Several months ago in this space you may have seen the Baseball Skipper Aptitude Test (BSAT), a semi-tongue-in-cheek battery of questions designed to tease out the thought processes of managerial candidates and identify those who may be a little more forward-thinking. In response to that piece, I received a number of reader requests to develop a similar set of questions for general manager candidates, and the results can be found below for your enjoyment. Coming up with questions for GMs is a lot harder than it is for field managers, since the job of the GM is far more varied, far more important, and in most cases far less visible. Making it even harder is the fact that GMs as a group, at least to my untrained eyes, seem to be making fewer and fewer cringe-inducing decisions than they used to, reducing the number of obvious targets for gentle ribbing in the questions. I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.
The Baseball General Manager Aptitude Test (BGMAT)
1. Near the end of spring training, a veteran non-roster outfielder with a career batting line of .260/.300/.400 is hitting over .450 and leads the league in home runs, while the rookie you had penciled in to start in left field has hit reasonably well, but not superlatively. Your roster is constructed in such a way that both players cannot go north with the big club. What do you say at the press conference when announcing the team’s final roster?
- “Vance certainly earned a spot with his play this spring, so we’ve decided to send Thor back to Shelbyville to work on a few things.”
- “Vance certainly had a nice spring, but the 3,000 previous big-league at-bats that say he’s not much of a hitter speak a lot louder than the 75 at-bats against a parade of sub-par pitchers in Arizona that say he has suddenly become Roberto Clemente. We’re hoping Vance can stick around in Shelbyville to give us some organizational depth, but Thor is our guy going forward.”
- “Vance certainly had a nice spring and showed he can still play in this league, but we’ve made a commitment to Thor and he showed us enough to believe he’s going to be a cornerstone of our organization for years to come.”
2. Last season, your bullpen was leakier than your teenage son’s explanation for the weeds caught in the grill of his car. Over the winter, how do you go about rebuilding your relief corps? Circle each approach that you would follow.
- Sign several veteran free-agent middle relievers to multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts.
- Give several of your premier minor-league starters the opportunity to earn a spot with the big club in relief.
- Allow your manager to convert a talented, if temperamental, big-league ace to middle relief.
- Hand out non-roster invitations like college band flyers, to a parade of Asian leagues returnees, indie-league stars, formerly famous rehabbers, and minor-league free agents.
- Kidnap Kevin Towers and tickle his feet until he tells you his secrets.
3. Circle each statement below that represents something you learned from Moneyball.
- Billy Beane is a very talented writer.
- Small-market teams need to draft college players with high on-base percentages.
- Small-market teams need to exploit any market inefficiencies they can identify to build a competitive team with a limited payroll.
- Trumpeting the success of a single draft class after only a year or two of development time is never a good idea.
- Teams that follow a sabermetric approach are incapable of winning in the playoffs.
4. Which picture best illustrates your relationship with Scott Boras:
- b. c. d.
5. Circle the situations below where you feel our organization shouldn’t feel constrained by MLB’s recommended bonuses when signing players taken in the First-Year Player Draft:
- Never—we should always sign players within their allotted slot.
- When a player who is much better than others available falls to us in the draft.
- When the drafted player’s agent also represents our star center fielder, who is approaching free agency.
- Whenever we feel that acquiring the best available players to help us win games and generate revenue is worth having the league office mad at us for a while.
6. Scouting is to Statistical Analysis as Beer is to:
- Shirley Temples
- More Beer, Sport
7. Rank these qualities in order of importance when selecting a manager for our big-league club:
- Mastery of in-game tactics
- Leadership skills
- Media savvy
- A history of success in previous jobs
- Willingness to swear out an affidavit that he will be willing to use his best reliever in a tie game on the road and will never bat a speedy out-maker in the leadoff spot.
8. Please fill in the blanks with the selection below that you feel best completes this sentence: Free-agent starters are ___________and should be signed ______________.
