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Scout.com More Optimistic About Padres System

March 25th, 2009 by

While Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus weren’t particularly kind in their relative ranking of Padres prospects, Scout.com (home of Padres prospect site Mad Friars) is enjoying a cold glass of Padres kool-aid, Melvin Nieves style.

Our Padres appear in the upper echelon of teams when considering total players on the list, with 4 prospects in the top 100. First base monster Kyle Blanks tops the Padres farm hands at 39, unfortunately a bit low to be considered “elite”. This  confirms with about everyone else that the team lacks star caliber talent.

Right field prospect Jaff Decker follows Blanks, sliding in at 46th. Center fielder of the future Cedric Hunter and high upside pitcher Mat Latos (Only one T, I’m looking at you gaslamp ball) round out the list at 71 and 80, respectively.

Kyle Blanks was the lone representative in Baseball America’s list, at 50. Latos, outfielder Kellen Kulbacki, and Dominican pitching talent Adys Portillo are on the Baseball Prospectus board at 69, 84, and 100, respectively.

There is no question the farm isn’t where I’d like it to be, but this additional source paints the system in a better place than a certain other Sacrifice Bunt writer seems to think.

List here, breakdown here.

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Anything is possible!

March 13th, 2009 by

Remember how delusional Grady Fuson got when Baseball America announced the farm system as 29th in the league? I anticipate the team’s response following this:

Organizational Rankings: #25 – San Diego Padres

Our much revered Fangraphs has begun listing all 30 Major League clubs in descending order and, as you don’t even need to click to see, the Padres ended up at 25th. 

The grading was broken down into Ownership, Front Office, Major League Talent and Minor League Talent. Some highlights:

Ownership: N/A

This is an ownership group in transition, and we just don’t have enough information to give them any kind of grade.

This one seems kind of obvious. They go on to say that there is a sense of shadiness behind the sale to Moorad, as he still had a stake in the Diamondbacks. Personally, I think it’d only be appropriate if a conflict of interest blows up in our face. Nothing’s impossible.

Front Office: B-

Kevin Towers is a smart, likable guy, and currently the longest tenured GM in the game… However, there’s some serious question marks about how the team will be run going forward. With Alderson on the way out, does he take Asst. GM Paul DePodesta with him? Can Towers avoid being fired if the team struggles in 2009, especially with new ownership?

Really, not to be a bloodsucker, but it seems like they went a little soft on the front office. Towers’ legacy in San Diego speaks for itself, but he had a rough 2008. Go through our archives and you won’t see too many “Hey, we signed this guy!” articles, unless they were followed by a “Hey, we traded this guy for not a whole lot!” article. Then there’s our impossibly disappointing minor league system, the uncertainty going forward, and our general 2009 awfulness, and that B- grade seems a bit generous. 

Major League Talent: C-

Regression needs to be expected from both, and there just isn’t much in the way of run production for the Padres outside of (Gerut and Giles) and Adrian Gonzalez. Chase Headley is a solid enough young player, but when he represents the hopes of your future line-up, things aren’t great.

Fangraphs makes a potentially dubious statement in “the pitchers aren’t as good as advertised, and the hitters are a bit better than everyone thinks.” I’m not sure why the pitchers are flat-out not as good but the hitters are just kinda sorta better. Petco Park still eats statistics for breakfast. The Three-G’s all had a road OPS near .900, with Adrian topping out at .946. Only Giles made it over .800 at home. Maybe the scrub seatholders are only a bit better on the road, but I don’t like defining the team by them. 

Minor League Talent: C-

There aren’t any position prospects here that everyone loves, and the ranks of the pitching prospects are full of guys who throw 87 MPH and try to get by on smarts. It isn’t a horrible farm system, but it’s not a very good one either, and for a team in need of a talent injection, that’s a problem.

