Today was the season ticket holder event with new GM Jack Zduriencik. Thanks to Brett, I sneaked in, stole some free food and cribbed some notes on the surprisingly intelligent discourse. Nothing here will be verbatim, but will combine what I felt were key ideas both said and unsaid.
Talent wins. This phrase in one form or another was uttered probably a dozen times and it really seems to be Zduriencik's underlining principle. Above all else, get talented players and everything else will sort itself out.
He mentioned in connection with the managerial search that just because a person hasn't managed at the big league level doesn't mean he doesn't have experience. He went on to specifically talk about coaching and such but I think it's a good indicator again of how he might evaluate talent. It says to me that he's less apt to make a veteran, experience-motivated player acquisition and realizes that experience in the minor leagues counts for something.
He wants to sign Felix long term, but even here mentioned his desire to create a winning team that would make Felix want to stay. In conjunction with a question about Ichiro being moved back to CF, he reiterated that some of the specifics are going to be figured out based on a reaction to what other teams offer. In other words, Zduriencik might not go into a Beltre or Putz trade negotiation saying "we need a LFer" but instead, be more open-ended about it. Made a point of stating that the goal is to fix things the right way. He didn't mention (I thought meaningfully) short or long term. My impression based on that is that he's not committed to a rebuild or retool specifically, but of a "lets make smart moves starting now and when we get there, if we get there" sort.
He talked about revamping how players are developed. Specifically, that each player has their own development pace and they need to be attuned to that. Noted that plate patience has to be preached starting from day one in the organization. Wants to improve the fans knowledge of the minor league prospects as well.
Negated a question about increasing small ball, saying essentially again that talent wins and that the in game strategies are more determined by the club at the moment. In other words, the players drive the strategy, the strategy doesn't drive the player acquisition. Also made a mention without prompting about SafeCo being a tough park on RH hitters, so he at least showed awareness of that, already an improvement.
Wants to really make Seattle a model franchise, in all aspects. Mentioned Tony Blengino in a sabrmetrics view and that they're going to be putting together some researchers to help inform decisions at every level. That more information is better and that they want to be able to equip the coaches and managers with everything they might need.
No on Bobby Valentine and reading (perhaps too much) between the lines, no on Raul Ibanez coming back and unlikely that Fields gets signed unless the signing bonus demand from Boras comes well down.
All in all, it was fabulous. Given the obvious PR needs involved, Zduriencik answered almost every question how I would have liked to hear it answered. I was also pleased with the attendees for asking (on the most part) not stupid questions. For instance, not a single mention of Willie Bloomquist! Only thing lacking was a discussion about defense, but hey, cannot get them all.