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The Sacrifice Preview 2012 – First Base

February 14th, 2012 by

Two years ago, the big news of the offseason was the trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. Coming off a 90-win season in which the Padres missed the playoffs by one game, everyone wondered if the team would regroup and go for it again–or play the averages and move their high-leverage superstar before it was too late. Then general manager Jed Hoyer chose the latter, sending Adrian off to the AL East in return for Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes (and Eric Patterson but let’s forget about him). Rizzo was the heir to the first base throne, but he was only 21-years-old and still had some seasoning to buy him time. Hoyer went out and assembled a hybrid first baseman out of Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu. I don’t think I need to tell you that this plan went terribly. By late June, Hawpe was on the DL and Cantu was cut loose. This opened the way for Rizzo, who got off to a hot start hitting a triple in his first game and a home run in his third. That’s pretty much where the excitement ended, as Rizzo fell into a huge slump, eventually losing the starting job to Jesus Guzman, a 27-year-old minor league journeyman who jumped at the opportunity he was given. By the end of the year, Guzman was the team’s most productive hitter, despite having only the ninth most plate appearances on the team.

Heading into 2012 it looked like a battle was brewing between Rizzo and Guzman. Guzman had won the job on the field but Rizzo was the future and there wasn’t much for him to take away from another season in Tucson. As it turned out, new general manager Josh Byrnes had another idea. He brought in Yonder Alonso from the Reds. Just as Rizzo’s pedigree had been written by the size of the name he had been acquired for, Alonso’s status at the top of the food chain was strengthened by Mat Latos‘ corresponding move to Cincinnati. With a “QB controversy” brewing, Rizzo was shipped to the north side of Chicago and Alonso’s face was plastered all over Petco Park and other promotional materials. He’s the starter, with Guzman as his trusty number two.

Back when the two were coexisting Padres, a lot was made of the differing styles of Rizzo and Alonso. Rizzo was something of an all-or-nothing player, the kind who hits 30 home runs in a season while striking out 200 times, while Alonso is a doubles hitter who prefers to use the whole field. Given Petco Park’s ridiculous and worst in the majors left-handed home run split, the ballpark made the decision on whom to keep pretty easy. Even before the trade, the projections all pegged Alonso’s home run total in the teens. Names like Mark Grace and Wally Joyner were bandied about as comps for Alonso. You’ll remember Joyner as the bald-headed first baseman who contributed +10 WAR to the team during the heyday of the late-90s. And before his time in San Diego, Joyner was a heralded rookie for the California Angels, starting in the 1986 All-Star Game and coming in second to Jose Canseco in that year’s Rookie of the year voting. All-in-all, not a horrible path for Alonso to follow.

For his part, Alonso has promised an approach that will fit inside of the stadium, saying:

“I am not thinking 40 or 50 home runs when I’m thinking about hitting,” Alonso said earlier this week at Petco Park.

“A lot of left-handed hitters and first basemen are thinking home runs,” Alonso continued. “That’s not the type of left-handed hitter I am.

“When I look at Petco Park, I don’t see how far away the fences are. I see a lot of grass. I feel like this ballpark likes the kind of hitter I am.”

 Yonder not as important as hits to Alonso (what a headline)

Sounds good, right? Alonso’s not coming here as some dragon slayer but rather as just a man, a man with limitations like anyone else. (Melvin’s note: Dovahkiin!) The fences are too far out? Then F em, I’ll do my work inside the lines. Except, that’s a lot easier said than done. As a minor leaguer, Alonso had a .325 BABIP, which is a bit higher than the .281 mark that the Padres have averaged at Petco since its inception in 2004. The problem with Petco isn’t that it kills home runs, it’s that it kills everything that comes off the bat. Here’s how Petco’s splits breakdown for left-handed batters in some key categories:

  • HR – 59
  • 2B - 86
  • H - 90*

*That’s including triples, which I don’t think the 240 lb. Alonso will be hitting many of. Take out the three-baggers and the park factor drops to 81.