Hey, “isn’t a horrible farm system.” That’s pretty good! But seriously, this cuts to the core of this team’s problem. We can talk all day about the missing $30 million and how that’s hindering the team, but the fact remains that this team needs that $30 million because it has yet to start producing its own talent. While other teams in our league are filling out their lineups with homegrowns, the Padres have Chase Headley and Nick Hundley. And with the exception of Kyle Blanks, no one’s really close. I think this fact needs better representation in the Front Office grade.

I’ll leave you with Fangraph’s summation of this team’s fortunes going forward. Have a good weekend!

Overall: C

 If you’re a glass half full guy, you can hold onto the fact that the D’Backs were very well ran while Moorad was in Arizona, and that the front office is full of guys who could run a team well. If you’re a glass half empty guy, then you see an organization that lacks talent, has only a couple of really valuable players (two of whom have full no-trade clauses), and who plays in a division with two teams that are better, younger, and have greater revenue steams. I have a feeling that San Diego is in for some tough times ahead.

Posted in media, sacrificial links | 4 Comments »

Sacrificial Links: Flufftastic

February 12th, 2009 by

Sacrifical LinksPECOTA’S Standings (Friar Forecast)

Mr. Logan over at Friar Forecast has a nice write-up on the 2009 predictions and they’re actually not that bad. At least, coming off a season during which the Padres won only 63 games, 74 doesn’t sound so bad. Although, PECOTA isn’t quite an exact science; for 2008, it had the Padres winning 83 games. Maybe we’ll win 94 this year? Probably not, although I feel like the Padres are a couple of fortuitous breaks from contention. One such break would be the return of this man.

Prior is ready to give it one more shot; ‘I don’t want to give up,’ he says (San Diego Union-Tribune)

“Cautiously optimistic.” Those are actually Mark Prior’s words, when discussing his 2009. “If he’s healthy, and all the reports thus far are encouraging, Prior is my ace in the hole.” Those are Kevin Towers’ words, and the optimist in me prefers what Towers has to say. If Prior can at least stay on the mound for 20-some starts and hold Baek back from the third spot in the rotation, the team’s chances of success jump up.

Jake Peavy breaks his silence (Gaslamp Ball)

jbox threw up Peavy’s comments on 1090 yesterday, and they’re rather refreshing after the war Peavy and the front office waged on each other this off-season. Especially refreshing is Peavy’s denial that he ever sang “Go Cubs Go.” Ah, much better. Here’s your knife back, Jake. Sorry for the confusion.

Padres by Position (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Starting with Adrian, Blanks, and first base, Bill Center has been documenting the Padres, position-by-position (hey!). While the articles are a bit sparse, Center does a good job of covering the Padres from top to bottom. He even manages to sneak in a couple juicy nuggets, like how the Padres are looking at moving third baseman Logan Forsythe to catcher.

Best outfield arms of 2008 (The Hardball Times)

Remember when I said Brian Giles was one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, and that pushed him past Adrian as the MVPadre for 08? Well, about that- The Hardball Times has recently published numbers on outfield arms and Giles’ is unsurprisingly atrocious. He can still run them down, and he’s still worth 1.1 more wins than Adrian, so I stand by my MVPadre pick, but, uh, yeah.

Posted in media, sacrificial links, statistics | 3 Comments »

You and me are done professionally, man.

February 3rd, 2009 by

I don’t mean to step on Melvin’s toes, but I feel the need to address Sandy’s dismissal myself.

As Mel documented, John Moores is no longer the owner of the San Diego Padres and, in a matter of time, Sandy Alderson will no longer be the team’s CEO. Despite my earlier requests that Sandy be kept on board, I welcome this changing of the guard with open arms.

Plain and simply, my patience has run out.

I have a handful of complaints, leaving out the 99 loses and bleak outlook for 09, that include Alderson’s work as an ambassador to the Padres community and the draft.

I should start by saying that Alderson’s reaching out to the local radio station was a noble effort. Unfortunately, Alderson often came off as prickly and condescending, torpedoing that noble effort. It seemed to create a divide between the people selling the tickets and the people buying the tickets and, coincidentally or not, the team may sell less than two million tickets in 09, a fifteen year low.

