Ducksnorts on Big League Baseball Report

The good folks at Big League Baseball Report have been kind enough to let me come on their show and ramble on about the Padres as part of their team preview series. We address some of the moves the Pads have made this off-season, how the NL West looks to be shaping up for ’07, and a whole lot more. I tried my best to evade the questions about Dusty Baker and Matt Bush. ;-)

Hosts Joe Aiello and Phil Zuber are doing previews for all the big-league teams. So far they’ve done four of them, including one with Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts, but they’ll be running a bunch more right up till opening day. Give their show a spin, and if you like what you hear, they’ve made it real easy to sign up for their podcast via iTunes, RSS, email, carrier pigeon — okay, I made up that last one, but you get the idea.

Thanks again to Joe and Phil for having me on the show. Enjoy!

36 Responses »

  1. Weighted Mean PECOTA Projections:

    Josh Bard .27/.346/.410
    Adrian Gonzalez .289/.355/.481
    Marcus Giles .264/.342/.408
    Kevin Kouzmanoff .290/.348/.499
    Khalil Greene .261/.332/.454
    Terrmel Sledge .269/.353/.463
    Mike Cameron .258/.348/.479
    Brian Giles .282/.394/.460

    Everyone above .400 SLG is surprising. Overall, it’s very encouraging. I can’t believe Kouzmanoff is projected to slug nearly .500. That would be rather awesome.

  2. Sledge = Khalil + a little bit, yet ask most Padres fans and they think Sledge is going to kill us whil Khalil is the best SS in the NL. Very odd how his reputation became so overblown by a few “Webgems.”

  3. Pat: Position is also involved. Khalil putting up those numbers at shortstop is a lot more valuable than Sledge putting up those numbers in left. And Khalil has hit those numbers over the past three seasons, while Sledge hasn’t had a regular role. But yes, Khalil is overrated among San Diegans (although it seems to be lessening), and people are overly concerned about left field.

  4. Glancing through the PECOTA projection spreadsheet, one thing that jumps out at me is: why won’t anyone give Jack Cust a chance to be a DH somewhere. The guy can clearly rake; well, maybe not rake, but watch pitches go by at a high and valuable rate. PECOTA projects him to a .295 EQA (where .260 is average), which is second highest on the Padres behind OG’s .301. It has him with a park neutral line of .256/.389/.469. The Twins couldn’t use production like that for cheap?

  5. Yes, Ben, I agree. I was strictly commenting on the ratios posted. There’s absolutely a difference between producing those ratios at SS and in LF, but the fact that Greene has put up those numbers for three straight years is more disconcerting to me than heartening. It indicates a lack of growth and an inabililty to adjust to ML pitching, as well as a distrubing pattern of injury.

    Sledge, with health, may be able to outperform the projections he’s receiving, while Greene looks more and more like he will not. Sledge has had one season of ML experience, and then lost the last two to injury. It will be interesting to see if he can come back.

    But maybe we’ll be looking at P-Mac in LF anyway. ZiPS likes him a bit more than it does Sledge, and he could also platoon with Cruz. Cruz could be his late inning defensive replacement if needed. I still get the feeling LF is unsettled and won’t be until we either trade for someone or finish up Spring Training.

  6. Re: 7 I think LF will be open to Cruz, P-mac, Cust, sledge and Branyan in ST, They will start the season with one of them and make a trade at the deadline if needed.

  7. Pat, I was so hopeful after your first post that you had come over to the dark side and my drum banging for trading Khalil…but then you had to go soft. :-(

    Has anyone noticed the numbers Sledge put up his rookie year in Montreal? 398ab’s with 15hr’s and 62 RBI’s….269/.336/.462…now, of course that was on the carpet and, surprisingly, Sledge was already 27 by then, but they were better numbers than many teams got out of LF. Count me as on the Cruz/Sledge platoon bandwagon…that is if we can’t trade Linebrink for Pat the Bat. :-)

  8. Free P-Mac already. Play him or trade him to DH in the AL and get something back for him now.

  9. #9: What would Khalil fetch in trade and who would be a viable replacement at shortstop? This is a good thought exercise and I’d love to hear some opinions.

    Also, regarding Sledge, I think I remember hearing something about his fine rookie season on a recent podcast. ;-)

  10. Just found a new (to me) feature at B-R:

    Last year was the best staff ERA+ in club history.

  11. Great question Geoff…I had thought a lot about that last summer and was thinking the Linebrink/Greene for Ensberg/Everett trade made a lot of sense…at this point, that trade holds little value for the Padres because of Kouz.

    Teams such as the Brewers, the Royals or even the Mariners may hold some interest in Greene. As far as a replacement, I think a lot of that depends on what we are able to get in return. The reason the Houston deal made some sense was because it filled the hole we had at 3b and provided a decent SS in addition. I would wonder what it would take to get Everett from Houston and punt Greene off in a package deal for a young-ish LF.

  12. OK, need to get my venting out about the Chargers, then it’s on to baseball season. I had to wait a couple days to simmer down before posting, since otherwise I would have probably been banned for life for excessive use of expletives.

