Ok, I figured we should separate up the posts because the last one was reaching War and Peace-type length. And even though it's my job, I can't always slog my way through an epic post.
Anyway, let's get to what Jack Zduriencik had to say about the day's worth of interviews and the overall managerial search process.
First of all, two more managerial candidates will come in on Wednesday. Don Wokamatsu will come in the morning and Randy Ready comes in the afternoon, and sometime between that Zduriencik has to go to a season ticket luncheon.
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Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the conference call came late, when Zduriencik was asked about whether or not any names could be added to the seven-person candidate pool.
"Not at this time, although I continue to get phone calls," Zduriencik said. "I suspect that it could happen. This list wasn't all inclusive. It's a good starting point. It's a group of guys I felt comfortable with. Could someone else emerge? That's possible."
OK, so this could be taking a little longer than we thought.
As for this evening's re-scheduled interview, Zduriencik seemed upbeat.
"We made up the time," Zduriencik said. "He (Chip Hale) was scheduled to be in here much earlier. We would have gone to dinner afterwards, but we just reversed the plans. We went to dinner first. It was very relaxing and maybe it even worked to a benefit whereas he was a little more comfortable and a little more relaxed then sitting in a formal interview. We did sit around 40 minutes just talking. And we'll meet for a little while after this."
"All in all we both got a really good feel for each other and it worked out very well."
As for this morning's candidate - Joey Cora - Zduriencik also seemed pleased.
"He was impressive, a high-energy guy," Zduriencik said. "He was very well prepared and presented himself in a very positive light. I was impressed with his genuine care for this area and his experiences since he's been a player and as he's been in different roles in the minor leagues and major leagues. And how he's grown and matured and taken from his experiences and has taken a step forward to prepare himself for such a position as this."
As for Cora's association and familiarity with the Mariners having played here, Zduriencik said "it doesn't hurt" but was clear that wasn't a significant advantage over the rest.
"You'd like to have good people," Zduriencik said. "And any time anyone has a relationship with an organization, it could possibly work in their favor. that's not going to be the determining factor by any means. The fact that he does care for this area and this community is very nice to hear, but when the day's said and done, we'll make the decision under the premise the guy we hire will be the best person for this organization at this point in time."
Much has been made about Cora lobbying to get an interview and having White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and GM Kenny Williams call in reference for him. Zduriencik said he was aware of Cora before that, pointing out that Milwaukee isn't far from Chicago in terms of baseball coverage.
"My list was pretty long as you guys well know," he said. "I had a lot of names on that list. Right after I got the job, I began to get phone calls about different people and Joey was one particular guy that I got several phone calls from people not related to this organization. And when I came on board a few people mentioned his name in the office."
One thing that Zduriencik said he must do is not get caught up with the most recent candidates, when there are still some left to be interviewed.
"To be fair to every candidate, you may like candidate A, B, C and you haven't even talked to D and F yet," he said. "You have to be open-minded. This is not any different than scouting. You are out there looking for the best talent and when the day's said and done, sometimes the talent might be the first person you see and it might be the last person you see.
"I told every single candidate that I did not go into this thing with any preconceived ideas. I don't have a cookie cutter on exactly what I'm looking for. Some of these guys, as they speak and sell themselves and present themselves in a positive light, is going to help me. It's going to help me create a little bit more of what I'm looking for. I know what I want. I know what we need. And all of these guys so far have been impressive."
While Zduriencik asks the bulk of the questions in the interview, he was asked if the candidates query him about the direction the team will be taking in the next few years.
"I've been open with them," Zduriencik said. "I tell them we're a little bit open-minded to where we are headed. I present several scenarios to them and ask them how they would handle either scenario. Their responses have been very open-minded and understanding and in some case offered some suggestions that I thought were good suggestions."