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The Anti-Alderson: Moorad at least technically answers fan questions

April 29th, 2009 by

Fans put off by former CEO Sandy Alderson’s frank, earnest, and no holds barred oratory style got what was coming to them today as new Padres CEO Jeff Moorad responded to fans’ questions. Rather vaguely, for the most part.

I’ll admit I can understand the need to be cuddled. Protected. Lovey dovied. Especially someone of the casual fan variety. In fact, even as a guy who would prefer a direct response from management, even if that means a risk of situations and answers changing down the road, but that’s exactly it. Details are unpredictable.That type open of communication is great for those who understand and pay attention to realities, but in the broad scheme of an entire fan base it can hurt the organization as a whole.

In this interview Jeff Moorad brings the boring, the bland. Enjoy it, because you asked for it.

What does Moorad have in store?

That diatribe aside, I’m happy to report Moorad in this q&a session did answer many of my questions about his role. Until this point, I was pretty neutral about him coming on board. Sandy Alderson as President and CEO satisfied me, even in light of the morbid 2008 season. It did become clear to myself and many others that John Moores’ time as owner needed to end. If the new owner has different ideas for the team presidency, thems the breaks. I get it.

Change for the sake of change, however, is stupid. Being excited for something about which you know no details doesn’t make sense. That’s what Moorad was. Unless I missed something, nobody in the media ever bothered to explain, or ask and “report”, as they apparently call it in the businesss, on what kind of philosophy this guy is all about.

We did learn early on, and was confirmed in the q&a, he believes in investing heavily into amateur talent through the draft and internationally. Well, that’s a good start. But it doesn’t cover everything, not by a long shot.

Rumors swirled that Moorad is a hands on type executive, insofar as intervening with his baseball people in the Diamondbacks organization and lobbying for the boneheaded Eric Byrnes extension. You’ll have to forgive me, but that extension represents all that is completely idiotic and irrational about the shortsighted thinking that pervades the old ways of baseball. Moorad rewarded short-term fan popularity and flash in exchange for the realistic production one would expect from a player like Byrnes. Hearing about it sent a chill down my spine.

Visions of my beloved Padres turning into a small budget version of the Seattle Mariners danced in my head, with owners who think they know baseball pulling strings based on outdated thinking from their 1976 mainstream baseball strategies. 61wins and 101 losses on a $118 million dollar payroll. It wasn’t just the Mariners’ results though. Their entire mindset and philosophy, until recently, was garbage. Like the Eric Byrnes extension. Screw that. I don’t want that.

Luckily, Moorad’s response to mine and similar questions about his role and philosophy seem promising.

MelvinNieves: Hey Jeff. Will you be involved in much player personnel decision-making? If so, what is your philosophy on talent evaluation? Do you believe in the more advanced metrics?

j_moorad: Very little — I believe in letting the club’s GM take a leadership role in all personnel decisions — I’ll be available as a resource as needed. I do believe in any and all forms of scouting, old-school or sabermetrics included.

Very good then. Leave the baseball to the baseball guys. Not surprisingly, he skipped my inquiry about the Eric Byrnes situation. That’s ok. Hopefully the rumor wasn’t true. If it was, it seems he’s learned from it.

There’s still no indication Mr. Moorad will leave the right baseball guys in charge, but that’s a question he smartly will look into and put off until the offseason. And we know he understands there’s a place for stats and a place for scouts. Cheers to that.

Other Stuff

  • Right off the bat, reader 23gonzalez wonders about a long term deal for the actual Adrian Gonzalez. “Why wait until 2010?”, is Moorad’s response.
  • miatamx5 is curious, as are we, about the possibility of new uniforms. Preferably brown will make a triumphant return. A major uniform change like that does not appear on the horizon, Moorad replies. “I’m a big fan of the Padres colors — unlike Arizona, where we changed the colors completely, the only thing I’m open to is an occasional tweak to the designs.” We need to get started suggesting some tweaks.
  • I asked how close the team needs to be to contention in order to add payroll. “Within striking range — if the deadline was upon us today, we’d be open to adding an appropriate player or two.” That kind of answers my question, the cool part is that quote was used as the caption for the article.
  • Later in the chat, I was curious to how the PETCO debt affected the sale of the club, and the year to year finances. “…We look at it as a large “rent” payment and accept it as the team’s part of a great stadium project.” A hard question to answer in this dumb little chat no doubt, but not the kind of answer I was looking for.

