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The Top 10 Padres of ’10: No. 09

October 29th, 2010 by

Ray’s note: Sorry about the delay in updating. Technical difficulties.

09. Tony Gwynn, Jr., CF

10. Tim Stauffer, RP/SP

From the acclaimed filmmakers who brought you Stauffer: The Last Honest Man” comes a heartbreaking story of the gifts and the curses that fathers past down to their sons.

In the sleepy town of San Diego, Tony Gwynn was a king. Honest and just, he ruled over his kingdom with a fair hand. He loved his people and in return they loved him. After years of loyal service, King Tony stepped down to devote his time to the youth of his community, leaving his kingdom in a state of flux. His son, Prince Tony, was away at school and his birthright waited. And waited. After school, the Prince took time to see the world, escaping to the great land of Milwaukee before returning to San Diego.

As humble as his father, the Prince refused to be handed the keys, choosing instead to work for them. He excelled in ways his father never had but he failed in the ways his father had built his legend on and the people of the land had trouble embracing the young Prince’s style.

Coming this winter, “In the Shadow of My Father: The Tony Gwynn, Jr. Story”

That really got away from me, but the point stands. AJ will always be his father’s son and his legacy will always be tied directly to his father. I always thought it was strange that the children of legends would even consider following in the parent’s footsteps but I suppose growing up in a life makes you grow a little fond of it. But what happens if your best turns out to be great but not great enough?

If you see your uncles next month round the Thanksgiving table and you tell them how great Tony, Sr. is, they’ll probably tell you that you’re being condescending. But if you tell them how great Tony, Jr. is, you’ll get a better conversation going.

AJ is a career .244 hitter, ninety-four points lower than his father’s .336. The younger’s career .291 is not only eight points lower than his father’s .371, but it’s much lower than the average .333. He’s not a good hitter. It’d probably be charitable to call him a bad hitter. But my goodness, can he play centerfield.

I’m not even going to bother to show you AJ’s offensive statistics from this past year. Trust me when I say that they’re incredibly bad, but trust me when I say that they don’t matter too much. Remember this number: 12.9. That’s how many defensive runs AJ saved above-average in 2010. For all center fielders, 12.9 was the third best mark in the league. And for a pitching staff that was middle of the road, all things considered, it may have been even more valuable.

If you didn’t know, UZR isn’t perfect. AJ’s standing as a great defender isn’t written in stone, not yet at least. But the fact remains that Tony Gwynn, Jr. has saved 18.5 runs above average in 1,842 innings in centerfield, and he brought a reliability to the most important position. Remember Chris Denorfia in center? Remember his diving attempts, few of which actually ended in catches? How’d he make you feel out there? And how did AJ make you feel? As a basement nerd, I’m supposed to ignore the visceral aspects of baseball–but I’m rebelling. Sometimes, how you feel matters. I might call Darren Balsley and get his opinion on that. But I digress.

AJ is not his father. He may have the name and his number may only be one away, but there’s only one Tony Gwynn, Sr. But for me, I want you to tell your uncle that’s all right. Tell him to trust me.

Posted in awards, players, statistics | 2 Comments »

Manhunter 2010, starring Jed Hoyer as Freddy Lounds

October 27th, 2010 by

Ray’s note: With all apologies to Thomas Harris and Michael Mann.



DOLLARHYDE’S muscular frame bears the full body tattoo of William Blake’s Red Dragon — the head on Dollarhyde’s chest, the tail snaking down and wrapping around one of Dollarhyde’s legs. His back is to us in a weight-lifter’s pose. A rolled-up stocking covers Dollarhyde’s head to just below his nose. Dollarhyde’s teeth are jagged and brown-stained. And he smiles at LOUNDS in front of the white screen.

Oh my dear God Jesus.

LOUNDS turns away. The shape of Dollarhyde passes behind his head. The kimono is on again.


A slide appears. It is Blake’s painting.

Look at the screen. That is William
Blake’s ‘The Great Red Dragon and
The Woman Clothed with the Sun.
Do you see?

