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Looking Wistfully At Seattle And Jack Zduriencik

I'll run a traditionally nonsensical Battle of Grass Creek post at some point during this series. It's always special when these two teams get together, as we all know. Really quickly however, I just wanted to get something serious out there:

I'm jealous of what Seattle has and what we missed out on.

When Seattle hired Jack Zduriencik in October 2008, he arguably took over a worse situation than what Dayton Moore inherited. At the very least, they were comparably horrible. No one credible said, "Bavasi left the organization in good hands." Perhaps the Royals that Dayton inherited had greater organizational deficiencies, but we also need to acknowledge that, here in 2010, many of the team's best players are still Baird holdovers.

Zduriencik wasn't a sexy hire, and he wasn't really embraced by the blogosphere/stat-leaning crowd. Contrast that with Dayton Moore, who was a sexy hire in 2006, and who was embraced by just about anyone. I don't mean this arrogantly, but seriously, I think I was the most negative person out there in the first year or so. Even amongst the statheads, the consensus was generally, "well, he's not going to do it our way, but you have to respect the old-school bonafides he has." Rany wrote the Royals chapter in BP 2007 and in general it was incredibly positive regarding the new administration.

Dayton Moore was seen as the best traditional GM candidate out there, dripping with legitimacy coming from the (over-rated, but whatever) Atlanta system. Although Moore threw some people off in some interviews with OBP talk and the rest, but he sent a clear message with the hiring of Trey Hillman, who had found success in the more Angels-than-the-Angels small-ball heaven of Japan.

Unfortunately, Moore has turned out to be a bad old-school GM. He's revealed himself to be stubborn, close-minded, bad with budgets, and many other things. I find it personally annoying that he's anti-stats, but if he was good/great at what he was supposed to be, I could handle it.

Now look at Zduriencik. He has a traditional scouting/player development background, yet he's realized that he can augment scouting with other information. Contrast that to the Royals, who just keeping going further and further away from anything that wasn't around in 1980. Jack Z. setup an entire analytics department, Moore hired a stat guy who wasn't even a stat guy at all, the mysterious Jin Wong. Seattle has shown that you don't have to hire a 32 year old to be forward looking. If anything, the Jack Z experience is ideal: you probably still don't want a pure stats guy as the face of your franchise in the current media environment. Zduriencik is going to be acceptable to the former players on MLB Network and Baseball Tonight.

And the tragedy of it is, where we are now, the advanced stats are on defense, which fits right in with a traditional, 1960s-generation-based, love of low-scoring games, and all the rest. But Dayton just can't adjust, adapt, or change.

Now, who knows what the future holds in Seattle, and if Zduriencik's scouting program doesn't also contribute, they won't win. Nevertheless, they're way ahead of us, who appear to have bad to mediocre scouting and nothing augmenting it.

Here's what saddens me: the Royals did what everyone told them to do, they hired what everyone thought was the best guy available and they promised to open up their wallet up and down the organization, and it did not work out. Oh well, Gil Meche was a great signing for like the first two and a half years of his contract.