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The Sacrifice Cheat Sheet: Positions of interest

August 1st, 2010 by

Now that the deadline’s come and gone and the team has added a couple of new parts, there is some question as to how they’re all going to fit together. Here are some helpful suggestions:

Shortstop

Even though he’s now a Padre, Miguel Tejada is no longer a shortstop. He hasn’t played the position all year, in large part because no one would give him a job. Tejada’s never been a good shortstop, costing his teams -30.2 runs on his career. From 2007-09, the last three years he spent at short, he cost the O’s and Astros 6.3 runs defensively. And Tejada’s not hitting enough to offset his poor defense. This season, he’s posted a wRC+ of 80, with a road split of 60. While he has been good in the near past, his raw numbers were inflated by Camden Yards and Minute Maid Park. From 2007-09, his overall OPS was .773 but his road split was only .713. Moving to Petco Park will likely only make things worse.

With Tejada out, we’re left with Everth Cabrera and Scott Hairston as options in the middle infield. So far, they’ve split the duties pretty evenly with Hairston logging only 72 more innings than his counterpart. They’ve both been good defensively but Hairston’s UZR/150 of 10.9 bests Cabrera’s 5.7. From a defensive standpoint, either will do. From an offensive standpoint, they’re both bad but Everth has been terrible. His walk rates are down from last year, his strike out rates are up, and he’s left with a wRC+ of 51. As a reminder, 100 is average. Everth has been the victim of an incredibly low BABIP, but the middle of the pennant race is not the time to hope that it balances out.

Hairston, despite his 86 wRC+ gets the job.

Right field

The newly acquired Ryan Ludwick is a right fielder so the job becomes his, right? I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case, but I’m hoping it isn’t. Ludwick is actually a strong fielder, with a career UZR of 19.2 in right (7.6 UZR/150) in over 3,200 innings. In the spacious new Busch Stadium, Ludwick’s range was worth a below-average -0.3 runs. His arm is above average (+9.5 runs) but I worry about he’ll handle the even bigger right field in Petco. Will Venable, on the other hand, has handled the confines in right quite well. In his short career (just over 1,000 innings in right), Venable has been worth +12.2 runs (+16.1 UZR/150), thanks in large part to his great range (+11.8 runs).

Leave Will in right. Let Ludwick and his twenty bombs take left.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

Things I’ve been wrong about (Ray tells me I’m modest)

July 26th, 2010 by

Yes, a post!

What can I say, coming home and websites seems sisyphean when you spend all day working on websites.

Ok, maybe it’s not that bad. Unless Ray changes his mind at least no one at The Sac Bunt is hell bent on including animated gifs on our home page.

So about this article. I know this is a novel concept, but I must make one admission: I talk about sports on the Internet, and yes, sometimes, very rarely, I’m wrong about things I’ve said. In the interest of searching for truth, and not feeling so bad about making fun of other people for being wrong, here are some admissions that need making.

David Eckstein is having a great year

I make fun of his supporters, but I never completely hated his signing and certainly never disliked the guy as a person. I hear he spends a ton of time before ballgames signing autographs for fans, which is admirable and rad. He just hasn’t been as good of a player as people think he is, and I didn’t see why he can’t use his magical “make other players play better” powers from the bench.

This year David sits fourth out of the position players in WAR, though his .309 wOBA drops him to 6th of those with 200 plate appearances. Cheers David, I’m glad to be wrong about you this year.

That marketing campaign behind Everth Cabrera may have been premature

Back in January I provided an array of uninvited Padres marketing opinions in which I suggested the team market the trio of Kyle Blanks, Mat Latos, and Everth Cabrera. Promise, I never expected Cabrera to provide the kind of value Blanks or Latos will likely produce. And I refuse to apologize for including Blanks in the marketing mix, as his slow start was only 120 plate appearances and still has huge potential.  I included Everth in the group because he is the kind of  exciting, speedy, defender at the romance position I would expect fans to rally around. His youth and price tag mean fans can rally around him a long time into the future.

Unfortunately, 440  plate appearances of average production (101 wRC+ ) above A ball meant less than we would like about Cabrera’s future as a hitter. He’s been hurt as well, and he can still become the player we thought we would be, but it is hardly a sure thing.

!!!!!!!!!! Speed never slumps!

This isn’t about speed not slumping, I just can’t help giggling at that phrase.

The Padres’ recent trend in taking risks on the bases isn’t exactly a recent trend. As far back as 2008, we’ve heard spring training stories profiling an emphasis on the running game. The rule of thumb when stealing suggests an 80% stolen base rate , anything less and you’re hurting rather than helping. 68%, 74%, and 71% are the Padres’ success rate the past three seasons.

