When Jack Zduriencik completed the deal that landed the Mariners Michael Morse, he was not applauded for his efforts. In fact, the countdown to his dismissal as the Mariner general manager was started or perhaps the clock was just sped up a bit.
The Mariners and their lowly offense needed a power bat and Jackie Z went out and got a power bat. But of course that is not the whole story surrounding the trade, because there is more than one side to every trade. What the Mariners had to give up is of course also a big factor in evaluating the trade. They gave up John Jaso. Now, in theory, that looks okay, in that, this does improve the Mariner offense. Sure they now have one catcher on their roster, Jesus Montero, and he is someone that they don’t want as an everyday catcher. Now, would Mariners fans rather have Justin Upton or Giancarlo Stanton? Sure, who wouldn’t? But Upton would not go to Seattle (can’t imagine why) despite JZ’s best efforts, so you can’t fault him for that. But overall, in the grand scheme of things, are we being a bit too harsh on old Z? I mean maybe he is actually an evil genius. Not every plan or idea that seems bad or “off” ends up being bad down the road, right? Does a little thing called Moneyball, ring any bells?
Yeah, Brad Pitt, er Billy Beane, was met with some pretty strong criticisms when he started his wackadoo advanced stat based scheme. Jeremy Giambi? Scott Hatteberg? An outside of his prime Dave Justice? Fans and critics were not exactly jumping on board and lauding Beane’s maneuvers and cockamamie on base percentage talk. He was making moves and evaluating players in a way that no one else was. And yeah, Beane and that whole cockamamie (boy, I sure do like the word cockamamie), hair-brained scheme of his was eventually the talk of the town and Brad Pitt was playing him in a movie. And I think I speak for most men when I say that having Brad Pitt play us in a movie is the dream. But, enough about Beane, let’s get back to Jackie Z. Maybe, just maybe, old Z has a plan. Perhaps, just perhaps, Zduriencik is an evil genius mastermind. Creating his own brand of baseball…Funnyball (we can work on the name later)!
With the Mariners continually finishing at the bottom of the league in offensive production clearly they needed some good bats. So who does he get? Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Michael Morse. All four do have bats and can swing them, you have to grant that. But in the case of all four players they are not good fielders and as far as the bat swinging is concerned they are, well, how do I put this delicately, past their prime. Also, of the four, only Morales is not over 30, but he will turn 30 this upcoming June. Okay, so here’s what we got- Four players who are 1) outfielders/ first baseman but do not play either position particularly well 2) in, or will be in, their 30s and 3) only one-dimensional hitters at best. To our simplistic mind we cannot look at this and see the brilliant plan that is unfolding in Seattle. It might as well be one of those equations Will Hunting figures out while washing floors at MIT. You want to complicate the equation even more? This is not even counting the players the Mariners already have in place!
Mike Carp? Justin Smoak? Eric Thames? Casper Wells? Michael Saunders? Ever heard of ‘em? Yeah, I know, the possibilities here are endless. Now I don’t like batting average as a telling stat, per se, but none of these players hit over .247 last season with the Mariners. Not one of them got a hit even once every four at bats?! Well, they must have added something else then, right? Like they got on base a bunch, right? Wrong. The highest OBP of the bunch was .312. .312! Of course with averages that low, the OBPs are decent, I guess, if you choose to look at it that way. None of them knocked in more than 57 runs and only Saunders, of this group, scored more than 50 runs. But since no one seemed to generally get on base for the Mariners, RBIs and runs would be hard to come by. Sort of a chicken and the egg thing. So we can’t really see how Funnyball will work just yet. But we can sort of see the shaping of Zduriencik’s plan, can’t we?
So Funnyball ( I will be happily accepting ideas for a new moniker for this) is gonna revolutionize the way we look at baseball and building baseball teams into contenders. Clearly, and I am just going on what I have seen so far, Funnyball is all about stockpiling designated hitter types. I’m telling ya, revolutionary! Think about it! Small market teams are always looking for a way to compete with the resources they have. Building a team around young pitching prospects and good defense? It’s been done. Building a team around good defense and speed? I’ve seen it a hundred times. But, building a team around hitting, and not 1927 New York Yankees hitting, but for the most part, mediocre at best, hitting while ignoring speed and defense pretty much altogether? No one one has had the brass buttons or cojones to be so bold as to build a team that way. Building a roster while basically ignoring any and all statistcal data that is out there. It’s unheard of! No one has done it! No one, that is, until Jack Zduriencik.
So, yeah, it’s easy to mock JZ and say he is a fool that will be out of a job come October, but maybe we should give this a chance folks. The plan just seems so outright nonsensical and ridiculous that there has to be something we’re not seeing, right? Something only Jack sees? There just has to be! There is no other explanation for it. Sure, like most revolutionary ideas that will come to turn a sport on its heels, this will be a wait and see type of deal. You know the old saying, ‘”The Astrodome wasn’t built in a day!” Just don’t come crawling to me, saying I didn’t tell you so, when you are curled up under the covers reading the Funnyball chapter “The House That Ibanez Built”, waiting for Funnyball the movie (starring Paul Giamatti as Jack Zduriencik) to come out. Cause I will be hanging with JZ cracking a few Pike I.P.A.s and laughing at all of you who choose to live in ignorant bliss rather than seeing this idea for what it will prove to be…sheer and utter brilliance.
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