Can you blame him? It’s not like Jack Zduriencik has to try very hard.
The new general manager of the Seattle Mariners has spent the last few months attempting to put a heavy layer of whiteout over all of ex-GM Bill Bavasi’s mistakes.
Like the decision to pass up four Major League starting pitchers (one by the name of “Lincecum”) in the 2006 MLB Draft for a glorified relief pitcher (Brandon Morrow) with the No. 5 overall pick.
Or the selection of 2008 first round draftee Josh Fields, a closer out of Georgia, who just signed with the ballclub one month ago.
And now, just yesterday, another chapter of the Bavasi Failures was penned. Zduriencik and the ballclub announced that 2007 first rounder Phillippe Aumont would, like Morrow before him, be relegated to the bullpen.
Three consecutive first round picks, each one a relief pitcher.
Talk about bad decision-making.
None of this is Zduriencik’s fault, of course. The new GM merely played the hand he was dealt, and what he was dealt wasn’t pretty.
Morrow and Aumont are two big bodies that have had control and injury issues. Both appear to be starting pitchers to the naked eye, Aumont standing 6’7″, Morrow 6’3″.
However, neither one has been able to allow his physicality to overcome his health. That has meant struggles for both players while starting games, forcing each one into a reduced role as a reliever.
Fields’ draft selection was a different story. The Mariners’ simply took the best player available with their pick, and he happened to be a reliever who is near-Major League ready. Had the team known that both Aumont and Morrow would be in the mix for late-inning pitching, as well, they may never have drafted their future closer in Fields.
No matter what becomes of Fields, Morrow, and Aumont as a triumvirate of super-relievers, we can label the back-to-back-to-back Bavasi draftees as a failure, regardless.
First round picks are meant to be franchise cornerstones, not supplementary additions to your bullpen corps. Bavasi, et al, obviously didn’t draft two-thirds of these players with the intention of their becoming relief pitchers, but the end result is they didn’t do enough background research to warrant the Morrow and Aumont selections in the first place.
Morrow, for instance, was a starter for only one season at the University of California before being drafted with the No. 5 pick in 2006.
Aumont was labeled a risk, albeit with plenty of “upside,” when he was taken at No. 11 in ’07.
Bavasi’s scouting failures were a result of his inability to embrace baseball’s new-school approach to research, namely “Sabermetrics.” While many teams now rely just as heavily on statistical analysis of players, in correspondence with the old-school visual reports, Bavasi simply let his eyes do the work, picking out the prospects who passed the looks test without garnering background information on their histories. This 2008 USA Today article serves to further illustrate Bavasi’s shortcomings as a scout and a leader.
Jack Zduriencik hasn’t found all the answers just yet, but at least he’s acknowledging the questions. This ballclub may not be destined for stardom for years to come, but with a realistic braintrust in charge, we can faithfully put our hope for a brighter future in the hands of the team’s brass.
Something that was absolutely impossible with Bill Bavasi at the helm.