Padres bloggin' since 2007

Epic Athletics Nation Interview with Billy Beane

May 29th, 2008 by

Athletics Nation recently concluded a content packed interview with Oakland GM Billy Beane.  Here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

Every other sentence out of the man’s mouth (in monitor form) I find myself shaking my head  with two thoughts: (1) Why did I not think about that before; and (2) Holy crap he’s right.

Beane decided to rebuild this year because he didn’t expect his club as was constructed to perform much better than mediocre.  He didn’t think they were bad, just that they wouldn’t quite dominate.  He would rather be bad now with potential greatness than simply above average.  Reminds me of the Marlins.

This philosophy has Padres applications.

Sandy Alderson has stated that there are things he would have done differently if fans would be willing to tolerate a bit of change.  I have a feeling we would have seen a similar blueprint to Beane’s when Alderson came aboard.  Unfortunately the media led fanbase tends to be a temperamental bunch and expects success right away.

Other things I learned reading the interview:

  • Beane will drop the name of a player offhand he says has performed well.  I think to myself, “who is that guy?”, then proceed to check his numbers and learn he’s tore it up, yet I had no idea.  This is coming from someone who claims to “follow” the team.  Perhaps the significance of those quotation marks around “follow” need re-evaluation.  Or maybe it’s the media’s coverage that needs some work.
  • New inefficiency discovery: Depth is valuable because it curtails the injury bug.  Injured players don’t need to be rushed when you have guys capable of taking their spots.  Beane gave the example of Greg Smith’s success in place of the hurt Dan Haren.
  • An old market inefficiency is being corrected: Teams are beginning to value prospects properly, making them difficult to obtain.  This wasn’t explicitly covered in the interview (or ever stated by Beane, to my knowledge) but it has been milling about in my mind since the Swisher and Haren deals.  If Beane was rebuilding, why trade a pair of good, young players who are still relatively cost controlled?  The only “star for prospect package” deals that brought major young talent involved stars with at least two years of arbitration eligibility.  Even Johan Santana didn’t fetch the Mets’ top prospect.
  • Speed was the aspect of Rajai Davis’ game that made him worth the roster spot on the waiver claim from San Francisco.  Speed.  This coming from the team that stole 61 bases, that isn’t a typo, yet won 93 games in 2006.  Just when you think you have Beane figured out, he says something like that.
  • Does Beane believe in clutch hitting?  Nothing earth shattering in his response:

I think ultimately most guys are going to, given if they have enough at bats, will probably hit close to what they hit for their career.

Check it out, it’s a fascinating read.

The outfield poll on the right will close in a week.  Most seem to agree on Chase Headley and Brian Giles in the outfield, I have a hard time disagreeing.  Jody Gerut is making a pretty strong pull for the center field spot, which I’m fine with.  Normally I’d make a quip about his career .332 OPB in the leadoff spot, but I guess these are the times we live in.  Somewhere Jim Edmonds is crying.  Outs all around!

Be sure to make your voice heard before the poll goes away.

Posted in sacrificial links | Comments Off

New Padres Blog: The Kept Faith

May 21st, 2008 by

Sacrificial Links

Totally switching up the verb tense on us.  The Kept Faith.

After skimming past the NBA discussion, I found that this post has one of the longest funny tupe fake conversations.  They exceed even Fire Joe Morgan standards, very impressive.  There can never be too many fat Gwynn jokes, right?  Each one liner grows more clever than the one preceding it.

Looks like a group of five guys, one of whom apparently is affiliated with San Diego faux rap group Bad Credit.

So that’s me being nice.

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Starring Peter Finch as Kevin Towers

May 20th, 2008 by

Fresh off of his simmering interview with XX, Towers unleashed this beaut in the Union-Tribune:

“It’s the way you play the game,” said Towers, visibly angry. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the intensity and how you carry yourself.

“We’ve got some hungry players down below looking for an opportunity. There’s not one player in the system who is going to turn it around. If we make changes, it will be wholesale.”