Lots of other questions and non-answers, including a non-answer about moving the PETCO park fences. Moorad does respond to some personal questions, if you’re in to that kind of thing.

Posted in dear jeff moorad | 4 Comments »

Padres Jersey Concept

April 24th, 2009 by

Before the world met the whirlwind of wit and intellect that is now known as The Sacrifice Bunt, one Ray Lankford and I designed a Padres jersey concept.

I like the way these build on previous design traditions, bringing together uniquely Padres elements of sand, brown, and the currently used word marks. The look is also both unique and clean, a tough combination to achieve yet is essential to all classic designs. We might even be willing to go without outlines on the text to further streamline the look, a process the Dodgers used to improve their road jerseys.

Check em:

Padres Concept JerseyPadres Concept Jersey

I’m tired of the blue. It’s boring. Everyone uses it. It isn’t “Padres”. Bring back the brown.

4/29 Update: Sac Bunters William, PadreHomer, and others suggested incorporating orange or mustard into this scheme, and Steve C came though big time incorporating it. Check out their work here and here.

Posted in misc | 30 Comments »

Nerdgasm UPDATE

April 21st, 2009 by

In February, we reported on the upcoming movie adaptation of Moneyball, directed by Steven Soderbergh, written by Steve Zaillian, and starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane. At the time, I said:

I hope DePodesta … mentions something about this on his blog. Hopefully he can give us a casting scoop on who’s going to play him.

Now we have our answer: Demetri Martin, of Important Things with Demetri Martin and Ang Lee’s upcoming Taking Woodstock, will be playing our favorite special assistant for baseball operations.

David Justice and Scott Hatteberg will also be in the movie, playing David Justice and Scott Hatteberg, respectively.

It’s a real film, Jack.

Posted in media, misc | 1 Comment »

Hi hater

April 17th, 2009 by

With great power comes great responsibility.

With all due respect, Trevor who? The Heath Bell era has begun in San Diego. While we’re not even two weeks into the season, Heath (yeah, he’s already on a first-name basis) sits atop the league with his 5 saves, and he’s using this position to fight the good fight against ESPN and the East Coast Bias.

Heath, who grabbed headlines earlier in the offseason when it became public knowledge that he dropped 20 pounds using Wii Fit, took exception to the coverage his and our team received this past Monday, when they spoiled the opener of Citi Field by beating the Mets.

“I saw ESPN’s promo for tonight’s game. They mention the Mets are opening Citi Field, they mentioned the starting time, but nowhere did they mention the Padres. . . .

“I truly believe ESPN only cares about promoting the Red Sox and Yankees and Mets – and nobody else,” said the closer, a former Met. “That’s why I like the MLB Network, because they promote everybody. I’m really turned off by ESPN and ‘Baseball Tonight.’ When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It’s all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”

Padres closer Heath Bell sick of ESPN’s East Coast bias

While Heath’s earned himself new fans with his comments, he’s also received backlash:

While I agree that MLB Network is far superior to ESPN concerning televised baseball coverage, this is pretty petty. The reason the Monday night’s game was telecast was because of the Mets opening their new stadium — just like last year when the Nationals did on Sunday Night Baseball. Bell would also be hard pressed to explain how ESPN doesn’t care about the Cubs, Cardinals, Braves, Phillies, Rays, Indians, Angels, White Sox, Twins and Dodgers. They may try to cater to the more popular teams — how dare they worry about ratings? — but it’s not limited to just three teams. Plus, do they actually have an obligation to cover each team equally? Without trying to speak for ESPN, coverage is generally slanted toward teams that matter to the mass audience — not just a small group of die-hards. The Padres simply don’t right now.

