Padres bloggin' since 2007

Good Ludwick the rest of the season

July 31st, 2010 by

Remember how nonplussed I was with the Tejada trade? I couldn’t even be bothered to come up with a witty title. Now look at the title for this post. So witty. So plussed.

Earlier today, the Padres pulled the trigger on a trade for Ryan Ludwick, getting him away from the Cardinals in a three-way deal that also sent Jake Westbrook from Cleveland to St. Louis.

After flirting with Jayson Werth earlier in the week, the Padres may have made a better deal. While Ludwick doesn’t have Werth’s mighty beard (Werth doesn’t have it anymore either), he’s got the type of numbers that should make you excited.

Ludwick’s in the middle of another solid season, posting a 123 wRC+ with an 8.8 UZR. From 2007 (his breakout season) through 2009, he had a line of .280/.350/.512 while playing in the new Busch Stadium, which is not hitter-friendly. It’s no Petco* but there’s no reason to fear that Ludwick will collapse once he gets to San Diego.

Defensively, Ludwick is a great right fielder who will likely bump Will Venable over to left field. Since 2007, his defense’s been worth +15.7 runs (that’s with a little left and center sprinkled in. At right alone, he’s been worth +12 runs). While he doesn’t have the best range, which should be interesting moving to Petco’s humongous right field**, he’s got the kind of arm you want from the most storied position in Padres history.

While I would have loved for the Padres to acquire Jayson Werth, he would be a two month rental as Werth is a free agent at the end of the year. Ludwick isn’t. Ludwick is a player that we can pencil into the four hole for the next year and a half and watch as he offers Adrian the type of lineup protection that he’s never received in his career. If Adrian wanted the team to show him they’re serious about winning, then he got his wish.

But wait, it gets better! For everything I just spelled out, the Padres gave up nothing. Were you worried about having to part with Simon Castro or Corey Luebke to improve them team? Then you’ll be glad to hear that the Padres received Ludwick in exchange for Corey Kluber*** and Nick Greenwood. If you’re asking who those guys are, my point exactly. And we’ll tell you, just not right now****. Along with Kluber and Greenwood, the team also sent some money St. Louis’ way. That’s right, us broke-ass busters sent another team money. And Ludwick’s arbitration eligible and likely to become the highest paid player on the team next year. Anyone questioning whether or not Moorad’s going to open up his pocketbook can stop asking.

If you wanted proof that the new regime is serious, here it is.

*Keep in mind that Petco makes hitters look bad, but it doesn’t make them actually bad. The Padres offense is currently ranked fourth in the NL when you take park factors into consideration, and I’d bet that you don’t believe me when I tell you that.

**Not to editorialize, but I wouldn’t be against the Padres putting Ludwick in left. With a starting trio of Ludwick-Gwynn-Venable, I’m not sure anything would fall in that outfield.

***With Luebke and Kluber, and the once rumored Corey Hart, this year’s been the Deadline of the Coreys for us.

****Coming soon!

Posted in hot stove, statistics | 2 Comments »

Open range

July 30th, 2010 by

In Tim Sullivan’s article on the Miguel Tejada acquisition, Adrian Gonzalez was quoted as saying:

“We position ourselves in the right place and then the ball’s hit nearby most of the time. We haven’t made a lot of spectacular plays out there this year. We’ve just always been in the right place. And that’s because the pitchers can execute their pitches. … There’s not a lot of range needed.”

According to UZR, the Padres as a team are second in the league in range runs at +31.6 and they’re tenth in out of zone (OOZ) plays with 286. In the infield alone (excluding first base), the Padres have +10.8 range runs and 109 OOZ. In both categories, the team ranks near the top of the league, ahead of the great defenses in San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Arizona.

Adrian’s had a better view of the infield than I have this season, but I can’t help but feel like he’s selling his guys a little short.

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Padres acquire Miguel Tejada

July 30th, 2010 by

Let’s get this out of the way: Miguel Tejada is no longer the player you remember. In fact, he is no longer a good player.

This season, Tejada has been worth 0.1 wins, making him a slight upgrade over current awful Padres Everth Cabrera and Matt Stairs (-0.1 wins) and Oscar Salazar (-0.3), and assuming that he takes Everth’s shortstop job, Tejada will become the worst hitter on the team and it won’t be close (-10 runs). The next lowest position player is Salazar at -3.6. While all current Padres have Petco Park pulling their numbers down, Tejada has Camden Yards lifting his up. Yet he’s still only managed a wRC+ of 81. On the road, that number drops to 60.

But wait, it gets worse. Tejada will likely become our everyday shortstop, a position where he couldn’t find a job last offseason. In the 16,000+ innings he’s logged at short in his career, Tejada has been worth -30.2 runs on defense (-3.6 UZR/150) and from 2007-09, the last three seasons (almost 3,800 innings) he played at the position, he was worth -6.3 runs (-5.3 UZR/150). We don’t have enough information to draw any conclusions, but early returns on Tejada’s play at the hot corner have not been inspiring (-7.3 UZR/150 in 808 innings).

