Padres bloggin' since 2007

Have you ever wanted to see Jaff Decker dance?

January 27th, 2010 by

How about Allan Dykstra? Drew Cumberland? Blake Tekotte?

Alright, here you go:

Thanks to Lady Gaga, for inspiring us all.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

Don’t blame Cox for the Padres’ poor decisions

January 26th, 2010 by

The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups. -Henry Hazlitt

FCC ruling may let more Cox rivals carry Padres” reads a Union-Tribune headline, sitting atop a story that the Federal Communications Commission will change a rule about what deals Cable companies are allowed to make with content providers. The clause allowed companies to negotiate exclusive deals with content providers, and would render the Padres’ own exclusive TV deal with Cox Communications illegal.

The fact most relevant, is that the Padres voluntarily signed the deal with Cox, and likely received compensation in exchange for exclusivity. Instead, reporter Mike Freeman frames the topic as a matter of the FCC saving the day from evil corporations, referring to the clause in question as a “loophole” when in reality the parties acted within the stated intentions of the legislation.

After one to takes a broader, long term look at such an intervention, the consequences become apparent. In the long term, this may hurt fans more than help them. Such disruption in the affairs of content creators and service providers is a strong incentive to avoid creating content that people enjoy and to stop investing in infrastructure so they may have access to it.

Freeman does not print a direct quote in response from a Cox executive, though one appears near the bottom of a previous piece on the topic. Cox’s response clearly reveals the major hitch in the FCC arguments:

“AT&T has the iPhone and doesn’t allow other wireless providers to offer it to their customers, and DirecTV has exclusive rights to NFL Sunday Ticket,” Ceanna Guerra, a spokeswoman for Cox in San Diego, said in an e-mail response to questions. “We lawfully negotiated and paid for the rights to distribute Padres content when no one else wanted to make the investment, and now because of the success of our vision, AT&T wants the law changed so that it can benefit from our investment.”

A more personal perspective

Imagine if Cox offered The Sacrifice Bunt a large sum of money in exchange for exclusive distribution rights of the blog. Then the FCC informs us we aren’t allowed to make such a deal.

Ray and I work hard, invest our own time, money, and hard work, all of which is done at our own risk, to develop and grow The Sac Bunt’s content and reader base. We should the right to do with it what we wish, no matter how dumb of a deal I’m likely to sign if given the opportunity. The same applies to The Padres, Cox, and anyone else who risks their own resources to provide goods and services to others, in exchange for a voluntary fee.

Cox’s exclusivity is likely to change when the contract is up come 2012.

In July, Padres President Tom Garfinkel told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the exclusivity of the Padres’ deal with Cox may be on the table when the contract comes up for renewal.

“Our goal is to make our broadcasts available to as many fans as possible in the future,” Garfinkel said.

Supporters say the FCC’s actions are necessary to create competition:

AT&T and satellite TV providers have long complained that cable companies are using the loophole to gain a competitive edge. They say local sports such as Padres games are “must have” content for many potential subscribers. By blocking access, Cox has hamstrung its competitors.

Should it be a surprise that those making the case for it such an action are the ones who stand to gain the most? AT&T’s operations in San Diego demonstrate the competition does exist, and will likely have every opportunity to challenge Cox’s exclusivity through the same type of negotiation that occurred when the original deal was signed.

The “need” to intervene

Thanks to our country’s (mostly) market economy, there is no need for government intervention based on the “best interest of the fan”. Why? Because fans are the Padres customers. It’s in the best interest of the Padres to keep the best interest of the fan in mind. If the Padres alienate the fans, the Padres’ lose even more. And since those fans only exist because of the work, investment, and risk of the Padres, it is the Padres who have earned the right to market the team how they choose.

Who knows, perhaps the money the team receives in exchange for exclusive TV rights contributes largely to player payroll. At that point, the decision of what is or is not in the fans’ best interest becomes quite blurry.

Posted in media | 12 Comments »

Wonder Hamster, professional hitter

January 25th, 2010 by

Sacrificial Links

The Hall of Could Have Been (The Soul of Baseball)

I’ll let Joe Posnanski explain:

Matt Stairs

Might be in the Hall of Fame if: I’ll let Bill explain.

