Padres bloggin' since 2007

When is enough for Blanks in left?

April 7th, 2010 by

During last night’s victory over the Diamondbacks, manager Bud Black removed Kyle Blanks in a double switch (with Cesar Ramos) for Scott Hairston and Mike Adams. The score was 5-2 Padres, with the tying run at the plate in the form of Justin Upton, so it was a serious situation, and Blanks’ spot was due up eighth the next inning. After Upton’s run scoring infield single, Adams induced a flyout from Adam LaRoche and came back to pitch a scoreless eighth. For his part, Hairston later drew a walk.

All’s well that ends well, right? Right. But I still have a concern.

Lifting Blanks was the logical decision. While Headley was due up ninth, backup third baseman Jerry Hairston, Jr. was already in the game at second, making a double switch to remove Headley a little less neat. And Headley’s an honest-to-goodness third baseman so it’s not like he’s a defensive liability, not like first baseman-cum-left fielder Blanks. Removing Blanks for a defensive substitution, double switch or no, might not be the worst idea in the world, especially for a team beginning to pride itself on small ball. That Blanks is the second best hitter* on the team however, might be a detail.

Can the Padres really afford to give Blanks the Ryan Klesko treatment**? More to the point, should they? Had the best laid plans not worked out and Arizona came back to tie the game, what happens to the team’s odds of coming back themselves with Blanks on the bench?

(This is where I acknowledge that I’m making assumptions. What happened last night may have been last night specific, with the team having no further plans to Klesko-ize Blanks, if that’s even what it was. Or it might be exactly the team’s plans moving forward, in which case continue reading.)

As I mentioned earlier, the team is priding themselves on playing small ball and stealing a lot of bases in Spring Training. How does Blanks and his outside linebacker’s body fit into this? That’s right, at first base.

Adrian wouldn’t be the first All-Star first baseman let go in part because of a youngster breathing down his neck. Just last year, the Angels were able to live with Mark Teixeira signing with the Yankees because Kendry Morales was ready to jump in and hit 34 home runs. Of course, they could’ve resigned Teixeira and forced the less-than-agile Morales to play out of position, but Kevin Towers wasn’t running the team at the time.

I know Hoyer inherited a mess, but something is wrong when a weak hitting team such as the Padres sees removing a 30 home threat from a game as a viable option. And while I trust Hoyer to clean things up, I hope last night’s move at least made him go hmm.

*According to most projections (Bill James, CHONE, etc.), Blanks will be a 120 wRC+ hitter this year, putting him behind only Adrian on the team.

**Quick history lesson: Ryan Klesko was the team’s starting left fielder in 2004 and 05 and was horrible defensively, which is why he frequently watched the end of games on the bench while someone more capable did his job in left.

Posted in gripes | 9 Comments »

A familiar refrain

September 9th, 2009 by

Giants fans are all a buzz because *gasp!* Bruce Bochy isn’t giving playing time to a top prospect. This time instead of Bochy sending Miguel Ojeda to the outfield, it’s Eli Whiteside playing catcher instead of the best prospect in the game at that position, Buster Posey. Tim Kawakami reports:

So… Posey wasn’t in the original call-ups. Then he was called up. Then Bochy said he might start him. Then Bochy said ideally he’d play Posey in a blowout. Then there’s a blowout, six games into it, and Bochy STILL WON’T PLAY POSEY.

Grant at McCovey Chronicles:

At first, I thought Bochy really was concerned that Posey would come in, allow six passed balls, throw 15 balls into center field, nail his pitcher in the head with a return throw when the pitcher wasn’t looking, and punch an umpire in the throat.

Grant adds some of his own thoughts as to what exactly is going on behind the scenes in the San Francisco front office. Check it out.

We may have our issues with our Bud-bot, but at least he gets this: the Padres will be built through the draft.

Posted in gripes | 1 Comment »

Target Field renamed Petco Park North

July 17th, 2009 by

Petco Park North 1
Petco Park North 2Petco Park North 3
These are construction photos of the Minnesota Twins’ new ballpark, aka “Petco Park North.” Can you believe this exterior design? Look familiar?

