Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik sat down to chat with fans for the better part of an hour on June 24. Fan questions and Jack's answers are below. Jack_Zduriencik: Hello everyone. I'm happy to be here and I'm open for your questions. Let's get started.
lucasj: How do you get started in a baseball career?
Jack_Zduriencik: Played in the Minor Leagues, coached college baseball and high school baseball. I got into scouting with the Mets in '83. Started as an area scout and just progressed from there.
itsmejon: Are you considering trading for some sluggers?
Jack_Zduriencik: Sluggers are difficult to acquire. It's difficult to say what clubs will do. Some will pursue pitching and some will pursue offense. You gotta keep all your options open. My goal is to improve our club any way I can.
diggerod: How far away from the big show is Josh Fields?
Jack_Zduriencik: Realistically, we'll probably see Josh sometime next year. Simply because of lost time. Josh is trying to catch up from missing all of last season.
uimariner: Hi Mr. Z! I was wondering why Phillipe Aumont was converted into a closer? I believe he can make an impact in the starting rotation in a year or two.
Jack_Zduriencik: Phillipe is a unique case. In our estimation, based on his physical presence, stuff, aggressiveness ... all of our people thought that it was in the best interest of Phillipe and this organization to move him into the 'pen. Phillipe's mentality and his approach to the game is uniquely suited for a late-inning role. We also felt that he could be fast-tracked. It's unusual to take a 20-year old kid and put him in the bullpen, but all of our people viewed this as a good fit for him and the organization. And keep in mind, there's some very experienced Minor League personnel who were involved in this decision.
buhnerman: Wladimir Balentien needs to be outrighted. When will Saunders get the call up?
Jack_Zduriencik: Balentien is technically a first-year player. Should we send him down, we would expose him to being claimed by another club. In Michael Saunders' case, he's a talented young player with a bright future, but keep in mind he's coming off of surgery and he has a minimal amount of ABs in Triple-A this year. We are excited about Michael's future, but in any move that an organization makes, timing is very important for the development and future of that player.
HeLlaS_630: What are your plans for pitcher Brandon Morrow? Is he going to stay in the rotation or go back to being the closer?
Jack_Zduriencik: Brandon is starting tonight vs. the Padres. Hope to see you at the park tonight, by the way.
booxa: We need more LH bats. Have you looked at Ryan Langerhans, currently in the Nats' organization?
Jack_Zduriencik: Good suggestion.
buhnerman: Ronnie Cedeno is not worth keeping around. He is taking time away from someone else. I'm a huge Mariner fan, but you do not have to be a GM to figure a few things out.
Jack_Zduriencik: Ronny's past numbers suggest that he is a much better hitter than he is currently swinging at this point. He is also the only player on the club that can play all of the IF and OF positions. Making him the most versatile player on our roster. He can steal a base, he can run and as we speak he's our No. 1 backup at SS and CF, which makes him a necessity.
laces313: WHAT COLLEGE DID YOU COACH?
Jack_Zduriencik: I coached Austin Peay University in Tennessee. Go Govs!
tt9312: At this point, do you see Junior returning? (hope so!)
Jack_Zduriencik: That will be Junior's decision. He's been great for the young players, he's been great in the clubhouse and has recently had some key hits.
deedeejms: I've heard that Jarrod Washburn is retiring after this season. Is that true? How do you feel about that decision? Any funny stories about him?
Jack_Zduriencik: I've not heard that, nor has Jarrod indicated that to me. My understanding, is that he's very happy with what's happening and that he's enjoying this season in addition to pitching well. Jarrod's a great guy and I love his make-up and the funny stories are too numerous to name.
trak9: How long do you think it will take to sign Dustin Ackley and what position do you think he will play?
Jack_Zduriencik: No one knows, but it would be to his advantage to begin his career sooner than later. If I was Dustin Ackley, I'd be looking at the opportunity here and how quickly he could become a big leaguer.
bbqriblett: What is Endy Chavez's injury going to do to our season?
Jack_Zduriencik: This is a tough loss. Endy brought a lot of energy and excitement to our ball club, as well as being a tremendous person. With every tragedy, it also creates opportunity and we're looking for some players to step it up and fill the void.
freebs27: Thanks for your work so far! It has been a great improvement over last year, and your new direction is encouraging.
