Padres bloggin' since 2007

Repossessed

April 10th, 2009 by Ray

I know it’s usually Melvin’s thing to highlight the ridiculousness of the Union-Tribune’s sports reporting, but I’m the one with the degree in journalism, damnit! 

As you, a devoted reader of the Sacrifice Bunt, knows, Petco Park is the hardest stadium on hitters in the entire major leagues. And it’s not even close. But today, we’ve learned that Nick Canepa’s yet to bookmark us. 

The Padres have just begun their sixth season in Petco Park, and it appears they’ve finally called off the exorcists. Extensive and expensive studies by engineers have revealed the place is an expanse of grass and dirt, with fences along its outer edge. There is no cemetery beneath it. They don’t sell voodoo dolls in the gift shop.

It’s difficult to judge any baseball team after a few days, although it’s apparent to just about everyone who doesn’t believe in witchcraft that these particular Padres aren’t going to arrive in Cooperstown in the same bus. But there are enough new faces probably unaware of the Petco Curse, what with so many of the complainers having grabbed their Tarot cards and left the building.

This is not – not – the Petco Triangle.

No more singing the ballpark blues

Let us be very very clear: Petco hurts hitting. It’s very likely that it is in the hitters head, from Nevin and Klesko on up, but for good reason. From 2004 through 2007, Petco suffocated runs by almost 20%, and 2008 was worse. Any hitter that complains about the effect Petco has on their hitting is well within their right. Which is, presumably, why Canepa didn’t talk to any for his article.

Instead, to help show how the team has truly exorcised the hitting hurting demons, he interviewed Peavy and Black.

“I’m so tired of hearing that stuff,” Padres ace Jake Peavy was saying. “We can win here; we’ve won here. So it’s not a bandbox. Matt Kemp hit one off the batter’s eye against me the other day. Hit it hard. I’m tired of ballpark excuses.

For a little bit of context, here’s what Peavy had to say following Monday’s home opening loss:

“Today’s game was nothing new to me,” Peavy said. “It’s always been this way. I’m not knocking any hitters that we’ve had in the past or our hitters now. We’re just going to play low-scoring ballgames. That’s the makeup of our teams here.”

Exactly. For good measure, Peavy pointed out that the other guys don’t have a problem, and Black backed him up.

“There are ballparks that play bigger than this. Guys will tell you Pac Bell, or whatever it is (now AT&T in San Francisco), is harder to hit in. The guys who’ve been here are not going to let the new guys get in a negative frame of mind. This team has moved past that. It’s not like the Dodgers were batting in Arizona and we were batting here.”

——–

“We don’t need players who have the ballpark in their heads,” Black said. “I feel as though our players are strong mentally, so the ballpark shouldn’t come into their heads. You’re playing a baseball game. Play the game.

“Eighteen players play at the same time. It’s a baseball game. When the wind blows out in Chicago, the same guys are playing. I hear about Safeco outs and Citizens Bank home runs and Great American Ballpark home runs. So what?”

Peavy being Peavy. I want to give Black the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s not telling the hitters to man up, but Canepa didn’t intend for that interpretation. I’d be curious what Edgar Gonzalez, who recently told the North County Times that it’s already Petco 3 – Gonzalez Bros. 0 and counting, thinks about Peavy and Black’s comments. 

If only press passes weren’t so hard to come by.

RAY UPDATE:

Whine and ye shall receive.

The North County Times is reporting that Moorad and new president Tom Garfinkel are looking at bringing in the fences.

Asked on XX 1090’s morning show Thursday about the possibility of moving in the fences, Moorad said he’s scheduled to meet with former president Dick Freeman to get an insider’s perspective.

Everything in this article is pretty ambiguous; it says that Moorad and Garfinkle “want to learn all they can about the outfield dimensions at Petco Park,” though I imagine Alderson knew a good amount without doing anything about it. But the implication is there.

In the comments, I threw in a quote from Adrian showing that he knows what’s up, and the NCT throws in some more:

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez favors bringing in the fences, particularly in the gaps. Gonzalez said he’s fine with the depth in right field but would like the gaps in right- and left-center field to be shortened to 385 feet. The current distances are 400 feet in right-center and 401 in left-center.

