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Peavy’s Priorities

October 31st, 2008 by
Jake Peavy Delivers

Photo by Jim Epler

I don’t think Jake Peavy knows what he wants.

Here are his comments that kicked off this whole song and dance, as reported by the North County Times more than a month ago:

“I want to be here, but I want to be here with a chance to win a World Series,” Peavy said. “If someone says, ‘Hey, we’re going to rebuild, that’s not going to be our top priority’ you certainly would wonder what your other options are.”

There’s no way of knowing if the front office considered trading Jake before this, though my guess is they had. But once Jake made that statement the team called his bluff and announced the Padre ace may be available in a trade. Since Peavy controls his own destiny with a no-trade clause, he and his agent Barry Axelrod have been vocal about his desire of various things since then:

  • Stay in San Diego
  • Play for a team that isn’t rebuilding
  • Pitch in the National League
  • Play for the Dodgers, Astros, Braves, Cubs, Cardinals
  • Gain complete no trade powers (His no trade powers decrease in 2011 and 2012)
  • Make more money than his current contract provides

Some of these priorities are mutually exclusive, which makes me wonder about their order of importance. For instance, Jake says he wants to stay in San Diego but not necessarily if the team rebuilding. Jake must not be familiar with Pythagorean record, which uses runs scored and runs allowed to come up with a better model for wins and losses.

Because Houston’s expected record puts them at 77 wins and 84 losses this year. In other words, we would be more likely to see 77 wins from Houston than 86 wins if they play the season over. Yet Jake may prefer pitching for the Astros if the Padres dare play Venable and Headley next year.

Does he really expect the team to make a deal with so many restrictions? What the a;ldjfoisdf is going on here? It’s so hard to tell. I think Jake’s comments quoted above were just an emotional outburst to a losing season. Considering Peavy’s propensity to wear his heart on his sleeve, that scenario makes sense.

So if Jake really does want to stay, that makes it even harder on my emotions to admit the right deal* for him would be good for the team.

*Nothing less than one of Tommy Hanson or Jason Heyward in package form from Atlanta, for instance.

Posted in controversy, hot stove, players | 4 Comments »

Why write when you can link?

October 29th, 2008 by

Sacrificial LinksIn honor of the Cubs recent dismissal from the playoffs, (way to stay up to date there, Melvin) please enjoy this look back at the 2003 Cubs – Marlins playoff series.

I do find it appropriate that you’re reading this post on a Padres website, and it is my favorite baseball article of all time, and only about 1/3 of the article actually relates to the Cubs, or baseball for that matter. No matter. Without further adieu, since there’s obviously no other news to talk about relating to the possible trade of a star player, or any type of important series happening right now, I submit to you “Did Steve Bartman Cost the Cubs the Series?” by Jay Pinkerton. I should warn you though, the article is juvenile, not safe for work (there’s swearing but no pictures), and very unfunny.

Here’s the requisite excerpt:

Let Bartman go. The Cubs not winning the World Series is hardly cause for alarm — they’ve been doing it successfully for decades without any help. The fact that someone in the audience decided to pitch in this year just means it was one less mistake for the Cubs themselves to make.

Posted in sacrificial links, the funny | 2 Comments »

Petco Fences Moving In?

October 25th, 2008 by

Petco Park Fence ChangesAn astute poster on the Sign On San Diego Padres forums has posted photos from an event in which fans play on the Petco Park field. Sections of the right field alley are marked off with rope on the ground, presumably to aid a decision on a new outfield fence. I took the liberty of drawing an overhead view of the possible changes based on my interpretation of the photos. Anything for your viewing pleasure from your old pal Melvin.

The yellow line is the original fence. The blue, green, and sand lines represent a possible change. The most interesting proposed fence line looks to be the sand colored mark. It would create a new nook from the left of the Cox sign, jutting straight in towards home plate, then changing direction and moving across to cut out the rear porch recess.

To me, the green proposed choice looks the best. It cuts off the most field in the deepest part of the park, without going crazy in wierdness. I’m not a fan of those intentional nooks that have become popular in new ballparks. The “quirkyness” in them just seems so contrived. To me you can’t plan and execute that kind of charm, it has to come about for an actual reason.