And, of course, there is Trevor Hoffman.

There are no heroes or villains in the story of the end of Hoffman’s Padre career. From everything that we know, which admittedly could be nothing, all parties did their part to severe the relationship. Except the fans, who were left playing the role of the children of a bitter divorce, after a year in which the team dropped 99 games, and were tormented with talks of trading the team ace.

If nothing else, this offseason has been exhausting.

Then there’s the draft.

This is likely (probably) cherry-picking, but it’s also legitimate. As we’ve discussed already, the system is lacking in impact talent in the higher levels, with Kyle Blanks and (hopefully) Matt Antonelli looking like the only potential big league starters scheduled for Portland this year. There is more talent the further down you get, especially when you go way down, but they’re years away from contributing.

When you look at the 2008 team, the only homegrown player who came up in the Alderson era and really contributed was Chase Headley. And while Nick Hundley, Paul McAnulty, and Will Venable did chip in, Headley is the only true everyday player generated by this system. And outside the aforementioned Blanks and Antonelli, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot coming soon.

This takes us back to patience. Alderson has had four years with our San Diego Padres and the seeds he’s helped plant (and the “helped” part is an important distinction) are still years away from bearing fruit. That would seem to mean that this team still has a couple of years left throwing dinner parties during its home remodeling.

At some point, you have to ask when enough is going to enough. And it would seem to be now.

R. EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention that Blanks was drafted in 04, before Alderson came onboard. Make of that what you will.

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Kyle “Banks” Blanks, head of Padres’ bright side department

August 3rd, 2008 by

Believe it or not there’s more to being a Padres blogger these days than crying to your friends that you and Khalil had something special, and it just isn’t like him to leave you for your best friend the way he did.

I have good news on a couple fronts, the first of which is that Baseball Prospectus released a bushel of minor league stats for our perusal.  The standard stats are nothing new, what’s great though are the translation stats which give context and comparability to the otherwise dubious minor league numbers.

The first set of stats, called “regular translations” adjust for factors we’re used to adjusting for on our fine web publication, The Sac Bunt.  They accommodate differences in ballpark factors and league difficulty, then they adjust for what we’d expect minor league numbers to translate to at the major league level.  Pretty sweet, eh?

The second grouping, dubbed “peak translations”, get even better.  They adjust for old men in unmarked vans playing among the kiddies.  In other words, a 30 year old non-prospect beating up a bunch of 19 year olds in rookie league isn’t impressing anyone but his tough guy friends from high school.  Peak translations give an idea of what kind of performance we can expect from a player based on these age and league considerations.

This brings us to Padre broadcaster Matt Vasgersian’s favorite prospect, the dude Vasgersian referred to on a spring training broadcast as “Kyle Banks”.  He normally goes by Kyle Blanks, and is tied for third in all double and triple-A in Equivalent Runs.

Equivalent Runs sums up batter’s total offensive value per out.  This includes on base percentage, slugging percentage, and stolen bases, among others.  It is then adjusted for everything mentioned above, and converted into runs.  Then Kyle kicks its ass.

AB HR OBP SLG EqA EqR
Kyle Blanks 385 21 .398 .551 .317 77

You can find the rest of the list in this helpful minor league translations breakdown.

Here are some other guys I’ve found of note.  Josh Geer is 9th in the PCL (triple-A) for Equivalent Runs Allowed, Joe Thatcher is 9th in Equivalent ERA, Sac Bunt favorite Paul McAnulty is 3rd for Equivalent Average, which is like EqRuns but looks like batting average.  Luke Carlin is 6th in the same category.

Moving down to double-A in the Texas league, Will Inman, Stephen Faris, and Steve Garrison stand at 2nd, 4th, and 5th in Equivalent Runs Allowed.  Chad Huffman is 5th in Equivalent Runs.  These are all peak translations numbers.

