Padres bloggin' since 2007

[Insert tired John Fogerty reference here]

August 25th, 2010 by

In a year of unlikely successes, Chris Denorfia might be the unlikeliest. A career minor leaguer*, Denorfia made his way to San Diego in mid-May when Scott Hairston went down, I can only imagine the team advised him to go ahead and buy an apartment. Since then, he’s been the second best hitter on the team with a wRC+ of 134. He’s hit nine home runs in a little more than 200 at-bats, and he’s done it with a BABIP-LD% of 12.9**. Come October, Denorfia will be in the starting lineup and he’ll have earned his place.

I just wish the team would stop putting him in center.

While not quite the second coming of Brady Clark, Denorfia’s highlight reel is a little shorter than the average centerfielder. According to UZR, he’s been below average this year, posting a -3.1. Dewan’s +/- is harder on Norf, placing him at -5 DRS (defensive runs saved). But with Anthony Junior out the rest of the regular season, it looks like Denorfia has little to worry about with his job security.

There are other options, though NL Manager of the Year-to be Bud Black has shown little interest in them. Over the course of his Padres career, Hairston has made 98 starts in center and has a +5.3 UZR*** in center. But with his regular scheduled second half slump (.490 OPS), S dot has found his playing time severely limited. Then there’s Luis Durango and the recently reacquired Jody Gerut, but neither of them are good enough to muscle their way into the starting lineup. That leaves us with one obvious option.

Will Venable is no stranger to centerfield, having made 42 starts at the position since 2008. But I’m not going to bother drawing any conclusions from those 300+ innings. Really, there’s very little evidence to draw any conclusions about Venable’s defense, but in sixteen hundred total innings, he’s saved 13.7 runs out there. He’s been tasked with Petco’s right field and he’s come out on top. At least, so far.

One troubling trend I’ve noticed as this season has gone on is the slow phasing out of the youngsters from the lineup. Of the Baby Pads who started the off this year, only Chase Headley sees regular playing time. Venable is next but a couple of hundred at-bats behind. In 2011 and beyond, this team is going to needs these youngsters to pick up where Adrian and co. leave off. Finding out if Venable is capable of delivering 20 home runs out of center is a good start.

Denorfia’s a great story, and he’ll remain one in left field. Let’s see if Venable’s ready to play.

*Denorfia 208 major league at-bats coming into 2010, compared to 2630 of the minor league variety.
**This means that only a little luck has been on his side.
***In 921 innings.

Posted in gripes, players | 7 Comments »

Too many goodbyes

August 20th, 2010 by

At 12:37pm today, Bill Center broke the worst news:

12:36 [Comment From George]
I might be mistaken, but didn’t Moorad mention a possible uniform color/scheme change soon in the future when he first took over. Thoughts?

12:37 Bill Center: There will be some changes next year, but no major variations. Sand will be eliminated from the road uniforms

Padres chat with U-T beat writer Bill Center

Sand will be eliminated from the road uniforms

There are no words.

Posted in controversy | 6 Comments »

Thanks AJ

August 19th, 2010 by

After breaking his hamate bone during Wednesday’s win over the Cubs, Tony Gwynn, Jr.’s season is now over.

Considering he already lost his starting job to Chris Denorfia and his wRC+ dropped to 83, it’s easy to forget the kind of impact AJ had on this team. Gwynn led all major league center fielders in UZR this season with +13.6 runs. He was 3.4 runs ahead of second place Marlon Byrd, who played over 300 innings more than AJ. Three hundred and eight more, to be exact. That’s 34 games. That’s a fifth of a season. AJ finishes his season as the third most valuable outfielder in the majors, behind Carl Crawford and Andres Torres.

Despite his limited playing time and troubles at the plate, AJ has been the fifth most valuable Padre according to WAR. With six weeks left to play, he’ll likely fall in the standings as other players leapfrog him. But for a while, AJ was the epitome of the Padres defense-first philosophy. While I won’t be holding my breath, I hope the team doesn’t forget this coming offseason.

Posted in players | No Comments »

Nostalgia, thy name is this song

August 15th, 2010 by

Lets have some baseball fun!