“Look at it. Somebody decided he was a second baseman, he tears through the minor leagues, gets to Montreal, the Expos take one look at him and say, ‘He’s no second baseman, get real.’ He bounces around, goes to Japan, doesn’t really get to play until he’s almost 30, then hits 38 homers, slips into a part-time role and hits 15-20 homers every year for 10 years in about 250 at-bats a season. … You put him in the right park, right position early in his career … he’s going to hit a LOT of bombs.”

What can you say? It’s all there. Stairs did not get 500 at-bats until he was 30 — he had a .370 OBP that year, hit 26 homers, drove in 106. The next year, he had the 38-homer season. His average dropped the next season, and he never got 500 at-bats in a season after that.

A Big Hit (Sports Illustrated)

Former winter league teammate Kevin Millar shares a wonderful anecdote:

Stairs came. The opening game of Los Mayos’ 1995 season was in Mazatlan. Kevin Millar, a 26-year-old infield prospect for the Florida Marlins who has been Stairs’s teammate in Navojoa for three seasons, remembers the day well. “I’d never met Matt,” says Millar. “He was supposed to hit fourth that day, but it was 20 minutes before the game and he hadn’t shown up. It got to be 10 minutes before game time, then five, and still no Matt. Finally, when the umpires were meeting at home plate, this guy walked into the dugout wearing jeans and boots and smoking a cigarette. He just pulled on his uniform, went up there and yanked a home run. I was like, Who the f—is this guy?”

Matt Stairs solidifies place as greatest journeyman slugger (Sports Illustrated)

Posnanski again, this time in his own words:

On Sept. 28 Stairs faced Washington rookie pitcher Marco Estrada, who became an unwitting partner in history. Sort of. Estrada threw the slider that did not slide, and Stairs unleashed the hangover swing he picked up one too-bright and too-early morning in Tucson. He yanked the ball into the right field seats. He stomped around the bases. That was the 254th home run of Matt Stairs career.

And with that, Stairs became the greatest journeyman slugger in history.

Phillies Have an Unlikely Mr. October (New York Times)

Stairs was profiled in the NY Times following his 08 heroics in the NLCS, revealing his valuable veteran leadership, as well as a great nickname:

The toast of Philadelphia is a balding hockey player with a squat body who was once nicknamed the Wonder Hamster. He swings from his heels and used to drink beer with his boss, but he takes his job seriously and has no desire to ever take off his uniform. He learned patience, he said, from having daughters ages 17, 15 and 11.

Stairs was an ideal leader for the young Royals, Baird said, never lecturing his teammates but knowing how to get points across. Baird said he knew then that Stairs could be an ideal manager someday.

“His approach coming to the ballpark every day just doesn’t change,” Baird said. “The people that are respected in this game are consistent in their character, and that’s the way he is. He’s all about substance; he’s not about style. He just gives you an honest day’s work, every single day.”

Phillies Receive a Boost From an Unlikely Source (New York Times)

Apparently, people call him a professional hitter.

“They don’t call him a professional hitter for no reason,” said the Phillies’ Shane Victorino, who lashed a two-run, game-tying homer before Stairs’s blast. “To do what he does at the age of 40, I’m smiling two times bigger because I feel so good for him.”

Players by birthplace : Canada Baseball Stats and Info (Baseball-Reference)

Here are Stairs’ rankings for Canadian baseball players (he’s Canadian, by the way):

  • Games: 2nd (1761)
  • Home runs: 2nd (259)
  • Strike outs: 2nd (1067)
  • Base on balls: 3rd (697)
  • Slugging %: 7th (.481)
  • OPS: 7th (.481)

And Stairs accomplished all of this without receiving serious playing time till age 29.

Posted in players, sacrificial links | 2 Comments »

01/23 Sacrificial Links

January 23rd, 2010 by

Sacrifical Links

Padres add Stairs for veteran presence (ESPN)

According to Jerry Crasnick, the Padres have signed Matt Stairs to a minor league deal with an invite to the big league camp.

I like this deal, but I like having a left-handed power-bat on the bench. This seemed to be the offseason to get one, with a couple of veterans finding themselves disregarded, but following Jason Giambi’s return to the Rockies and the AL Central’s interest in Jim Thome, the pickings still seemed slim. Truth be told, Stairs was not very good last year, or the year before, his monster bomb off of Broxton in the NLCS not withstanding, but he has dropped 30 pounds. If Stairs comes into Spring Training as serious as his weight-loss suggests, he would be a great addition to our already impressive bench.

