Before the 2014 season, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik had had a rough going as a participant in Seattle’s front office.
The 2009 season had been the most successful season for Zduriencik with the Mariners going 85-77.
From 2010 to 2013, however, it became a four consecutive string of losing seasons. Of those four seasons, Seattle lost more than 90 games (2010, 2011, and 2013 the aforementioned seasons).
This automatically put Zduriencik on the hot seat and if a successful 2014 campaign wasn’t in order, the GM could have very well gotten the chop.
Fortunately for the General Manager, in what is believed to be a miracle turnaround for the Mariners this season, the team has begun to win - and win big.
Standing at 72-59 as of August 27, the Mariners have won more games than they have in three of the past four seasons. Even though they are in third place in the American League West, the Mariners are still one of the better teams in baseball right now.
This has led to the Mariners generously giving a multi-year contract extension to Zduriencik based on his efforts in 2014 and in the offseason, according to CBS Sports.
To their credit, Seattle is competing with the likes of Angels and A’s, who are two of the best, most competitive teams in their division and the majors.
What’s the reason for Seattle success this season?
The bold but substantially smart moves made by Zduriencik. The first biggest move came with finding a new manager, which they did with Lloyd McClendon back in November of 2013.
The Seattle skipper has become a sleeper pick not only for Seattle’s accomplishments but also for being in the running for manager of the year in the American League.
Based on his past track record as a manager, McClendon was a risk worth taking for Zduriencik.
The next month followed with the largest splash in the free agent market and an unreal and surprising move made by the M’s.
In December 2013, the Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a 10-year deal worth $240 million. Like McClendon, Cano has proven his worthiness as he leads Seattle in most of their hitting categories and providing an All-Star status.
Cano’s numbers are as follows and continue to improve as the season is close to coming to a end: .326 batting average, 12 home runs and 71 runs batted in. It's Robinson’s highest batting average since 2006 when he batted .342 that season.
Another quality signing came with acquisition of free agent closer Fernando Rodney, who before inking with the Mariners closed for the Tampa Bay Rays.
He has also proven to be a worthy asset in the Mariners bullpen, posting a 2.19 ERA even with a 1-5 record. Rodney has also brought the strikeout totals to a high range, striking out 62 batters in 53.1 innings pitched.
It’s uncertain if and how the Mariners will make the playoffs, as they are currently in the thick of an AL wild card race with the Tigers and Yankees. Zduriencik has made an incredibly positive mark on Seattle’s aim for consecutive winning seasons, which the Mariners front office foresaw in their future as an organization.
One things for sure, if Seattle goes at the pace they’re going this season in upcoming years, Jack Zduriencik will be a happy man. Because for now, his seat is cool.