And as is my usual behavior (leave your psychoanalysis in the comments, plz) I dislike anything that is overvalued. During 2008’s 22 inning gamestravoganza against Colorado, I experimentally live blogged and complained, among other complaints (psychoanalysis again requested) about the Padres focus on base path risk taking.

Well, turns out that in a low run environment like Petco Park, it might just maks more sense to go for the extra base.

How much so? I have no idea. If a lower run environment drops the success rate to say, 79%, then I’m not wrong after all (I will henceforth pretend this is the case in my head). But what if the Petco break even rate is drastically different? That break even rate might be 55% in which case, hell let the McAnultys and Stairs of the world go crazy.

The first place Padres!

I thought even my 78 win prediction leaned toward the homer side, and went as far as renewing that prediction about a month into the season. The link is down (come back Peter Friberg!), but ole Melly would never lie to you. Especially about his being wrong.

I simply didn’t believe in the team’s offense, who currently rank at exactly 100 OPS+.

But then, defense is the new Moneyball right? Our boys lead the legue in UZR/150 defensive metric by a wide margin. The team’s winning ways may be sustainable without much offense thanks to outside the box thinking and scouting.

Some younger players don’t have me convinced me they’re long term starters on a good team. Hello Mr. 109 wRC+ Nick Hundley, where’d that come from?

But things are working well right now and being a Padres fan is simply marvelous.

Melvin Update: According to Baseball-Reference’s Pecota updated playoff odds report, the boys in blue-and-sand and soon-to-be-gray have a 75% chance of making the post-season either via a division championship or wild card.

Posted in misc | 3 Comments »

Team California

June 28th, 2010 by

Living in Chile, I find myself for the first time in a country that actually cares about the the World Cup*, even if it is now over. Clearly I’ve never cared before, not outside of the casual fandom that comes with generally liking sports, but it’s made me realize that I’ve never cared for the WBC either. I’ve watched both tournaments, even attending the Cuba/Japan game last year, but I found myself unengaged on a personal level, not really caring who won. I think that might make me a bad American. Personally, I blame Adam Dunn.


As it’s the player’s fault, I figure that the best way to fix my milquetoast is to build my own (if only hypothetical) team. But then, creating a fantasy Team USA is boring. The only real challenge is whether or not I can find a way to keep Kevin Youkilis off the team, so instead I present to you my picks for Team California. If we’re big enough to be in the G20, I’d say we’re big enough to field our own baseball team.

Rules: For eligibility on the team, a player had to be born in and attend high school in California. That means that Prince Fielder, who was born in Ontario but went to high school in Florida is not eligible.

Catcher – Gerald Laird (Westminster)

Exciting start, right? Laird might not be much with the bat, but it’ll be buried in this lineup. He’s a solid backstop who’ll be there to catch the pitches our All-Star pitchers throw.
Alternate: Rod Barajas (Santa Fe Springs)

First Base – Adrian Gonzalez (Chula Vista)

Now that’s more like it. You know Adrian, so I don’t think I need to tell you why he belongs on this team. Whether or not he’ll pick California over Mexico is another story, but I’ll leave that to someone else to figure out.
Alternate: Derrek Lee (Sacramento)

Second Base – Chase Utley (Long Beach)

Possibly the toughest call of the team, Utley just got the nod over Dustin Pedroia, but really it wasn’t that tough. Utley is one of the most well-rounded players in the game, who can hit for power, draw a walk, steal a base, and play the best defensive second in the game.
Alternate: Dustin Pedroia (Woodland)

Third Base – Evan Longoria (Downey)

We haven’t even gotten to shortstop yet and we already have the best infield that you’ll find anywhere. Along with Utley, Longoria is an easy pick for the Team USA roster (and not just because he attended Long Beach State): another well-rounded player who will hit for power and catch the ball.
Alternate: Michael Young (Covina)

Shortstop – Troy Tulowitzki (Santa Clara)

Like seemingly everyone else on this team (including fellow former Dirtbag Longoria), Tulo is a player who can do it all. If I were the coach, and I’m not (you’ll have to wait to see who is), I’d likely put Tulowitzki in the leadoff spot, which tells you a little bit about how deep this team is in the middle of the order.
Alternate: Jimmy Rollins (Oakland)

Left field – Ryan Braun (Granada Hills)

Oh look, another All-Star. Braun is one more Californian worthy of being on Team USA, and we know this because he played in the 09 WBC. While not quite the complete player his new teammates are, Braun is a major power threat who will feast in the middle of this lineup and hopefully rely on this next guy to hide his horrible, horrible glove.
Alternate: Milton Bradley (Long Beach)

Center field – Tony Gwynn, Jr. (Poway)

If you were to say that this pick is pure homerism, you’d probably be right. But in my defense, I’d like to say the following two things: 1. There are not a lot of quality California-bred center fielders in the bigs right now, and 2. Tony’s not so bad. As Melvin recently argued, UZR is a statistic that requires a lot of evidence before an opinion can really be reached, but I’m willing to take a chance on Tony’s excellent two (or so) years.
Alternate: Adam Jones (San Diego)