Simply put, things are going very well for the Padres right now. That’s not likely to continue, so they should be enjoying themselves instead of worrying about ESPN’s coverage. It would behoove Bell to take a page out of the Adam Dunn handbook and not watch or read anything, while remaining indifferent toward media coverage.

Outrageous, you say? While I agree that Monday’s night coverage of the Mets made sense, given that the entire event was built around the opening of that new New York stadium, it shouldn’t water down Heath’s message. Taking what was said about the three teams so literally is silly and a straw man argument.

Isn’t the idea that ESPN doesn’t have a responsibility to cover all teams, and that the Padres should be honored that they’re getting coverage now, the kind of arrogance that has grown undeserved? Not only has the Internet made the so-called experts on ESPN worthless, but the MLB Network has made Baseball Tonight highlights unnecessary? Let us turn to our leader, Heath Bell:

Well- nevermind. Moving on.

Speaking of crushing disappointment from Heath, his entrance music has left something to be desired. He started out at a disadvantage, replacing the man with the most iconic theme song in the history of baseball, but this? Listen:

We at the Sacrifice Bunt are taking it upon ourselves to find Heath’s new, true entrance music. Leave a comment giving your suggestions. Here’s mine:

(warning: pg-13 swagger in this video)

Posted in gripes, media | 6 Comments »

Roster Construction Crazies

April 16th, 2009 by

You know what is fun, edgy, hilarious, and entertaining? You’re absolutely right, it’s roster construction. So get yourself a beer, a Sparks engery drink, a party hat, a kazoo, and whatever else kids these days use to have a good time, and lets get constructin’!

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my years of life and learning, it’s that even  seemingly innocuous decisions have crazy, unfathomable complications that arise when trying to figure stuff out by just looking at them. Call this an unfair generalization if you must, but intuition is no good at everything.

It seems like whenever I hear people talk about roster construction, they generally glance at the players available, look at the number of roster spots, and use intuition to try to reason their way through the decisions. Or, as I like to call this process “making it up as you go along.”

Usually when the rosters come out and a move is made, we hear mostly vague and unhelpful generalities from team brass. “We’re carrying 12 pitchers, ‘caus pitching wins championships and is teh awesome.” I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a rundown of the best way to construct a roster from an analytical perspective. Until today. Because I am teh awesome.

Mitchel Lichtman, or MGL to those of use who are cool with him like that, goes into detail explaining how he would best construct a roster. He does admit that this type of analysis isn’t usually his forte, but frankly I’ve never seen much else to go on. MGL consults with an MLB team, has written a well regarded book on baseball analysis, and frankly is a smart dude. I’ll take that over the glorified guesswork that usually gets thrown around.

Here’s how the roster looks at the moment, courtesy of Padres.com:

Pitchers B/T
21 Heath Bell R/R
29 Kevin Correia R/R
58 Eulogio De La Cruz R/R
57 Luke Gregerson L/R
34 Shawn Hill R/R
43 Cla Meredith R/R
46 Edwin Moreno R/R
45 Edward Mujica R/R
44 Jake Peavy R/R
59 Luis Perdomo R/R
50 Duaner Sanchez R/R
27 Walter Silva R/R
32 Chris Young R/R
Catchers B/T
28 Henry Blanco R/R
4 Nick Hundley R/R
Infielders B/T
1 Everth Cabrera S/R
3 David Eckstein R/R
23 Adrian Gonzalez L/L
2 Edgar Gonzalez R/R
5 Kevin Kouzmanoff R/R
15 Luis Rodriguez S/R
Outfielders B/T
33 Jody Gerut L/L
24 Brian Giles L/L
12 Scott Hairston R/R
7 Chase Headley S/R

One Tool In The Shed

I don’t see any problem with a player who functions only as a pinch runner and late inning defender (I think that you at least want both). I would think that you would want your pinch runner to be a good basestealer as well. Not all fast runners are good basestealers of course, especially young ones.