- the best way to jump-start a franchise into contention / whenever a rotation hole exists
- to be avoided at all costs / to crippling long-term contracts by my divisional rivals
- usually overpriced / only if they are among the best, most durable pitchers in the league or can be signed for fewer than three years.
9. Circle every valid reason for a non-contender to sign Jason Kendall to a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract:
- The need for veteran leadership to help stabilize a young pitching staff.
- The need to demonstrate to fans that your team is willing to spend money on veteran free agents.
- The need for someone to sit in front of the umpire, protecting him from pitched balls.
- The lead story in today’s paper is how to prepare your family to survive the power outages certain to be caused by the upcoming Y2K bug.
10. At what point in the season should you be willing to give up the most in money or prospects to acquire players who will likely add a few wins?
- During the winter, when excitement can be drummed up to increase season-ticket sales.
- When gearing up for the stretch run if a playoff spot is possible, but not virtually certain
- When gearing up for the stretch run and playoffs, even if a playoff spot is virtually certain
- Never—a player’s value to the team is consistent throughout the year
11. An outfielder you signed last winter named Parker Brouthers has been ruining clubhouse chemistry, to the point where your manager feels the team cannot be competitive with him on the roster. How much of the remaining $20 million he is owed over the next two years are you willing to send along with him in a dump trade?
- $5 million
- $10 million
- $15 million
- $19.9 million
- I wouldn’t trade him. I’d release him to make a point.
- I’d keep him and have the organization’s Employee Assistance Program work with him.
12. Which organization do you most want us to emulate?
- The Minnesota Twins and their success through player development.
- The Oakland A’s and their success through leveraging market inefficiencies
- The New York Yankees and their success through revenue generation.
- The St. Paul Saints and their success through innovative marketing.
- The Chicago Cubs and their ability to significantly decouple their ability to generate revenue from their ability to win baseball games.
13. How many years should fans reasonably be expected to suffer through a “rebuilding” process before their team is once again a contender?
- Two years
- Three years
- Four years
- Five years
- Eighteen years, so long as they’re given a stunningly beautiful ballpark in the interim
- Never (Yankees and Red Sox only).
14. Which analyst do you plan to hire away from Baseball Prospectus to help fill out your statistical analysis team?
- Clay Davenport
- Colin Wyers
- Matt Swartz
- Eric Seidman
- Mike Fast
- Anybody but that guy who keeps writing about tandem starters
15. In what environment do you feel most comfortable discussing trades with opposing GMs?
- On my cell phone in my car during rush hour traffic.
- While exercising on the treadmill in my office.
- On a speakerphone in a conference room along with my staff.
- In the men’s room of the hotel bar at the Winter Meetings.
- In my own personal Situation Room, modeled after the war room in Dr. Strangelove.
16. Rank these major-league seasons in descending order of what you would consider successful.
- 86 wins, just missed the playoffs, the players and manager are well-respected within the community and there was little bad press
- 86 wins, made the playoffs but lost in the League Championship Series, several star players unpopular with the media and fans
- 90 wins, just missed the playoffs, the players and manager are well-respected within the community and there was little bad press
- 90 wins, won the World Series, players often truculent with the media and several were suspended for violating league policies
17. Rank these employees in descending order of importance to the on-field success of our major-league club?
- Head trainer
- Scouting director
- Field manager
- Chief financial officer
- Director of statistical analysis
- Albert Pujols
18. Which of these current standard baseball practices or rules would you be most interested in changing?
- The one-inning closer
- The 12-man pitching staff
- The inability to trade draft picks
- Lack of expanded replay
- Keeping track of pitch counts
19. Which defensive metric do you think provides the most useful information?
- Fielding Percentage
- Zone Rating
- The proprietary one I used at my last job that has much better inputs than any of the metrics listed above.
20. What’s your favorite drink?
- 18-year-old Glenmorangie
- Mexican Coke
- Red Bull
- Five raw eggs
- The tears of children who made the mistake of rooting for our vanquished playoff foes.