Ten Mostly Inappropriate Questions for Jack Z.
A lot of you guys (and ladies) are lucky: per yesterday’s announcement, not only will you be able to high-five each other all day and all night at the Hot Sexy USSM Event on September 4th, but you’ll be able to talk directly to the man who’s as likely as anyone to bring the very first World Series Championship to Seattle, Washington.
I’m speaking, of course, about Mariner GM Jack Z.
In the comments section of said announcement, reader Chris_From_Bothell raises a legitimate concern, however, about how questions will be posed to the Honored Guest. Chris suggests that perhaps questions could be fielded from the crowd before Jack appears, so’s to — in Chris’s words — “[get] the most out of the time, [have] a minimum # of microphones or presenters, [remove] duplicate questions or rambling speakers, and so on.” All those are legitimate concerns.
I’m willing to argue that Chris’s represents a rather optimistic view of the human race — a view where mere “rambling” is the worst-case scenario for this Q and A period.
While, in real life, I think I’d probably be able to contain myself and play the part of the good citizen, there definitely exists a parallel universe where — shamelessly and without a hint of self-awareness — I use the Event as an opportunity to ask the VIP any sort of question I’d like. Nor do I think I’m unique in this regard: most of us, were we caught on the right day — perhaps with the right amount of fermented beverage in our gullet — might transgress the unspoken rules of such an occasion and ask questions that are inappropriate, uncomfortable.
In what follows, I ask ten questions that the readership would probably be better off not asking — or at least not asking in the way they’re phrased below.
1. This year’s roster was very clearly subject to a great deal of variance. Erik Bedard, Milton Bradley, even Jose Lopez: had everything come together, the team would’ve been hard to beat. As it is, the team is terrible. Question: Would you do it again — i.e. construct a roster that could finish anywhere between 65 and 90 wins? Or has this season taught you to avoid such a strategy?
2. Is Dave Cameron’s pre-season ranking of the Mariners in FanGraphs’ Organizational Rankings — No. 6 overall, in case you didn’t see — is that, as many have suggested, an act of rampant homerism? Or does Dave Cameron maybe have a clue what he’s talking about?
3. Any chance I could serve as your right-hand man? I mean, I see that you’ve got an Assistant GM and a Special Assistant to the GM, but I don’t see anyone in the organization expressly designated Right-Hand Man. I could do that so hard. When do I start?
4. The Ken Griffey Jr. re-signing, appeared to work out as poorly as possible. First, was this something you could’ve predicted at the beginning of the season? (Not that he’d fall asleep in the clubhouse and stuff, but that his performance would be so poor and he’d have so strong a hold over the clubhouse?) Second, to what degree was your decision to fire Wakamatsu directly related to the whole Griffey thing?
5. Regarding Brandon Morrow: Did you trade him because he wasn’t “your guy,” or because there were legitimate concerns about his ability to contribute as a starter? (I guess “little of both” is a reasonable, if unspectacular, response.) Do you regard what he’s done this year as, like, the 90th-plus percentile of possible outcomes for this season?
6. With regard to Brandon League: last year, his splitter was, as Matthew Carruth writes, the toughest pitch to hit, and he threw it about 35% of the time. This year, he’s throwing it way less often, and his strikeout rate has suffered predictably, down from 9.16 K/9 to 6.21 K/9. The xFIPs aren’t that different (3.53 last year, 3.16 this one), but it seems like that splitter is too good not to throw. What gives? Is this League’s choice, or an organizational mandate?
7. I wasn’t joking about that Right-Hand Man thing. What’s that? Restraining Order?
8. How much do you guys — and by “you guys” I mean the Seattle Mariners — how much do you know about measuring/valuing defense? How far off is UZR? Tell us right now… or else.
9. Is there a reason ever to sign a right-handed power hitter for this team, in this park? If “no” — and if it’s obvious to the rest of the league — does that give you a disadvantage when dealing with other teams?
10. What control does the team have over Jose Lopez and his insatiable desire for American cheesburgers?