MGL’s first paragraph gets the Padres off to a good start, as it addresses and confirms the team’s most debatable roster construction choice. That is, giving Everth Cabrera, with no experience above A ball, a spot on the team. He has the speed to serve as a pinch runner, and hopefully his 73 stolen bases last season signify an ability to do so beyond just fast running. His defensive game saw mixed reviews over spring training, though he does have experience at both second and shortstop.

Scott Hairston serves as a solid defensive backup in the outfield as well, as he’s capable of passable defense in center.

The Good News Doesn’t Last Long

That being said, an NL team definitely needs more bench players than an AL team. No question about it. As we have said many times, teams do not pinch hit for the pitcher nearly enough. To do that, you need plenty of pinch hitters.

I also don’t think that any team needs 13 pitches, which you don’t normally see anyway. I doubt many teams need 12 pitchers either. I would probably carry 11 pitchers in the NL and 12 in the AL.

Well, shit. So much for the successful start. The Padres are currently using 13 pitchers on the roster, though I think that will change when Cliff Floyd comes off the DL.

Who Needs The Backup?

You really want to tailor your pinch hitters and bench players to your starting lineup. By that, I mean if you have a particularly bad defender in your starting lineup, it makes sense to have a good defender who can come in the late innings when you need to preserve a lead. If you have several weak hitting lefties in your lineup, it makes sense to have a strong right-handed hitting PH or two. Etc.

The team is constructed well enough in terms of platoons at the plate. They don’t have a capable left handed bench bat at the moment, but again I think that will change when Floyd returns. The outfield is manned by two capable lefty bats, plus two capable righty bats and Floyd. I suppose left handers up the middle would be nice, but so would bringing back brown uniforms, so I’ll pick my battles.

It bears mentioning that Chase Headley’s switch hitting ability and positional versatility leaves a lot of options. A backup third baseman isn’t needed, so there’s room to stock up on a myriad of middle infielders to throw against a wall and see what sticks.

Southpaw Middle Children

It also does not make sense to have fewer than 2 lefties in your pen. There are really only 3 reasons to make pitching changes in a game: One, to get the platoon advantage. For that, you want at least 2 RHRP and 2 LHRP. Having 1 LH and 6 RH relievers makes no sense at all. Anyway, the second reason for a pitching change is to pinch hit for the pitcher in the NL. The third reason is to bring in a better or worse reliever as the leverage of the game changes.

Raspberries. Not much commentary necessary here, the team has no lefties in the pen. MGL puts a heavy emphasis on platoon advantage, the Padres graduated from Screw The Pooch College on this one.

Allow Me To Preach Some More

Only occasionally will you need to remove a reliever because he is tired. Managers making pitching changes based on a pitcher getting “lit up” for an inning or two is generally a waste of time, although some people would disagree with me there.

Not much to do with the topic at hand, I’m only including this because it bugs me, and complaining about things on the Internet is the American way.

There’s no reason to think that just because a reliever gives up a couple hits in one inning that he is somehow rendered incompetent for that entire outing. Never in the history of mathematics has there been a smaller sample size than this situation. The dude is fine, unless you have a reason to change relievers, leave him in.

It’s All In Their Heads

Even with the bullpen, you need to tailor it to your team. By that, I mostly mean the number of relievers. If you play in a hitters park and/or your starters tend not to go deep in games, either because they are bad, they are not durable, or both, then you obviously need more relievers. In fact, on second thought, I might suggest that a team with good/durable relievers and/or that plays in a pitcher’s park, carry 11 pitchers, and the rest of the teams carry 12.

MGL, stop rubbing in the heartbreak! I hadn’t considered it before, but it makes total sense for a team in an outrageously pitching centered ballpark to carry more hitters on the bench. Someone should send Towers a fax, or a telegram on this one.

Mothers’ Basements Have Feelings Too

I am also a big fan or platooning. There are many teams who have a player at a certain position who is a marginal hitter (for that position). The best solution for that is to platoon with him another marginal hitter who can play that same position. In doing that, you also get a built-in tandem pinch hitting situation. Platooning is an underused strategy and for some reason has really fallen out of favor lately. I am not sure why.