Either way, it’s good to improve the absurd pitcher’s advantage of the ballpark. As Ray showed us, Petco isn’t just a normal run of the mill pitcher’s park, it’s one helluva pitcher’s park. It’s time things get a little more fair.

Room for a new Padres bullpen?

Posted in petco park | 13 Comments »

How Do Fans Rate Padre Defense?

October 22nd, 2008 by

The preliminary results of Tom Tango’s fan scouting report are in. And like much of the Padres 2008 season, the results aren’t pretty:

Position Player MLB Rank
1b Adrian Gonzalez 3
2b Tadahito Iguchi 29
3b Kevin Kouzmanoff 28
C Nick Hundley 15
CF Jody Gerut 27
LF Chase Headley 40
RF Brian Giles 18 (tie)
SS Khalil Greene 8

Even players one would think play decent defense are lower than expected. Brian Giles at 18 and Tadahito Iguchi at 29, for example.

The fan scouting reports are a great resource. I’m sure you’re aware of the inherent bias in making judgments only based on whatever we happen to remember of a given set of events. But what’s cool about this report is that these biases are on their way to being eliminated by aggregating the data between hundreds of fans, so no one idiot messes things up.

Though he is a smart guy, I wouldn’t rely exclusively on Tango’s collected data. Check out The Hardball Times’ revised zone rating and out of zone for a complimentary (and free!) view of a dude’s defense. Myron Logan over at Friar Forecast converted the Padres 2008 numbers into the easy to read +/- system as well.

Addendum: I should note that judging a player from his MLB rank prima facie might be a bit confusing at best and flat out wrong at worst. It definitely confused me since I’m throwing this in after the fact rather than including it in the original report.

The rank isn’t the Padres player compared to the league average at that position. The rank is out of all the players who saw just a few innings there (I don’t know for sure what the minimum is, but some guys have as few as 190 innings). For instance, there are 52 players included in the rankings of second baseman, including guys like Argenis Reyes. So don’t freak out too much.

Posted in players, statistics | 7 Comments »

Our Arizona, pt. 2

October 21st, 2008 by

For those of you who have just joined us, here’s what you missed:

There could be any number of reasons as to why Jake is on his way out, whether it’s his penchant for running his mouth or just simply reloading on talent. What is important, though, is what we could get for him. And to the best way to get an idea of what’s going to happen is to look at what already has.

—-

Looking at these trades, every team got one of the trading partner’s two best prospects, with all but the Brewers getting two of the top three in return. The Athletics really went above and beyond, taking half of Arizona’s top eight. When you consider that all four pitchers either required a contract immediately after joining their new teams, or will file for free agency in the case of CC Sabathia, the Padres hold a very advantageous hand controlling Jake Peavy for years.

—-

The team who jumped to the front of the pack, at least according to the internet, is Atlanta.

—-

Escobar, Hanson, Heyward, Johnson, Jurrjens, Schafer. Ideally, the Padres could get two of this group, and that’s before discussing the kind of deals St. Louis and the Dodgers (the Dodgers?!) could put together.

Caught up? Good. Because I want to talk about that last part.

I’m not going pretend that I’m fine trading Jake to the Dodgers. I’ve never really had beef with the team, I actually dislike Arizona more, but that doesn’t mean I want to help them. And when you consider that they just made the N.L.C.S. and Jake has a 3.27 E.R.A. at Dodger Stadium over the past three seasons, it sounds like a trade with LA could be likely. But I am fine with improving the Padres, and dealing with the Dodgers might do just that.

At the beginning of the season, Clayton Kershaw was consistently near the top 5 on most top prospect lists. In 220 innings pitched in the minors, he had an E.R.A. of 2.49 and followed it up with a 4.26 E.R.A. in Los Angeles with a K/9 of 8.4. At 20 years old, the youngest player in the league, that’s impressive. It’s not out of line to think that, if a Padre, Kershaw could give Chris Young (his fellow Highland Park HS [TX] alumni) a run for his ace status.

Then there’s Matt Kemp. Recently 24, Kemp has an O.P.S. of .816 in a little more than a thousand at-bats. More athletic than the current Padres team put together, Kemp has split time in his major league career between right and center field. Unlike the aforementioned Jason Heyward and Jordan Schafer, Kemp would absolutely enter the everyday lineup and hit near the top of the order.