Posted in the funny | No Comments »

What the Padres gave up: Corey Kluber and Nick Greenwood Edition

August 2nd, 2010 by

San Diego Padres ProspectsSunday, the Padres acquired Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals. Let’s take a good luck at what the Padres gave up and why this, on the surface, seems like a great deal for the home team.

Corey Kluber goes to the Indians in the three-way deal and is without a doubt the better of the two prospects shipped away by the Friars, a Padres 4th round selection in 2007. His main weapon is a low 90’s fastball that is complimented by a slider and change. Over his minor league career he’s consistently proven himself able strike people out, boasting a robust k/9 of 9.5. His sustained ability to miss bats as he progresses up the system is a good sign for the Indians, and his 2010 k/9 with AA San Antonio of 10.0 is outstanding. In fact, Kluber leads the Texas League in strikeouts with 136 in only 122.2 innings.

This year has been the best of Kluber’s career, as he’s dropped his bb/9 to 2.9 and given up about a hit an inning. Throughout his career Kluber’s 4.29 ERA has somewhat betrayed his outstanding peripherals. The bottom line here is that Kluber misses bats, and has seemingly improved as he’s moved up the system. He has a chance to see time in Cleveland this year and projects to be a #4 or #5 starter in the majors. He’s a kid that would have been a good fit for Petco and would have probably contributed next year, but both Simon Castro and Cory Luebke are better prospects. For the Padres to hold on to both of their top pitching prospects was a pleasant surprise, and Padres fans should see this trade as a real boon.

Nick Greenwood is the player the Padres shipped to the Cardinals to complete the deal. Drafted in the 14th round last year, Greenwood is simply organizational depth. A pitchability type lefty, he shows an uninspiring 6.1 k/9 as a 22 year old in low A Fort Wayne, with a 4.15 ERA. Although he enjoyed a nice debut in Eugene last year, he seems just a throw in with little projection, at best he’ll be a middle reliever. His greatest traits are his control and his left handedness, that’ll be what keeps him moving through a system.

All in all, the Padres held onto their top pitching prospects and received an instant upgrade to their lineup in Ludwick. The Padres gave up only a fringe #4 or #5 starter in Corey Kluber and a player who was little more than organizational depth in Nick Greenwood. I love this move.

Posted in hot stove, the seminary | 2 Comments »

The Sacrifice Cheat Sheet: Positions of interest

August 1st, 2010 by

Now that the deadline’s come and gone and the team has added a couple of new parts, there is some question as to how they’re all going to fit together. Here are some helpful suggestions:

Shortstop

Even though he’s now a Padre, Miguel Tejada is no longer a shortstop. He hasn’t played the position all year, in large part because no one would give him a job. Tejada’s never been a good shortstop, costing his teams -30.2 runs on his career. From 2007-09, the last three years he spent at short, he cost the O’s and Astros 6.3 runs defensively. And Tejada’s not hitting enough to offset his poor defense. This season, he’s posted a wRC+ of 80, with a road split of 60. While he has been good in the near past, his raw numbers were inflated by Camden Yards and Minute Maid Park. From 2007-09, his overall OPS was .773 but his road split was only .713. Moving to Petco Park will likely only make things worse.

With Tejada out, we’re left with Everth Cabrera and Scott Hairston as options in the middle infield. So far, they’ve split the duties pretty evenly with Hairston logging only 72 more innings than his counterpart. They’ve both been good defensively but Hairston’s UZR/150 of 10.9 bests Cabrera’s 5.7. From a defensive standpoint, either will do. From an offensive standpoint, they’re both bad but Everth has been terrible. His walk rates are down from last year, his strike out rates are up, and he’s left with a wRC+ of 51. As a reminder, 100 is average. Everth has been the victim of an incredibly low BABIP, but the middle of the pennant race is not the time to hope that it balances out.

Hairston, despite his 86 wRC+ gets the job.

Right field

The newly acquired Ryan Ludwick is a right fielder so the job becomes his, right? I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case, but I’m hoping it isn’t. Ludwick is actually a strong fielder, with a career UZR of 19.2 in right (7.6 UZR/150) in over 3,200 innings. In the spacious new Busch Stadium, Ludwick’s range was worth a below-average -0.3 runs. His arm is above average (+9.5 runs) but I worry about he’ll handle the even bigger right field in Petco. Will Venable, on the other hand, has handled the confines in right quite well. In his short career (just over 1,000 innings in right), Venable has been worth +12.2 runs (+16.1 UZR/150), thanks in large part to his great range (+11.8 runs).