PadreHomer informs me it was Antoine Predock who designed the exterior of Petco Park.

But check it out: HOK Sport (now Populus) is attached to both the Minnesota and San Diego ballpark projects, as well as being involved in just about every new park design the past two decades.

And HOK is also known for re-using the same ideas. Don’t get me wrong–red brick and green accents looked great. But that was just the first time or three.

Luckily there aren’t too many new ballparks left that need building, so we may only have one Petco clone.

Thanks to dwallick and resedabear for the photos.

Melvin Update 7/20: Twins fans, don’t take this post so seriously. I don’t know anything about Target Field except that one part of the facade looks just like one part of the PETCO facade. I’m sure the rest of the park is different. In fact, us Padre fans think it’s pretty cool that you’ll actually be able to tell what team plays home games at Target Field, while you’d never know who plays in PETCO because there are no signs whatsoever.

And no, I don’t care that one material is “limestone” from 100 miles north of Minnesota, while the other is “sandstone”. That’s all marketing. They look exactly alike. Don’t tell me this doesn’t look just like this. But really, I’m faulting HOK here more than anyone, they have a history of building ballparks that look just like each other.

Posted in gripes, petco park | 13 Comments »

Why is Adrian starting?, Part II

July 8th, 2009 by

It’s been a little over a week since Adrian tweaked his knee sliding into third, and he’s playing like a guy who might just have a tweaked knee.

Over the past week, Adrian’s had an OPS of .494 (which is good for a tOPS+ of 9). And his defense hasn’t been much better. During today’s game, the daily implosion followed a bungled routine ground ball by the Gold Glover.

To the quotes!:

“Right now, things aren’t clicking for me,” Gonzalez said. “I thought I was all over that ball, but it hit off the edge of my glove. It’s a reaction play, one shot.”

Padres hit bottom after being swept in Arizona

Promising. Let’s continue:

Might Gonzalez need a day off now?

“In my eyes, there are two options,” Gonzalez said. “Either don’t play the entire series in San Francisco or let me grind it out.

“I’ve never believed one day off is going to change anything. So those are the only two options I see worth anything. Two days, no.”

Is Gonzalez tired?

“Physically, no,” he said. “Mentally, yes.

One game note that you won’t find in the UT article is that much of Adrian’s problem was indeed mental. After the ball bounced off of his glove, he ran to grab it and picked it up in enough time to maybe toss it to the waiting pitcher at the bag. But he didn’t. Instead, Adrian “The Big Cat” Gonzalez scrambled to first base in an attempt to get the one out. He didn’t make it. You can imagine how the rest of the story goes.

Let’s take Adrian’s threat seriously: It’s either the entire San Fran series or nothing. Should we sit him anyway? WIthout giving you my opinion, I’ll just say that Kyle Blanks has started two games since Interleague play ended, and that the team jumped past the Diamondbacks to the 3rd pick in the draft this afternoon, thanks in large part to Adrian. They had been at 4th.

Once more, take it to the comments.

Posted in gripes | 4 Comments »

Why is Adrian starting?

July 2nd, 2009 by

On Tuesday night, Adrian Gonzalez, aka Far and Away the Best Player on the Padres, had to leave the game after the fourth inning after he strained his right knee on a slide into third.

On Wednesday night, Adrian Gonzalez, aka Far and Away the Best Player on the Padres, was back in the starting lineup.

Why?

Let’s take a step back. On May 22nd, in another base-running mishap, Jake Peavy hurt his ankle. Five days later, on May 27th, Peavy was back out there anyway, giving up four earned in six plus against the Diamondbacks while only striking out five. He would start two more games, the flu-ridden debacle against the Phillies and a strong start against those same Diamondbacks, before being shut down for months, maybe even the entire season, with a longitudinal tearing in the posterior tibialis tendon. The severity of the injury caught both Peavy and the team off guard, which explains how a star pitcher can be handled so nonchalantly. One would hope that if the Padres had to do it all over again, they’d give Peavy’s ankle more time to build back its strength.

Cue Adrian.

