A little more than four years ago to the day, on June 2nd, 2005, Miguel Ojeda started the day’s game in right field. Though he was a backup catcher, Ojeda starting in the outfield wasn’t entirely out of a line, as he had a handful of starts in left earlier that year. The craziness comes in who Ojeda was starting over.
Xavier Nady was drafted by the Padres in the second round of the 2000 draft and was named the Padres number one best prospect by Baseball America in 2003. yet in his three years with the big league club, Nady never received consistent playing time, and was shipped out to New York in 2005 for Mike Cameron. Since then, Nady has jumped to Pittsburgh and then to the Yankees (the other New York team), breaking out last year with a .374 wOBA in 148 games, a career high.
On that fateful June day, Nady sat on the bench and watched Ojeda run out in right and go 0-for-3. And then five months later, he was gone.
Get to the point, Ray
The Padres have had a tremendous lack of success in developing homegrown talent. Outside of Jake Peavy, the second best player the Padres made for themselves this decade was Khalil Greene, and we all know how that turned out. Most of them busted, but at least Sean Burroughs got a chance. Nady never really got that chance in San Diego, and I’m beginning to worry about how big of a shot Chase Headley’s going to get.
Kevin Towers went on XX Radio last night for his weekly call-in. The topic of Headley, and why he’s been sitting so much, came up. Among other things, Towers said that he thinks Headley’s confidence level is down, that the strike outs are a concern, and that the team is out there trying to win games. He also said that it’s up to a player to make adjustments in game, and that maybe Headley should go back and look at video from the minors to see what’s changed.
Let’s start at the beginning: the team is out there trying to win games. Towers brought this up to explain why Headley’s sitting for Scott Hairston, but it begs the question: What are Kevin Kouzmanoff and Brian Giles doing in the lineup night-in and night-out?
Now, Giles has run into a hot streak, posting an .899 OPS in the past two weeks, which has raised his season mark up to .568. That’s an OPS+ of 52. He’s also played in 50 of the team’s 53 games. Kouzmanoff, meanwhile, has an OPS of .503 over the past two weeks, with a season OPS of .612, or an OPS+ of 63. He’s played in 51 games.
Giles’ recent hot streak and Kouzmanoff’s hot defense are two valid reasons for why these guys are still in the lineup, but I wonder why it comes at the expense of Chase Headley.
Like Nady, Headley is a former number one prospect, taking the title in 2008. And he’s also only 148 games into his major league career, but confidence in him already seems to be dwindling. In yesterday’s Union-Tribune, Headley was quoted as saying:
I’ve never had so few at-bats over a month. Since I hurt my shoulder, I haven’t played every day. I haven’t been given a chance to battle through this.
For a good number of my at-bats in May, I was fighting to get through the weakness in my shoulder. It was really weak. I had to change my stance because I couldn’t hold my hands in the same position.
Headley is referring to a shoulder injury he sustained in early May when he ran into the wall in L.A. This knocked him out for a couple of games, but based on Headley’s use of the past-tense, it doesn’t seem to still be bothering him. Surely not as much the position he’s found himself in.
He goes on to say:
It’s frustrating, the circumstance I’m in right now. I didn’t forget how to hit. I feel I have the capability. I think that in any capacity, I can help this team out. But this wouldn’t be the capacity I would choose.
That doesn’t sound to me like a player whose confidence is down.
Why is the team sitting on Chase Headley?
Headley’s supposed to be one of the young cornerstones of this franchise, but he’s sitting in favor of a 38-year-old in the last year of his contract. I hear Towers say that Headley’s strike outs are of concern, but more so than Kouzmanoff’s inability to draw a walk? Headley may be striking out 30% of the time, but his BB/K is still well above Kouzmanoff’s. Headley’s been the superior player of the three all year, but I don’t expect to hear the front office say so.
Finally, with Hairston on the DL, a spot in the outfield opened up. But last night, the newly recalled Will Venable got the start in left field over Headley, going 0-for-4 with an error.
One can only assume that Henry Blanco forgot his outfield glove at home.