The unofficial report was already fanshotted, but now we have confirmation:
Exec. VP & GM of Baseball Operations Jack Zduriencik has agreed on a multi-year extension of his existing contract with the club.
Zduriencik was brought in on a three-year contract back in the fall of 2008. That contract is about to expire, and from the sounds of things, the Mariners are pleased enough with him and his bevy of assistants that they'll bring him back for 2012 and beyond. Which isn't to say that Zduriencik couldn't still be let go at any time, since GMs don't get tenure, but one gets the sense that Zduriencik would have to really screw up for next season to be his last. The organization looks to be making a commitment.
This news didn't grab me by the eyeballs when I saw it on Twitter, mostly because I never believed the Mariners would change course. I hadn't written about Zduriencik's job security over the summer because I was never concerned about it. That said, the Mariners are in last place for the second year in a row, and a lot of fans have talked about whether a new administration was needed, so this answers that. Or actually, this doesn't answer that. This doesn't answer the question of whether or not a new administration is needed. It does answer the question of whether or not a new administration is going to be brought in. It will not, for now.
Obviously, we see the Zduriencik front office as being a little less shiny now than we did early on. There have been mistakes. There's Chone Figgins. There was the whole Josh Lueke thing. There was the questionable Brandon League trade. There's less blind faith on our part that the front office won't get anything wrong.
But the real matter isn't whether the Jack Zduriencik front office is perfect. No front office is perfect. The real matter is whether the Jack Zduriencik front office is good, and good enough, and I think that it is. The Mariner higher-ups clearly agree.
I don't think that I need to spell out for you just how much more young talent there is in the system now than there was when Z first came on. When Z first came on, the Mariners were kind of a wasteland. Nowadays, I wouldn't say they have more young talent than any other organization in baseball, but they're near the top of the list. They've traded well, they've drafted well, and they've developed well.
That isn't all Zduriencik, but it's Zduriencik and his assistants, and if you remove the former, you lose most, if not all, of the latter. Not only is Zduriencik a smart guy, but he works with a lot of smart guys, many of whom he himself brought in.
Young talent isn't all that a team needs to succeed, of course, but young talent makes for the foundation, and the Cliff Lee trade shows that Zduriencik isn't afraid of making a huge splash for a veteran star when the opportunity presents itself. The Mariners are presently obsessed with hoarding youth, but that's because they need youth, and if and when they return to greater relevance, there's no reason to believe that the front office won't be able to make a corresponding adjustment.
The Jack Zduriencik front office has its flaws. More flaws, probably, than some. But it has fewer flaws than most, and the bottom line is: do you trust these guys to guide the Mariners to better days ahead? I do. The Mariners do. Our minds might be changed down the road, but there was no good reason to make a switch now, and I look forward to seeing how this plan comes together. As much as my sad little heart can believe, I believe.