By now you've most likely heard the news: Jack Zduriencik will return for at least one more year. Geoff Baker broke the story yesterday, confirming that even though Zduriencik's previous extension was given before the team's disappointing 2013, the Mariners plan to honor it and let him finish what he's started, or not.
Giving Zduriencik a make or break offseason is a recipe for disaster. He knows that in order to keep his job past 2014, he needs to show immediate, significant improvement at the major league level. For him to do so, he'll have to make decisions that are in the best interest of Jack Zduriencik, not the Seattle Mariners. He has to put the Mariners in win-now mode, despite the fact that the Mariners simply aren't yet ready to win.
Expect this to be a wild offseason full of some potentially disastrous decisions. Get ready for the Mariners to throw a bunch of money at expensive free agents, signing them for well market value. Be prepared to bite your tongue when the team trades for somebody like Andre Ethier and absorbs a bunch of his remaining salary, giving up significant young talent to do so.
Jack Zduriencik is not Bill Bavasi, but lately his decisions have been getting more and more questionable. The proposed deal for Justin Upton (Taijuan Walker + Nick Franklin) that fell through was the first warning sign of things starting to sound a little bit like 2008. Now, this franchise is again faced with another general manager looking to save his job. At the risk of opening old wounds, think back to the offseason preceding the 2008 season. Carlos Silva, Erik Bedard. Bavasi still had a year left on his deal when he was canned, but he unquestionably saw that the writing was on the wall before the 2008 season began. His last gasp moves set the franchise back five years. Now the Mariners are presented with another similar offseason, and they've decided that it's a good idea to repeat the Bavasi mistake because it's only fair.
The person making personnel decisions at the head of a team should always be acting in the best interest of the franchise's future and present, placing more emphasis on the former when the team is not ready to contend. When faced with a situation like this, it's best to just make a clean break and start anew instead of forcing a guy into a make it or break it year. Bad decisions are often the trickle-down result of a previous bad decision, and there's about to be some trickling.
There's an ever-present argument that says that Jack Zduriencik deserves to finish what he's started, but why? It's Tom McNamara who's made the best decisions in this regime, not Zduriencik. When you take away McNamara's success in scouting and drafting, what's left for Zduriencik to hang his hat on? A history of questionable trades and unsuccessful roster construction? Zduriencik's pedigree starts to look a lot more blurry, and now he'll be making the biggest personnel decisions of his career without some of the guys who were around for the encouraging part of his regime.
One way or another, this is probably going to be a lively offseason. It has to be, because Zduriencik knows his job depends on it. Those of you who have expressed impatience, that's about to end. For all the wrong reasons.