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Pushing a Giant Baseball Up a Hill and Watching It Roll Back Down Since 2008
Jack Zduriencik’s Yearly STH Letter
August 17, 2012Posted by on
I think I am going to try and post these here on a yearly basis, because they are words of hope for the team, and while I appreciate the fact that Mr Zduriencik and company send these to season ticket holders (it makes me feel all special and fuzzy), I also feel like more people need to see this and focus on the good parts of this year rather than the bad. Hell, I want to focus on the good parts. This was sent out before Felix’s perfect game, but I literally have not had two minutes to sit down and write much of anything here, let alone do a simple copy/paste. I’ve already been to two games this week, I’ll be at tonight’s fleece blanket giveaway (in 92 degree weather! Uh…yay?), and then next Monday and of course next Tuesday’s Supreme Court, which I would strongly urge people to get tickets to, because they seem to be going kind of fast. If you cannot make it though, I will definitely be getting pictures up here for that one. I might even suffer the fashion indignities of wearing those mustard colored shirts, because in our little corner of the baseball world, Felix’s perfecto is the biggest thing that has happened to this organization for a while, and the least I could do is wear yellow.
Anyway, here we go. Lots of positives!
Dear Season Ticket Holders,
As we enter the final eight weeks of the 2012 MLB regular season, I would like to take a few minutes to share some thoughts with you and our other Mariners season ticket holders.
With a team full of young players, we anticipated this season to be a season of “spurts”. Not lost in the ups and downs of the season is the progress that has been made as we continue with our plan to build a championship team by first establishing a solid foundation of a core group of young players.
Eric Wedge and the coaching staff have done a very nice job of developing our players and going through the process of teaching them how to play winning baseball. It is a process and there are no shortcuts to build something that is real and sustainable for years to come.
We were busy last month prior to the July 31 trade deadline, as we talked to just about every team exploring ways we could continue to improve our talent level. Several teams asked about the availability of many of our core group of young players, both at the Major League level and throughout our minor league system, which we considered a testament to the quality and depth of the players we have. In weighing out any prospective trade deals, I just did not feel it was the right time to trade young players for short term fixes. My decision was to stay the course and build as we have said we would, and find out exactly which players will earn the right to be with us for years to come. The only true way to do that was to let them continue to “cut their teeth” in the Major League level now and let the process unfold.
As you know, we did, however, complete three trades involving Ichiro Suzuki, Brandon League and Steve Delabar. In these deals, we were pleased to acquire four minor league prospects and outfielder Eric Thames who came directly to the big league club. The Ichiro trade gives us flexibility moving forward as we strive to execute our plan, and Ichiro will be in the thick of the pennant race with the Yankees. We are certainly rooting for his personal success. His accomplishments clearly place him among the all-time greats of the game. We sincerely thank him for all he has done and accomplished for the Seattle Mariners, and wish him and his wife Yumiko the very best.
In July we also signed our first round draft pick, catcher Mike Zunino, the third overall pick out of the University of Florida. We were also successful in signing nine of our first 10 draft picks and 29 of our top 30 selections. In reference to Mike, our scouts viewed him as the best college player in the draft who plays a premium position…catcher. We were very intrigued with Mike’s ability to hit, catch, his overall baseball talent, but even more importantly, his leadership skills. After the draft, he received a series of post season honors, including the Dick Howser Trophy (national college baseball player of the year), the Johnny Bench Award (top Division One catcher), Baseball America’s College Player of the Year, and the Golden Spikes Award (nation’s most outstanding amateur player). In addition, we had a chance to get to know him personally, and he is the kind of person we want in our organization – a leader with great values and a sense of community. He has not disappointed in his first month as a pro at Everett, and has just been promoted to “2A” Jackson.
I am often asked about the timetable for our prospects to reach the Major Leagues and my honest answer is that each player is on his own timetable. It’s not possible nor is it fair to predict when they will be ready to be successful at the Major League level. There was no way to predict that we would have two players from the 2009 draft (Dustin Ackley, round 1; and Kyle Seager, round 3), one from the 2010 draft (Stephen Pryor, round 5) and one from the 2011 draft (Carter Capps, round 3) already with us in Seattle. As we often say, the players “tell us” when they are ready by their performance on the field. In this process of building we will have occasional disappointments but we will also have our share of surprises as players rise through our minor league system and ultimately become Major Leaguers.
In the midst of this season of development and spurts, there have been some very nice accomplishments that remind us to remain optimistic about the future of this franchise:
- The development and progress of the back end of the bullpen led by young Tom Wilhelmsen, Stephen Pryor and now Carter Capps, all three of whom have shown 100 mph fastballs that will give us the needed “power arms” to help us close out games as this process continues.
- The Gold Glove-quality play at shortstop by Brendan Ryan, who has notably been the best defensive shortstop in the American League.
- The development of several good young bats (Jesus Montero, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Casper Wells).
- Another Cy Young run by Felix Hernandez.
- An effective trio of lefties out of the bullpen (Lucas Luetge, Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez).
- The performance of Jason Vargas, who earned the American League Pitcher of the Month Award in July.
- We should also note the successes of our entire minor league organization as “2A” Jackson, “High A” High Desert and “Low A” Everett all won the first half championships in their respective leagues and will participate in the post season playoffs. In addition “A” Clinton is currently leading the league in second half play, and “Rookie League” Arizona is in the midst of the playoffs. This is all a direct reflection and a testament of our commitment to Scouting and Player Development.
As a season ticket holder, we hope you are enjoying the growth and development of the Seattle Mariners. More importantly we hope you understand the commitment and patience it takes to build and develop our own talent. As painstaking and disappointing as it may appear at times, it is the process that we must go through to build this for years to come. You and our other season ticket holders have been extremely loyal and understanding and we intend to deliver on our promise to build a winning, championship ball club in Seattle. We shall be successful and our patience will pay off with many years of excitement at Safeco Field. As Eric Wedge often says, “We’re closer than you think.” Thank you for your support for what you mean to Mariners Baseball.