**The lower the number, the more difficult it is for hitters, with 100 as Major League average

It’s good that Alonso seems to be coming in with the right mindset because Petco is a mental monster that has left other top-rated prospects in its wake. The big question will be whether or not Alonso has the mental fortitude to power through if the hits aren’t dropping like he’s used to come Memorial Day.

Earlier, I mentioned that Grace and Joyner have been two names thrown out as comps for Alonso but those two are on one end of the spectrum. On the other, we have the likes of James Loney and Lyle Overbay, two other modest hitters who proved to be a little too modest. There are a handful of +2 WAR seasons between the two of them but it can’t be said that either truly delivered on the potential that they showed as top prospects.

With his likeness now welcoming fans to the park, it seems safe to say that the team will give Alonso every opportunity to prove himself as a major leaguer. Especially since he’ll also be proving that Josh Byrnes made the right call when he shipped away both Mat Latos and Anthony Rizzo to make room for him.

Posted in players, spring training | 1 Comment »

Getting Funky With Mark Worrell

March 2nd, 2009 by

One of the two players the Padres received in return for traded shortstop Khalil Greene (the other player has yet to be named), reliever Mark Worrell has quite the backstory.

Drafted in 2004, Worrell saw success in the Cardinal farm system. Throwing a fastball and slider combination with a changeup mixed in against lefties, Worrell’s 2.96 and 4.07 tRA the past two AAA seasons demonstrates promise. Unfortunately for him, the Cards only gave him 13 innings to show is stuff at the show before shipping him back to AAA for the remainder of last year.

In a recent interview, the guy comes across as more than just a little unhappy about his playing time. Every response, regardless of the actual subject, seems to conclude with, “…and screw the Cardinals!”

I have to say it’s refreshing to see that kind of blatant honesty.

DM: You have an interesting delivery. How did your submarine delivery come about?

MW: I would drop down on occasions and as I grew older I realized how uncomfortable batters were when I did drop down. So I just stuck to it and guys aren’t squaring the ball against me. Look at the average against me. My average against left-handed batters opposed to right-handed batters is lower. I have done everything they have asked of me; I’ve worked hard on and off the field, like I said, and it is a little bit frustrating. Actually, it’s not a little but very frustrating.

So, about that submarine delivery. If I had to guess, I would say it was his unique delivery that held the right-hander from a meaningful opportunity from the Cards. They’re a traditional organization that has been less welcoming to submariners.

I had only heard reports on the funkyness of Mark’s delivery, until I was recently pointed toward a video showing the pitcher in action. I broke with my usual routine of making animated bouncing boob .GIFs to slow down and demonstrate Worrell’s delivery for maximum seeability.

Something about these animations pulls me in and hypnotizes my brain for a good few minutes.

My favorite frame:

Mark Worrell

You can see how well Worrell hides the ball, how his body seems further ahead in the delivery motion than his arm, and just how goofy he looks. A plus on all accounts in my book.

Mark Worrell delivery

I definitely look forward to seeing what Worrell can accomplish given an opportunity, and would love to read more of his fantastic interviews. Except he isn’t allowed to get angry at the Padres. That’s the fans’ job.

Thanks to PadreFanForever for the first video, and Padre beat writer Corey Brock for the second. I hope someone more familiar with pitching mechanics than I can leave some thoughts in the comments.

Posted in players, spring training | 6 Comments »

2009 Spring Training Uniform Crazy

February 25th, 2009 by

Well, the baseball season is officially under way. I’m back after a some time off from The Bunt in an attempt to write the quality content I brag so much about yet only rarely deliver.

Let’s kick off this hardcore analysis with everyone’s favorite subject that only serious blogs dare cover: uniforms.

Most jersey buffs are aware the Padres 2004 uniform overhaul pretty much ripped off the Brewers’ colors and design, which made their debut in 2000.

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but it appears the Brew Crew has since returned the favor. Shots of Milwaukee’s spring training / batting practice jerseys show a striking similarity to the 2005-2006 Padres spring duds, also known as the awesomest, most unique and still somehow good looking uniforms known to man. So much for that distinctiveness. Either way, I love the way that drop shadow pops against the dark colored jersey.

