I’ve been a critic of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik.
Actually, I’ve been more of a voice of reason about him.
While he was continually being referred to as a “genius”, I tried to provide pause to that silly appellation. He’s not a genius; he’s not a moron. He’s a baseball GM who’s made some good moves (drafting Dustin Ackley); some bad moves (Chone Figgins); some morally repugnant decisions (Josh Lueke; firing/blaming Don Wakamatsu); some of questionable tactics (the sleight-of-hand machinations in trading Cliff Lee); and some that made sense but didn’t work (Milton Bradley).
As Baker points out, the idea that Ichiro should be placed in the same category as Derek Jeter was with the Yankees is nonsense. But I’d go a step further than Baker—the Mariners not only shouldn’t extend Ichiro, but they should see if they can trade him this winter.
Never mind the difficulty in finding a taker for Ichiro and his contract ($17 million for 2012) and that the player is probably not going to accept a trade anywhere; they should try because he’s pretty much used up his value to them on the field and needs to go for the good of Ichiro and the Mariners.
Could Ichiro be convinced that he would have a better chance of winning if he went to another team? Who knows? I’d say no, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
The question that has to be presented to the meddlers in ownership is this: do you want to have a winning team or do you want to continue on with the Ichiro charade as if he’s an institution along the lines of Jeter?
Ichiro is useless to the Mariners as they’re currently constructed; signing him to an extension beyond 2012 would be a disaster even if he rebounds next season to something close to what he’s been in past years. The days of him being a focal point for the offense (and defense) are over; the team has had him and been bad for six of the past eight years; they’re not going to get better with him, so they should move on without him.
There are trades that could possibly be completed to get rid of Ichiro.
Would they take Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs? Putting Zambrano in a rotation with his countryman Felix Hernandez and getting him out of Chicago, along with the promise of free agency after next season could yield a strong year from Zambrano. I know they’ve been down this road with the Cubs when they got Bradley, but the salaries of Ichiro and Zambrano are nearly a wash.
I doubt Ichiro could ever be convinced to accept a trade to the Cubs.
To the Red Sox for John Lackey? Lackey has over $46 million coming to him including a bonus if he’s traded, so the Mariners would have to take on a significant amount of cash; but the Lackey-Boston marriage is a failure; moving him to a pitcher-friendly ballpark in Seattle and back to the AL West could return him to his Angels form.
Ichiro might be convinced that Boston is a good place for him to play and his game—defense, singles and speed—would be useful for the Red Sox because they, unlike the Mariners, have people to drive Ichiro in. The change of scenery might wake his bat from the stagnation that he’s experiencing with the woeful and rebuilding Mariners.
The Mets for Jason Bay? Again, they’re taking on money, but Bay’s only guaranteed $32 million through 2013. Bay has a full no-trade clause, but my guess is he’d waive it to get out of New York; would Ichiro be willing to accept a trade to the Mets?
The bottom line is this: it’s time for both sides to part and ownership is making Zduriencik’s life difficult—almost impossible—to turn things around with Ichiro on the team.
Judging from Baker’s article though, they’re going to again force Zduriencik to do something that’s not going to do anyone in Seattle any good at all. And it’s a terrible idea.