Following the recent days off for Ryan Howard and Justin Morneau, Adrian became the active consecutive games leader. As of the writing of this article, Adrian has played in 284 consecutive games, which leads him 21 games behind Steve Garvey’s Padre record. Garvey, one of the four San Diego Padres worthy of having his number retired. From where I’m sitting, which is in my mother’s basement, something doesn’t seem right. Is risking Adrian’s long-term health worth this streak, if that’s what this is about? And if it’s not, what is it about?

As we’ve been over, this is not the season to be calling out all the stops. I would imagine that Adrian doesn’t want to come out of the lineup, but he’s not supposed to want to come out. That’s when Bud Black is supposed to take a step back, realize that he has the team’s number one prospect who also so happens to be a first baseman just sitting around, and make the best big picture decision.

Of course, to be fair, my mother’s basement doesn’t have all the answers. There’s many nuances that go into running a baseball team that I don’t know. I just have a bad feeling about this.

Posted in gripes | 3 Comments »

Chase Gon’ Give It to Ya

June 4th, 2009 by

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

Right.

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 returns after Hairston hurt

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.

Posted in gripes | 7 Comments »

Hi hater

April 17th, 2009 by

With great power comes great responsibility.

With all due respect, Trevor who? The Heath Bell era has begun in San Diego. While we’re not even two weeks into the season, Heath (yeah, he’s already on a first-name basis) sits atop the league with his 5 saves, and he’s using this position to fight the good fight against ESPN and the East Coast Bias.

Heath, who grabbed headlines earlier in the offseason when it became public knowledge that he dropped 20 pounds using Wii Fit, took exception to the coverage his and our team received this past Monday, when they spoiled the opener of Citi Field by beating the Mets.

“I saw ESPN’s promo for tonight’s game. They mention the Mets are opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did they mention the Padres. . . .

“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else,” said the closer, a former Met. “That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”

Padres closer Heath Bell sick of ESPN’s East Coast bias

While Heath’s earned himself new fans with his comments, he’s also received backlash:

While I agree that MLB Network is far superior to ESPN concerning televised baseball coverage, this is pretty petty. The reason the Monday night’s game was telecast was because of the Mets opening their new stadium — just like last year when the Nationals did on Sunday Night Baseball. Bell would also be hard pressed to explain how ESPN doesn’t care about the Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, Rays, Indians, Angels, White Sox, Twins and Dodgers. They may try to cater to the more popular teams — how dare they worry about ratings? — but it’s not limited to just three teams. Plus, do they actually have an obligation to cover each team equally? Without trying to speak for ESPN, coverage is generally slanted toward teams that matter to the mass audience — not just a small group of die-hards. The Padres simply don’t right now.

Simply put, things are going very well for the Padres right now. That’s not likely to continue, so they should be enjoying themselves instead of worrying about ESPN’s coverage. It would behoove Bell to take a page out of the Adam Dunn handbook and not watch or read anything, while remaining indifferent toward media coverage.

Outrageous, you say? While I agree that Monday’s night coverage of the Mets made sense, given that the entire event was built around the opening of that new New York stadium, it shouldn’t water down Heath’s message. Taking what was said about the three teams so literally is silly and a straw man argument.

Isn’t the idea that ESPN doesn’t have a responsibility to cover all teams, and that the Padres should be honored that they’re getting coverage now, the kind of arrogance that has grown undeserved? Not only has the Internet made the so-called experts on ESPN worthless, but the MLB Network has made Baseball Tonight highlights unnecessary? Let us turn to our leader, Heath Bell:

Well- nevermind. Moving on.

Speaking of crushing disappointment from Heath, his entrance music has left something to be desired. He started out at a disadvantage, replacing the man with the most iconic theme song in the history of baseball, but this? Listen:

We at the Sacrifice Bunt are taking it upon ourselves to find Heath’s new, true entrance music. Leave a comment giving your suggestions. Here’s mine:

(warning: pg-13 swagger in this video)

Posted in gripes, media | 6 Comments »

“It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

March 3rd, 2009 by

Grady Fuson, if you didn’t know, is in charge of overseeing the Padres minor league system, and he recently took exception with Baseball America’s ranking of the Padres farm system as 29th best, or 2nd worst, in the league.