M. Update: Thanks to the result’s of Ray’s actual research (as opposed to my hard hitting guesswork), I’ve learned that we stole the BP design  from the Brewers too.  :(

Anyway, I might make it to spring training this year for the first time since the Padres warmed up for the season in Yuma. My kiddie cuteness may not earn special privelages nowadays, but I figure I can just tell people to get out of my way, I’m an important blogger. They’re bound to respect that.

Posted in spring training | 2 Comments »

There’s no earthly way of knowing

March 27th, 2008 by

Three days after optioning future messiah Chase Headley to Portland, the Padres have added another outfielder to the mix.

The Padres were already long on outfielders when they acquired Justin Huber from the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, though they still addressed a need or two in consummating the trade.

The Padres added the 25-year-old Huber for cash considerations or a player to be named later, a small price, Towers said, to land a player that he had long been interested in and one who could fill a need as a right-handed bat off the bench.

Padres acquire Huber from Royals

Huber’s had a little less than 100 big league at-bats and they haven’t been that impressive. His minor league stats, however, show us why the Padres might be interested in him: he’s got a little bit of pop, he walks a lot, and he strikes out even more. Sounds perfect. He’s also a converted first baseman, and was at one point a converted catcher, so he’s probably dynamite with the glove.

The question to wonder about is how he fits in with this team. Along with senior citizens Giles and Edmonds, the Padres have to find room in the outfield for McAnulty, Gerut, and Hairston. Now we’re throwing Huber onto the pile. That’s six outfielders for three spots. Of course, this all depends on how Edmonds is doing. If he starts the season on the disabled list, the problem solves itself but if he’s good to go, someone’s out and it’s probably McAnulty. And if McAnulty’s out, that means he and his 1.012 Spring Training OPS are left exposed.

It should be noted that the last time Towers got one of his guys for a player to be named later, he went on to post an OPS of 1.004 and steal (most of) our hearts. So maybe that old bastard knows what he’s doing.

Melvin Update: Luis Gonzalez and Kevin Cameron were optioned to Portland. The last spot in the pen goes to Enrique Gonzalez.

Posted in hot stove, players, spring training | 1 Comment »

Chase Headley to Start Year in AAA

March 24th, 2008 by

Chase Headley

Headley is optioned to Portland, reports Corey Brock of Padres.com.

Yeah, he tore it up in Spring Training.  Most notable is his successful switch to left field. At the dish? They’re spring training stats. The thing about spring training stats is, the front office, much like myself, doesn’t put too much stock in them as predictors.

Here’s why: The competition in March isn’t equivalent to the majors. Pitchers generally work on delivery, control, or experiment with pitches, techniques, etc.  Top position playing starters don’t always start, which lowers the defense abilities below what you’d face in the majors.

Perhaps most importantly, the 50 or so (at best) plate appearances participants see is hardly enough to draw any significant conclusions about ability.

Spring training is a time to rely on observational analysis in the field, the readiness of a player on a personal level, and other front office considerations

In today’s game, the roll of a scout in personnel decisions is diminishing. This is one of those opportunities (See, I’ll admit they exist) where a decision made from a traditional scouting perspective is most appropriate.

I’ll admit that of all the options in left field, the most exciting option is  starting Chase Headley on March 31st. Without even checking with me however, Padre brass decided the long term interest of the ball club needs Headley starting the season in Portland.  Considering his cup of coffee with the team last June, we know the front office has no qualms with letting him loose when the time is right.

Looks like Wade LeBlanc made a late come back in our prospect poll on the right there.  Agree or disagree on the prospect ranking?  Let us know in the poll.  Agree or disagree with my thoughts?  Let us know in the comments. PS– Sorry about the lack of jokes today.  More foreskin humor to come, I promise.

Posted in players, spring training, statistics | Comments Off

Top 5 Spring Training Uniform Crazies

March 17th, 2008 by

We here at the Sacrifice Bunt are fans of looking good. A little swagger never hurt anybody, right? I’ve gone as far as creating a study to define a new standard in hipness and with withitness at looking suave.

