What a difference a year makes.
Last August it was learned that the Mariners had quietly extended general manager Jack Zduriencik's contract through the 2014 season. No announcement was made and at the time they were slow with confirmation that the deal had indeed been done, citing club policy of not commenting on contract situations.
On Tuesday, the Mariners announced that Zduriencik and the club have agreed to a multi-year deal.
"Since Jack took over after the 2008 season, we have been building toward our ultimate goal, which is to win the World Series. We believe, with the efforts of Jack and his staff, we are now well-positioned as an organization to be a contender for many years to come," team president Kevin Mather said in a press release.
"It's well deserved," manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I think Jack has done a tremendous job of putting this club together, making the necessary acquisitions to make us better. I just think he had done a tremendous job all around."
Again, what a difference a year can make. McClendon hinted at this when asked about his relationship and communication with Zduriencik.
"We talk every day on a lot of different subjects and we're probably as dysfunctional as dysfunctional can get," McClendon said with a quiet chuckle, referring to what had reportedly become a strained relationship between his predecessor, Eric Wedge, and Zduriencik.
"It's a pretty good relationship."
All signs would point to this as the two are often seen talking together, be it on the field or in McClendon's office at Safeco Field. This doesn't mean that things are always sunshine and lollipops, however. McClendon never expected it to be. It's the nature of the relationship in this business and the ground rules were set early.
"When you talk about dealing with someone on a daily basis, the first thing you need to do is to is agree that sometimes you are going to disagree to make your organization better," McClendon said. "It is not always about 'I love you' and 'you love me.' There are some days where he leaves this office with a Band-Aid on his head other days I leave with a Band-Aid on my head. Our relationship is one of mutual respect. I think he is tremendous at what he does and I hope he is proud of the job I have done for him."
The team, as it is currently comprised, seems to have the stamp of both the general manager and manager. There are key players who have been developed by the organization and key veterans – the kind of veterans that managers trust – that have been brought in. The result is a team that is in contention for the postseason. Both sides are focused on the present but also keeping an eye on and out for the future, according to McClendon.
"The manager should have that big picture in mind as well," he said. "I try to manage with a hand on the now and a hand on the future. I think that is just the right thing to do."
With the team playing well and manager and general manager on the same page, McClendon pointed out that what we are seeing right now with the team on the field may just be the tip of the iceberg.
"This is one of the finest farm systems in all of baseball," he said. "We're tremendously talented in the middle of the field. We have some tremendous arms and certainly some really nice bats are coming at the lower levels. I'm excited about what the future holds for this club. I said it in my initial press conference: this is a golden era for the Seattle Mariners and it is only going to get better."