Beyond those two mouthwatering big leaguers, there’s the Dodgers minor league system. Some other names to know are Scott Elbert, James McDonald and Ivan DeJesus.

But you want a wild card? How’s Russell Martin work for you? The Gold Glove/Silver Slugger winning catcher that is the more talented reincarnate of Eric Owens might be available. Of course, the Gold Glove award is a sham and Martin’s Slg. fell beneath .400 this season, not to mention his knees are probably 45 years old after catching 300+ games in two years. But he’s Russell Martin, dude! In a good year, he’s one of the top catchers in the league. And looking down the barrel of a Nick Hundley led battery of catchers, beggars can’t be choosers.

They are the Dodgers, but he is Clayton Kershaw and he is also the best pitching prospect in baseball. Which probably means that he’s not available. But we’ll have enough time to dwell on that later.

Posted in hot stove, players | 4 Comments »

We be burning

October 20th, 2008 by

On the Padres side, the team rarely commits to long term deals of this magnitude. The organization knows how special Jake is, and uses what payroll flexibility it does have to reward and build around its home grown star.

-Melly Mel Nieves (12/02/07)

My, how the times have changed.

It used to be that we had to wait till the World Series ended for the hot stove to really heat up, but the Padres have never been ones to play by the rules. I’m not going to bore you by going over what you know already, which is that Jake Peavy is on the block just one year after the team locked him up long term.

There could be any number of reasons as to why Jake is on his way out, whether it’s his penchant for running his mouth or just simply reloading on talent. What is important, though, is what we could get for him. And to the best way to get an idea of what’s going to happen is to look at what already has.

A selection of the biggest trades over the past couple of years, most of which happen to center around pitching, includes deals for CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Erik Bedard and Dan Haren. What could these trades tell us about an upcoming Jake deal? Let’s find out!

Below are those tradees and the players they brought in return, with their organizational and league-wide prospect rankings according to Baseball America, and their three year era.

Sabathia

E.R.A.: 3.03

Trade for: Matt LaPorta (1 in organization, 23 in league), Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson and Zach Johnson

Santana

E.R.A.: 2.87

Trade for: Delois Guerra (2, 35), Carlos Gomez (3, 52) and Phil Humber (7, -)

Bedard

E.R.A.: 3.51

Traded for: Chris Tillman (3, 67), Adam Jones, Tony Butler, Kameron Mickolio and George Sherrill

[NOTE: Adam Jones was no longer considered a prospect. In 2007, he ranked first in the Mariners organization and 28th in the league]

Haren

E.R.A. 3.33

Traded for: Carlos Gonzalez (1,22), Brett Anderson (3, 36), Aaron Cunningham (7, -), Chris Carter (8, -), Dana Eveland and Greg Smith

Peavy

E.R.A.: 3.15

Traded for: T.B.A.

I’ve left out the trades for Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett, as Willis was a throw-in with Miguel Cabrera and Boston took Mike Lowell with Beckett. Of course, if Khalil gets tossed in with Jake, as has been rumored, we might have to check those out as well.

Looking at these trades, every team got one of the trading partner’s two best prospects, with all but the Brewers getting two of the top three in return. The Athletics really went above and beyond, taking half of Arizona’s top eight. When you consider that all four pitchers either required a contract immediately after joining their new teams, or will file for free agency in the case of CC Sabathia, the Padres hold a very advantageous hand controlling Jake Peavy for years. Peavy has a reasonable contract through 2013, which means the Padres have no immediate need to trade him.

So who could be our Arizona?

The team who jumped to the front of the pack, at least according to the internet, is Atlanta. This is probably because it’s so predictable: they’re in the south near Jake’s hometown and they’ve sucked lately. Any talks with the Braves, it would seem, would have to start with Jordan Schafer (ranked 25th in the league) or Jason Heyward (28th).

Schafer, a five-tool, left-handed centerfielder, has been on the national radar since he was 13. This season, at age 22, he put up a line of .377/.470/.847, most of which came after he returned from a 50 game suspension for H.G.H.