I would now like to share my favorite uniform crazies from spring training. What’s a uniform crazy? You know I don’t have an answer to that. What do the points mean? LOTS, obviously.

5. I’m so freaking jealous some teams don’t have to wear the crappy hats

The Florida Marlins

As far as I can tell the Marlins, Angels, and Rockies all got out of it somehow. Maybe no one noticed? Why do I even care as much as I do? Some questions in life cannot be answered, my friends. Some questions can be answered, but failed former Padre prospects like myself simply aren’t privy to this kind of top secret info. Score: 8.0

4. New Padres catchers’ mask

Padres Catchers’ Mask

These goalie style masks are on their way out, bug dagnabbit ours now looks less girly and weird. Lord knows we need all the manly we can get with Mikey C gone and Brian G still on the roster.

Do take my opinion with a grain of salt. I pegged CY a bit, shall we say, not nearly as awesome before the “happenings”. Score: Mas O Menos

3. Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers wear regular season jerseys inexplicably during spring training

Dodgers and Astros

Not sure what to make of it, but I like it. I can’t help but see spring training jerseys as a marketing tool to sell more crap. The jerseys, the coaches jackets and now special spring training hats change every other year. Just enough to make dumb people buy more shit. Pick what look works and stick with it. Score: ¥

2. 2005-2006 spring training jerseys

Padres 2006 Spring Training Jerseys

Beautiful. Clean, and unique. You never see that, especially with a design used previously by the team in Milwaukee. You can still find these garbs of hotness on eBay for cheap.

Compare to the current scheme. That photo is from 2007. You may notice the toned down hat foreskin for 2008. Anyone with me seeing a 2009 circumcision? Score: Hat Foreskin. Just to say that again.

1. Giles antic: Chargers helmet

Brian Giles wears Chargers helmet

Sometimes I feel spoiled watching our boy B break the standards of normalcy on a baseball team for my amusement. At least I assume it’s for my amusement. Though Brian may enjoy some derivative lulz for himself during attempts to make me and only me laugh. The point is there aren’t a lot of players who show off a goofy, lovable personality the way Brian Giles does. The definition of lovable is left to your own discretion.

Add an article like this to the mix, which shows Giles wearing said helmet like a jackass with nary an explanation and we get comedey gold. I love the this kind of non-sequitor behavior around baseball. Aside from the baseball part about baseball, of course. This is the stuff that makes Matty Vasgersian so special. Score:Melvin Nieves-worthy. That’s right. That high.

Do you have a favorite spring training uniform crazy? Share in the comments! Don’t forget to leave a score.

Also, if you haven’t voted in our top prospect poll on the right there, now’s as good a time as any. So far people are with me liking Kyle Blanks.

Posted in spring training, the funny | 6 Comments »

Oh, the humanity!

February 22nd, 2008 by

I know this is a few days old, but it’s drawn enough attention to warrant another look. Baseball Prospectus’s Joe Sheehan released his Spring Training Preview for the NL West on February 12th (and has since been republished on CNNSI for the non-subscribing world to see) and it seems that it has accomplished its primary goal of inciting rage amongst the basement dwelling bloggers of the Friar faithful. In my case, this rage is generally directed towards the vacuum of cyberspace through my computer screen in the form of beer-fueled obscenities, the likes of which excite my blood pressure and frighten my neighbors.

I won’t lie, in some ways I love Baseball Prospectus more than my own wife (don’t worry, she doesn’t read this site and cooks a mean chicken pot pie from scratch, a fact that’ll keep her – and this is a rough estimate – at least in my top five), but I really think they phoned this one in. For what it’s worth, I’ve always believed BP was often times unjustly enamored with a youthful roster, regardless of their contributions to the team. But I regress – let’s get to the nitty gritty.

I’m not one to flap my gums when it comes to pre-Spring Training team analysis but I’ve paid a pretty penny for their services and while I expect this from those front-running asshats at ESPN, seeing BP reduced to this level of analysis truly hurts. The most glaring insult for Padres fans (and fans of logic/reason) resides in their Winter Grade analysis for the Friars:

They didn’t do a whole lot to address the aging of the roster, and with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers having passed them in terms of talent on hand, it may be time for the Pads to blow off a year.