He also said, “We’ve been bad, no question about it. There’s been no signs to tell us or our fans we’re going to turn this around. I’m not going to watch this for another four months.

“Morale shouldn’t be good. If it’s good, we have other issues. If morale is good, they have no expectations of being better. Morale should be horrible.”

“It’s a reflection of all of us. It’s got to be tough for all of our fans. This isn’t pointing fingers at all of the players. It’s all of us. I hope we all have the same feeling it hurts.”

Towers seeing red after tough loss: If changes come, they’ll be big ones, angry GM says

The real stinger, however, was provided by Tom Krasovic, who wrote:

The ballpark vibe recalled Mission Valley, 2003, when San Diego crowds oohed and aahed over the exploits of visiting players and the home team gave little cause to cheer.

Posted in gripes, media | Comments Off

Prospect Prospectus

May 19th, 2008 by

Kevin Towers was on XX Radio this morning and talked about the state of THE Chase Headley. Some notable quotes include:

Headley’s the guy that we’ve got our eye on. I mean, he’s really started to heat up with the bat and that’s what we were hoping for. When people were asking “Why isn’t he coming up?” a couple weeks ago, he was hitting about .220 and we want this kid, when he gets up here, to have a great deal of confidence, not only offensively but defensively, and hopefully put him into a situation where there’s not a lot of pressure this guy’s going to be the savior of this ballclub and I think that time is close.

He is the one guy that we’ve got our eye on, just because we’ve struggled in left field. I think if you put Headley in there now with Jody Gerut and Giles, it’s a middle of the order type hitter that should be able to provide a little bit of offense, and I think that’s been the biggest discouraging thing about this ballclub.

So there you have it. Expect Headley sometime before, oh I’ll say August.

There’s a vote of confidence in there as well for the TSB endorsed Gerut. That’s nice.

Posted in hot stove, media, players | 1 Comment »

War on Strikeouts: The 4SD Front

May 18th, 2008 by

In honor of Padres broadcaster Mark Grant’s criticism of the Padres’ high strikeout totals during the pre-game show and during play today, I submit for your review the following table courtesy of ESPN.
For informational and entertainment purposes, teams who made the playoffs have been highlighted.  Anyone see a trend here?  Because I sure don’t, and I’d love to hear Grant’s explanation:

2007 Strikeouts by team
Rank Team Strikeouts
1 Florida 340
2 San Diego 335
3 Arizona 318
4 Texas 312
5 Tampa Bay 304
6 Cleveland 298
7 Philadelphia 297
8 San Francisco 296
9 Chicago Cubs 294
10 Pittsburgh 293
11 Oakland 292
12 Washington 291
13 Milwaukee 289
14 Colorado 283
15 NY Mets 275
16 Boston 272
17 Houston 272
18 LA Angels 269
19 St. Louis 265
20 Baltimore 263
21 Chicago Sox 261
22 Minnesota 260
23 Detroit 255
24 Toronto 254
25 Cincinnati 254
26 Kansas City 251
27 NY Yankees 241
28 LA Dodgers 241
29 Atlanta 235
30 Seattle 227

Granted, high strikeout numbers aren’t a particularly good thing.  But in the grand scheme of performance indicators they don’t mean a team isn’t playing well.

Further in his analysis, Grant goes on to advise hitters to shorten up their swings to put more balls into play.  This plan will likely lower strikeout totals.  The downside though, and this is a biggie, is it effectively eliminates power.  I’d love to hear that conversation between he and Ryan Howard or Dan Uggla on the horrendous problem of strikeouts and why they need a new approach.

edit 5/18: Ray suggested I take a look at changes in hitting on two strike counts. The idea is that hitters often take the Grant’s suggested approach with two strikes on them. Batters shorten their swing to “protect the plate”, or avoid the strikeout. We can use this situation to imitate how slugging shapes up under Grant’s recommendation .  Here’s the “pass through” count data from 2006 courtesy of Tom Tango:

Count Slugging PCT
2006 MLB* .427
3 – 2 .380
2 – 2 .333
1 – 2 .294

This simple analysis shows that when hitters (presumably) shorten their swing with two strikes, even with full counts, their power deteriorates significantly.  It should also be mentioned that hitters’ OBP and wOBA drop way down with two strikes on the batter.

