Seattle Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, saying it required "a brief response," took measures to defend himself and his organization Monday after an article published this past weekend portrayed the club and its front office as highly dysfunctional.
Ongoing interference from Zduriencik, team CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong has ruined the team's ability to succeed, according to a former assistant GM, ex-manager Eric Wedge and more than 20 others with knowledge of the club's inner workings who spoke in interviews with The Seattle Times.
"We have never deviated from our rebuilding plan," Zduriencik said in a 474-word statement published on The Times' website. "We have stayed the course, and we now have a talented group of young players. We are hard at work looking into every option to add to this core group, as we said we would, and we are looking forward to 2014 and beyond."
The Mariners' rebuilding plan was punctuated last week when they came to terms with second baseman Robinson Cano on a reported 10-year, $240 million deal, which likely comes as their most significant luring of a free agent since Adrian Beltre signed with Seattle in 2004.
Wedge, who left the team after the end of the season, repeated to the newspaper that his contract had nothing to do with his quitting, detailing anecdotes that painted the team's brass as out of touch with its players' abilities and needs.
"I'm no great person, but I do care about the right things," Wedge said, according to the Seattle paper. "I work hard to do the right thing. And what's happened here is wrong. What's happened to the players and coaches here is wrong. What's happened to this organization is wrong. It's so wrong. I can't put it any better than that. At some point in time, somebody's got to stand up to them."
Saying "we all want to win as soon as possible," Zduriencik stood by his actions and those of his bosses.
"Everyone in our organization, including Howard and Chuck, is focused on putting a championship team on the field," Zduriencik said in the statement. "We all care very deeply about this team, just like the fans do. We all see when the team is playing well, and when it isn't.
"I've worked for several major league organizations," he said in the statement. "Our upper management has suggestions and asks questions, just like CEOs and presidents in other organizations do, all to be helpful and contribute to the goal of winning."
Joining Wedge in excoriating his former bosses in the article was Tony Blengino, a former special assistant to the GM before being fired in August.
"Jack portrayed himself as a scouting/stats hybrid because that's what he needed to get the job," said Blengino, who came with Zduriencik when was hired by the Mariners from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. "But Jack never has understood one iota about statistical analysis. To this day, he evaluates hitters by homers, RBI and batting average and pitchers by wins and ERA. Statistical analysis was foreign to him. But he knew he needed it to get in the door."
In his statement, Zduriencik again countered Wedge's claims about his motivations for leaving the Mariners. Wedge's contract expired after last season, and he said he wouldn't be returning after the Mariners went 71-91 and extended a postseason drought that dates to 2001.
"Eric approached me numerous times throughout the year expressing his desire for a long-term contract," Zduriencik said. "Even the day before he quit, Eric called a meeting with me and demanded a contract extension."
Zduriencik also sought to discredit Blengino's assertions that the GM was incompetent in the ways of modern-day scouting.
"Our current statistical analysis group is doing excellent work," Zduriencik said in the statement. "Our dedicated staff and the tools they are using are a key component in our decision-making process and are light years ahead of where we have been. I am engaged with their work on a daily basis and very excited in the improvements made."