Personal Note: Sorry for the extended hiatus here. I’ve been working on a huge series (the technical term is “humungo”) which I have not finished, but it will have graphs and important-sounding words like “correlation” and “humungo.” And had a couple of days of back-to-school related dorm move-ins and the like.
In case you were wondering.
The picture is from an article we did a few months back called “Jack 1 and Jack 2” (which is here).
We also had one on Jack Z as “strategic negotiator” (which is here).
The gist of our view is:
- When Z first arrived, I believe Tony Blengino had him convinced that (1) a team could not win in Safeco Field without left-handed hitters with high on-base percentages, (2) hitting the ball in the air was death in Seattle, and (3) therefore, defense was essential.
- Thus arrived Chone Figgins, Endy Chavez Round 1 (when he was expected to be something of a regular), line-drive hitting Mike Carp, Franklin Gutierrez for his glove, Casey Kotchman, LH-oriented Justin Smoak, etc.
- The result in 2010 was an offense that was last in the majors in OPS … by 28 points! Astros 29th at .665, Mariners 30th at .637! Ichrio, Figgins and Kotchman were all among the least likely to hit fly balls.
- But while Saber-Z (the thinnest part of the Z-stew) was off to that massive false start, Scout-Z (the heartiest part) was at the head of Tom McNamara’s crew that was restocking the empty pipeline, nabbing Kyle Seager, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, Nick Franklin (flipped to Austin Jackson, of course), and an endless supply of relievers with draft picks that are hit-or-miss for most organizations.
- And eventually Scout-Z deposed Blengino and went back to his Scout-gut: acquiring Jesus Montero was the first sign. Finally, it was OK to get right-handed hitters who launch the ball in the air … just look for ones who can rip it with Buhner-level authority (Adrian Beltre notwithstanding, Bone had a .218 ISO in 398 Safeco plate appearances and Richie Sexson had a .227). That project is still ongoing, but Mike Zunino is running point for an emerging group with D.J. Peterson and Patrick Kivlehan soon to follow (maybe Jabari Blash), and Alex Jackson eventually.
- And all along Negotiator-Z was somewhere in between. His worst move was probably the Doug Fister-for-a-fistful-of-air-and-eventually-a-strong-lefty-reliever-in-Charlie-Furbush deal, but, again, I think that was a reaction to the “false start.” He needed right-handed power, and his Scout-gut told him Casper Wells could deliver. He was wrong, and I think the saber-evidence was against Wells (from my own analysis anyway), but Z was right that he needed more right-handed guys who can launch the ball. Fister-for-Wells was a panic move, but one that showed some sense about what was needed to avoid the whole “team-ISO-of-.103” thing.
- And, despite some legitimate griping about his trade-negotiation approach, Z did emerge with a nice-sized win in snagging Austin Jackson out of the David Price deal. Franklin desperately needed to be flipped for an outfielder, and Z ended up with a very good one without giving up anything other than a guy with no role on his roster.
- Overall, the bottom line is this: the franchise is pretty healthy and the only players not brought into the organization in the Zduriencik era are Felix (international free agent during Pat Gillick era), Michael Saunders (2004 draft under Bill Bavasi) and Brandon Maurer (2008 draft under Bavasi). That’s it. Oh, and Nate Tenbrink in Tacoma (also 2008 draft). Everyone else is attributable to Z. (And even Felix signed his long-term deal under Z.)
So is he deserving of an extension? Yes. Sure. He has brought in talent, and that talent is making a real difference. Lloyd McClendon seems to be a strong (though belated) move as well. He was a rookie GM, and it took awhile to get his bearings in some areas, but he knew from the start that creating a pipeline of talent was the most important job … and he’s done that.