Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik talks a lot about “improving the ballclub”—in other words, making forward progress, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem at the time. Every move he’s made since his arrival in late 2008 has been with an eye toward making the Mariners fundamentally better than they are today. This philosophy may not seem like anything new, but it’s rare to see someone adhere to it so well.
Z has done something with the Mariners that every blogger/social media manager/newsroom editor/etc. should learn to do in their office: make the most of what you’ve got right now.
The knee-jerk reaction fans always have to a losing season is “let’s dump a bunch of money into marquee free agents” — well look at how well that served the Yankees between 2002 and 2008. It’s easy to look at money as anyone’s biggest asset, but it’s useless if you don’t use it right. And if you aren’t making the most of what you have right now, you can’t expect to change just by blowing your budget.
Z knows this. The Mariners were in trouble when he came in. Moves were made, but most of them were budget neutral or better. The “biggest” free agent signing to date has been Chone Figgins’ $36 million-for-four-years contract — not entirely spendy by modern MLB standards.
I don’t know exactly what checklist Jack Z is working off, but here are some of his tactics I’ve observed that I think could benefit anyone else in any other field:
- Take stock: Know what/who you have that’s good and what’s/who’s essential;
- Know how you know who’s/what’s valuable (e.g. If you don’t know anything about social media, how do you know if your social media manager is doing a good job?);
- Jettison your liabilities/time eaters/excesses;
- If you can’t afford something, see if you can collaborate with someone to drive down costs (in this analogy, the Cliff Lee trade);
- Don’t waste time worrying about that which can’t be changed;
- When a deal comes along that makes sense for you, don’t hesitate.