Leave Will in right. Let Ludwick and his twenty bombs take left.

Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

What the Padres gave up: Wynn Pelzer Edition

August 1st, 2010 by

San Diego Padres ProspectsMelvin’s note: Welcome Will Cunnane! Will joins The Sacrifice Bunt to cover the minor leagues from an informative and entertaining perspective. Glad to have you on board, Will!

The first rumors of the Padres having interest in acquiring Miguel Tejada almost exclusively mentioned two names going over to Baltimore in the swap: Simon Castro and Cory Luebke. Although Castro has underwhelmed a bit in San Antonio, seeing his K/9 dip from 10.1 in 2009 at Fort Wayne to 7.1 in 2010 with San Antonio, the rest of his numbers are right in line with his career averages, and at the age of 22 he is undeniably one of the best arms in the Padres system. Luebke, since returning from an oblique strain that had him on the DL to start the year, has done nothing but impressed in 2010, with a 2.44 ERA and a sterling .905 WHIP that has earned him a promotion from AA San Antonio to AAA Portland and could see him pitching for the Padres once the rosters are expanded in September. Considering Tejada’s steep decline from 2009 and diminishing value defensively (which Ray covered in great detail below), fans familiar with the Padres’ farm system balked at the idea of giving up either of the top two arms for an aging infielder. Thankfully, so did Jed Hoyer.

Wynn Pelzer was drafted by the Padres in the 9th round of the 2007 draft out of South Carolina. From the start the Padres brass touted Pelzer’s makeup and work ethic. He has a live arm, throwing a heavy fastball that can reach 95-97 and sits around 93-95. He is essentially a two pitch pitcher, throwing an above average slider as well. The combination of Pelzer’s strong makeup, live arm, and inability to develop a 3rd and 4th pitch have all pointed to Wynn making a move to the pen and having a good shot to close. Until this year he had been used almost exclusively as a starter, and after a strong debut season in Fort Wayne, Pelzer had an even more impressive year in Lake Elsinore. Pitching in the hitter friendly Cal League, Pelzer posted his highest K/9 (8.8) of his career, striking out 147 batters in 150.2 innings, had less hits than innings pitched (134 allowed), and most impressively only allowed 6 home runs on the season.

This season has seen Pelzer struggle mightily in AA with the San Antonio Missions. Beginning the year as a starter he has since been moved to the bullpen after allowing 56 walks and 8 HBPs in only 94.1 innings. Scouts have wondered if he can repeat his delivery and he is clearly struggling to do so this year. Throwing in a pitcher friendly environment Pelzer has seen his hr/9 sky rocket to 4.5, a shockingly high number considering that in no previous year had he allowed a hr/9 over 1. His strikeout to walk ratio also fell to 1.48, by far the lowest of his career. At age 24 he’s certainly not young for AA, and his struggles this year have shown, at the very least that he won’t be a starter.

Although Pelzer’s career numbers are strong enough to suggest that his recent struggles are somewhat of an aberration, he was an extremely expendable prospect for the Padres. On the same San Antonio Missions squad alone he was outperformed by several other relievers who have the potential to close. Brandon Gomes, Craig Italiano, and Evan Scribner all have saves for the Missions, and all boast better peripherals than Pelzer. This made Pelzer expendable for the Padres, although Pelzer might just have the most electric arm and upside out of the bunch.

To put it simply, this trade was a low risk move by both sides. Two players who became expandable for the organizations in which they were in were traded because they offered more value to their new teams. Since Pelzer moved exclusively to the bullpen only a month ago, he certainly could learn how to clean up his delivery, find the strike zone consistently, and more effectively utilize his two above average pitches. His makeup, work ethic, and live arm make him a strong candidate to close, but in a Padres system rich with young, controllable relief pitchers, the loss is negligible. All in all, the Padres gave up about what you’d expect for a 36 year old player with limited defensive ability and a declining bat. Pelzer could wind up thriving in his switch to the bullpen, but his struggle to find the plate consistently may always hamper his ability to be a successful closer.

Posted in hot stove, the seminary | 1 Comment »

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