*This is 2006 median, not mean, slugging

Posted in gripes, media, statistics | 1 Comment »

My breaking heart, Part II

May 16th, 2008 by

H.J.

Just kidding. We don’t care.

Posted in misc, players | Comments Off

9 Reasons to Still Be Excited About the Padres

May 13th, 2008 by

Well, the San Diego Padres are off to a disappointing 15-25 start, and the city of San Diego is hurting.  Attendance is down, message boards are calling for changes, and radio talk show hosts are lambasting the club with poorly reasoned analysis and sensationalist negativity.  Well, we should be used to that last one by now, nothing new there.

Fear not!  Keep your cool.  Don’t call in to radio shows.  Melvin Nieves is here to melt away the disappointment with 9 reasons to still be excited about the San Diego Padres:

  1. The Padres have never worn a vest jersey. Good God, who would believe somehow more teams are switching to these mockeries of style.
  2. Tony Clark: black guy
  3. Led by Matt Antonelli and Chase Headley, the farm system improved from 29th in the majors to 12th according to Baseball Prospectus. The new training facility in the Dominican offers additional promise for the farm system.
  4. Jody Gerut is here to provide the unconquerable, unbeatable weapon that is team speed. Bonus black guy.
  5. Fewer TV viewers mean broadcaster Matt Vasgersian has a longer leash for offending as many people as he sees fit, to our amusement.
  6. Since the team balked at hosting the official Padre blogger meetup day, we’re free to be as angry as we please without risking good standing with the club.
  7. We don’t live in Minnesota.
  8. Paul DePodesta’s blog.  The Sacrifice Bunt finally has something in common with someone smart.
  9. To show those nerds at Baseball Prospectus their 1.6% Padres playoff odds are for sissies.

Posted in the funny | 4 Comments »

Site Design Update

May 12th, 2008 by

Hey all you Sac Bunters out there, I made some changins to help the site design read easier and look hipper.  The site is now wider, since most people these days have larger monitors we can take advantage of our consumer whorism a bit more.

Those with smaller screens / resolutions (specifically 800×600 for the nerds out there) will now have to scroll horizontally to read the site.  That serves all 1.6% of you right (I looked it up) for not bolstering the economy with needless purchases.

There’s a new, larger, spiffier header graphic.  The kids tell me the grunge look is “where it’s at” so we went ahead and switched from one web design trend to another.  The font in the content area is also a bit larger to pacify my growing and demanding audience of senior quilting club mothers.

Compliments or complains, especially complaints, can be left in the comments.

Edit: While I have you here, be sure to vote on the poll to the right.  It will expire quickly this time so you don’t get to use 20/20 hindsight and show off how right you are, you liar you.

Posted in misc | 4 Comments »

He gone

May 9th, 2008 by

Edmonds is released by Padres

In 90 at-bats, he hit one home run and two doubles while striking out 10 times. His 38 OPS+ is the lowest on the team of any player with 60 at-bats, the next lowest being Khalil at 53. He also created 6 runs. For some perspective, in his best season (2004: 170 OPS+), Edmonds created 8 runs in his first 32 at-bats.

Along with his struggles at the plate, Edmonds was not the defender most people remembered from his time in St. Louis and Anaheim. He seemed to lack the speed he needed to get to most balls.  Hollywood Jim was no where to be found.

He got off to a poor start with the Padres, suffering a strained calf during Spring Training. This caused him to miss the rest of Spring Training and the beginning of the year. Towers was quick to take this in mind, telling XX:

“I think he probably got a mulligan for the first two to three weeks just based on missing all spring. But, you know, certainly he’s lost a step or two. I think that’s been pretty obvious in the outfield, going back on balls, covering the gaps. And he just doesn’t seem to have his legs underneath him (or) the bat speed with guys that have plus velocity.”