“Blow off a year?” Look, I’ll be the first to admit that the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are brimming with young, talented players – but it’s not as if we’re the Twins, staring down the barrel of the gun at a heavily improved Indians or Tigers roster with a new ballpark and significant roster turnover to think about [deep breath]. We’re not looking at a bloated roster with no talent and hope far off on the horizon; if anything, I’d say that this is in response to what was a widely televised flameout to end the 2007 season. You could make a strong argument that the Padres are still built to win now with their depth in the rotation and, in my opinion, an improved lineup competing against the two anointed “top” teams – L.A. and Arizona – who have not necessarily addressed their own offensive woes. I’ll get to that later…

Remember, this is in response to a team that has improved its record in an increasingly more talented division each of the last three seasons with its “aging roster,” and finished third in a tight NL West race only after pushing the season to an extra-innings play-in against the 2007 NL Champions in which the winning run has yet to score (too soon?). Let that settle for a minute before reading it again: “…it may be time for the Pads to blow off a year.”

As if the above assertions weren’t insultingly ignorant enough…

Third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff’s big second half bought him some time. However, his poor glove and undisciplined approach at the plate are likely to give way very soon to the doubles and walks of Chase Headley.

…what?! Look, everybody knows that the Mashin’ Macedonian is, arguably, one of the worst defensive 3B in the league. It’s not even necessarily debatable. But this is a moot point. Chase Headley is no longer filling out the depth chart as a 3B and he hasn’t been since around the time the Padres missed out on Fukudome in the middle of December. The reasoning behind this is simple: Headley isn’t known for his glove and there’s a pressing need for him in LF. As was outlined in the afore-mentioned Kevin Goldstein headlining article, Future Shock: Padres Top 11 Prospects:

The Padres are moving Headley to left field this spring in order to get his bat into the lineup, and he’ll be given the opportunity to earn a big-league job. The logic of that decision is that neither he nor incumbent third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff is an especially good defender at the hot corner, but Headley is more apt to succeed in the outfield.

Beyond that, BP had reported nearly a month prior to the publication of Sheehan’s piece that Headley would be moving to the OF by linking to a Padres news article dated to late December. At this point, I’m willing to bet that the $39.99 membership might be a little too rich for Sheehan given his inability to do research through the very site that he writes for.

Additionally, BP has always admired Kouzmanoff’s ability to drive the ball to all fields and, ironically, Goldstein’s Future Shock article from last season has this to say…

Outstanding hitting prospect with well above-average pitch recognition, bat speed and power.

…and while the biggest criticism against him are his unintentional walk totals it doesn’t matter if you absolutely rake, which was the case when assessing his Double-A statisics.

While a 25-year-old at Double-A is far from a spring chicken, and he did draw only 27 unintentional walks in 394 minor-league PAs, 51 extra-base hits in 94 games is pretty amazing.

Now that the misinformation regarding the Padres is out of the way, I would like to look at their supposed inferiority in the farm system. I might be inclined to agree with this statement in past years, however, there is very little evidence within the rest of this article that asserts this point. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers, while both boasting extremely young and talented rosters, have a problem translating that prospect-level talent into Major League stat sheet fodder. The Padres hit better than both of these teams, regardless of talent. This is a point that didn’t go unnoticed by Joe Sheehan, who had this to say regarding those scrappy, young Dodgers:

There are four outfielders for three spots, and it’s excruciatingly clear to anyone familiar with baseball who ranks fourth among them. However, the likelihood that the Dodgers relegate Juan Pierre to a bench role is nil. Every PA he takes from Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier is a mistake.

He goes on to assert that their one move to make is to trade Juan Pierre and let the youngsters pan out; events which, he counters against himself, will never happen. I firmly believe that the Dodgers would be the team to beat if Ned Colletti wasn’t in charge of dismantling this franchise and making poor decisions in the free agent market. To me, this season is no exception. Sheehan disagrees on two counts:

The Jones signing was an excellent case of buying low, and Kuroda’s contract is a good gamble given the price of MLB free agent starting pitchers. Better still, the Dodgers avoided making another bad trade, retaining all of their young talent.

