UPDATE 1:47: Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers beat writer, wrote this story on Zduriencik for Baseball America back in 2007, pretty interesting stuff in there.
UPDATE 12:49: Ok, so I've been on the phone for the last hour or so trying to get some comments about Jack Zduriencik, who was announced as the Mariners new general manager this morning. There won't be an official press conference till Friday, so I don't know exactly where that leaves us.
I put in a call to the Brewers and general manager Doug Melvin is refusing to comment about Zduriencik's hiring until Friday, following the media and news embargo that Commissioner Selig orders during the World Series.
But I have talked with a few people just about Zduriencik and everything I hear is pretty positive. First thing, they all say is that the guy is first-class person, honest, hardworking and very personable.
First of all, unlike Melvin, who's extremely open and candid about many things, Zduriencik plays things "a little closer to the vest." It's not to say he's going to be like how former GM Bill Bavasi was - totally unwilling to comment on anything and a master of talking for 20 minutes and saying nothing, and coming off totally condescending while doing so - but Zduriencik is just careful in talking about certain aspects and decisions. Nothing to fault there.
As has been mentioned before, his strength has been in identifying and developing talent. The Brewers team that made the playoffs this season was mostly home grown. If you go around the diamond, most of his players like Prince Fielder, Ryan Bruan, Rickie Weeks, JJ Hardy and Corey Hart were all his draft picks.
He's been in charge of the Brewers draft since 2000, and while he's had a few busts - Dave Krynzel as Brewers first-round pick in 2000 - he's hit on more than he's missed.
One thing if you notice though - he does like his hitters. And if he's looking for a hitter, it doesn't matter how good they are defensively at the time - mainly thinking they can teach them defense along the way. Fielder, Braun, Hart, Weeks and even Hardy are far from gold-glovers. So Zduriencik should feel comfortable about inheriting a poor fielding team in the Mariners.
To some people around here, it's surprising that Zduriencik got this job, because he really wasn't mentioned much in the weeks leading up to the decision. However, people around Milwaukee aren't surprised. Their only surprise was that Zduriencik wasn't a GM already. Last year, he interviewed for the then-vacant Pirates GM job. It seemed like a perfect fit because Zduriencik is a Pittsburgh native and a person who has the skills to rebuild an organization. But the Pirates opted for Neal Huntington.
"He really wanted that job badly," a source close to the Brewers said. "If you're looking to rebuild a team, he's the guy."
When he didn't get the job, Zduriencik stayed professional despite the disappointment, never criticizing the Pirates or coming off too disappointed. The Brewers also upped his role this season - giving him the title "Special Assistant to General Manager for Player Personnel." That means that Zduriencik was more involved with major-league level decisions and meetings. He even was part of the C.C. Sabathia trade negotiations.
From the press release ...
SEATTLE, WA - Seattle Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and President Chuck Armstrong announced today that Jack Zduriencik (zur-EN-sik) has been named the Mariners new Executive Vice President & General Manager of Baseball Operations.
"Today is a very exciting day for the Mariners," Armstrong said. "We have spent the past several months looking at a very complete list of potential candidates to become our new General Manager. The individuals we interviewed for the position were excellent. We believe Jack is the best person to provide a new approach and to lead our baseball operations. He has a proven track record of recognizing talent, both on the field and in the front office."
"Jack is extremely well-respected throughout baseball," Lincoln said. "His track record in recognizing and developing young talent in Milwaukee was instrumental in the Brewers steady improvement over the past several seasons. I am very excited about the passion and leadership he will bring to our organization.
"I would like to thank Lee Pelekoudas for his efforts as interim general manager since June 16. He did an excellent job of keeping the organization moving forward." Lee was named interim general manager on June 16, 2008, when Bill Bavasi was relieved of his duties.
Zduriencik, 57 (born January 11, 1951), becomes the eighth full time General Manager in Mariners history. He spent the past nine seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was promoted to VicePresident - Special Assistant to the G.M. for Player Personnel on Jan. 15, 2008. He spent the previous two years (2006-2007) as Special Assistant to the G.M./Director of Amateur Scouting after being hired by the Brewers as Director of Scouting on Oct. 25, 1999.
Following the 2007 season, Zduriencik was named Executive of the Year by Baseball America, becoming the first non-GM to ever win the award.
"I am very excited by this opportunity," Zduriencik said. "Seattle is an outstanding organization with great fans, a great ballpark and an ownership group committed to the goal of bringing a World Series to the Northwest. I believe that working together, we can make the Mariners a model franchise. I am looking forward to getting to work immediately, and developing a plan to reach our goal."
A 25-year veteran in Major League Baseball, Zduriencik worked with four MLB organizations prior to joining the Mariners. In addition to the Brewers, Zduriencik was Director of International Scouting & Special Assistant to the GM for the LA Dodgers in 1999. Zduriencik spent two stints with the New York Mets, beginning his career in New York as an area scout (1983-89), scouting crosschecker (1990, 1994-95), Minor League Operations Director (1996-97) and Special Assistant to the GM (1998). He also worked as the Mets Advance Scout during its playoff runs in 1986 and 1988. Between stints in New York, Zduriencik was Director of Scouting for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1991-93.
Milwaukee's Opening Day line-up this season had eight starting players that came up through the Brewers minor league system, and the Brewers AA affiliate (Huntsville) has been widely touted as one of the most talented club's at any level in recent memory. The Brewers farm system was recognized nationally in 2003 when it was named the Topps' Organization of the Year.
Prior to beginning his work in Major League Baseball, Zduriencik coached football and baseball at Clairton High School in Pittsburgh from 1977-80 and at Tarpon Springs High School in Florida from 1980-82. He coached football and baseball at the collegiate level at Austin Peay State University (Clarksville, TN) from 1975-77.
Jack and his wife, Debbie, have one adult daughter, Kimberly, who is a nurse in Pittsburgh. Zduriencik has a bachelor's degree in education from Cal-State Pennsylvania and a Masters Degree in physical education from Austin Peay State University. Zduriencik is a member of the Pennsylvania American Legion Hall of Fame and the Lawrence County (PA) Hall of Fame.