New Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik isn't playing by the books in his new job, and why would he? He inherited a veritable scrap pile of a team that, for some reason, had high hopes for success in 2008 but ended up crumbling like a house made of taffy and dog biscuits. His predecessor Bill Bavasi did the team no favors with his bizarre trades and free agent signings. The team ran through two ineffective managers after erstwhile Bee Jay Mike Hargrove left Seattle high-and-dry in the middle of the 2007 season.
Worst of all, the newest M's beat writer Geoff Baker seemed to be on the verge of self-immolation with every blog post. Surely Zduriencik would go out of his way to ensure his new managerial hire could cheer up the city, the fans, and the sadsack beat writers!
With the hire of Oakland A's bench coach Don Wakamatsu, he's well on his way to cheering up the sports columnists. The Post-Intelligencer's Art Thiel wrote a jolly column today about Zduriencik's super-careful search for a new skipper, and mentioned the rookie G.M.'s preference for deep background checks. Heck, if John McCain had Zduriencik on his staff to do some hardcore veep vetting, he might have only lost by three points.
To check out Wakamatsu, he upgraded the vetting to include not just past employers, but his former teammates from 25 years ago at Arizona State University. He also called up clubhouse men at his earlier employment stops.
Like college guys, the clubhouse workers see all aspects of personalities, including the dark side's back stabbing, undercutting, fighting, sloth, avarice and the remaining deadly sins, plus fresh ones. If they give a thumbs up to a candidate, it's far more valuable than scuttlebutt offered by five scouts and 25 sportswriters.
So let this be a lesson to you college kids out there. Don't be a dick to your friends, or else they may one day prevent you from being manager of the Seattle Mariners. Actually, that might be a good thing to avoid, so go ahead and leave an upper-decker in your buddy's turlet down the hall.
I wish the best of luck to Zduriencik and his newest employee, Don Wakamatsu. You've both inherited a real sticky situation in Seattle, but luckily, you play in the American League West where the competition is by no means insurmountable. Sure, competing in 2009 is simply out of the question with all the overpriced spare parts you're saddled down with, but if you eliminate the junk and let the youngsters get some experience, 2010 might be a good year to get back above the .500 mark.