…Kuroda is a good gamble, but wait for the knockout punch…

Ned Colletti has squandered a fair amount of Logan White’s work in his time as the Dodgers’ GM, but he avoided doing so this winter. Thanks to that, he heads into the spring with his best team, and with the best chance of having that team play. There remains the need to push Pierre and Nomar Garciaparra into supporting roles, the latter so that OBP machine Andy LaRoche can take over at third base. The “right” Dodger lineup can win 94 games and the division. How Joe Torre apportions playing time in a situation not dissimilar to the 1996 Yankees will determine whether the Dodgers fulfill their potential.

Might I first point out that Sheehan’s belief that the Dodgers bought low on Andruw Jones’ 2/$36m contract is absolutely absurd. And somebody will need to explain this to me over a few beers one day, but is Sheehan’s entire point that the Dodgers will be awesome(r) if they don’t field the team they’re expected to field? As is my argument, Sheehan has no problem admitting the Dodgers boast some of the best young talent of all the teams in the division but doesn’t mince words – the more games expected starters Pierre and Garciaparra play, the worse the Dodgers will be. Whatever. I guess it’s cool because they’re still young.

On to the Diamondbacks, who for whatever reason have the media seeing Sedona Red while obtaining an unheralded cult following due to media-darling/dog-abuser Eric Byrnes. Let’s go over the facts:

  1. Although the Diamondbacks are young (Team Age for Batters/Pitchers, 26.6/28.0), they simply cannot hit. Their 4.40 R/G was only better than San Francisco (4.22) and Washington (4.15).
  2. While they went 90-72, their Pythagorean W/L was a paltry 79-83 due to their -20 run-differential.
  3. Randy Johnson’s mustache carries with it the secrets of the universe.

Sheehan seems to have securely strapped himself into the Baby ‘Backs Bandwagon (note to self: trademark immediately). Keep in mind that Sheehan’s task – as a baseball analyst who is being paid a lot more than me – is to defend the chance of a repeat NL Division title for the Diamondbacks after they just destroyed all logic and reason when they put up a 90-72 record with a -20 run-differential. He gets off to a strong start:

Josh Byrnes added the missing piece by trading for a top-tier starting pitcher in Haren, dealing many pieces from a deep system while not giving up the very best of it.

Fantastic, this has it all: top-tier pitcher, deep rotation in a pitching-centered division, ability to hold onto the farm leaguers. Excellent. Now reel those suckers in – hook, line, and sinker.

Shuffling Valverde out at his likely peak was aggressive, the kind of year-too-early move that Branch Rickey would admire.

The oddest part about this is why Sheehan decides to link to Rickey’s playing career, but that’s beside the point; the fact of the matter is that the Valverde deal potentially ruins the 2008 Arizona Diamondbacks’ chance at a repeat division title and it has gone unnoticed by not only BP, but multiple sporting news sources who fail to recognize the importance of the bullpen at a time when you’re overcoming a negative run-differential.

Bob Melvin anointed Brandon Lyon as his closer heading into camp, as much to spike a potential controversy as anything else. In the long term, it’s Juan Cruz who has the power stuff to fit best in the role. Tony Pena and Chad Qualls may also make bids if and when Lyon falters.

Every single one of these pitchers had either a career year or above-average production last season. Valverde converted 47 of 52 saves, meaning that more than half of the team’s victories were determined by a player who is no longer on the team. Not necessarily a good omen for a team that values every single run it can get.

I am not going to make a prediction regarding who finishes on top of the NL West before Spring Training has gotten beyond player conditioning drills (is it safe to say Giants, dead last?), but I’m betting that I might come forth with more factual evidence and far less fiction when making such bold statements. Besides, I’ll let you do that for me.

Melvin Update (2/25/08): Preston Gomez is a special guest writer for The Sacrifice Bunt. Ray and I would like to thank Preston for his contribution to our community.

