The Mariners will hold a press conference this Friday at 10 AM to formally introduce Jack Zdurenciek as their new GM. It will be our first glimpse into the direction that this organization will head in under him. He has some interesting decisions to make right away. While it is highly doubtful that he will make any clear statements about particulars, his answers may indirectly give us a sense of what he will do. Here are some key things we may get a few answers to:
Manager: As Milwaukee's director of player personnel, Zduriencik did not have to worry about hiring a manager. Now he does. Jim Riggleman has been guaranteed that he will be interviewed, and I would consider it a safe bet that Ned Yost would get a look as well. Surely, Zduriencik will not give specific names, but is he looking for a proven commodity (like Buck Schowalter), or fresh blood, or is there some other factor that Zduriencik is looking for? Personally, I am hoping that he looks for a guy that knows how to work with younger players and instill a winning, team-oriented mentality.
Starting Rotation: By my count, the Mariners have six starters - Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva, Brandon Morrow, and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Who is the odd man out? Given Zduriencik's player development background, and the performances of all those pitchers last year, it could be Silva or Washburn. If either of those men are on the outside looking in, a trade may be in order. Does Zdruiencik already have an idea of what he wants to see, and will he tip his hand at all at the press conference? Hopefully, Zduriencik checks and sees if the Yankees are still interested in Washburn.
First Base: M's ownership is already on the record saying that the team will not make any major free agent signings this offseason. Presumably, that means they will not even attempt to go after Mark Teixeira. So, what does Jack Zduriencik have in mind at first base? Is the answer Lopez at first, with Tug Hulett at second? Perhaps Jeff Clement is the answer, or re-signing Raul Ibanez and putting him at first. Under Zduriencik, Ryan Braun was drafted as a shortstop, but moved to third and eventually the outfield. More notably, Matt LaPorta was drafted as a first baseman and moved to the outfield. Zduriencik is not afraid to move players to new positions, and showed more creative as a player personnel director than anyone in the M's previous front office ever demonstrated.
Josh Fields: What does Zduriencik think of the M's first-round pick? If Jack does not sign him, he gets another draft pick to play with. Surely, Zduriencik scouted Fields while in Milwaukee, so he should know Fields fairly well. I know I would like to see what Zduriencik could do with another high draft pick, so I am hoping he lets Josh Fields go.
Like I said, Zduriencik is extremely unlikely to unveil any specifics. But, he should shed some light on his philosophies. On top of that, perhaps the media will ask questions that he tries to evade or avoid. Between what he says and what he does not say, he should shed some light on what the next few months are going to look like.