DANA POINT, Calif. – Jack Zduriencik hit it on the head, predicting nothing of major import would happen for the Seattle Mariners during the general managers meetings here this week.
He backed it up Wednesday with a quick wrapup of his days here:
No, he hadn’t had the chance to meet with agent Scott Boras about the team’s first-round draft pick in June, unsigned reliever Josh Fields.
No, he never talked to all the Mariners coaches from 2008 – men whose contracts expired Saturday.
No, he hadn’t interviewed a single managerial candidate, although he’d taken calls from a few would-be candidates and narrowed his own initial list of 32 – yes, 32! – down to about seven.
And no, the Mariners’ new GM didn’t make a trade, or an offer to either Raul Ibañez or Willie Bloomquist, a pair of Seattle free agents.
What exactly did Zduriencik do here?
“We had a lot of business meetings, met and called a lot of GMs and talked about managerial candidates and players, what they might be looking for, what we might be looking for,” Zduriencik said.
“I’ve put together a nice list, and I’ll talk to (team CEO) Howard Lincoln and (president) Chuck Armstrong (today) back in Seattle. We’ll make some calls, set a few things up and hopefully start the interview process next week.”
While Zduriencik declined to mention names, when peppered with them, he laughed and answered.
On Willie Randolph: “Willie’s cordial, professional. I sat in on the interviews he had in Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago. I told him, I was there when you got your first major league hit with Pittsburgh.”
On Bobby Valentine: “We go way back – we were together on the Mets. He’d be a very interesting candidate.”
On Lloyd McLendon: “I was there when he managed in Pittsburgh, and I was proud of the job he did. We’ve kept in touch, as much socially as anything.”
So, are any of those three candidates in Seattle?
Zduriencik wouldn’t say.
He did say he hoped to meet with Boras before leaving early this morning, and that Fields was, indeed, a priority for him.
“Any first-round pick is a high priority, and whether anything happens next week or in several months, I can’t say because we haven’t talked,” Zduriencik said.
Tony Blengino, one of Zduriencik’s right-hand men, said the right-handed Fields “is an impressive package.” He added: “He’s close, but he’s not there yet.”
Zduriencik did talk to Mariners bench coach Lee Elia, an old friend, and asked him to “hang in there” until a manager was hired and coaching decisions could be made.
“I know (pitching coach) Mel Stottlemyre’s anxious to hear something, and I don’t blame him,” Zduriencik said.
Zduriencik touched base with a lot of teams, agents, and a few players while attending meetings. “No one comes here expecting a deal to be made,” Baltimore GM Andy MacPhail said, “and we’re rarely disappointed – because one almost never gets made. These are business meetings, and something you may mention in a quick meeting one evening might lead to more conversation down the road.”
Zduriencik promised nothing and delivered and, under the circumstances, probably had a good week.
Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is putting together his first staff, and one name he’s pursuing is that of Benny Looper, the director of player personnel who resigned when the Mariners reassigned him to scouting last week. ...One year after picking up Nick Swisher in a trade with Oakland, White Sox GM Ken Williams is offering the outfielder-first baseman in trade. ... Record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez is a free agent, but other closers seem to be getting more attention at the moment. Colorado lefty Brian Fuentes – a former Mariner – has been targeted by the Mets, and the Indians have talked to the Athletics about Huston Street. ... Toronto tried late last season to send Centralia’s Lyle Overbay to Seattle for Ibañez and the Mariners declined. Now the Blue Jays are trying to move Overbay again, but – at 32 – his numbers have been in decline. ... If you’re the Mariners, the most disappointing thing to come out of these meetings was the Angels’ revelation that they had the cash to pursue both free agent first baseman Mark Teixiera and pitcher CC Sabathia.