Sounds like MGL would like the Padres’ outfield. He does mention other “soft” considerations, such as ego problems with platooning a star or former star player. I’ll leave room here for a Paul DePodesta joke about a Player Pride Index computer simulation.

Posted in players | 1 Comment »

Introducing the Sac Bunt Shop: buy even more crap you don’t need!

April 14th, 2009 by

Literally every second, Ray and I get hundreds of emails from loyal SacBuntians clamoring for ways to advertise The Sacrifice Bunt for us, free of charge.

“I’m tired of wearing shirts with boring little green alligators, or apparel without hilarious sayings that show the world how witty and hip I am,” they say. And as is our usual policy when strangers on the Internet tell us to do things: we have wholeheartedly obliged.

The Sacrifice Bunt Shop is here, hipper and with more Padres related double entendres than previously thought possible.

Honest to goodness, we don’t make any money off this stuff, besides the good feeling in our hearts we get when people cover their bodies with the logo of our worthy to be on a t-shirt website.
Tony Gwynn Is My HomeboyThe Sacrifice Bunt T-Shirt
Most shirts feature a design on the front with a Sac Bunt logo on the back. AA means it’s American Apparel. So they’re a little further up the pricing scale, but the shirts are soft and well fitted. You can choose any t-shirt color your heart desires, but if you want a different color ink, or a different style of shirt (long sleeve or moar women’s styles, for instance) let me know.

Posted in misc | Comments Off

Repossessed

April 10th, 2009 by

I know it’s usually Melvin’s thing to highlight the ridiculousness of the Union-Tribune’s sports reporting, but I’m the one with the degree in journalism, damnit! 

As you, a devoted reader of the Sacrifice Bunt, knows, Petco Park is the hardest stadium on hitters in the entire major leagues. And it’s not even close. But today, we’ve learned that Nick Canepa’s yet to bookmark us. 

The Padres have just begun their sixth season in Petco Park, and it appears they’ve finally called off the exorcists. Extensive and expensive studies by engineers have revealed the place is an expanse of grass and dirt, with fences along its outer edge. There is no cemetery beneath it. They don’t sell voodoo dolls in the gift shop.

It’s difficult to judge any baseball team after a few days, although it’s apparent to just about everyone who doesn’t believe in witchcraft that these particular Padres aren’t going to arrive in Cooperstown in the same bus. But there are enough new faces probably unaware of the Petco Curse, what with so many of the complainers having grabbed their Tarot cards and left the building.

This is not – not – the Petco Triangle.

No more singing the ballpark blues

Let us be very very clear: Petco hurts hitting. It’s very likely that it is in the hitters head, from Nevin and Klesko on up, but for good reason. From 2004 through 2007, Petco suffocated runs by almost 20%, and 2008 was worse. Any hitter that complains about the effect Petco has on their hitting is well within their right. Which is, presumably, why Canepa didn’t talk to any for his article.

Instead, to help show how the team has truly exorcised the hitting hurting demons, he interviewed Peavy and Black.

“I’m so tired of hearing that stuff,” Padres ace Jake Peavy was saying. “We can win here; we’ve won here. So it’s not a bandbox. Matt Kemp hit one off the batter’s eye against me the other day. Hit it hard. I’m tired of ballpark excuses.

For a little bit of context, here’s what Peavy had to say following Monday’s home opening loss:

“Today’s game was nothing new to me,” Peavy said. “It’s always been this way. I’m not knocking any hitters that we’ve had in the past or our hitters now. We’re just going to play low-scoring ballgames. That’s the makeup of our teams here.”

Exactly. For good measure, Peavy pointed out that the other guys don’t have a problem, and Black backed him up.

“There are ballparks that play bigger than this. Guys will tell you Pac Bell, or whatever it is (now AT&T in San Francisco), is harder to hit in. The guys who’ve been here are not going to let the new guys get in a negative frame of mind. This team has moved past that. It’s not like the Dodgers were batting in Arizona and we were batting here.”

——–

“We don’t need players who have the ballpark in their heads,” Black said. “I feel as though our players are strong mentally, so the ballpark shouldn’t come into their heads. You’re playing a baseball game. Play the game.

