The prime success story – and it’s a good one – is Kyle Seager, with Brad Miller showing signs of being an above-average shortstop with the bat. But itâs not nearly enough to prop up an offense that is almost odds-defying in its annual tumble to the bottom in virtually all relevant stats. The signing of two would-be studs — Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz – has done absolutely nothing to change that.
Meanwhile, little immediate help awaits in the minors. Keith Law of ESPN this week revealed his updated list of top 50 minor-league prospects with nary a Mariner listed — not even among the honorable mentions. Two recent top picks, D.J. Peterson and Alex Jackson, have both had their struggles this year, and their ascension is on hold.
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It’s hard to see how Zduriencik survives without a revival — and even harder to make a case for him to do so. Through seven years of backfiring player acquisitions and drafts that haven’t been productive enough – not to mention three managers and counting – the eventual payoff has always been promised, but remains undelivered.
Seven years seems like a while, doesn’t it?
It hasn’t actually been quite seven years; Zduriencik was hired in October 2008, so we’re in the middle of his seventh season. His first-round draft picks since then: were Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, Mike Zunino, D.J. Peterson, and Alex Jackson. Ackley, who now seems like a bust, has by far been the best of those guys, with all the rest combining about 3 Wins Above Replacement so far.
But it’s hard to build through the draft unless you’ve got a bunch of truly high picks; only Ackley, Hultzen, and Zunino fall into that category. Of course the problem is that Zduriencik’s other efforts haven’t worked out so well, either.
In his defense, the Royals didn’t really take off until Dayton Moore’s seventh season as GM; in fact, that was last year, when the Mariners played just as well as the Royals. Alas, the Royals are following up their fine 2014 with an even better 2015, while the M’s have backslid. And, again, when you look at the Mariners’ farm system, there’s little reason for optimism.
Stability’s generally a good thing, and there’s a decent case to be made for Zduriencik’s having kept his job for as long as he have. But this season’s making it harder and harder to keep making that case.