As we’ve discussed before, the public perception of our farm system is bleak. Along with BA, Keith Law ranked the team at 19th, and John Sickles and Baseball Prospectus were also less than enthused. But neither of them were as harsh as BA, which is where Fuson’s directed his ire.

Said Fuson: “It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

Fuson, who oversees the farm system and the draft, said the Padres belong in the Top 10, not the bottom two.

——–

“Let’s take the true Baseball America that we all know,” Fuson said Monday. “We all know that they love high school, first two rounds, and/or overpaid type players. The reality is that we are a little more selective in that group. So, in other words, we don’t take every high school guy that runs and throws, or that has a 93 mph fastball, just because he throws 93. We’re a little more selective with delivery, with a true ability on projecting some command down the road.

“When it comes to the offensive players, do I want (those) that can run and throw? You bet. But we are also very offensive-minded in our selections. With that said, I think we should be judged a little bit on the quality in the last three or fours years on the offensive players – not just the one-dimensional bangers – but with skills that can play. How can you define those guys as non-upside guys?”

Padres officials come to the defense of the organization’s farm system

One more time: “It’s impossible. It just has to be.”

I remember there was a time when it looked like the Padres were putting together an All-Star front office, with Fuson and Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta. I imagine it’s difficult to find anyone who would term the F.O. as an All-Star squad at this point, and Fuson’s defensiveness does nothing to help matters.

I realize that Fuson defending the minor league system is not a problem. It’s his job, afterall. And it’s good that he takes offense to BA’s dramatically low ranking, which I’m not necessarily endorsing. But top 10? Are we supposed to take Fuson seriously?

Does he actually think that the Padres have a top 10 minor league system?
Let’s assume for a second that Fuson actually believes his own non-sense. All of a sudden, I’m not comfortable with Fuson’s ability as a system builder.

From the UT article:

Fuson mentioned, among many others, Kulbacki, a left fielder who batted .332 with 20 home runs last year in 84 games with Single-A Lake Elsinore; pitcher Wynn Pelzer, a right-hander ticketed for Lake Elsinore’s rotation this year, who was 9-6 with a 3.19 ERA at Single-A Fort Wayne; and Hunter, a center fielder who batted .318 with 11 home runs in 134 games with Lake Elsinore.
“You can’t say that Kulbacki doesn’t look like an impact player,” he said. “Pelzer, this guy is smart. This is a guy that has good stuff. If Cedric Hunter’s career is Jody Gerut, that’s a pretty good big league ballplayer. I could see where somebody would say that is not impact, but that’s a pretty good big-league ballplayer.”

Moving past the craziness of comparing Cedric Hunter’s career to Jody Gerut’s injury-riddled one, Fuson sounds like a desperate man who can’t handle criticism. I’d say it’s because he can feel the ax coming, but Alderson has his back:

“Everybody sees the depth that we have in our minor league system. At this point, perhaps people don’t see one outstanding prospect. … Really, only one of our top-rated prospects had a disappointing year in any real sense, and that was Antonelli. Anybody else, like LeBlanc – we were pushing our guys to higher levels. So, that, together with the fact we had a very strong draft (in 2008) and a number of those players are ranked in our Top 10, and we had some great signings internationally – (being ranked 29th) just doesn’t make any sense. Of course, there were other publications that ranked us much higher.”

Of course, we’ve already discussed Alderson’s impending departure, but maybe his comments shed some light on an organizational content with a minor league system that is universally listed in the bottom half of the league (despite their own objection) and is so barren that the big league team is looking at Cha Seung Baek as its third starter. Afterall, it’s impossible that this team is the 29th worst in the league. It just has to be.

Posted in gripes, media | 4 Comments »

History says writers should use examples to support, not contradict, an opinion

November 3rd, 2008 by

History says trading Padres ace Jake would be a huge mistake

This Nick Canepa article is chock full of unintentional lulz. Here’s his contention:

I’m beyond tired of seeing San Diego stars either shipped off or simply allowed to walk away. In this regard, our history is horrible.

Essentially he says good players have played for San Diego sports teams. Then they played for teams in a different city. How inconceivable.