Headley at hot corner a heated decision (Union-Tribune)

Tim Sullivan fills us in on some behind the scenes gossip behind Chase Headley’s move to third.

Buddy (Black) and I were on the same page,” Towers said recently, describing the Padres’ philosophical divide before his dismissal as general manager. “I’d keep Kouz and trade Headley. But DePo (Paul DePodesta) has always been a huge Headley fan. Huge. As was Sandy (Alderson). Headley was kind of our poster child.”

To which Black responded with a diplomatic “That serves no purpose.” Because of course he did.

I hope that someone gives Towers a studio job, just so we can watch him react to Padres updates as they happen.

Posted in hot stove, players, sacrificial links | Comments Off

Hey hermano

January 19th, 2010 by

In case you aren’t following us on Facebook, you may not have noticed that the team signed Jerry Hairston, Jr. to a one-year deal worth $2.125 million.

Along with giving Mark Grant more opportunities to say “BroBI,” JJ (as he will henceforth be referred) will fill the team’s utility role. On his career, JJ has logged 400 innings at every defensive position other than first and catcher, and he’ll be the most versatile Padre since Damian Jackson in 2005. But his natural position is second base. You see where this is going.

David Eckstein is a horrible baseball player. I don’t doubt that he is a fantastic presence in the clubhouse, but he’s a very poor one on the field. Last year, he was worth 0.7 wins, worse than every starting second basemen in the league not named Kaz Matsui. Amazingly, CHONE projects Eckstein to be even worse this year, with 0.3 wins. So let’s start JJ, right?

Right. But indulge me, and allow me to explain why.

Eckstein is not a good hitter. At all. Last year, he ended the season with a wRC+ of 87, and Bill James and CHONE both project him to fall down near 80 this year. Unfortunately, JJ’s not much better. With the exception of 2008, when he exceeded his career BABIP by 75 points, he’s never been an above-average hitter and he’s not projected to be one this year. For all intents and purposes, he’s not a large step up offensively. Just defensively.

While Eckstein is not a good fielder, he’s not terribly experienced, with only a season’s worth of second base under his belt. The results haven’t been good, but we don’t have enough evidence to be conclusive. JJ, on the other hand, is a very good fielder. In over 4500 innings, Hairston has been worth +5.6 runs a year at second. But JJ’s not bad at most of the positions he’s played. What about his valuable versatility? In today’s Union-Tribune, Hoyer was quoted as saying “Jerry is one of the most versatile players in baseball and a great fit for our club. He will see action at nearly every position on the field.” If he was brought in to give the team options at every position, is it for the best to cement him in just one?

Yes. It is.

(Before I go on, let me just say that if the team is looking at JJ to take a lot of the load off of Blanks and Venable, then it might not be for the best. And if JJ isn’t built to last a whole season [he’s only played 130 games twice], then it might not be for the best. But let’s act like everything’s copacetic, and move on.)

I don’t know how practical this is. Eckstein is a respected veteran, and he’s one of the most popular players on the team, both inside the clubhouse and up in the stands. He’s very good at the things I can’t plug into my calculator. But he’s also very bad at the things I can. At this point, as a member of 2010 Padres, Eckstein’s value is as the backup second basemen, who can fill in for JJ when he’s needed elsewhere on the diamond.

Posted in hot stove, players, statistics | 6 Comments »

The Sacrifice Take: Kouzmanoff trade

January 17th, 2010 by

This trade’s not about Kouzmanoff or Hairston. Not really.

That’s not to say that it has nothing to do with them. The Padres traded a consistently solid third baseman for the right-handed center fielder they were looking for. There’s also Eric Sogard and Aaron Cunningham, but you get the idea.

No, this trade is more about Chase Headley and Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Headley’s benefit is obvious: he gets to go back to his original position. Along with the extra weight he’ll be able to put on, Headley’s value will go up just by getting out of left field. To quantify it, the positional adjustment for left field in WAR is -7.5 runs. Third base is +2.5 runs, meaning that by simply changing positions, Headley could gain 10 runs of value.