Heyward is three years younger and has likely leapfrogged Schafer on the Braves’ list. While not the fielder Schafer is, Heyward has tremendous power potential and a good eye. Coming out of high school, one of his drawbacks was that he might be too patient. If that isn’t the kind of “problem” the Padres are looking for, I don’t know what is. Hayward is further away than Schafer is, but he might just be worth the wait.

And that’s just the beginning. The Padres are going to want a pitcher in return and the Braves have a good prospect in Tommy Hanson, as well as Jair Jurrjens, who performed to a ERA+ tune of 112 in Atlanta this year at the age of 22.

Recent talk has thrown out the names Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson. Escobar, who turns 26 in a couple of weeks, is a shortstop coming into his third season. In 800+ at-bats, he’s got a line of .373/.420/.793. Last season, his slugging percentage was .401, a mark sure to dip in Petco. But he also brings a slick glove and an excitement factor that was drastically lacking this past season. He would likely replace one of the more popular Padres in Greene, but he could become one in his own right.

Johnson will be 27 next season and is coming into his fourth season at second base. In 1358 at-bats, his line is .356/.440/.796. But with the acquisition of Travis Denker, along with last season’s number two prospect Matt Antonelli, Johnson is incredibly unnecessary. I’d like to think he’s not really involved.

Escobar, Hanson, Heyward, Johnson, Jurrjens, Schafer. Ideally, the Padres could get two of this group, and that’s before discussing the kind of deals St. Louis and the Dodgers (the Dodgers?!) could put together.

Posted in hot stove | 5 Comments »

Padres 101: Park Factors

October 9th, 2008 by

Introduction: Padres 101
Part 1: Rebuilding Through the Draft

Padres101A proper discussion on the misconceptions surrounding the San Diego Padres has to begin with their hitting. At the end of the 2008 season, the Padres ranked dead last in the league in runs. Since moving into Petco, the team has been consistently at the bottom of the league in this category.

From this information alone, it would be safe to assume any number of things, from the players on the team are poor to the management has no idea of how to put together a team to compete in this ballpark. What needs to be considered is that the Padres are not the only team that plays in Petco.

What are park factors?

Simply, park factors indicate the difference between runs scored in a team’s home and road games. As the same hitters and the same pitchers are doing the playing, the difference in runs scored is dependent on the park the game is played in.

Park factors do tend to vary some from year to year. That’s why I have compiled the combined park factors for every stadium from 2004 through 2007, save the two Nationals and Cardinals parks. I used a basic version of the park factor equation: (home runs for + home runs against) / (road runs for + road runs against). And the numbers are:

1. Coors Field [Rockies] 1.251
2. Chase Field [Diamondbacks] 1.101
3. Wrigley Field [Cubs] 1.101
4. Rangers Ballpark [Rangers] 1.085
5. Fenway Park [Red Sox] 1.085
6. U.S. Cellular Field [White Sox] 1.083
7. Citizen Bank Park [Phillies] 1.066
8. Great American Ballpark [Reds] 1.049
9. Rogers Centre [Blue Jays] 1.047
10. Kauffman Stadium [Royals] 1.039
11. Miller Park [Brewers] 1.016
12. AT&T Park [Giants] 1.015
13. Camden Yards [Orioles] 1.011
14. Yankee Stadium [Yankees] 0.983
15. Turner Field [Braves] 0.980
16. Comerica Park [Tigers] 0.978
17. Dodger Stadium [Dodgers] 0.977
18. Metrodome [Twins] 0.971
19. PNC Park [Pirates] 0.097
20. Angels Stadium [Angels] 0.970
21. Minute Maid Park [Astros] 0.968
22. McAfee Coliseum [Athletics] 0.952
23. Progressive Field [Indians] 0.951
24. Tropicana Field [Rays] 0.950
25. Shea Stadium [Mets] 0.938
26. Dolphin Stadium [Marlins] 0.934
27. Safeco Field [Mariners] 0.919
28. Petco Park [Padres] 0.810

(And, as you should’ve assumed, Petco Park this year was again last in the league at 0.796. First in the league for 2008 was Rangers Ballpark, at 1.142.)

What does this mean? In layman’s terms, Petco is the hardest stadium in baseball to hit in. Not just by a little, but a lot.

