Ferguson: Mariners extend GM, should Blue Jays do the same?

Scott Ferguson
9/1/2014 11:25:24 AM
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The Seattle Mariners find themselves just a half game out of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, right behind Detroit and Kansas City, who also share the lead in the AL Central.

The Blue Jays are in a more precarious spot, five games back with 26 left to play in the regular season.

The Mariners surprised more than a few people last week when they signed their general manager Jack Zduriencik to a multi-year extension with a playoff spot still hanging in the balance. It's not as though the Mariners have been a "world beating" success under his reign. This is his sixth year at the helm and over these half dozen years, the M's have only had two winning seasons. In 2009, they were 85-77 in Zduriencik's first year. They had four straight losing seasons after that with a high water mark of 75-87 in 2012. Now this year, they are sitting 10 games over .500 at 72-62 and are right in the thick of the playoff fight.

It's interesting to look at what Alex Anthopoulos has done with the Blue Jays over a similar span. Anthopoulos came on a year after Zduriencik and like him, had an identical 85-77 record in his first year (2010). A .500 season and two losing campaigns followed before this year's 69-67.

Both men have had three managers. Anthopoulos inherited Cito Gaston in his first year, then had John Farrell for two years and now has John Gibbons in his second. Zduriencik started out with Don Wakamatsu (who later became a coach with the Jays), Eric Wedge (who either refused to resign with the club after last season or was pushed out) and now Lloyd McClendon.

Over the five years Anthopoulos and Zduriencik have gone head-to-head, the Blue Jays overall record is slightly better at 382-402 to the Mariners 346-436.

A team's attendance isn't solely under the control of the general manager, but it is an indicator of how exciting and competitive a team he has put together. Through this past Saturday or 67 home dates, the Jays attendance was 2,018,981 or an average of 30,134 per game, ranking 14th overall.

On the other hand, the Mariners have drawn only 1,761,546 for an average of 21,747 and they play in a more appealing ballpark. That puts them 25th in the Majors. One other factor the Mariners have to deal with is having a Super Bowl-winning Seahawks team competing for the entertainment dollar.

The payroll comparison is an interesting one as well. When Zduriencik took over in Seattle in 2009, the club paid out $98,904,166 to the players. Today, the M's Payroll is actually less at $90,239,643.

The Blue Jays have seen their salary commitments go from $78,689,537 in 2010 to a franchise record $137,177,700 in 2014. The Jays attendance has been on the upswing as well the past three seasons, going from an average of 20,068 in 2010 to 31,315 in 2013.

Considering the wealth of young pitchers the Blue Jays appear to have now, including Marcus Stroman, Drew Hutchison, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Sean Nolin to name just a few, the organization appears to be in pretty good shape.

Steve Simmons of Sun Media and TSN's the Reporter heard from his sources two weeks ago that Anthopoulos would be back next season and what is rumoured to be the final year of his contract. In light of what Seattle has done with Zduriencik, maybe the Blue Jays should be thinking extension as well.

Playoff Update

The question now isn't whether Oakland can win the AL West, it's whether they can hold on to  a playoff spot period. They have seven players on the DL and have fallen into a 6-14 slide. They're now five games ahead of Detroit and Kansas City and four and a half up on Seattle heading into a crucial series with the Mariners at home starting Labour Day.

Minor Setback

The Blue Jays Triple "A" affiliate in Buffalo put on a great push down the stretch to try and land a Wild Card berth, but they came up just short. The Bisons were officially eliminated on Sunday when they dropped a 4-3 decision at Syracuse. Lefty Daniel Norris, who could be joining the Blue Jays in September, pitched in relief for the first time with the club and hurled two shutout innings while striking out three.

The Bisons went 19-12 in August, their best month in terms of victories since May of 2005. And get this, Buffalo used a franchise-record 73 players this season, and also made a record 238 roster moves.

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