Yes …

Next picture: Mark Teixeira, wearing a Rangers jersey.

Do you see?


CLICK. Next slide. Teixeira, wearing a Braves jersey.

Do you see?



LOUNDS staring in horror. We will not see the rest of the slider.

Mark Texieira, wearing Yankee pinstripes. Do you see?


Mark Teixeira after his changing.
(as Lounds nods)
The Dragon rampant. Do you see?


CLICK. Next slide. Francisco Cordero, wearing a Rangers jersey.

Do you see?


CLICK. Next slide. Cordero, wearing a Brewers jersey.

Do you see?


CLICK. Next picture. Nelson Cruz, admiring a home run of his.

Do you see?

CLICK. Next picture. Elvis Andrus, making a throw from his knees.

Do you see?

CLICK. Next picture. Neftali Feliz, jumping into Bengie Molina’s arms.

Do you see, Mr. Lounds? Do you
see what I’m getting at?

Yes, you seem to be pointing out
how the decisions to move their
star first baseman and closer
helped the Rangers reach the
World Series.

Very good, Mr. Lounds. You are free
to go.

Dollarhyde unglues Lounds’ skin from the chair and lets him go.


Posted in misc | 1 Comment »

The Top 10 Padres of ’10: No. 10

October 19th, 2010 by

Ray’s note: Over the next 10 (or so) days, I will be counting down the 10 best Padres of the past year. To compile this list, I used a very complex equation that I can’t really get into now but rest assured that this is in no way completely arbitrary.

10. Tim Stauffer, RP/SP

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:

A down and out athlete, whose sport is of no real consequence, finds that he’s got one more shot at glory. Maybe he used to be someone people believed in — but after years of questionable returns, his goodwill has dried up and now it’s on him to make others believe. So he battles back, puts one foot in front of the other, and begins on the path to redemption. He fights and claws until one day he makes it. Then his manager tells the world, Tim Stauffer is too valuable to start.”

It’s easy to forget now that there are better things to talk about, but Stauffer missed the entire 2008 season. Looking at his numbers, it’s easy to assume it was due to shame. In 2007, he spent the full year in Portland and only managed a 4.34 ERA, which was actually a step up from his 2006 5.53 ERA. He was a 25-year-old former first round pick, fourth overall, and he was floundering in Triple-A. So he sat out 2008, either from embarrassment or his alleged shoulder injury, and came back to take it easy in 2009. That year, he only played in 16 minor league games, starting four, but he did better, amassing a 2.14 ERA between Portland and San Antonio before getting the call. He packed up his 6.37 career ERA (to that point) and came down to San Diego, where he made 14 starts for the same team that gave ample opportunities to Chad Gaudin and Josh Geer. It seemed to be something of an audition and Stauffer delivered, contributing a 3.58 ERA, a 4.67 FIP, and a 4.72 xFIP. Not exactly Cy Young stuff but for a team that gave 36 starts to Gaudin and Geer, it would be enough to earn Stauffer a look-see for 2010.

The writing was on the wall in Arizona this spring, as Stauffer got into six games but only started one. At the beginning of the season, there was no room in the rotation. When Chris Young went down following his first start, it was Wade LeBlanc who took his spot. During the first week of the season, Stauffer came into two games: taking over for a struggling Jon Garland on April 5th and helping the Padres win an extra inning contest on the 10th, his biggest game of year according to WPA. He pitched well, striking out five and surrendering zero runs in five combined innings of work, and this must of stuck with the team.

Contrary to popular belief, it was Corey Brock — not Bud Black who said that “Stauffer might be too valuable to start,” but print the legend, right? Stauffer was too good to start, a compliment so wild that it could only make sense. At first, it kind of worked. LeBlanc had a strong April and on May 11th, Stauffer went down with appendicitis, which kept him out of San Diego for two months. When he came back, he continued to do what he do, giving the Padres good work out of the pen.

Then came the 10-game losing streak.