Gonzalez said the change not only would result in more home runs, but also would affect the way outfielders chase long fly balls.

“If he catches it, he’ll run into a wall,” Gonzalez said. “He’ll have to deal with the wall. Instead he’s running, he’s running, he’s running, and he catches it and is still short of the wall.”

And, to top things off, here’s a very fun fact:

This winter, Padres researchers discovered that fly balls hit more than 325 feet at Petco result in a .278 average as opposed to a major league average of .405.

Posted in media, statistics | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “Repossessed”

  1. william says:

    But today, we’ve learned that Nick Canepa’s yet to bookmark us.

    i got to admit. that mad me laugh. hard. well played.

  2. william says:

    And for the record, i agree with Peavy and Black here.

    Yes this ballpark suppresses hitting in virtually every category across the board, but tell us something we don’t know.

    STFU about it, and play the game. Its old hat, and allowing this negative mindset into the clubhouse has zero benefit to the team. None.

    • Ray Lankford says:

      While I agree that nothing’s gained by dwelling on the park’s limitations, less is gained by sticking our head in the sand.

    • william says:

      and when i say STFU about it, i don’t mean you. i mean the ballplayers.

      Edgar Gonzalez is lucky to have a gig, and he has zero business popping off about ANY ballpark.

    • Ray says:

      Would it be alright if Adrian was the one doing the popping? We don’t know that Edgar’s not acting as a sounding board for his polite, face-of-the-franchise brother.

      And on top of that, the hitters are playing in what is very literally an unfair ballpark to them. It’s not like the hitters are being told to be quiet about how cold it is or something outside of anyone’s hands. We shouldn’t look at it as whiny ol’ hitters but realize that they know what they’re talking about and the team should look into doing something about it.

    • Ray says:

      From Brock’s write-up from Monday:

      After that, there was nothing, although the Padres had chances and a few near-misses as All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez flew out to deep center field in the first inning — as he called it, “one of those PETCO outs” — and then just narrowly missed a home run in the sixth inning when he just hooked a ball foul.

    • Sounds like the negative mindset is yours.

      Padres players and especially pitchers I have spoken to know of and appreciate the fact that Petco is an extreme pitchers park.

      And the position players I have spoken to about it have said that it affects the way they have to approach plate appearances at home. Witness Adrian Gonzalez transition from a true pure pull hitter into an opposite field power hitter.

  3. People think they know what they are talking about when they say the Padres can’t hit and they are very wrong.

    No one can hit well in Petco. It is not just the Padres. But park adjust those batting figures and they are as good as or better than the teams in the ML West.

    Padres had the same or a better BA(.260-.260), OBP .319-.317), Slg(.412-.374), HR(88-49), & Runs(348-326) than the Giants on the road. They were also better than the Rockies BA(.260-.247), Slg(.412-.377), Runs(348-336), HR(by 20). The only offensive category the Padres trailed those two teams in was SB.

    The Dodgers were a little better than the Padres in BA, Runs and OBP but hit 18 less HR and had a lower Slg %. The Diamondbacks were the worst in baseball on the road in every offensive category other than SB.

    The Padres were actually better offensively at home, in the worst hitters park in baseball, than the Diamondbacks were on the road.

    When you park adjust the offense at home the Padres were actually better than the Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies and Dodgers. Obviously the Rockies hit well at home, but park adjusted they are not much better than the Padres either.

    Take a look at the Team OPS+(a park adjusted batting stat) for 2008 and you get:
    San Diego – 94
    Los Angeles – 92
    Colorado – 91
    Arizona – 88
    San Francisco – 83

    The Union Tribune has among the worst sports columnists and the worst sports researchers of any paper I have read.

    Canepa is rarely correct on any stats or conclusions he makes. This article was no different.

    The fact that Peavy does not understand the effect of the ballpark on hitting (for both teams) and runs is more indicative of his lack of understanding of the game than the lack of hitting from his teammates.

    Yes the man can throw a baseball, but to throw your teammates under the bus for something that effects the batters from both the Padres and their opponents at Petco shows his lack of understanding of not just park effect, but also of how to be a good teammate.

  4. Ray Lankford says:

    I updated the piece with a link to a North County Times article that discusses Moorad and Garfinkel’s inquiries into the outfield fences

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