In honor of Gregg Zaun’s time with the Orioles, I’m going to add “Bring His Z-Game” to my general Orioles lexicon*, indicating a usually under-appreciated player’s good performance (ex. “Hey, I almost forgot X was on the team but he sure brought his Z-Game yesterday with his 2-4, HR performance”). Also applicable to a well known good player’s outstanding performance (ex. “Nick Markakis brought his Z-Game today, hitting 3 home runs”). And so now I’m in search of someone the Orioles can acquire in an effort to have a player that can bring his Z-Game in the classic sense.**(***)
* An incomplete list of these types of terms, that could certainly be expanded in the comments, includes:
Pulling a Ramon Hernandez: A catcher reacting to a ball in the dirt by lazily sweeping his glove towards it rather than getting his body in front of it – usually resulting in the ball getting by him. Sometimes known as the “ole”.
A Melvin Mora (at the plate): Laying down a bunt/sac bunt in the 3rd inning for absolutely no reason.
A Melvin Mora (running towards first-base): Diving into first on an infield grounder despite it slowing you down, for absolutely no reason.
A Melvin Mora (general baserunning): Taking a completely unnecessary, high-risk/low-reward, chance on the bases. Bonus if it looks like you forgot what you were doing half way through the play.
Possible New Addition? A Melvin Mora (clubhouse): Complaining of a lack of respect/playing time despite not being very good.
(We still love you Melvin! You’re just a very… unique, person.)
A Kevin Millar: A first-baseman possibly taking his foot off the base early when receiving a throw from an infielder. (I guess that might help with close plays?)
A Jack Cust: Taking an awkward spill while running the bases. Usually results in an out, unless the runner is very lucky.
A Brian Roberts (at the plate): Turning your back on a pitch that’s clearly a strike to make it look inside.
Possible New Addition? A Brian Roberts (on the bases): Stealing third-base, easily.
** One of the first players I remember wanting the team to acquire was Ben Zobrist, .400 OBP shortstop in the Houston Astros minor league system. If the O’s had done that, then they would now already have their Z-Man – one who’s currently putting up a .293/.406/.562 line in Tampa Bay. And thus, with the O’s current Z-Man Gregg Zaun going to the Rays and me being on the lookout for a new player to take up that mantle, the circle of pretend transactions and arm-chair GM’ing is complete.
*** I Pozterisked the Pozterisk to congratulate Joe Posnanski on becoming the new senior writers at Sports Illustrated. I don’t know him personally at all, so I very little basis on which to say it, but it couldn’t have happened to a better person. Yaye, Poz!
The simplest option would probably be to wait for 2007 draft-pick Richard Zagone to make it to the majors. He currently has a 5.89 ERA in A-Ball though, and likely profiles as just a reliever. There’s also 18 year-old second-baseman Alexander Zorilla (who conveniently steal Ben Zobrist’s nickname by virtue of it being his actual name). I’ve never heard of Zorilla, but he hit .226/.343/.316 in the Dominican Summer League for the O’s.
Zach Zaneskiis an interesting candidate. He has the double Z’s going, he’s a catcher, and he’s hit a very Zaun-like .243/.333/.351 as a 23 year-old in A-Ball for Texas this year. We may have a winner.
Nelfi Zapatais an 18 year-old catcher in the Mets system, hitting .286/.358/.429 this year. He was selected in the 19th round of this past draft.
Jonesy Zarraga is a 17 year-old outfielder in the A’s system, hitting .205/.340/.377 this year. There might be some confusion with Adam Jones over the Jonesy thing though.
Shawn Zarraga is a 20 year-old catcher in the Brewers system. He’s only hitting .222/.336/.256 this year, but he did put up a .300/.432/.436 line last year.
In general, I tried to limit myself to position players. It seems a little strange to have the Z-Game being brought by a pitcher, but I’ll make an exception for knuckleballer Charlie Zink. He’s already 29, but that’s a baby in knuckleball years, and he’s wasting away in the Red Sox system behind 85 other pitchers.
Adam Zornes (more Adam Jones confusion) is a 23 year-old catcher in the Padres system, hitting .194/.299/.400 this year in A-Ball.
Mike Zuanichis hitting the crap out of the ball (.356/.492/.711) in A-Ball this year for the Rockies. The 22 year-old was drafted in the 28th round last year. As a first-baseman, he’s more likely to be over-rated than under-appreciated (unless, of course, he plays great defense). Wouldn’t mind having a 1.203 OPS in the O’s sytem though.
So that’s pretty much it. I suppose a Zink-Zaneskiis battery would be the dream. If the latter had a good day at the plate and the former got a win we could say that the Orioles as a club brought their Z-Game.
So long, Gregg Zaun. You will be missed. (Unless – by some crazy miracle – the O’s get a legitimate prospect back in the trade.)
[I don't know how exact it is because I didn't keep count, but it seems that amongst position players whose last names start with Z, the catching position is very disproportionally represented. Somebody have nothing to do and want to look into that for me?]