As the season wore on, LeBlanc’s hot start faded away. He threw a 6.47 ERA in August, a performance that’s not going to cut it in a pennant race. Making matters worse, Kevin Correia was unable to repeat his 2009 success. After suffering a personal tragedy earlier in the year, Correia’s was a story to root for, but in a pennant race, moral victories have to take a backseat. And so, on September 6th, the 136th game of the season, Stauffer started the hill against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nine innings later, the team’s 10-game losing streak had come to an end. While Stauffer didn’t pick up the win, or even reach the fifth inning, these are just facts that any good screenwriter skips over when it comes time to put pen to paper. Stauffer kept going. Other than a rough go in St. Louis, he was lights out. He was the second best pitcher on the team in September. With luck not on Mat Latos’ side, you could make the argument that he was the best.

But then, budding screenwriters, September means nothing if it doesn’t give way to October. Just as all Little Leaguer’s dream, Stauffer was in line for an important October start. Granted, it was still a regular season game, but the Padres were down two to the Giants with two left to play. The Giants. In San Francisco. Stauffer, like the legend he’s become, came through when his team needed him the most, striking out four in six and a third. He allowed only one run before giving the game to the bullpen, who shut the door and put the team one back with one to go. Obviously, that last game didn’t go so well, but it will simply be an epilogue at the end of “Stauffer: The Movie.”

Tim ended the year with a 1.85 ERA (199 ERA+), 3.02 FIP, and 3.74 xFIP. Perhaps the best thing for Stauffer to nail to his wall this winter is this:

(Jed) Hoyer wishes that he and Buddy would have put Tim Stauffer back into the rotation earlier. That’s the one thing that keeps him up at night. It could have brought them 2 or 3 more wins. They waited longer than they should have. They waited until the rosters expanded.

GM Jed Hoyer: “There’s a reason we didn’t make the playoffs. We obviously weren’t quite good enough.”

The man who was once too valuable to start saw his stifling become his general manager’s biggest regret. For a team that finished one game out from a postseason shot, those two or three wins might have been the most valuable of the year. But we’ll never know. Next year, with only Latos and Clayton Richard guaranteed spots in the rotation, there would seem to be a shot for Stauffer to finally live up to his first round potential. For his sake, our sake, and for the sake of a sequel, let’s hope we find out.

Posted in awards, players, statistics | 3 Comments »

Hey hey, ho ho

October 12th, 2010 by

During last week’s chat with XX (which we covered in part here), Jed Hoyer said that payroll will start with a four, meaning we’ve got a range of $40 to $49 million*. This means that Hoyer, and Jeff Moorad depending on when he’ll start meddling, have some decisions to make about the Padres’ roster.

As of right now, the Padres have about $10 million locked up after Adrian Gonzalez’s option and all of the pre-arbitration eligible players. These are no-brainers, leaving decisions about the other thirteen or so roster spots on the 25.

The first three choices involve Chris Young, Jon Garland, and Yorvit Torrealba. As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, the San Diego Padres will not be paying Chris Young $8.5 million in 2011. They might bring him back at far far less, but his option will not be picked up. As far as the other pitchers concerned, though he’s no All-Star, Garland is who he is: a pitcher who will give the team 200 innings and an above-average ERA. And with the premium this team seems to have put on chemistry, his veteran leadership and Been Thereness will likely come in handy. Six point seven five million dollars handy? I’ll say yes. Same goes with Torrealba. Three point five million dollars might be a bit much for a platoon catcher, especially given how deep this year’s free agent class is in backup catchers, but Torrealba has a rapport going with the team and the pitchers. Why change horses? This brings us to $20 million or so.

Now we come to the arbitration eligible guys. Scott Hairston, Heath Bell, and Ryan Ludwick are all on their third go, Mike Adams is on his second, and Tim Stauffer, Edward Mujica, and Anthony Junior are here for the first time. Immediately, I have to imagine that Hairston will be non-tendered. He’s just very replaceable, with Aaron Cunningham and Chris Denorfia more than capable of doing what he does. Then we have the first timers, who will probably not make much more than $3.5 million between them. Of the three, Mujica’s the most likely to play somewhere else next year, as it’s not a high price to pay for a starter (Stauffer) or a superb defender (Junior). Twenty three million. Adams will come back and I’m guessing he’ll get around $3.5 million himself, a little less than closer Heath Bell got at the same time. Let’s say twenty seven million, before Heath Bell and Ryan Ludwick are counted.

