Definitely awesome. Now come on, “Lets have some baseball fun!”™
Special thanks to Ivan B. Here’s part one.
Definitely awesome. Now come on, “Lets have some baseball fun!”™
Special thanks to Ivan B. Here’s part one.
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.
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.
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:
1. Chase Headley, 3B/OF
2. Matt Antonelli, 2B
3. Matt Latos, RHP
4. Drew Miller, RHP
5. Cesar Carrillo, RHP
6. Drew Cumberland, SS
7. Wade LeBlanc, LHP
8. Will Inman, RHP
9. Kyle Blanks, 1B
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?
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.
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.
Ok ok I’m sorry ahead of time for yet another cop-out links post. “Links are nice, but where’s the next 5 more reasons to keep Mike Cameron? post”, you ask?
I don’t know either. But I’m busy. I probably will be busy for the next two months, and as of five minutes ago this site has earned all of $2.03 from the ads. All time. I think you can feel for me.
I still have my day job. But to be honest, I’ve thought about quitting it.
Photo © Mailingering
Could he come any cheaper? $900,000 plus $100,000 incentives? Iguchi and now Tony Clark have essentially signed for whatever the Padres ask plus a stick of Dentine gum.
Clark hit just above average last year for Arizona. He’s also only a couple years removed from an underrated 154 OPS+ in 2005. OBPs of .279 and .310 the past two years aren’t the kind of upside you want from a guy like Clark, however.
What you do get is “veteran leadership” if that term still has any meaning, and a high ceiling slugging option to spell Adrian. Speaking of underrated numbers, Adrian Gonzalez played in all but one game last year for the Padres. I don’t know if that means we’ll need Clark more or less in 2008.
I’m not yet convinced on how PETCO park effects Greene specifically. But there’s some elementary offensive analysis for ya, and a fun little lineup optimizer to boot.
…The Southern California native rejected a deal with the Chicago White Sox before accepting another with the San Diego Padres.
Holla. People love us. See above.
Blogger and Author J.C. Bradbury has been on a sort of personal vendetta to show the truth about HGH. Most peer reviewed evidence shows HGH to be of little to no use for professional athletes. This is reflected even in The Mitchell Report itself. Looks like people are coming around.
One of my favorite and Ray’s least favorite blogs Fire Joe Morgan has decided to reveal their authors’ identities. Aside from my life as a former Padre prospect and failing blogger, I am proud to announce that I’ve exchanged an email or two with writer Ken Tremendous (hereby referred to as Mose Schrute). Therefore, I now consider myself best friends with Mose and famous through association.
The topic of the emails involved finding wires to get the power back on.
One potential offseason scenario bantered about in our heads involves trading Khalil Greene with prospect for Jason Bay. This would improve our defense at shortstop, and fill out the outfield with a good hitter humanly capable of laying off an outside slider. Trade the overvalued, and sign / trade for the undervalued, right?
Quite frankly, we would be selling low in just about any trade we could possibly make and we’re not going to sell low,” Huntington said. “We need to build depth in this organization and the only way you can build that depth is to trade players when their value is high.
Damn. Have I mentioned that as a Padre fan, Neil Huntington scares the crap out of me? Guess we won’t be getting Snell to top the deal off.
Nobody broke the news to Jason Bay and others that doing things to look good isn’t the answer. This just in: other teams don’t give out talent for nothing. I mean, uh, Meredith for Bay!
Nice little rundown of the state of the Padres. Tip of the old noodle to GaslampBall.
The Padres don’t like going to arbitration, so this avoids the process for Greene’s remaining eligible years. I enjoy this gem from writer Bernie Wilson:
Retaining Greene is important since he’s one of the Padres’ few homegrown talents.
Ok. Guess we missed the boat releasing Jack Cassel, he was homegrown too.
Baseball Prospectus lists Headley (23), Antonelli (39), and Latos (61). You’ll need a subscription to read it.
ESPN says Headley (43), Blanks (68), and Antonelli (93) are the team’s top farm hands. You’ll need an insider membership to read it. Don’t get one.
MiLB.com puts Antonelli (27) and Headley (29) as the best in our farm, out of only 50. It’s free since no writer will take credit.
We’ve seen other lists tell similar tales. Headley and Antonelli are studs and likely to become productive major leaguers, but probably not superstars. First baseman Kyle Blanks and pitcher Mat Latos are younger and riskier, but have higher ceilings.
We’re playing around with polls. Enjoy!
The great showdown: who is your preferred Padres President / CEO?
Total Voters: 16