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Front Office Takes Shape

Quietly, Jack Zduriencik has been busy at work. Amidst the big free agent and trade rumors, he has set the M's front office structure. Here are the key names and positions:
  • Carmen Fusco, Director of Pro Scouting: Fusco has been a scout for over 30 years, and most recently was working in Milwaukee as a scouting consultant (whatever that means). On Zduriencik's staff, he will be in charge of the professional scouting department. Presumably, this includes scouting of major league and minor league players, as well as perhaps the advanced scouting of upcoming opponents. This is a good fit for Fusco, and given the relative youth in the front office in many areas, it is nice to have someone with Fusco's experience.
  • Tom McNamara, Director of Amateur Scouting: McNamara is one of the two men Zduriencik was allowed to hire away from the Brewers, and this is a very logical fit for him. He has worked his way up the scouting ladder the traditional way, and this is the logical next step for him. Given McNamara's background, he will likely bring a very traditional approach to amateur scouting. That means looking at "tools" more than numbers. Even though I am a big fan of numbers, I also prefer scouting to focus on tools, because that is where a set of human eyes watching a player in person is helpful.
  • Tony Blengino, Special Assistant to the GM, Baseball Operations: This is the most interesting title of these three. Blengino was the other guy plucked from the Brewers front office, and his strength is statistical analysis. Given that, and that his title indicates that he will be a part of all baseball operations (namely draft picks, free agent signings, and trades), it seems that Blengino will essentially head up the M's sabermetric department. I am reading between the lines quite a bit here, but I hope I am right. The Mariners have never emphasized sabermetrics like this before, and the way Zduriencik has organized the front office makes a ton of sense. He has said over and over he wants to collect as much talent as possible, and to do that he wants to collect as much information as possible. By naming Blengino his special assistant, he has consolidated statistical analysis in one place organizationally, instead of spreading it out over several departments, or emphasizing it in only a few. For instance, with this set-up Zduriencik will be given both the traditional tools information about players from his scouting department, but also the statistical profile of a player from Blengino's department. With this setup, the two voices do not really compete with each other - they will both be heard clearly.
I am a fan of the way Zduriencik re-organized the front office. It is noticably different from Bavasi's set-up, and I like the changes. The structure is efficient, but also thorough. Personally are in areas where they should excel. Zduriencik did not re-invent the front office's structure, but he certainly made a system that the Mariners have never used. I much prefer this to Bavasi's structure, which seemed to me more about somehow jamming all his old baseball friends in some sort of role.