Hoyer’s already committed to bringing Ludwick back, and we’ve already commented that we agree with the decision. Even if Ludwick does end up a bust, $7.5 million, which I’m guessing he’ll get, is a fair price for someone with Ludwick’s potential. Think of it this way: who else can the Padres go get for that much money to hit twenty home runs and play above-average defense? Looking at the pickings, they look rather slim. Thirty five million.

Depending on what number the Padres payroll digits ends in, we’re looking at $5 to $15 million left in the piggy bank. And that also leaves us with a hole at second and question marks at short and center. Theoretically, the Padres could plug Everth Cabrera in at short and AJ in at center, but then we’d have to go back in time and pull Jeff Kent out of 2001 to get enough offense to be credible. And plutonium’s still expensive. They could go with Miguel Tejada at short, but he’s neither a good player anymore nor cheap. Hoyer’s going to have to get creative to fill these holes, especially if he plans on paying Heath Bell $8 million.

This is were I reassure everyone that Bell is a great player. He’s been worth two wins in three of his last four seasons, and this year he was the third most valuable closer in baseball, behind Carlos Marmol of the Cubs and Brian Wilson of the Giants. He’s the rightful successor to the Hoffy throne, but unfortunately he’s gotta go. At the price he’ll command, and that others such as Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon have commanded before him, he’ll become the highest paid player on the team next year and such a small market team can not afford to invest so much of its payroll into such a speciality position. Especially when Mike Adams can come in and do the job with little to no drop off. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Bell might bring back something good in return.

Michael Bourn. Franklin Gutierrez. Adam LaRoche. These are just a couple names of players who have been acquired for premium relief pitching. With a pitcher of Bell’s caliber, the Padres have the opportunity to build upon their 2010 success. It just seems that Bell’s more valuable on the open market than he is in a Padres uniform.


Posted in hot stove, players | 5 Comments »

Weirdly timed Oktoberfest wrapup

October 8th, 2010 by

San Diego Padres OktoberfestAfter ripping a pretty harsh one into the Padres previous foray of craft beer festival events (Terriblefest), I feel I owe it to fans and the team to report my findings from the other fest of the season: Oktober. Fest.

For the un-initiated, Oktoberfest was the second pre-game local beer tasting event hosted by the Padres this year. I’ll give Tom Garfinkel first crack at telling the story:

“We had an overwhelming turnout at Beerfest and we want to build on that success, as well as improve the operational flow of the event,” said Padres President and COO Tom Garfinkel. “We listened to fan feedback and we are making some changes for Oktoberfest, in order to speed up the service and ensure folks have a great experience.”

My version of Beerfest goes a little different style:

“I arrived an hour before it was supposed to end expecting to hang out with friends and sip on a little something something. Instead, there was no beer to be had anywhere in the stadium [very slight exaggeration], I was met with lots of frowny faces, and Tommy G apologizing to the crowd.”

However you want to phrase it, Oktoberfest was more than building on the “success” of Beerfest, it was an attempt to make things right. The Padres were nice enough to allow me to buy another ticket to that event, so I paid my fare and was greeted with a well organized, great tasting, not knowing how loud I’m talking evening at the ballyards.

The beer dispensaries were spread evenly all across the park at the park lawn, while $5 cups of beer were prepaid at separate booths. Apparently people in San Diego really do love their beer, though everyone had unfettered access to their favorite, or new favorite brewery.

The beerlight of the event was a visit to the Lost Abbey booth. I’m by no means a beer snob so I won’t bother trying to describe the taste, but I will describe the 9% ABV quoted to me and what can only be explained as an almost syrupy texture. That cup of ale forever changed my life.

