But not on a lifetime deal.
Jack deserves a short extension. Two years is plenty. Why? Because he's an above-average general manager who uses good process more often than not, who drafts extremely well, who makes more savvy trades than head-scratchers, whose hiring decisions are no worse than meh, and who has been the recipient of too much bad luck already.
Oh, and his replacement would likely be less competent. So let's keep him.
That being said, it's totally within your right to excoriate Zduriencik for moves that failed. And there have been some mighty failures under the Z Regime.
Figgins. Ackley (so far). Smoak (so far). Montero (so far). Casey Kotchman plus Rob Johnson plus Josh Wilson in the same lineup. Fister-For-Feces. The Morrow Giveaway Project. Jaso-Morse (again, so far). Almost every outfielder who's put on the Mariner uniform has significantly stunk or is finding a way to actively stink today.
Good process has yielded bad results. Unsurprisingly, so has bad process. Losing seasons have piled up. SafeCo's 30,000 empty seats thumb their green noses at the front office every night.
And yet, there are so many good-process decisions that I still trust Zduriencik to make the right move, in general. Just not as a reflex anymore. So maybe "trust" is the wrong word. In Jack We Hope? In Jack We Tend To Express Guarded Optimism? To Jack We Mostly Defer? On Jack We Depend -- Like It Or Not?
Anyway. Here is where I will grant any dissenters five excellent, practically unassailable points:
THE CASE AGAINST Z
1. Jack has made some bad trades. Not just bad in hindsight, but real stinkers at the time. Doug Fister was valuable, young, good and cheap, and you got peanuts for him. Jaso was valuable to a team short on catching depth, and in return you received a guy with negative WAR who can't field his position or anyone else's. Morrow netted you squat, unless you count a few decent months of Brandon League. (You really shouldn't.) And maybe the GM should have known ahead of time that Montero couldn't really catch.
2. Jack's first batch of can't-miss prospects have largely missed, though the book is far from closed on them.
3. Jack has hired some very uninspiring skippers who've failed to win and failed in general to develop talent at the major league level.
4. Jack has a habit of discarding potentially useful talent for nothing and doesn't always do a stellar job of identifying major league talent. The moves that illustrate this point are numerous. If you've read this far, you probably know what a few of them are.
5. Jack is not winning. Bottom line.
Your points are noted. But in exchange, I request consideration for my five excellent counterpoints.
THE CASE FOR Z
1. Jack has made more really great trades than really bad ones. I mean, knock-your-pants-off trades. Lueke for Jaso. Putz and spare change for Vargas and Guti. Oakland Coliseum Plumbing for Cliff Fucking Lee. Cleto for Ryan. (I could add some good trades to the bunch: Vargas-for-Morales, Clement And The Clementines for Jack Wilson and Ian Snell.)
2. Jack's first round of prospects is a work in progress, but his second round of prospects could (could) explode on the scene. Franklin already looks like he belongs in the big leagues. Zunino is here now, maybe to stay, and we'll know a lot more about him once the season ends. None of the vaunted pitching prospects are even with the big club yet. Paxton, Hultzen, Walker, Maurer and Ramirez are all exciting pieces, in various stages of progress. And let's not forget that Miller, Romero and others are on their way, on the offensive side. A reader with more knowledge of the full minor league rosters could fill in more names right here.
Baseball America ranks the Mariners' farm system number two in all the major leagues, behind only the Cardinals. Jack can draft, to say the least.
3. Jack has already provided us with Kyle Seager, plus regular dates with the best defensive shortstop AND occasional hot dates with the best defensive center fielder on the planet. The managers may drive us fans insane from time to time, but the play and the passion on the field can be and has been exceptional, in bursts. Sometimes the best in all of baseball.
Regarding managers, I prefer to withhold judgment on their effectiveness. I liked Wakamatsu and I can't stand Wedge, but I don't think that either one is a particularly good or bad manager, nor that it matters very much if they are or not. Perhaps discussion of the skippers' performance would fit best in the framework of another post.
4. Jack is perfectly capable of finding hidden gems. Aardsma, Perez, and even Ibanez to an extent were all bargains, found on the scrap heap or through obscure trades; those gentlemen showed up, and produced. Again, there are more examples in this vein. Feel free to add them mentally.
5. It's not Jack's fault that certain players unexpectedly forgot how to hit baseballs, throw baseballs, or couldn't get on the field. Figgins shouldn't have fallen off a cliff. Wilhelmsen blew four saves in a month; League did the same thing last year. What the hell, guys? Gutierrez didn't ask for Z's permission to get concussed with a pickoff throw, among other things... so very many other things.
To expound on that point, Jack can see players underperform just fine, and he can see it when guys aren't aging gracefully. Players like Olivo, Rob Johnson, Yuni and Silva were given chances to succeed, then unceremoniously discarded.
Let's go even farther. I'd like to add a sixth feather to Jack's cap:
6. Jack knows who deserves the big money. He extended Felix and Iwakuma, but not Vargas or old Ichiro. He doesn't overpay for bullpen arms. He's good with the pursestrings. He doesn't hand out crippling contracts.
Because the last six points listed outweigh the first five, I'd like to express unambiguous support for Jack Zduriencik to receive a two-year contract extension.
But when I check back in October of 2015, there had better be another winning season in the books.