To put things more specifically, Headley was worth 1.4 wins last year (or 13.8 runs). Swapping out his -5.5 positional adjustment for Kouzmanoff’s +2.2 puts him up to 21.6 runs, or 2.2 wins. And that doesn’t take Headley’s awful outfield defense into consideration. If he had been a defensively neutral third baseman, he would’ve been worth nearly 3 wins. This leaves out a lot of nuance, but it helps to show how valuable a position can be.

For AJ, it might be even more obvious: he gets in the lineup. As the team stood Friday morning, the Padres were likely looking at an outfield of Headley in left, Will Venable in center, and Kyle Blanks in right. With Headley now in the infield, Blanks will likely slide to left and Venable to right, opening centerfield for AJ. This is what I said a couple of months ago:

Of the San Diego Padres not named ‘Adrian Gonzalez,’ AJ was the second best in terms of wins above replacement in 2009, with a WAR of 2.8. He achieved this despite being worth negative 1.7 runs offensively, because he was valued at plus 13.6 runs defensively. In fact, AJ’s UZR/150 of 12.2 was best for fifth in the league, amongst fielders with 800 innings played.

This is where I say that AJ’s 2009 success does not mean that he’ll have a similar 2010. He could easily come into the coming season and find himself exposed by opposing teams. Luckily for him, and us, the Padres have gotten him some help.

AJ found that a lot of his problems came in the form of left-handed pitching. He ended the season with an OPS of .693, but his splits broke down to a .501 OPS against LHP and a .763 OPS against RHP. This is where Hairston and his career .867 OPS versus left-handed pitching comes in. And Hairston’s no stranger to platoons.

In 2008, following Jim Edmonds’ departure, Hairston teamed up with Jody Gerut to give the team a .900 OPS (or so) out of centerfield, no small feat given Petco’s .796 park factor that year. And for good measure, the two of them chipped in a UZR of 9.1. Now, to expect AJ to have a season like Gerut’s 2008 is unrealistic, but to expect the team’s two solid center fielders to excel while playing to their own strengths is not. Combine their potential production with Headley’s position change and the team may very well shipped 2.7 wins to Oakland and received 5 in return.

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

Padres trade Kevin Kouzmanoff (plus important TSB news!)

January 15th, 2010 by

Today, the Padres traded Kouz for Sean Gallagher, Craig Italiano, Ryan Webb, and Aaron Cunningham. Sort of.

The more accurate way of saying it is that the Padres traded Kevin Kouzmanoff to the Oakland A’s for Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston, the same Scott Hairston they traded last July for the three aforementioned pitchers.

The initial reaction here is positive. While the squashing of the earlier rumor that Gio Gonzalez would be involved deflated things a bit, this is still a good return for a trade from a position of strength. Headley can now move to third, and AJ will (likely) see a lot of playing time with Hairston as his platoon partner in center.

While Kouzmanoff was not the favorite player of The Sacrifice Bunt, it’s still a bit sad to see him go. He may not be a world-beater, but he’s a solid 2.7 win player who could really be something if he could just learn to take a walk every now and then. Good luck, Kouz, and speak fondly of us.

UPDATE: Eric Sogard is on his way to Oakland as well.

But hold on, we’re not done with you yet!

We were waiting for the right time to tell you, and I’d say that this is it, about the brand new Sacrifice Bunt Facebook page! As you may have noticed, our style of in-depth, hard-hitting, and beautifully written baseball analysis doesn’t lend itself so well to breaking news, so we’re branching out. On our Facebook page, you’ll be able to stay up on all of the Padres breaking news with us. Think of it as The Sacrifice Bunt To-Go: you can just wait in the parking lot, and we’ll bring the Padres news to you!

Be a fan. We’d really appreciate it.

Posted in hot stove, media | 2 Comments »

Grays Sports Almanac: Complete Sports Statistics 1950-2000 & 2010

January 13th, 2010 by

Fangraphs has now added the 2010 Marcel Projections, to go along with the other ones we’ve already covered:

A. Gonzalez .376 132
D. Eckstein .306 84
E. Cabrera .335 104
K. Kouz .320 94
C. Headley .335 104
T. Gwynn .317 92
W. Venable .336 105
K. Blanks .361 122
N. Hundley .336 105

Kouzmanoff’s name is long enough to throw off my graph (and force me to shorten it) but not long enough to have a comical uniform. What’s that about?

Posted in statistics | 4 Comments »

More uninvited marketing opinions and a wallpaper

January 12th, 2010 by

All this complaining talking about marketing and creatives got me thinking: how would I promote the team?