“Eighteen players play at the same time. It’s a baseball game. When the wind blows out in Chicago, the same guys are playing. I hear about Safeco outs and Citizens Bank home runs and Great American Ballpark home runs. So what?”

Peavy being Peavy. I want to give Black the benefit of the doubt and say that he’s not telling the hitters to man up, but Canepa didn’t intend for that interpretation. I’d be curious what Edgar Gonzalez, who recently told the North County Times that it’s already Petco 3 – Gonzalez Bros. 0 and counting, thinks about Peavy and Black’s comments. 

If only press passes weren’t so hard to come by.

RAY UPDATE:

Whine and ye shall receive.

The North County Times is reporting that Moorad and new president Tom Garfinkel are looking at bringing in the fences.

Asked on XX 1090’s morning show Thursday about the possibility of moving in the fences, Moorad said he’s scheduled to meet with former president Dick Freeman to get an insider’s perspective.

Everything in this article is pretty ambiguous; it says that Moorad and Garfinkle “want to learn all they can about the outfield dimensions at Petco Park,” though I imagine Alderson knew a good amount without doing anything about it. But the implication is there.

In the comments, I threw in a quote from Adrian showing that he knows what’s up, and the NCT throws in some more:

First baseman Adrian Gonzalez favors bringing in the fences, particularly in the gaps. Gonzalez said he’s fine with the depth in right field but would like the gaps in right- and left-center field to be shortened to 385 feet. The current distances are 400 feet in right-center and 401 in left-center.

Gonzalez said the change not only would result in more home runs, but also would affect the way outfielders chase long fly balls.

“If he catches it, he’ll run into a wall,” Gonzalez said. “He’ll have to deal with the wall. Instead he’s running, he’s running, he’s running, and he catches it and is still short of the wall.”

And, to top things off, here’s a very fun fact:

This winter, Padres researchers discovered that fly balls hit more than 325 feet at Petco result in a .278 average as opposed to a major league average of .405.

Posted in media, statistics | 9 Comments »

Casa De Nieves: Experience It!

April 7th, 2009 by

Adrian Gonzalez: Experience It

Posted in misc, the funny | 2 Comments »

Padres Phan Day

April 6th, 2009 by

I got down around 12:30, and found surprisingly less parking than I expected. Rocking comfy basketball shorts and a t-shirt,  the warm sunny day had me feeling excited for summer.

I wandered in the entrance at 10th and Park, and meandered semi aim-fully to the Padres garage sale, pretty much the only reason I was there. While waiting in the long ass line to get in, I saw a couple dudes walk by, one with a Gaslamp Ball shirt on, but didn’t know who they were. Turns out it was jbox and Jon, I should spend more time at GLB so that never happens again.

My highlight of the day, besides Jbox and Jon, was finding an authentic game used Melvin Nieves jersey.

The lowlight was it nowhere near fitting me, so I dropped $65 this gorgeous Eric Nolte away jersey the team sported from ’85 to ’90.

Late 1980s Padres jerseyLate 1980s Eric Nolte jersey

Most of what they had for sale were newer style jerseys of random players no longer with the organization, and they were all the same $65. That’s a good deal for buying a jersey from the official shop. But if you look hard enough you can grab new, authentic jerseys on eBay for less than $50. Though the eBay ones are blank on the black, names that aren’t Justin Leone or Freddy Guzman can be sewn on for a reasonable price.

I picked up a ridiculously tall Adrian Gonzalez “experience it!” banner for $10. It’s going next to my “Lets go Padres, let’s have some baseball fun!” CD.

Plus I scored a fitted Padres away hat, the newish kind with the black bill and polyester blend. Most of what was there were the old models that magically shrunk and became gross and worthless after about a year. I flipped over entire rows at a time looking for the good stuff.

I was reminded of summer again on my way home as the 8 west was packed with beach traffic. “Get out of my way, I just want to go home!” I yelled, pompously.

Posted in petco park | 3 Comments »

Welcome back, baseball.

April 6th, 2009 by

It’s been a while.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

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