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Holsterball

December 30th, 2009 by

I’ve been seeing, or maybe just feeling, a lot of people wondering when the Padres are going to start the offseason. While the team has resigned Kevin Correia and brought in Dusty Ryan for catching depth, it’s a fair question. Many of the big names are off the table (this article is written on the heels of former Padre Jason Bay signing with the Mets), but the Padres were never going to be players in that game. Smaller names have also gone, including Mike Cameron, and that is more of an area of concern. Just not a big one.

Picking up Brian Giles’ extension last offseason was a mistake. Which isn’t to say that it was a bad call, because it wasn’t. Giles had a great 2008, and he looked like a steal at $6 million (his option was for $9 million, but he had a $3 million buyout), but we now know that Giles was a detriment to the team. For just as much money, the team could’ve signed Bobby Abreu*. The Angels gave $5 million to Abreu to play right field, and he rewarded them with 2.5 wins. And while the Padres locked their right fielder up in early November, the Angels waited until February to get theirs.

(*There are a lot of factors that go into a player signing in a certain city, and just because a veteran All-Star signed at a price to play for a team with a serious shot at the World Series doesn’t mean he would with a team that just cut ties with it’s franchise player over money.)

Jed Hoyer, it would seem, is in no hurry. Which isn’t to say that nothing’s happened, because players the Padres have shown interest in have signed somewhere (Coco Crisp, Henry Blanco). It’s just that none have signed with us. And that’s not a bad thing.

It’s not just about free agents with question marks that saw their prices go down, though Orlando Hudson would be a nice little upgrade. In the past couple of weeks, the Oakland A’s have added two more outfielders (Crisp, Michael Taylor) to go with the ones they already have (Rajai Davis, Ryan Sweeney, and Scott Hairston). While it’s not a given, I wonder if the A’s are looking/willing to move one of them. Maybe the right-handed center fielder who’s shown that he can handle Petco Park. The Padres have shown an interest in a right-handed hitting center fielder and, with Tony Gwynn, Jr. already on the team, he doesn’t even have to hit right-handed pitching. A platoon partner for AJ could be a very economical acquisition for the team and one option that didn’t present itself until recently.

I don’t know what Hoyer’s thinking. Maybe he’s still busy assembling his front office team. Maybe he’s not done familiarizing himself with the Padres and what he has to work with. Or maybe he’s found himself caught up in the hardcore world of carne asada and is in need of an intervention. These are all reasonable explanations for why this team has been so inactive this postseason, and to be fair, it could all be a matter of Hoyer having no idea what he’s doing. Just remember that the season hasn’t started.

I invite you to think back on the offseason prior to the 2006 season. In an attempt to make room for Josh Barfield, and following the acquisition of Cameron and Vinny Castilla to fill two other holes, Kevin Towers sent Mark Loretta to Boston for Doug Mirabelli. The team would later sign Todd Greene to serve as his backup, giving the team a veteran backstop duo. And then, on February 3rd, the team released Greene to make way for Mike Piazza, who was coming off an injury-plagued and down (by his standards) year. For a million and a quarter, Towers brought in a legitimate cleanup hitter who slugged over .500. And he waited till February to do it.

R. Update:

This article names Reed Johnson as AJ’s potential platoon partner. His is an intriguing name, as he has a career OPS against left-handed pitching of .841, in over a thousand plate appearances. And he’s a free agent.

Posted in hot stove | 5 Comments »

Change we can believe in

December 23rd, 2009 by

In my last update, I mentioned that the team will be wearing throwback uniforms for every Thursday home game this season. I said that they’d be wearing the 78 whites, but it looks like I jumped the gun a little bit.

On the team’s website, you can now vote for which jersey you’d like to see the team wear. The choices are the aforementioned 78 home jersey:

78 homes

The 78 road jersey:

78 roads

and the 84 home jersey:

84 homes

(Pictures courtesy of Padres.com)

Vote early and vote often for the 78 whites, please.

Posted in misc | 7 Comments »

Dear Steve Henson

December 19th, 2009 by

Sacrificial Links

Padres to wear retro unis for home Thursday games (USA Today)

At this week’s Season Ticket Holder event, Tom Garfinkle announced to the crowd that every home Thursday will now be Throwback Thursday. For those six day games this season, the team will be wearing the 1978 throwback jerseys (as can be seen here), to which we say “Fantastic.”

You may recall, Melvin and I took a shot at fixing the Padres uniform problems, and we’re hoping that these throwbacks are the first step towards the team re-embracing its true identity. We’re holding our breath, Garf.

Padres name new scouting director (Padres.com)

Hoyer’s front office continues to take shape, as Jaron Madison becomes the team’s new director of scouting. He joins Jason McLeod, the new assistant GM, and Chris Gwynn, the new director of player personal, in the front office and like those two, he’s no stranger to San Diego, having served as a scout for the Padres in 2002. More importantly, Madison is a product of Long Beach State, and that is a clear sign of greatness.

