For Mariners brass, leadership change means Wak goes, we stay

The general manager explained he was making a change at the top; well, at the top of the field crew, not the front office.
The general manager explained he was making a change at the top; well, at the top of the field crew, not the front office.

"New leadership is needed and it is needed now."

Saying as much at a hastily called press conference at Safeco Field on Monday (Aug. 9), Seattle Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik did not then announce the departures of front-office bosses Howard Lincoln or Chuck Armstrong, much less his own.

"Leadership" meant Don Wakamatsu, the field boss effusively praised after last season's 85-77 season but scuttled a long with three coaches Monday to be replaced by an interim manager from Tacoma.

"Expectations have not been realized," Zduriencik then stated. "I accept full responsibility."

Doing so must mean, one imagines, that Wakamatsu was not responsible for the club's epic poor play, but nonetheless was jettisoned. It doesn't make sense, of course, but Jack Z apparently is too kind (or sly) to indict a man he repeatedly said is (or was) his friend.

The G.M. said no one event this season, such as Ken Griffey Jr.'s abrupt departure or the Chone Figgins shove-fest, was reason for the firing. He said he made the decision during the past week, then decided to do the dirty deed now rather than at the end of the season.

Reason? Zduriencik made vague references to moving in new directions, presumably by allowing Daren Brown, the former Rainiers manager and now the Mariners' interim manager, to continue nurturing young talent from the triple-A club.

"Our fans have been very patient," said the G.M., evidently blind to blog postings and press scrutiny growing coarser as the club has slipped to 42-70.

He also said, "I will make the changes" necessary to get the M'ꀙs to a World Series.

Ahem, hadn't Zduriencik already made a lot of those changes? He acknowledged that he had, during the recent offseason, dealt for personnel he believed would take the ballclub to a competitive level.

But "it all had to fall into place," he explained. "To look around and see so many players having sub-par season is very disturbing."

Brown will be the M'ꀙs fourth manager since June 19, 2008, when John McLaren was scrapped for Jim Riggleman, who yielded to Wakamatsu.

Yet, the GM, in his second year here, insisted, "I don'ꀙt think we'ꀙre back to square zero."

Jaded scribes might have been thinking maybe it's back to less than zero.

Zduriencik seemed to anticipate the reaction when he subtly reminded the assembled media types that "a lot of you in this room" thought the club would be competitive this year. Indeed, lead game announcer Dave Niehaus had said an hour earlier on KIRO radio that he admits he "drank the Koolaid" about the M's positive prospects this season.

Toward the end of the half-hour Zduriencik event, the GM praised his "terrific" bosses and members of the ownership group. He alluded to having to "make a change at the top," then added that he meant the top "of our on-field personnel."

Somehow, many may have thought it was like hearing a restaurant manager explain that he's solved the kitchen'ꀙs poor performance by canning the waiters.


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