Afterward, some baseball was played, the Padres won a great game, Star Wars backpacks were worn, and the Padres missed the playoffs. I think that covers everything. Oh yeah, there my crying about missing the playoffs.


Posted in petco park | 2 Comments »

What Jed said

October 7th, 2010 by

Jed Hoyer gave an interview to XX yesterday and thanks to the good people at Gaslamp Ball, neither of us have to listen to it. It was surprisingly (at least to me) candid, as if Jed were paying tribute to the Gunslinger. It gave us a good window into his mind. Here are some of the choice hits, as well as my valuable (you’ll see. i’ll show you) opinion.

Hoyer wishes that he and Buddy would have put Tim Stauffer back into the rotation earlier. That’s the one thing that keeps him up at night. It could have brought them 2 or 3 more wins. They waited longer than they should have. They waited until the rosters expanded.


Stauffer was the second best “starter” on this team, behind Mat Latos, but he only received seven starts. His 3.02 FIP was only .02 behind Latos and was .79 ahead of Clayton Richard, Mr. Third Place. His xFIP was also solid (3.74), putting him behind Latos and Cory Luebke and his three starts.

In his place, Wade LeBlanc and Kevin Correia combined for 51 starts, or almost a third of the season. The two also combined to give the team a total of 0.1 wins above replacement. In almost 300 less innings, Stauffer contributed 1.3 wins. I hate to have to say this, but the Padres really could’ve used an extra win there at the end of the year.

The Padres struggled all year getting on base in the 1 and 2 spot in the line up. They ranked 27 or 28th getting on base in those positions. It really hurt the run scoring. Hoyer thinks very highly of David Eckstein, he had a really good year but he won’t say if he’ll be coming back next year.

David, David, David. He actually had his best season in years (five, to be exact). Unfortunately, that had nothing to do with his hitting. He had his best defensive year ever, managing average range and letting his sure handedness do the rest. Offensively, it was the same story. A 91 wRC+, which is worse than his career 95, and a total of -5.1 runs contributed. On a team that wasn’t exactly Murderer’s Row, Eckstein had the fourth worst year with the bat. It’s just that Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Everth Cabrera, our other options at second, were worse.

It was nice of Hoyer to lie and say that Eckstein had a really good year. But if he’s looking to upgrade, we’ve found somewhere to start.

Ryan Ludwick is a really good player who struggled in the new environment. He put too much pressure on himself. He thinks that Ludwick will be moved to left field because Hoyer likes Will Venable’s glove in right field.


**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.

Good Ludwick the rest of the season

Getting past that, it’s good to see that Hoyer isn’t among the masses calling for Ludwick’s head. He definitely stunk while here (78 OPS+) but luck was not on his side (.257 BABIP). Both numbers are considerably down from his career averages (114 OPS+, .309 BABIP). Add in that he was still coming off of an injury and it’s likely that we didn’t see the real Ryan Ludwick these past two months. It was his evil twin, Ryan Ughwick.

Jon Garland had a great year. They’ll talk about exercising his option over the next two weeks. He felt that he performed exactly as they hoped.

A great year might be something of an overstatement, but Garland was who we thought he is (4.41 FIP, 106 ERA+, 200 IP). His option is for $6.75 million and that might be a bit steep, but Garland is a dependable pitcher and the rotation would still only be around $8 million with him.

Gwynn had a good season defensively. The team missed him in the outfield when he was injured. He struggled offensively. He’s a reason for the success of the pitching staff.

AJ was amazing this year, posting the highest UZR/150 of all players with at least 700 innings (33.6). Even being four-to-five hundred innings behind the rest of his competition, he still ended the year second in UZR (12.9) behind only Michael Bourn. This guy can play him some centerfield and seemed to be unaffected by the grand expanse of Petco Park (6.4 home RngR). He had a down year with the bat but like Ludwick, luck was not on his side (.236 BABIP, .050 BABIP-LD%). It’d be a big risk for the team to go into 2011 with AJ installed in center but his defense makes him a valuable player (1.7 WAR in 2010).