Bradley is a reckless risk for Seattle (Yahoo! Sports)

In case you haven’t heard, Milton Bradley was tragically traded to our natural rivals, the Seattle Mariners, and not to us. For the low price of Carlos Silva and his ridiculous contract, the Mariners were able to acquire the best left-fielder we’ve seen in ten years, an assessment Steve Henson might disagree with.

Henson is no fan of Seattle’s recent acquisition, saying that the Mariners will come to rue the day they traded for Bradley, just as the Dodgers did, and the A’s did, and the San Diego Padres did. Certainly I don’t assume to speak for us all, but do you regret the day we acquired Bradley? If so, do you also regret the 11 home runs he hit in 42 games as a Padre? Do you regret his .414 OBP? His .590 SLG? His 168 OPS+ in Petco? Do you regret him stepping on Mike Cameron’s hand and knocking him out for the year? Well, you should regret that last one, but that was an accident.

When Henson speaks of Padres regret, he means Bradley’s blow up following what then-first base coach Bobby Meacham referred to as “the most disconcerting conversation I have ever heard from an umpire to a player.” If you agree with Henson, aren’t you getting mad at Milton Bradley for taking Milton Bradley out of the lineup, and doesn’t that suggest that you do want Milton Bradley in the lineup, and that you don’t really regret having him here? Or am I wrong? Let us know in the comments section.

Posted in sacrificial links | 5 Comments »

My San Diego Padres of the 00s

December 15th, 2009 by

This decade has come and just-about gone and as is natural, we’re driven to look back at what we have all witnessed over the past 10 years. It was a big decade for the Padres, probably the biggest in the team’s history, even though it lacked a World Series appearance. The team moved into Petco Park, and that signaled a new era of Padres baseball. So before we follow Jeff Moorad and Jed Hoyer into the 10s, I present to you my team of the 00s:

C Ramon Hernandez
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Mark Loretta
SS Khalil Greene
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff
LF Milton Bradley
CF Mark Kotsay
RF Brian Giles

While some of these positions picked themselves, some took a bit more deliberation. Please allow me to explain.

Catcher was, surprisingly, one of the harder positions to choose. Mike Piazza, in his one year here, was the cleanup hitter we’ve yet to replace, and Josh Bard hit out of his mind his first year over from Boston. But my final vote went to Ramon Hernandez, who was worth over 6 wins* in his two years here. It also doesn’t hurt that he was my favorite player for the little time he called San Diego home. His hair was just so stylish.

Third base came down to preference: offense or defense. Phil Nevin’s bat needs no introduction. In 2000-01, Nevin hit 72 home runs in Qualcomm–while not quite Petco Park in size, the Q was still a pitcher’s park (.819 park factor in 01). Unfortunately, the less said about Nevin’s defense at third, the better. Just like the more said about Kouzmanoff’s defense at third, the better. While Kouzmanoff hasn’t been a great fielder, as Myron explains, he’s been good. Good enough at least to carry his flailing bat to a couple of wins a year.

Left field was the hardest position to chose. Rickey Henderson, Ryan Klesko, Dave Roberts, and Chase Headley all deserve a mention. Klesko, in particular, may be one of the most underrated Padres for everything he did for the team. But none of these players had enough to overcome Milton Bradley’s zazz! This may be a bit of revisionist history, but Bradley was the single-most exciting Padre I have ever had the pleasure of seeing for myself. As soon as he came over from Oakland, he lit the team up. Undeterred by Petco Park, he posted a home OPS of .977. As we all remember, his season ended a week early when Bud Black was forced to blow Bradley’s knee out, but it was a great run while it lasted.

And while center field was another hard pick, it wasn’t from a dearth of options. You, our loyal reader, surely know Mr. Mike Cameron and The Sacrifice Bunt had something serious together, so it was especially difficult to leave him off the team. While Cameron came and mashed, his worn leather glove found kryptonite somewhere on 19 Tony Gwynn Way. A career 5.7 UZR/150 centefielder, Cameron actually cost the team 10.3 defensive runs while here. Ultimately, Cameron was worth 6.6 wins in San Diego, plus the wonderfulness that is our love. Mark Kotsay on the otherhand, was worth 8.2 wins in 2002 and 2003 alone. In those two years, he brought 8.2 defensive runs to the team, as well as his strong bat.

Also, surprise! This is a cliffhanger. I’ll be back with the pitching half of my team of the decade. Until then, tell us where I went wrong in the comments section.

* Any reference to “wins” is based on WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. Tom Tango has a great explanation of the stat here.

Posted in players | 8 Comments »

Sacrificial Links: NL West top 10 draft picks

December 11th, 2009 by

Sacrificial LinksBaseball America’s top 10 Padres and NL West prospects of the 2000s were published today.