Sounds awful, right? Why would Hoyer make this trade? For starters, it didn’t cost a whole lot. While Wynn Pelzer, our contribution to this trade, was ranked seventh in our system by Baseball America before the season, his lack of control and modest projections make him a small loss. And despite his apparently fading abilities, Tejada has maintained his reputation as a great teammate, earning high praise from none other than Mark Loretta:

Loretta said Tejada was one of the best teammates he ever had.

“He’s just a fun guy to be around,” Loretta said. “He really pulled for his teammates, kind of one of those guys that people are drawn to. Funny, plays every day, plays hurt. He’s a gamer.”

I don’t think I need to tell you that no one, save for Bryan Cranston, has benefited from chemistry like these 2010 San Diego Padres and it sounds like it just got better.

Ultimately, this is an uninspiring-but-inoffensive trade. The team didn’t add the missing piece, but they didn’t just trade Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps either. Tejada hasn’t been a good player so far this season and while it’s possible that a jump into the fire could do him good, he’s still replacing a player worse than him even if it doesn’t.

If nothing else, Tejada makes this team that much easier to build on MVP 2005, so let’s call it a win.

Posted in hot stove, statistics | 5 Comments »

Things I’ve been wrong about (Ray tells me I’m modest)

July 26th, 2010 by

Yes, a post!

What can I say, coming home and websites seems sisyphean when you spend all day working on websites.

Ok, maybe it’s not that bad. Unless Ray changes his mind at least no one at The Sac Bunt is hell bent on including animated gifs on our home page.

So about this article. I know this is a novel concept, but I must make one admission: I talk about sports on the Internet, and yes, sometimes, very rarely, I’m wrong about things I’ve said. In the interest of searching for truth, and not feeling so bad about making fun of other people for being wrong, here are some admissions that need making.

David Eckstein is having a great year

I make fun of his supporters, but I never completely hated his signing and certainly never disliked the guy as a person. I hear he spends a ton of time before ballgames signing autographs for fans, which is admirable and rad. He just hasn’t been as good of a player as people think he is, and I didn’t see why he can’t use his magical “make other players play better” powers from the bench.

This year David sits fourth out of the position players in WAR, though his .309 wOBA drops him to 6th of those with 200 plate appearances. Cheers David, I’m glad to be wrong about you this year.

That marketing campaign behind Everth Cabrera may have been premature

Back in January I provided an array of uninvited Padres marketing opinions in which I suggested the team market the trio of Kyle Blanks, Mat Latos, and Everth Cabrera. Promise, I never expected Cabrera to provide the kind of value Blanks or Latos will likely produce. And I refuse to apologize for including Blanks in the marketing mix, as his slow start was only 120 plate appearances and still has huge potential.  I included Everth in the group because he is the kind of  exciting, speedy, defender at the romance position I would expect fans to rally around. His youth and price tag mean fans can rally around him a long time into the future.

Unfortunately, 440  plate appearances of average production (101 wRC+ ) above A ball meant less than we would like about Cabrera’s future as a hitter. He’s been hurt as well, and he can still become the player we thought we would be, but it is hardly a sure thing.

!!!!!!!!!! Speed never slumps!

This isn’t about speed not slumping, I just can’t help giggling at that phrase.

The Padres’ recent trend in taking risks on the bases isn’t exactly a recent trend. As far back as 2008, we’ve heard spring training stories profiling an emphasis on the running game. The rule of thumb when stealing suggests an 80% stolen base rate , anything less and you’re hurting rather than helping. 68%, 74%, and 71% are the Padres’ success rate the past three seasons.

And as is my usual behavior (leave your psychoanalysis in the comments, plz) I dislike anything that is overvalued. During 2008’s 22 inning gamestravoganza against Colorado, I experimentally live blogged and complained, among other complaints (psychoanalysis again requested) about the Padres focus on base path risk taking.

Well, turns out that in a low run environment like Petco Park, it might just maks more sense to go for the extra base.

How much so? I have no idea. If a lower run environment drops the success rate to say, 79%, then I’m not wrong after all (I will henceforth pretend this is the case in my head). But what if the Petco break even rate is drastically different? That break even rate might be 55% in which case, hell let the McAnultys and Stairs of the world go crazy.

The first place Padres!

I thought even my 78 win prediction leaned toward the homer side, and went as far as renewing that prediction about a month into the season. The link is down (come back Peter Friberg!), but ole Melly would never lie to you. Especially about his being wrong.

I simply didn’t believe in the team’s offense, who currently rank at exactly 100 OPS+.

But then, defense is the new Moneyball right? Our boys lead the legue in UZR/150 defensive metric by a wide margin. The team’s winning ways may be sustainable without much offense thanks to outside the box thinking and scouting.

Some younger players don’t have me convinced me they’re long term starters on a good team. Hello Mr. 109 wRC+ Nick Hundley, where’d that come from?

But things are working well right now and being a Padres fan is simply marvelous.

Melvin Update: According to Baseball-Reference’s Pecota updated playoff odds report, the boys in blue-and-sand and soon-to-be-gray have a 75% chance of making the post-season either via a division championship or wild card.

Posted in misc | 3 Comments »

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