Personally, I’d like to see Venable get first crack at centerfield. He showed a lot of promise when Black finally gave him the shot and with his bat, the Padres wouldn’t have to make sacrifices or choose one facet of the game over the other. But given that Black sent Chris Denorfia out for 360 innings (we’ve been over this) I would gladly take another year of Tony Gwynn, Jr.

Posted in media, statistics | 8 Comments »

On Black and managing Game 162

October 4th, 2010 by

Looking around the internet, it seems that everyone has an opinion on the moves Bud Black made, or didn’t make, during yesterday’s game. For my part, I have only one thing to say:

Chris Denorfia is not a center fielder. Stop playing him in centerfield.

I like Denorfia, relatively speaking. He’s a solid hitter who should make for a strong fourth outfielder for the 2011 team. But like I said, he’s not a center fielder. His sloppy route on Huff’s double yesterday was an appropriate end to a season in which Denorfia cost the team four and a half runs in only a quarter of the season’s worth of time in center.

Keep Baby in a corner, Bud. Please don’t make Hoyer go all Vinny Castilla on him.

Posted in gripes | 4 Comments »

The road so far

October 1st, 2010 by

(Cue “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas)

The Padres and Giants have followed two very different paths coming into this weekend’s final series. On September 1st, the Padres were 76-56 with a three game lead over the Giants. Now, twelve wins and fifteen loses later, the roles have been reversed and the Padres find themselves down three on October 1st. To show you what kind of month we just finished, I’ve made another graph, this one including how the Giants did:

Padres/Giants postseason odds

Where the lines diverge is where the Padres began a streak in which they lost four of their last five and the Giants won four of their last five, completing the flip-flop. San Francisco is only one win from clinching the division. But how did we get here?

How did we get here, Ray?

For the season, neither team has bad a strong offense, with the Giants and Padres posting similar wOBA of .318 and .304 respectively (note: don’t forget about park factors). And in September, not much changed. Both teams stumbled but stumbled equally, with the Giants falling to .303 and the Padres to .280. Honestly before I looked this up, this is where I figured the difference came. But that’s why we crunch the numbers.

If you’re dead set on blaming the offense and are upset with the last paragraph, there is hope. Despite their team’s general struggles, the heart of San Francisco’s lineup has been doing their part. Pat Burrell (.373 wOBA), Aubrey Huff (.370), and Buster Posey (.367) have stayed hot, hitting 17 home runs between the three of them this month. As for their San Diego counterparts, Adrian Gonzalez’s September has been solid, if not to his usual standards. His .346 wOBA is second to everyone with regular at-bats, behind only the playing-out-of-his-mind Will Venable (.363). Miguel Tejada’s also doing his part (.327) but his fellow deadline darling is another story. Ryan Ludwick’s time here in San Diego has been something of a disaster–and his September wOBA of .289 is hard to swallow. Jed Hoyer recently committed to bringing Ludwick back and while I’m glad he has (Ludwick’s really battled bad luck here), I understand if you aren’t. I also understand if you’re less than pleased with Chase Headley as well. His .223 wOBA (with a .305 BABIP) is awful– it’s been a horrible end to what was an otherwise excellent season for Chase.

Pitching-wise, the Padres have the edge in FIP (3.66 to 3.74) and the Giants take the edge in ERA (3.37 to 3.41) but over the past month, the Giants’ pitchers have been unhittable (2.75 FIP and 1.78 ERA). This is due in large part to their five starters, who had a combined 2.90 FIP and 2.04 ERA. Our guys didn’t fare as well, ending up with a 3.85 FIP and 4.15 ERA. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that we’ll avoid the Giants’ two hottest pitchers,Madison Bumgarner (1.96 FIP) and Tim Lincecum (2.18) but really, it’s more of a bronze lining at best.

The season’s not over, but it’ll take a miracle for the season to continue into next week. Against such a formidable opponent, we can only hope that our team’s October goes a bit better than their September.

Posted in statistics | 3 Comments »

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