Posted in gripes, spring training, statistics | 9 Comments »

Baseball Prospectus Top 11 Padres Prospects

February 21st, 2008 by

Kevin Goldstein’s Padres prospect list is out and holy shitballs, Chase Headley and Matt Antonelli are five star prospects! There have been rumblings that these two are solid yet not top caliber guys. Goldstein disagrees, and ranks our top boys with the likes of Andy LaRoche, Cabrera trade centerpiece Cameron Maybin, and Dan Haren bounty Carlos Gonzalez.

Headley and Antonelli will find their place around the young core of Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Adrian Gonzalez, and Khalil Greene.

The “perfect world projection” is the most fun part of Goldstein’s analysis, as our imaginations go wild with expectations of what might be. Goldstein expects middle of the order offensive production from Headley, while his position on the diamond is still to be determined.

He sees Antonelli as:

An offense-oriented second baseman who can hit leadoff, smack 15-20 home runs a year, and steal 25-30 bases.

If I were a cartoon my eyes would be wide open with dollar signs flashing at these projections. The dollar signs of course refer to the untold advertising riches reaped by the proprietor of a blog dedicated to the newest MLB dynasty, the San Diego Padres.

Here’s the final list:

Five-Star Prospects
1. Chase Headley, 3B/OF
2. Matt Antonelli, 2B
Four-Star Prospects
3. Matt Latos, RHP
Three-Star Prospects
4. Drew Miller, RHP
5. Cesar Carrillo, RHP
6. Drew Cumberland, SS
7. Wade LeBlanc, LHP
8. Will Inman, RHP
9. Kyle Blanks, 1B
Two-Star Prospects
10. Kellen Kulbacki, OF
11. Mitch Canham, C

The next surprise is Kyle Blanks as a two star at number 9. Though the star system is designed to eliminate the near pointless debates on minor list order discrepancies, I have to say I expected a high ceiling guy like Blanks a bit further up the list. Goldstein identifies Blanks’ larger, limiting physique as his biggest hindrance. Goldstein also clarifies the ranking by mentioning scouts’ general disagreement on Blanks’ projection.

The current minor league system is a testament to the abilities Sandy Alderson and Grady Fuson have to improve our team’s future. The turnaround these two (among others) engineered in three short years is more than commendable.

As a small market organization, we are lucky to have smart business men in charge who keep us competitive with our more abundant neighboring markets. I’ve said it before, but what an encouraging time it is to be a fan.

PS, If any Baseball Prospectus bigwigs are reading this, let me make up for my blatant ripoff of your content with a no kickback endorsement of Baseball Prospectus’ subscription offerings. Now holla at us in our new poll! Who should be after Latos?

Posted in awards, players, spring training | 3 Comments »

The Winder-Upper

February 19th, 2008 by

Out of stretch, Hoffman winds up

As far back as I can remember, Trevor Hoffman has always thrown out of the stretch. And not just any stretch, but a herky-jerky crazy stretch. When Trevor’s statue is put up next to Tony’s in Petco Park, he’ll be forever frozen in time out of the stretch.

Trevor Hoffman

Although, and I’m no sculptor, but this statue seems like it’d be a prime candidate to fall over. And maybe that’s the real reason Trevor’s gone to the windup.

Hoffman hasn’t deviated from a stretch delivery for more than a decade, since following the advice of Mike Roark, a Padres pitching coach who told Hoffman that by throwing exclusively from the stretch, he would become more accurate. “I’d say it’s been since 1994 or 1995 since I last did it,” he said of the windup.

The windup “might help generate a little more than out of the stretch,” Hoffman said. “Maybe it’ll allow me to get a little more downhill and get out in front.”

Hoffman said he would use the windup, which he and pitching coach Darren Balsley discussed recently, only if he doesn’t sacrifice his accuracy.

While it’s scary to think that our 40 year old, future Hall of Fame closer is changing things up this late in the game, I think he’s earned our trust. That, and I am far too concerned with what this windup is going to look like. Is it going to be his regular delivery, just this time starting with his toes pointed towards the plate? Is he going to go over his head and then into his regular delivery? Is his regular delivery going to be incorporated at all?

The season needs to start already so we can find out.

Posted in players, spring training | Comments Off

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