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Help us (insert name here), you’re our only hope!: Episode II – Attack of Pat Burrell

May 22nd, 2010 by

After Tampa Bay handed Pat Burrell his walking papers earlier this week, he became the latest aging slugger to be named as the new must have item for our San Diego Padres. Here are a couple of reasons why that would not be a good idea:

1. He can’t hit

This seems obvious enough. If you can’t hack it as a DH in the American League (obviously) in a neutral-to-slightly-pitcher’s park (.970 PF since 09), you’re probably not a good hitter. During his time in Tampa Bay, Pat’s bat was worth -0.8 wins, and that was with him playing a total of nine innings in the field. Speaking of which…

2. He can’t field

On his career, in almost 10,000 innings, Burrell has a UZR of -44.6 and a UZR/150 of -7.8. That’s not quite Jermaine Dye, not even close really, but it’s still bad. And who’s to say how he’ll handle playing in Petco. Or how he’ll handle playing the outfield after taking the last year and a half off.

There is the idea that despite all of this, we should take a waiver on Burrell because Why not? With Tampa Bay left footing the bill on the remainder of Burrell’s $16 million contract, he could be had for as little as $300 thousand. But would Burrell really sign for that little? More to the point, would Burrell sign for that little to play on the Padres, in a ballpark that will almost assuredly torpedo the little value he has left going into free agency?

Now, in reasons why he might be a good idea, It should be noted that it’s not unusual for a player to just be unable to make things work going from one league to the next. Edgar Renteria was an All-Star for the Cardinals before signing and failing with the Red Sox*. The next year, he was back in the NL, in Atlanta, back to his old ways. Two years after that, he was traded back to the AL, to Detroit, where the wheels fell back off. These things happen, and it’s possible that Burrell is just an NL-kinda guy.

Also, Burrell doesn’t have to start to be of use to this team. Age (or whatever it is) has caught up with Matt Stairs and fast, so the Padres could find themselves in the market for a new aging slugger who can come off the bench and hit the ball over the fence. Last season, Jason Giambi’s reunion with the Oakland A’s was cut short, leading him to sign with Colorado on a minor league deal. He rewarded the Rockies with a 162 OPS+. If Burrell was willing to do something like this, especially the minor league contract part, what could it hurt to check him out?

*It should be noted that Renteria’s reputation in St. Louis was blown out of proportion and his bad season in Boston wasn’t much worse than some of the ones he had in STL. But this is baseball, so Shhhhh.

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Help us (insert name here), you’re our only hope!

May 14th, 2010 by

With the Padres the proud owners of the best record in the NL (and tied for the second best in all of baseball), the tone of our story has changed. Where everyone had been wondering when the team would trade Adrian Gonzalezand Heath Bell, now people are beginning to wonder if we’ll be buyers instead.

Jed Hoyer started off the talk mentioning he’s not completely happy with the way the offense has been playing:

Frankly we’ve been fortunate to score as many runs as we have given some of the guys we’ve had struggling. The way our pitching staff has thrown has allowed us some patience. At some point our hitters will have to pick up our pitchers. We’re not going to continue to pitch at this rate all season. I think it’s unrealistic to think that.

The team, as of the writing of this article, ranks 23rd in the league in wOBA (13th in the NL) at .312. The team leader is Scott Hairston at .371, followed by backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba at .360, Adrian at an underachieving .359, and Chase Hadley at .349. Everyone else is well below average, with the most egregious offenders being sophomore slumping Kyle Blanks at .305, Evert Cabrera at .250, and Jerry Hairston at .234*.

To this point, the pitching (1st in ERA and xFIP) and defense (2nd in UZR) have led the way, but as Hoyer noted, we can’t just count on getting by with a below-average offense. So who are some candidates to come fix this thing?

TSB favorite Tim Sullivan starts us off throwing Carlos Lee, Jose Guillen, and Jermaine Dye’s names into the hat. Sullivan adds that the price tags hanging from Lee and Guillen might push them out of range. This leaves Dye, who’s become something of a boogeyman around baseball. Following a disappointing contract year (-0.4 WAR), Dye failed to find a job this past offseason. He received interest from a couple of teams (the Cubs and Milwaukee were mentioned) but its believed he’s priced himself out of different situations, which makes it all the more interesting that he’d be willing to come here:

“San Diego was one of the places Jermaine was excited about playing,” (Dye’s agent) Bob Bry said Tuesday. “He continues to work out every morning and hits most days and is still waiting for an opportunity with a team that has a chance to advance to the playoffs. San Diego, seemingly, would be a good fit.”


Dye’s bat could bring some added oomph to this lineup. Even last year, in a down season, Dye hit 27 home runs with a .344 wOBA. Unfortunately, he was also the worst defensive player in all of baseball. His UZR/150 was -26.4 and on his career, Dye is a -16.3 outfielder. This team definitely needs some offense, but what happens to our pitching and defense with Jermaine Dye roaming around the spacious confines of Petco Park?

Moving on.

Another aging former All-Star whose name is in the mix is Andruw Jones. You might remember him from the monster bombs he hit in Petco as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Or you might remember him from the monster bomb he was as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. With his/Jake Peavy’s Chicago White Sox off to a 14-20 start, Jones has made himself into a trade candidate with his .260/.360/.604 line. MLB Trade Rumors has made up a list of teams that might have interest, and said the following about ours:

The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.

I’m assuming they mean that AJ and Venable are vulnerable to losing their spot in the lineup to Jones, and not their spot on the roster. At $500K, Jones is a steal not a deal for the production he’s put up, but will it last? I dunno, but Fangraphs took a shot at figuring it out:

Why so pessimistic? Because at this exact point last season, 111 PA, Andruw’s production ceased. For those first 111 PA he hit .278/.405/.544, which amounts to a wOBA, .424, that is nearly identical to his mark this year. Yet from his 112th PA through his 331st, he produced very little. His triple slash sat at .183/.282/.419, a .320 wOBA. His only saving grace was power, as he hit 12 home runs and produced a .236 ISO during that span. Other than that, though, he showed few redeeming qualities.

Yet even if he avoids the drop-off he experienced last year, there’s almost no chance he continues at his current pace. Even during his prime years he never produced a .400 wOBA. His peak year came in 2000, when he produced a .390 mark. He came close, too, in 2005, when he hit 51 home runs and produced a .382 wOBA. He might be able to help a contending team, but it won’t be with the numbers he’s producing now.

Jones is a gamble, more so than Dye, because it’s hard to know who exactly we’ll be getting. While he’s slimmed down, this is still the guy who almost ate himself out of the league. He still has the power he’s ever had and if the stars align, he could be the big bopper to help Adrian see more fastballs, but that’s a big if.

As the season progresses, teams will start seeing their dreams of success slip away (but not us) and more and more players will start falling off the tree, leaving us with a better idea of what’s out there. It is only May afterall. Still, isn’t it nice talking about the stars we could trade for instead of the ones we could trade away?**

*Making matters worse, Hairston is fourth on the team in plate appearances. This jack of all trades is truly the master of none: he’s also contributed a -0.9 UZR.

**Buster Posey and Dustin Ackley are future stars, jes’ sayin’.

Posted in hot stove | 6 Comments »

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