Next, Canepa gives us examples that apparently apply specifically to the possibility of trading Jake Peavy, even though his evidence comes from different decades, ownership groups, payroll sizes, even different sports.

Of course, he doesn’t mention that one could come up with a similar list of good players for any city across the country who have moved from one team to the next.

Don’t forget, this is supposed to be evidence for why the Padres should not trade Jake Peavy. Why trading him would be a bad idea. Here are my favorite parts.

Drew Brees, the Chargers’ Pro Bowl quarterback, left with very little compensation. Everyone knew Philip Rivers was going to be the guy, so the team should have traded Brees the year before, when he was healthy and at peak value.

The Chargers allowed running back Michael Turner to leave, and he’s not having a bad time in Atlanta, where he’s gained 655 yards in seven games. He should have been dealt after the 2006 season.

The Bolts seem poised not to re-sign linebacker Shawne Merriman when his contract expires after the 2009 season. If Merriman’s healthy, this would be a grievous error. He’s the NFL’s most dynamic defender. Let’s hope, at the very least, if the Chargers decide they’re not re-signing him, that they trade him, rather than cut him loose and get last week’s bagel in return.

The Padres should not trade a star like Jake Peavy because (somehow this makes sense) San Diego teams should have traded other stars.

There’s more:

The 2007 Cy Young winner makes a lot of money, he’s vocal, and the team lost 99 games with him. He has a violent delivery, and pitchers have been known to be brittle. But, while having a few problems, Peavy hasn’t had arm or shoulder surgery. And, at 27, he’s hardly out of his prime. He may not have entered it.

Those are some pretty good reasons to go through with a trade. The Padres lost 99 games with Jake on the roster, that goes to show how one player does not necessarily make a successful season. Also his violent delivery causes serious concern for injury, and pitchers are injured more often than position players.

But don’t worry! All of those reasons are completely negated because Jake is 27 years of age, and while he had injury trouble last year, surgery is not immediately required.

In reality, 27 year olds (Jake will be 28 most of 2009) can and do get injured.  And not needing surgery (yet) doesn’t alleviate concerns about a pitcher with elbow trouble. Finally, Canepa doesn’t bother to attempt a rebut to the argument that Peavy will likely take up 20% of the team’s payroll and still can’t do enough to save a 99 loss season.

Isn’t the generally accepted practice to provide evidence in support of your opinion, not against it?

Posted in gripes, media | 8 Comments »

More end of season thoughts

September 27th, 2008 by

Unlike Melvin, I kind of like drama. Spice of life kind of thing. And for me, this season has been filled with intrigue. It hasn’t been fun, but there’s been a lot to talk about. For instance:

Genuine draft: The Padres will have the third pick in next year’s draft, which will probably be too late to grab Strasburg, but still very high. High enough to grab a potential star. Of course, it’s potential to grab a star anywhere in the 175 rounds that are in the draft, but the higher the better.

Gimme the loot: One of the benefits of playing terrible in a season that you didn’t plan on being terrible is a glut of moveable parts. This summer, the Padres moved Tony Clark, Randy Wolf, and Greg Maddux. What will actually become of the minor league pitchers and players to be named later that we acquired for these players is still to be seen, but if just one of them becomes a key part to a future Padres club, it’s a win.

If it’s broke, fix it: For five years now, the Padres have been sending out a makeshift team. They have, essentially, been rebuilding years, but competitive rebuilding years. And this was the season when the bottom fell out. The strong pitching staff that has carried this team since it started playing in ridiculous Petco Park faltered, with names like Baek and Banks seeing significant playing time. Adding to the mess was regressions, disappointments, and injuries that depleted the team on the field.

With the introduction of Chase Headley, however, the Padres have begun to turn over a new leaf. He was soon followed by other top prospects Wade LeBlanc, Will Venable, and Matt Antonelli. It’s only a matter of time the clubhouse is filled with players that came up, and have been neutered, in the system. Not more forcing square players in the round holes.

Jody Gerut: He’s pretty good.

Hey, it’s baseball!: It still is, technically.

Posted in gripes, misc | Comments Off

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