The Padres don’t just play in a pitcher’s park, they play in an extreme pitcher’s park.

This is the lens under which the Padres low run totals should be viewed. Nineteen percent less runs scored in Petco than in the average park. The next toughest stadium, Safeco Field, is more than half that distance away at 8% less. The only gap greater than the 11% between Petco and Safeco is the 15% between Coors Field and Chase Field. You may know Coors Field as the place that kept baseballs in a humidor to try to even the odds between sides.

From 04-07, the two most productive Padres were Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Giles. In their most productive seasons, their home and away OPS splits were:

Year Home Away
Adrian Gonzalez 2007 .760 .928
Brian Giles 2005 .795 1.008

And then this season:

Year Home Away
Adrian Gonzalez 2008 .788 .946
Brian Giles 2008 .817 .891

(More of the same from Gonzalez, although Giles’ numbers aren’t so bad. Another good reason to resign him, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

When the stadium built, it was said to be Bonds-proof. Barry’s response:

“It’s not Bonds-proof. It’s baseball-proof.”

While it’s not quite baseball-proof, it’s close. The home stadium puts hitters at a ridiculous disadvantage, and there’s no easy solution.

The fences are too far and the air’s too thick and it’s just too drat hard. On the plus side, the fences were brought  in before the 06 season, albeit barely (thanks wrveres), and the front office likes to drop little teases that they could be moved in farther (thank you, Jody Gerut). On the less plus side, Sean Connery from The Avengers hasn’t been called to do something about the thick marine air.

Until (read: if) something is done to neutralize Petco Park, the 25 Padres taking the field are going to have to make due with what they’ve got. And so will all of us sitting in the stands.

Posted in Padres 101, petco park | 14 Comments »

A Whole Year of Swear Words and Simpsons References

October 8th, 2008 by

Depending on whether you count the test post or the first actual post, either yesterday or today is the first birthday of The Sacrifice Bunt (known in some circles as your favorite thinly veiled attempt at pushing opinions on others in the name of journalism since Sicko). Take that, I’m topical bitches!

The biggest observation from my time working on this project is how my motivations change with the growth of the site. When Ray and I first started, and I don’t mean to speak for him here, I just want to include his name when I talk about starting the blog, we wanted a place to record and share our thoughts about the Padres and baseball.

I had other goals as well, but they weren’t as grandiose as you might imagine. I wanted to learn how to build a website, and practice writing. Opinions vary as to my success in those endeavors.

We also wanted to provide a place to talk about the Padres in an amusing, entertaining environment. And at the same time, try to be responsible with our use of evidence to support opinions, and in the tradition of the sabermetrics movement, to question the reasoning behind our own beliefs and work to eliminate our own biases. It’s rare to see such a balance, and I’m truly am proud of The Sacrifice Bunt’s efforts to meet those goals.

It’s funny what happened to me while writing content and building this reputation in such a plublic and permanent medium. I look back and think about all the work that has gone into making “The Sacrifice Bunt” and “Melvin Nieves” into names people know. Meeting expectations, upholding reputations, and keeping people wanting to hear from these names is now almost an end to itself. I never expected that.

We created something out of nothing. You hear those words a lot, but having lived through them I can say it’s a crazy feeling. From nothing not to just something, but to something of value. It really does feel weird, but I’m getting esoteric so it’s time to move on.

I hope you have smiled a time or two reading The Sac Bunt as often as we have while writing it. I hope you appreciate that not including this long winded and personal post, we’ve tried to keep the boring crap out and provide what you are here for: The reason you come to a site about Padres baseball is to read content about Padres baseball, and that’s what we do.

An especially big thanks goes out to those who have taken the time to leave a comment or send an email. You won’t believe how encouraging just leaving a few words can be, even if only to say “I’m here, I’m reading, and I think you’re just a little funny”. So thank you.

We will continue to bring our trademark blend of crap throughout the offseason, so stay tuned. Hopefully we’ll get the Padres 101 series back to life (the only reason I’m saying this is to back myself into a corner about it). We have some other ideas planned too, so don’t go nowheres.

Maybe sometime we’ll post of photo or two of ourselves. You all should be so lucky.

-Melvin

R. Edit: Ditto.

Posted in misc | 3 Comments »

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