First of all, the Padres marketing department is in a tough position. They’ve lost two franchise players over the course of about a year, and will likely lose Adrian Gonzalez via a trade or when his contract expires in November of 2012. Most of their other well known players have been hit by injuries (Chris Young), or are trade candidates (Kevin Kouzmanoff, Heath Bell, [please!]).

Clearly it’s time for a youth movement. But we’ve known that, considering it began halfway through the 2009 season.

Who should the team expect to step forward, not just on the field, but in the eyes of the fans as the face of the franchise?

Some might expect Tony Gwynn to take reigns as team diplomat. Unfortunately, Gwynn has but two things going for him in that regard: his last name, and his 2009 season. Every year from 2004-2008 Gwynn has demonstrated he will never be a starter on a championship team. I hope those in charge have a good think before Franoeuring him into a role for which he isn’t ready.

That leaves three players, each with a chance of becoming stars in Petco Park over the long haul. Though they have yet to prove themselves, Everth Cabrera, Mat Latos, and Kyle Blanks all have bright futures in San Diego, and should be introduced to the public as the future of the Padres.

To do a job for which I’m not being paid, nor was I ever invited to do, I would like to help this effort. As such, I set my creative juices in motion, and present this Cablanktos wallpaper for your viewing pleasure.

Mat Latos, Kyle Blanks, Everth Cabrera
[1280 x 1024]
[1280 x 800]
[1024 x 768]
Creative Commons License

Huge thanks goes out to SD Dirk, who publishes his gorgeous photos on Flickr and licenses them for others to use in their own projects. My work is published under a similar license. Here are his Cabrera, Blanks, and Latos shots.

Posted in media | 9 Comments »

Your 2010 Padres: When baseball gets too fun

January 10th, 2010 by

San Diego based design agency iHook Creative recently announced and published a possible Padres marketing materials for the 2010 season. The team will feature the slogan “SD Stands for San Diego,” “We Take the Words ‘Play Ball’ Seriously,” among others. Big thanks go out to sdpads1 for breaking the news.

Melvin Update: As sdpads1 is kind enough to point out, it’s not 100% clear this will be chosen as the campaign. It seems strange to publish this in a portfolio if not, but we haven’t had confirmation from the club either way.

Melvin Update 2: Thanks again to sdpads1, iHook responded and this is not the 2010 campaign. Again, I know these creatives are tough work, and the jokes here are just good natured fun. The design itself is appealing, and thanks for responding.

These goofball sayings are often easy to make fun of, through no fault of the agency responsible. I’m proud to say that hasn’t stopped me from making jokes before and likely won’t stop me now either.

In case anyone had forgotten what it means to play baseball seriously during the previous non-ballplaying-seriously years, here’s your answer:

That the Padres are a team of low payroll players looking to make and impact and sustain a career in the Major Leagues. This means they’re running the base path, stealing bases, diving for fly balls or better put… PLAYING BASEBALL.

The iHook portfolio goes on to mention the “SD” logo as the official “primary logo,” to go along with its declaration of being the “official brand” if that makes any difference whatsoever. I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned this yet, but of all the ideas that don’t involve bringing back the brown, this is one of the best. The “SD” logo is clean, simple, traditional (sort of), and iconic. The plate logo isn’t terrible, but kind of sucks. Good work.

Also, keep the sand jerseys. Just want to throw this in here.

New circular logo, usage unknown

The other big news is a new logo that compliments the “SD” design. There are two marks–actually–both circular in shape. One features a sand colored ring, the other with a white ring on the outside. The text “Padres Baseball – A San Diego Tradition” surrounds the “SD” and is set on top of that ring. No mention on what the use case for these logos will be, but again I like the focus on clean design.

Petco’s giant billboards on the outside of the seating bowl will apparently display the marketing campaign, along with advertising signs around the city. Without any franchise players the team can market long term, this approach makes a lot more sense than the current exaltation of little kids.

Speaking of franchise players, or lack thereof, if you didn’t check out the giant photo at the top of the brand portfolio page, do it now. Lolwut?

Bonus link: Sdpads1 rivals Myron Logan for most Padres blogs started

His new one is called RJ’s Fro. Go check it out.

Posted in media | 11 Comments »

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