They went with Jason Bartlett as the top pick of the decade. Seemed strange to me until I tried to figure out who would replace him. Don’t forget though, order to qualify for the best pick of the 2000s, the player would need to have been drafted in the first few years of the decade. Apparently BA is judging the pick by who had sustained major league success. None of the guys taken later in the decade have had time to develop, so while James Darnell or Mat Latos may be better choices in the long run, they don’t exactly qualify right now.

Oh well, we’ll always have the right field Brian Buchanan memorial wall, whom the Padres received in exchange for Bartlett. I like to think of it as the wall, not the player.

Check out BA’s organizational talent graph too. If anyone still wonders why Towers, Fuson, and company were replaced, look no further.

I’ve had a hunch that the Padres farm was underrated last year, even after adjusting for my homerism. Good news for me, I’m not the only one. I’m looking forward to this year’s rankings, as they’ll reinforce or amend last year’s poor assessment of the system.

Posted in draft | 2 Comments »

Holy Guacamole!

December 4th, 2009 by

Sacrifical LinksIt’s been a busy couple of days in Padresland.

Enberg on board as Padres TV voice (MLB.com)

(Dick) Enberg, who for the last 26 years has made his home just north of San Diego in La Jolla, will bring his trademark “Oh my” call to the Padres and will be back inside a broadcast booth calling baseball full-time for the first time since the 1970s, when he called Angels games.

“I still think I have my fastball. I might not locate it as well as I used to,” Enberg said, laughing. “I think the experiences I’ve had as a broadcaster will more than compensate for that. While there’s been a lot of change … 6-4-3 [double play] hasn’t. And I still remember that.”

McLeod tapped as Padres executive (MLB.com)

In Boston, (Jason) McLeod was hired the Red Sox director of scouting administration in 2003. His first draft with the Red Sox was in 2004, a draft that produced future Rookie of the Year and American League MVP Dustin Pedroia.

Under McLeod’s watch, Baseball America has ranked the Red Sox Draft among the top five Drafts in three of his first four years as director of amateur scouting.

Padres’ Tate injured in ATV crash (SignOnSanDiego)

Donavan Tate, the high school center fielder selected third overall in the June draft, suffered facial lacerations and a broken jaw that required surgery last weekend in an ATV accident near his Georgia home.

Tate, 18, who got a $3.5 million bonus from the Padres when he signed on Aug. 17, had been rehabbing following surgery on Oct. 7 to repair a sports hernia.

San Diego Padres Top 10 Prospects (Baseball America)

Led by third baseman Edinson Rincon, righthander Adys Portillo and outfielder Rymer Liriano, the Padres had a number of international prospects step up in 2009, balancing two less positive developments. In June, San Diego learned that Dominican third baseman Yefri Pena, who signed for $300,000, had falsified his age and identity (he’s really Ramon Mercedes) and would be suspended for a year. Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy, who signed for $1 million in 2008, received a 50-game suspension a month later for failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.

Gonzalez, Bell claim Padres team awards (Padres.com)

The offseason award hardware continues to pile up for San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who on Wednesday was named the Most Valuable Player for the team during the Padres’ annual awards celebration.

Last month, Gonzalez won his second successive Gold Glove. Other award winners on Wednesday included closer Heath Bell (Clyde McCullough Pitcher of the Year), second baseman David Eckstein (Madres Favorite New Padre), Chairman’s Award (Black) and the Fireman’s Award (Bell).

Good night, and good luck.

Posted in sacrificial links | No Comments »

MLBN on the Padres

December 1st, 2009 by

Just as they did earlier this year, the MLB Network is going team-by-team, breaking down what each club has and needs. Today, they talked about the Padres.

After giving a rundown of the 09 team, they listed off what they see as the team’s “Shopping List”:

  • protection for Gonzalez
  • innings eater
  • leadoff guy

But despite this list, and the idea of protecting him, the focus of the discussion was Adrian and what should be done with him.

On the panel was Joe Magrane, Harold Reynolds, and Ken Rosenthal. Magrane spoke first, stating that Petco is a park that needs nice defense and young pitching, and that Adrian could go a long way to filling those needs. Rosenthal went next, countering, saying that Adrian is signed to an affordable contract and that he wonders what message the team would be sending to the fans if they move him.

Reynolds spoke third, and he said that Rosenthal gave a strong sell. But he also notes that Adrian is an incredibly valuable chip, and that the Padres are in a win-win situation (of sorts).

Rosenthal then claimed Adrian was our Joe Mauer, noting that he’s a homegrown San Diegan, as well as a Mexican-American. Reynolds refuted, stating that the team can not (or will not) sign Adrian to a long-term deal.

Greg Amsinger, acting as moderator for the discussion, ended things by asking the panel if they thought Adrian would be a Padre on Opening Day. Magrane and Reynolds said no, Rosenthal said yes.

And that’s what two former players and a reporter think about the San Diego Padres.

Posted in media | 2 Comments »

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