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Blog/code/work in 2010 like Jack Zduriencik

January 19, 2010
Jack Zduriencik ESPN.com photo search

Jack Zduriencik: Not exactly the most-photographed GM out there.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik talks a lot about “improving the ballclub”—in other words, making forward progress, no matter how small or insignificant that may seem. Every move* he’s made since his arrival in late 2008 has been with an eye toward making the Mariners fundamentally better than they are today. This philosophy may not seem like anything new, but it’s rare to see someone adhere to it so well.

*I know people were scratching their heads over the Casey Kotchman deal, but it’s one question mark in an otherwise brilliant run of transactions. Anyway, I digress….

The most frustrating thing about the Bill Bavasi (Z’s predecessor) era was that it seemed like there was always some guy who we needed to get or some guy on our team who we were just stuck with. Z has all but ejected that whole attitude and done something that every blogger/social media manager/newsroom editor/etc. should learn to do: make the most of what you’ve got right now.

The knee-jerk reaction fans always have to a losing season is to dump a bunch of money into marquee free agents—well look at how well that served the Yankees between 2002 and 2008. Sound anything like your office? It’s easy to throw a wad of cash at a high-end CMS or break the bank on top-of-the-line video equipment. It’s all crap, though, if you don’t know how to use it. And if you aren’t making the most of what you have right now, you can’t expect to change just by blowing your budget.

Z knows this. The Mariners were a disaster when he came in. Moves were made, but most of them were budget neutral or better. The biggest free agent signing to date has been Chone Figgins’ $36 million-for-four-years contract—modest by modern MLB standards. Even then, Figgins was a significant upgrade** over our last third baseman, Adrian Beltre, for not a whole lot more than what the latter would have cost us.

**More context: Stats aside, Figgins was playing for Anaheim, one of our division rivals (some might say our biggest) so we basically upgraded our team and silmultaneously downgraded theirs.

Given all this, it’d be easy to just write Jack Z off as some kind of baseball genius, but in watching his moves over the last several months (closely), I think he’s working off of a pretty handy checklist that I think could benefit pretty much anyone else in any other field:

  • Take stock: Know what/who you have that’s good and what’s/who’s essential;
  • Know how you know who’s/what’s valuable (e.g. If you don’t know anything about social media, how do you know if your social media manager is doing a good job?);
  • Jettison your liabilities/time eaters/excesses;
  • If you can’t afford something, see if you can collaborate with someone to drive down costs (in this analogy, the Cliff Lee trade);
  • Don’t waste time worrying about that which can’t be changed;
  • When a good deal comes along that makes sense for you, don’t hesitate.
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