Well, sort of.

Of course, we at The Sacrifice Bunt deserve much of the blame. It was us who started up the Edmonds bandwagon, saying way back in December:

Hollywood Jim could be a classic turnaround story. He’s already on the team’s radar and if he’s as healthy as he says he is, why not? If he bounces back to an average player by his standards, he’ll still be a middle of the lineup guy.

Whoops. Sorry.

Edmonds will be replaced by Jody Gerut, who was hitting 308/.382/.570 in Portland.

Posted in hot stove, players | Comments Off

Iguchi’s Key Is Working The Count, But Not At All

May 7th, 2008 by

In the top of the sixth during the Padres-Braves match up tonight, Matt Vasgersian and Mark Grant were discussing Padres 2008 second baseman Tadahito Iguchi and his hitting troubles this year.

Vasgersian, using Iguchi’s single on a 3-2 count as an example, proclaimed that Iguchi’s key to hitting success, along with the key of many others in the game, is to work the count.  Let me say that you’re not going to get much of an argument from me about that.  Working the count and taking walks are an important part of not making outs, which in turn is important to winning ballgames.  However, a quick check of Baseball-Reference.com shows some amusing numbers:

Tadahito Iguchi
Year Pitches per PA OPS+
2005 3.84 104
2006 3.91 97
2007 3.88 92
2008 4.19 79

Pitches per plate appearance of course are the most elemental aspect of “working the count”.

30 seconds.  30 seconds is how long it took me to fire up B-R and check if the facts support a theory.  It probably would have been faster if I spelled Iguchi’s name right my first try.

This is more than just one event

I don’t want to hang this one on just Vasgersian and Grant.  The segment sounded like it came from a producer.  Reason being that when the subject was introduced, a quick recap video of Iguchi’s previous plate appearance was cued up and ready to go.  It’s just a guess from me, but the whole segment seemed a bit polished to be just Vasgersian rambling to kill time.  (If it didn’t come from a producer, then I’ll admit that changes things.  I don’t expect the play-by-play guy to check b-r for every off the cuff remark on a live broadcast, I know it’s a hard enough job.)

This gaffe represents the Padres’ broadcasting crew, run by Cox communications, and their poor regard for the proper use of statistics.  Statistical sampling issues, among others, abound on nearly every broadcast.  Arbitrary constraints are thrown in to samples sizes which apparently make the information “interesting”, but end up being misleading and not at all helpful to the fan’s understanding of the game.  The number of outs made on Tuesdays that Brian Giles tans before the game are what we end up hearing about, and it sucks.

Things may not get better.  Producer Ed Barnes had this to say regarding statistics recently, courtesy of the Union Tribune:

“I don’t want it to be wall-to-wall stats,” he said. “I’m not the guy who’s going to be introducing EqA – equivalent average – to the show or something like that. . . . If we can find a way to put a nice bow on something and provide a nice context, then I don’t think a new stat is necessarily a bad thing. But we are not going to be scanning ‘Baseball Prospectus’ from this year and putting that on the air.”

This isn’t what I’m asking for, wall to wall nerdiness.  Except maybe equivalent average, I am asking for that.  Because it’s easy, and it includes a buttload more information than just hits divided by at-bats.  Plus it’s set to the scale of batting average, so .260 is about average and .320 is very good.  That doesn’t sound too terrible does it?

What I am asking for, is a little responsibility.  Spend 30 freaking seconds on Iguchi’s pitches per plate appearances, even less time if you can spell.  Don’t needlessly limit sample size “for fun” without telling people that doing so totally craps up the data.  Times are changing.  It’s funny that it the improvement on the subject had to happen from the bottom up.  It’s time for those with all the resources to respond to the innovations made by those who don’t.

Anyway, this kind of turned into a rant.  I’m only halfway sorry about that.

PS: I still love you Matt Vasgersian.

Posted in gripes, media, players, statistics | 4 Comments »

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