felix? You don't get another Felix. He's fond of it here, and we're fond of him.

LL
So if the team is going to take a big step forward, it stands to reason some extra payroll would help. More money means more flexibility, more flexibility means more wins, more wins mean more wins. What can you tell us about the Mariners' payroll going forward, relative to what it was in 2012 and 2011?

BJZ
Payroll, you know, money is only one part of it. You look at the standings and the best team isn't the team that spent the most money. The worst team isn't the team that spent the least money. Money is a tool, and what's important are the players. We feel like we have a lot of the players, and we feel like we'll have the flexibility to go out and get other players if we feel like they would be good fits. Payroll -- we're going to have enough payroll. That's not going to be a problem, or an excuse.

LL
One player on the market who fans can't help but notice is Josh Hamilton. We've been noticing Hamilton an awful lot with the Rangers over the past few years. Do you see a fit for Hamilton in a lineup that could use that sort of proven, big-time slugger right in the middle?

BJZ
You know, I can't comment on specific players, there's still a lot to sort out and the offseason is just getting started. The market will take shape and we'll explore the opportunities that we feel would be the best fits for the team. Would it be great to have 35, 40 home runs in the middle of the order? You bet, absolutely. Is that going to be the right fit, not just next year, but however many years down the road? You know, we'll see how things develop, and we have an idea of what we'd like to do. If a guy fits within those parameters, great. But at the end of the day, you don't know how things are going to look, and we'll be open to anything. Based on what we see, we'll evaluate who might be the best fits, within the parameters that we have.

LL
An alternate route to the free-agent market would be exploring trades, and the Mariners have one hell of a farm system beneath the surface. Are you open to the idea of trading some of the stockpiled youth for more established big-league talent?

BJZ
We're always listening, you know, we're always evaluating, and if the right offer came around, would we say no? No, if there's something out there that makes sense for us to do, then that's an opportunity. I'm proud of this system that we're developing. You've got the pitchers, you've got a kid in Nick Franklin, Romero, you know, if these guys all go on to play for the Mariners, that's terrific. What you want out of a farm system is as much value as you can get and I'd like nothing more than to see all these guys in Safeco before much longer. I think, those frustrated Mariners fans, I'd point them to the farm. There's a lot of good going on that you don't see, but you're going to see it soon.

LL
One guy with real helium is Mike Zunino, who can't seem to do anything wrong. What do you think we're looking at next spring? Zunino got a chance to crack the big-league roster?

BJZ
Spring's a competition, you know, and nobody gets handed a job. Nobody's given anything, everything is earned, and Zunino's going to be right in the middle of one of those battles. He's going to be given the same chance as anyone, and then we'll just see how things shake out. I mean I'm not going to close the door on anybody, that's what spring is all about. If he puts in his work, we'll be -- it's going to be Zunino's first camp with big leaguers. It's going to be a good experience for him. At the end of the day, we're real high on the kid, and we think he's got a heck of a future.

LL
I mean

LL
I mean is there a reason we even do these

BJZ
probably

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