M’s down to four names to remember … and pronounce

If you had Tony LaCava, Jerry DiPoto, Kim Ng and Jack Zdurienciek in your office Final Four pool, you can start bragging at the water cooler. Those are the four finalists in the Mariners’ general manager search, and a winner could be announced early next week.

Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong have narrowed their field to a quartet of names not only worth remembering, but worth trying to pronounce.

It’s LaCava as in “Luh-cav-uh.” It’s DiPoto as in “Dee-po-to (long o).” It’s Ng as in “Ing.” And it’s Zdurienciek, just like it’s spelled. OK, as in “Zur-in-sik.”

Not to make too much of the magic of their names, but what’s more important is what qualities the new GM will bring to an organization that badly needs to overcome a 101-loss season and, more important, a culture of losing.

LaCava, DiPoto and Zdurienciek (can we just call him Dr. Z?) all have deep backgrounds in scouting and player development. Ng is well-versed in statistical analysis and the procedural details of player transactions, and those who’ve worked with her say she’s strong in player evaluation.

Who’ll get the job? I can’t begin to predict what Lincoln, Armstrong and the ownership group are thinking.

I’ve heard some strong sentiment for DiPoto, but Zdurienciek (Dr. Z) is an intriguing possibility because of his success in orchestrating drafts that brought such players as Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and J.J. Hardy to the Brewers. If it’s Dr. Z, then the Mariners would be going old-school for sure. That’s how fellow scouts see him.

But what about new school? Whether you like it or are confused by it, statistical analysis is vital in decision-making these days, and the Mariners can’t ignore that.

However, this is an organization whose rosters need to be reworked from the bottom up. The new GM can’t swing and miss in the draft, he or she must create a consistent flow of prospects throughout the minor leagues and have the patience to let the youngsters already at the major league level gain confidence. It takes a keen eye for talent to pull that off.

In a few days, we may know who’ll get the chance to prove they have the right qualities.

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