Jack_Zduriencik: Thank you for being a fan and supporting the Seattle Mariners. As we move forward, just keep in mind that this is only the beginning. This is a great community with a great fan base in a wonderful area of the country and we've got a very good story to sell.
spadicle: Have negotiations begun with Dustin Ackley?
Jack_Zduriencik: We've had initial talks, but very preliminary and we hope to accelerate this process shortly.
ghosthuntr: With the Mariners only 2 1/2 games out of first, would you consider being a seller before the trade deadline or a buyer?
Jack_Zduriencik: We're looking to improve this club at all times. I think you're always a buyer, but it takes two to tango. We will explore every possible option and make the decisions that we think are best for this organization. jtvkws001: What happened to the plan with Brandon Morrow?
Jack_Zduriencik: What plan are you speaking of? What we intend to do is get Brandon Morrow innings to develop him. We are in the process of doing that as we speak.
tombar: WHAT FUTURE DO YOU SEE FOR BEDARD WITH THE MARINERS?
Jack_Zduriencik: I see a very good future. What I hope for is for Erik to be a strong contributor as we move forward. He's feeling good and we're looking forward to his next start and his continuation to pitch the 2nd half as he did the 1st half. He's an important piece in our rotation.
ndog50: Whats it like being a GM?
Jack_Zduriencik: It's cool. Seriously, I feel a great responsibility to the community, to the organization and to those that I work with to continue to try to improve this organization. I've been in baseball for 26 years and so far I've enjoyed this position as much as any. I look forward to delivering the product that all of you are going to be very proud of.
adbrenner: Can you speak specifically to what is holding back Mike Morse from progressing to the Major league level?
Jack_Zduriencik: We've been very pleased with Michael and what he's done in Triple-A. Like every player, he needs a break and opportunity. We're monitoring everything he's doing, as well as some of the other players in Triple-A. We think Michael is a big league player and as he keeps producing he'll get the opportunity when the time arises.
latahdude: Ackley has a pretty sweet swing, when do you think we will see him in the bigs?
Jack_Zduriencik: So much of this depends on when he signs. We like his swing quite a bit. We'd like to see him with us sooner than later.
msfan21: What is Branyan's future with the club? Are we going to try and extend his contract through next year, and is there any chance we are going to look at trading him?
Jack_Zduriencik: I have not even thought about trading Russell Branyan. I'm very pleased with what Russell has done this year. We look forward to a strong second half. As we move forward, we will certainly entertain Russell as being a part of this club in the years to come. Great guy, good person and good family.
mrinerdrew: Where do you see the greatest need for improvement?
Jack_Zduriencik: I think we'd like to improve our offense. We've made strides with some of our players buying into Don's offensive approach. What I'd like to see is some of our current players producing and stepping it up a notch.
seattlesco: In light of the historical focus on analytics since "Moneyball," how much weight do you put on statistical analysis vs. leaning on a scout to tell you who the best players are?
Jack_Zduriencik: They are both important. Statistics give you a player's history and at times a predictive value. A scout can offer you instincts, intuition and experience. They both work hand in hand.
canuck1040: Will you try to re-sign Beltre or deal him before the deadline?
Jack_Zduriencik: What I look forward to is Adrian continuing to be a contributor to this club. We are in a pennant race and Adrian is an important part of what we're doing and what we hope to accomplish.
hollandfan: I am a Mariners fan from the Netherlands. No question just a fan who watches the mariners on ESPN.
Jack_Zduriencik: Greg Halman is from the Netherlands. He is one of our top Minor League players. Not only do we hope that you'll continue to be a Mariners fan, but hopefully you will have a fellow countryman to root for in the not too distant future.
mac4mvp: Great job with the team in your brief time here already. Any guys in the Minors (pitching) that may be ready for a look up here?
Jack_Zduriencik: We have several guys that could be contributors in the very near future. So much depends on the role that you need of a player, the health of your big league club, as well as the performances of players in the Minor Leagues.
laces313: Would you be able to give me your autograph? I'm 12 years old.
Jack_Zduriencik: It would be an honor for me to sign for you and the others that have asked. Feel free to send me a letter, postcard or item to the ballpark address: PO Box 4100; Seattle, WA 98194
Jack_Zduriencik: In closing, I'd like to thank all of you for participating in this online chat. It has been my pleasure. I hope I've been able to give you some insight into our thinking as well as the direction of our ballclub. It's been an exciting year so far. I can't say enough about how appreciative I am of your support. I look forward to seeing you at Safeco Field. Thanks for all your help!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.