Editor's note: Hot Stove U. is a six-week course devoted to higher learning, a series consisting of 30 need-to-know topics for 2010.
There was a time in the early 2000s when MLB GM positions seemed to be reserved for the young; at the end of 2008, though, the Seattle Mariners -- coming off a 101-loss season -- went against the grain. They hired Milwaukee Brewers scouting executive Jack Zduriencik, a baseball lifer in his late 50s who had made his name by evaluating talent with his eyes as opposed to spreadsheets. Within a year, the Mariners, at 85-77, had a winning record.
With even more aggressive moves this offseason (such as the acquisition of starting pitcher Cliff Lee), many see the Mariners as a long-term player in what suddenly has become a highly competitive American League West. A victory for the scouting side? The end of an era for the whiz kids? Let's dive in.