Right field – Adam Jones (San Diego)

While Jones is no AJ when it comes to patrolling centerfield, he’s still a solid player who does everything good even if he doesn’t do a whole lot great. With his strong arm, Jones should be able to slide into right without a problem, and any offense he can contribute will be gravy given the kind of guys he’ll be hitting behind.
Alternate: Will Venable (Marin County)

And there’s that. I’m not sure if you noticed, but there are three San Diegans in the starting eight. If one were so inclined, they could build an All-San Diego team that would be able to hold their own in any competition. We’ll see more San Diegans on the pitching side, which I will get to in a couple of days.

As always, please tell me where I got it wrong in the comments section.

*Apologies to the 14 people in the US who like soccer.

Posted in misc | 2 Comments »

Adrian Gonzalez Padres Wallpaper: Silhouette

June 6th, 2010 by

Adrian Gonzalez Wallpaper Silhouette

[1280 x 1024]

[1200 x 800]

[1024 x 768]

Enjoy! I meant to have a new wallpaper for opening day, but when your motherboard dies things gets tough.

And in the realm of actual Padres stuff, it looks like my pre-season prediction of 78 wins was conservative, (!!!) making a new Adrian Gonzalez wallpaper a safe move. Glad to be wrong.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

The Sacrifice Endorsement: Woe, Doctor!

April 16th, 2010 by

Long time Sac Bunt friend and contributor Randy Ready has dropped the nom de plume and started his own blog: Woe, Doctor!

He’s off to a hot start, putting up as many posts in four days as we did here in two weeks. That probably says more about us than it does him, but it’s still impressive.

Check him/it out.

Posted in misc, sacrificial links | 1 Comment »

Haaaapy Home Opener!

April 12th, 2010 by

For the first time ever I’ll be live and in person at opening day. Thanks to my buddy Nate, he and I will enjoy the game the Elitist Terrace, also a first for me, though the seating level will lose some luster now that the peons are allowed to mix amongst us civilized folk.

I’ll be tweetering live throughout the afternoon, although the quality of the content will probably depend on how well the new $5 beers do their job. So be sure you’re following The Sacrifice Bunt on Twitter for valuable and insightful information that will surely follow. Check the Twitter for updates on my wardrobe so you can say hi and experience me in all my real life glory.

Update: I’m wearing a sand jersey and gray Volcom hat. See you there!

Posted in misc, petco park | 1 Comment »

The Sacrifice Bunt Mobile now available

February 28th, 2010 by

Next time you need to get your Sac Bunt on at the game, on the trolley, or at the bar (highly encouraged–nay–required) your life just got easier. The Sacrifice Bunt Mobile features include:

  • Easy site navigation for both the touchscreen and crappy style browsers
  • Reading and commenting on all posts
  • Fast load times
  • Switch to normal version if need be
  • Ability to check The Sac Bunt in class / meetings

It should work with most phones including the iPhone, Palm Pre (pictured, which I own and love), Android, Blackberry, and a ton more. Just visit TheSacrificeBunt.com (TheSacBunt.com works too) and your mobile browser should be automatically detected. If yours doesn’t work please send a note or let me know in the comments.

Most smart phones have RSS readers, which I recommend as an alternative. Here’s our feed address.

We  also share deep insights on Twitter, so be sure to follow us there as well.

Cheers!

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

Have you ever wanted to see Jaff Decker dance?

January 27th, 2010 by

How about Allan Dykstra? Drew Cumberland? Blake Tekotte?

Alright, here you go:



Thanks to Lady Gaga, for inspiring us all.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

Change we can believe in

December 23rd, 2009 by

In my last update, I mentioned that the team will be wearing throwback uniforms for every Thursday home game this season. I said that they’d be wearing the 78 whites, but it looks like I jumped the gun a little bit.

On the team’s website, you can now vote for which jersey you’d like to see the team wear. The choices are the aforementioned 78 home jersey:

78 homes

The 78 road jersey:

78 roads

and the 84 home jersey:

84 homes

(Pictures courtesy of Padres.com)

Vote early and vote often for the 78 whites, please.

Posted in misc | 7 Comments »

“I don’t know if we need to do a lot this winter”

September 25th, 2009 by

…Says Kevin Towers.

A quick look at the Padres’ Pythagorean win-loss record indicates otherwise. It measures team performance more accurately than regular win-loss by using runs scored and runs allowed. The Padres Pythagorean record puts them at 63-90. Paints a different picture than their current actual 70-83 record, huh?

Also: the pitchers as a whole have an 84 ERA+!

Shout out to Gaslamp Ball.

Posted in misc | 15 Comments »

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