So there you go, things to do this time of year besides bitching and moaning.  On the other hand, bitching and moaning are what make the blogosphere go round (Reference: TheSacrificeBunt.com).

Posted in players, statistics | 5 Comments »

5-3 Sacrificial Links: The Bats Are Back

May 3rd, 2008 by

Stone cold sober as a matter of fact.

Not back, back.  But back for long enough to show us what they’re capable of, scoring 7 runs on 14 hits against the Marlins Saturday night.  And demonstrate the crazy unpredictable nature of baseball coming from the team that seemed so far out of sync at the plate thus far in the year.

On the ongoing slow players needlessly giving themselves up on the bases watch, Paul McAnulty tried tagging from second on a pop fly to Jorge Cantu.  You may be concerned to learn that Cantu was playing third base at the time, yes, that third base.  He caught a foul ball near the infield wall and flipped to Hanley Ramirez covering.  The tag was closer than you’d think, but with two outs you have to know value of going from second to third is minimal.  Someone should be told that running just isn’t McAnulty’s game, though I never imagined it would need to be said.

Sacrificial Links

How to Score a Souvenir Baseball at Petco (The Baseball Collector)

This dude’s hobby is going to ballparks and taking as many souvenir baseballs from kids as he can.  At least something like that.  He carries more than 3,000 balls in his collection, employs a glove rigged with a string and pen to snag otherwise unattainable balls out of reach, brings a hat from each team to games and switches between them, and prepares a cheat sheet with names of players so he can call them by name, pictures, and other notes.

The story linked above (the guy’s name is Zack Hample) details his 2006 visit to Petco Park, plus his catch off a home run by none other than Barrold Rutherford Bonds (I made up the middle name).  There’s a Bruce Bochy autographed lineup card and a solid group of Petco Park photographias.  One note from the lineup card: Boch needs to work on his calligraphy.

Padres Playoff Odds (Baseball Prospectus)

Not pretty.  The worst of the worst, in fact:

2.1%: San Diego
2.9%: Pittsburgh
4.7%: Kansas City
5.4%: Washington
5.5%: San Francisco

I refuse to believe ours is that bad of a team.  The problem is, like what Myron at Friar Forecast has been saying: Even if they get back to their expected performance, at this point they’re starting behind the curve.  We’ll need an equally big run above what we expected, just to catch up.  If I’m Kevin Towers, I’d keep an ear out from here until the deadline for interest in Wolf or Giles in exchange for a building block.  It’s about that time.

PECOTA on Padres (and other) Prospects (Baseball Prospectus)

Back to more fun topics of discussion, Nate Silver applies his PECOTA projection system to determine the “upside” score of minor league prospects.  Upside is defined by Silver as “the degree and probability of above-average performance while the player is under the control of his parent club“.  In other words, the score rewards good expectations without considering the bad ones, and only during a player’s cheap years (usually until age 28).

Silver’s most recent article on second basemen prospects highlights Padre property Matt Antonelli.  He scores an upside of 70.1.  This beats the next closest on the list of of Damon Sublett from the Yanks at 69.4.  The highest prospect, for comparison, is the White Sox’ Alexei Ramirez with a score of 111.2, three rankings above our boy Matt.

Silver brings up what he calls “empty walks” when mentioning Antonelli.  He suggests Antonelli’s walks may not be sustainable by his bat when pitchers decimate the zone with strikes.  Craig Stansberry also gets a mention as a “very good prospect” with a score of 60.  Craig’s age of 26 limits his potential as a prospect.

In an older writeup of the PECOTA upside for first basemen, Padre prospect Kyle Blanks gets his due as the third best in the majors at 53.9.  Silver warns of PECOTA’s propensity to penalize weight in its calculation, a fault the system no doubt shares with its real life scouting counterparts.

That’s it for now.  Ask yourself if you’re either depressed or glad to read a Padres blog with Elton John references.  It has to be one or the other.

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