Thoughts on Zduriencik
Officially tomorrow, the M's will introduce former Brewers' executive Jack Zduriencik as their Vice President and General Manager.
Here are my thoughts on this selection.
1) Presuming Bob Engle and Bob Fontaine are retained, the M's have pretty much established a trinity of scouting geniuses at the top. This is a good thing. While the new era of baseball has introduced statistical analysis as a valid form of evaluating players, scouting absolutely cannot be sacrificed in the process of implementing stats-analysis.
2) Milwaukee Brewers fans seem to be very disappointed by their loss -- but happy for Zduriencik at the same time. I imagine an equivalent reaction would be felt if, say, Bob Engle were hired away by some other team as their GM. I know I certainly would be in shock and would see the M's suffer if they lost Engle.
3) Zduriencik seems like a safe pick. Enough of the status-quo to not rock the boat TOO much (like a neo-modern saber-GM would) but enough change to appease many of the cynics. I'm not at all surprised that CHowArmLinStrong would pick him.
4) He's very, very, VERY good at analyzing players. A lot of stuff I've discussed with my friends who are more knowledgeable (and more connected) than I am has really affirmed that he will be an asset to this team.
5) Evaluating players, however, is only part of the equation. These players, if they're drafted or picked up on the IFA market, need to be developed. The M's have had some very questionable player development recently, and I really hope this is one area where Zduriencik improves this club. Building a front office around him, too, will be very, very important. While Zduriencik may not have stats-analysis as his strength, I have no idea how friendly he is to the concept. To help the M's get the most bang for their buck -- in building a deep club with cheap backup options for when your plans A, B & C fall through for whatever reason -- they really need to become value-oriented in the stats-analysis sense. Tapping into the scrap heap and freely-available talent pool much, much more frequently rather than spending tomorrow's money just to fill a slot you need to fill with a guy who may not be the best option.
Overall, I'm a little disappointed that the M's didn't completely change direction and hired a more new-school GM. I have a few concerns about Zduriencik that I won't publish on my blog, but they're really trivial. But, considering Lincoln and Armstrong were primarily responsible for this choice, I think Zduriencik was the best the M's could've hoped for. Having a supercharged scouting department (again assuming they keep Fontaine and Engle) will help infuse some much-needed talent into this system. Once the remodelled ProspectInsider is launched, I'm sure Jason will keep busy watching all the players under this new regime.
I'm just curious how quickly this move will translate into success at the MLB level because I'm one of many, many people who are absolutely tired of this franchise being a complete joke...