Mariners Insider Blog

Live from the Music City ... baseball's winter meetings open.

If you don't like country music, you probably shouldn't click on any of the videos for the next few days. Cause they will be all country songs. Why? Cause I'm in Nashville, Tennessee for the baseball winter meetings.

The meetings are being held at this monstrosity known as the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center. We are in what as known as Opryland, so there's a chance I may see Dolly Parton and  Scott Boras on the same day. Won't that be special.

Of course, the big question is whether Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik can make a move or two - via free agency or trade - to help the team's anemic offense.  We are going into the fifth year of Zduriencik's tenure as the Mariners GM, and while he has restocked the minor league system, drafted smart and helped revamp the player development aspects, the big league product is still behind. The Mariners have had losing season in three of his last four seasons. And fans - the ones that haven't given up - demand some better results.

From my story in Sunday's paper ...

In years past, there was an understanding and reluctant acceptance of a rebuilding philosophy. Plus, bloated contracts and budget restrictions were recognized hindrances.

Entering his fifth season as general manager of the Mariners, Zduriencik faces a different attitude from fans toward the organization – impatience.

Granted, rebuilding takes time, but after only one winning season in four years under Zduriencik, fans expect a competitive team in 2013.

Zduriencik is in the final year of a two-year contract extension, and he’s facing not only a demand to improve the team, but to add significant offensive punch.

After four years as one of the worst offensive teams in the American League, the Mariners under Zduriencik must add a legitimate bat or two. Marginal past signings like Jack Cust or Russell Branyan simply won’t cut it.

This offseason, with the bloated contracts of Ichiro Suzuki, Brandon League and others off the books, and a reported possible bump in payroll from $83 million to $91 million, Zduriencik is in position to do something he’s never been able to do before.

“We have some flexibility, yes, just because of the removal of some of the contracts,” Zduriencik said. “There’s some room to try to do some things.”

But “some things” might not be a high enough goal. Fans want a headline-maker. They want a recognizable name.

Zduriencik understands the mindset, but it might not be prudent.

“Sometimes it appears the vogue thing is to jump in and do something because you get the headlines and a big splash,” Zduriencik said. “But last year we walked out of (Dallas) and the teams that made huge splashes, it didn’t work out exactly how they wanted. You have to do what is best for your organization in the long term.”CBS Sports Jon Heyman reports from a rival GM something that was expected - the Mariners are talking to all and every hitting possibility. That includes Nick Swisher, Mike Napoli, Michael Bourn and the ilk (Cody Ross, Mark Reynolds) .... maybe even Josh Hamilton.

My gut feeling is that the Mariners do something via trade or maybe lesser known free agents. I'm not sure they are looking to commit six years to Swisher or even four years to Napoli. My gut feeling is that they look at lower free agent hitters or else go the trade route.

But you never know with Zduriencik. Not much is leaked from him.