Reruns, Retreads, and Rejects, Part I

ZduriencikThere has been a lot of talk lately about this man. Do you know who he is?

His name is Jack Zduriencik.. does that help?

I didn’t think so.

He was the Pirates Director of Scouting from 1991 – 1993, he lives in New Castle, and he is currently the Brewers Director of Amateur Scouting – one of the most respected in the game.

He’s getting a little mention in some media circles to become the Pirates new GM because he is said to have turned the Brewers farm system around over the last 8 years that he’s been there.

But when he was with the Pirates, the only names you’ll recognize he drafted were Jason Kendall and Tony Womack.

In fact, his drafts with the Pirates were so poor, 13 of his top 18 picks where high school kids (he continues to draft 15% more high school players even today) and only one of those players ever had a successful career – Kendall.

And I suppose it goes without saying that he is better known for who he didn’t take those years than who he did since he missed Todd Helton, Scott Rolen, Johnny Damon, Matt Clement, and many others. Of the six first round picks Zduriencik had those three years, four of them didn’t even sign with him and those four never even played baseball from that point forward.

Needless to say, his drafts were pretty much a bust for the Pirates.

Believe it or not, the Zduriencik for GM rumor seems to have started from John D’Abruzzo who not only writes for the New Castle News, but used to write for Nutting’s Pirates Report. Tracy Ringolsby also had an article matching Zduriencik as a possible GM candidate for the Pirates the day after D’Abruzzo’s, I believe, and Bob Smizik with the Post-Gazette had written praising Zduriencik.

For those of you not familiar with the Pirates Report, it was an official Pirates fan publication that had offices in PNC Park and Steve Novotney was the Editor. Novotney is said to be related through marriage to the Nuttings and a close friend of John Perrotto who was also a Pirate Report writer as was D’Abruzzo. The Nuttings – not the Pirates, mind you – control the Pirates Report domain name and they assisted with the publication’s publishing.

But McClatchy ran Novotney out of his PNC office with a stink during the 2003 season and there were a lot of conspiracy rumors floating around afterward. One of the rumors suggested Novotney had been spying for the Nuttings over the years. Whether that is true or not I haven’t a clue, but corporate espionage is nothing new – even internally.

And as we now know or have heard, the Nuttings took over the organization during 2003 after a power fight and then shut the Pirates Report publication down with the fans having gone without ever since. So I have to assume Zduriencik has some connection to Nutting along the way for D’Abruzzo to even bring his name out of the bag like he did.

Kudos to Zduriencik for a job well done with the Brewers but he’s the last man on earth we need as our General Manager, in my opinion.

Giving Zduriencik credit because the Brewers ownership signed the best picks available in the draft each year, hired competent development men, and got lucky along the way with his toolsy high school draft picks is simply ridiculous. That’s about as silly as saying it’s all Brian Graham’s fault the Pirates farm stinks.

Plus installing a man with Zduriencik’s lack of experience and credibility as a GM while nearing retirement age just doesn’t cut it in my book. I can see Roy Smith and Pete Vuckovich gritting their teeth over that statement, but oh well.. that’s how I feel. Nor do I want to see Nutting hire another Intern like Littlefield who had to learn on the job and got manhandled doing it.

If the Nutting’s like Zduriencik that much, maybe they should be practical and think about him as a candidate for Director of Scouting? At least that makes sense.

And why do the Pirates keep getting joined at the hip with management on their last leg? Half of Tracy’s coaching crew said they were retiring after their stint with the Pirates so what exactly is their motivation to excel? That’s all we need — more yes men around this place.

I have a couple of posts related to the Pirates CEO search planned over the next week or two that I think you’ll find very informative so stay tuned.

Update: Follow this link to Part II.

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