    This one stings. Man does it sting. It hurts worse than the Padres blowing the NLDS, and I think that’s for a couple reasons:
    1) The Padres lost to the eventual WS Champs, which in hindsight mitigates thing somewhat
    2) The Padres had a leisurely week to go from “Hey, maybe these guys can go all the way” to “Well, that’s the end of that”, whereas for the Bolts it took precisely 3.5 hrs to go from “Super Bowl here we come” to “What the EFF was that?!?!?!”
    3) Yes, the Pads left umpteen men on base each game, but the individual mistakes and sloppy plays were not as egregious as those committed by the Chargers
    4) The Chargers were by far and away the best team in the NFL, and the best Charger team ever. The Padres were neither.

    So, do we fire Marty? I’m very mixed up on this. On the one hand, Marty has won 35 out of 48 regular season games the last 3 years. No Charger coach has EVER had that good a 3-yr run – Coryell won 33 from ’79-’81 and Bobby Ross 30 from ’92-’94. Do you fire someone for the best 3-yr run ever in team history? To me, that’s main reason for keeping him…do you completely disrupt the continuity of your best ever three year run?

    On the other hand…it’s Marty. If it were Marty Smith, not Marty Schottenheimer, 3 years and 35 wins, despite two bad playoff losses, probably keeps you around. But it is Marty Schottenheimer. And his postseason record is a known quantity, it does not suffer from small sample size issues. Add to that the Charger’s records in games decided by less than 4 points (4-11) under Marty, and you get a disturbing picture of the mental focus of his teams. That mental focus and discipline doesn’t hurt you in run-of-the-mill regular season games where the margin is 5+, but it kills you in the close ones and destroys you in the postseason. That, to me, is the main reason for firing Marty – consistent evidence of poor mental discipline and focus, which is not going to get better.

    So I can’t make up my mind, though I’m leaning towards firing.

  13. 14: It’s hard for me to judge Marty, too. Has he been trying to instill more professionalism and savvy in his players but it wasn’t taking hold? Yesterday wasn’t the first time they committed dumb personal fouls or tried to do to much on a change of possession. I’d like to know if he was trying to overcome that with coaching, but we’ll probably never find out.

    He did make two egregious mistakes in the second half, the challenge and not taking advantage of the injury timeout to get a play set. Two timeouts would have made a huge, huge, huge difference at the end. He might have been acting on bad advice from the booth about the challenge, but you figure he had something to do with selecting the booth personnel.

    The coordinators have a lot to answer for, too. Where was LT2 in the second half? He’s the best player in the game and his backup is awful good too. What sort of defensive scheme were they using at the end of the first half? That was as bad as that much talent could look.

  14. Clayton: excellent comparison between the Padres losing to the Cardinals and the Chargers losing here. This Chargers game was similar to Game 3 of the NLDS, when the Padres left almost 20 runners on base, except: a) the game would have had to be the deciding game of the series, and b) the Padres would have had to blow that lead.

  15. 16: Did we have bad batted ball luck that game (can’t remember)? That would make it more like the Charger game where we had horrendous fumble luck.

  16. Fun little PECOTA projection comparison:

    Juan Pierre, CF, LA Dodgers, 29 years old, signed to 5 year, $45 million contract:
    park neutral line: .291/.336/.373
    EQA: .252
    CF defense worth -2 runs over 150 games
    VORP: 11.9 over 660 PA
    WARP: 3.6

    Cedric Hunter, CF, SD Padres, 19 years old:
    park neutral line: .286/.342/.394
    EQA: .257
    CF defense worth -2 runs over 140 games
    VORP: 14.4 over 590 PA
    WARP: 3.7

    This comparison certainly brought a smile to my face.

  17. Of course, that projection for Hunter is a shot in the dark, but still lots of fun to compare to Pierre’s, which is far from a shot in the dark.

  18. Thought you might find this snippit from Bob Nightengale interesting…it can be found at USA
    Padres let longtime manager Bruce Bochy leave for division rival Giants

    For the last 12 seasons, Bruce Bochy and Kevin Towers have been synonymous with Padres baseball.

    They were the second-longest active manager-general manager tandem in baseball, behind John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox of the Braves.

    But this offseason, Towers let Bochy, who managed the Padres from 1995-2006 and led them to back-to-back National League West titles the last two seasons, leave to manage the NL West-rival Giants.

    Towers and the Padres informed Bochy, who was in the final year of a three-year contract that paid him $1.9 million last season, he wouldn’t be given a contract extension. He asked for permission to talk to other clubs. Permission was granted.

    “I think the misnomer was that everybody kept thinking he got fired,” Towers says. “He didn’t. We would have brought him back. It’s just that we weren’t going to extend him right away. But certainly he would have been welcomed back.

    “We just gave him the opportunity to get more security for him and his family.”

    Bochy got a three-year deal for about $6.3 million from the Giants.

    “I think it’s hard to tell a guy he can talk to the Cubs or you can talk to the Nationals but not to the Giants,” Towers says. “It’s been my philosophy and (team President Sandy Alderson’s) philosophy that we’re not opposed to trading within the division. I think it would have been wrong to say, ‘You can talk to these clubs and not them.’”

    Besides, Towers says, the team permitted him to interview with the Diamondbacks, another division rival, after the 2005 season for Arizona’s general manager vacancy. Josh Byrnes got that job.

    “We treated Bruce the same way I was treated when they were going to allow me to go to Arizona,” Towers says. “Look, what I’m happy about is that he’s happy. Of all places, San Francisco was most desirable to him. It worked well for him. He has the opportunity to stay close to home and is going to an organization with a great tradition.”

    But couldn’t this be a competitive disadvantage?

    “You can look at it two ways,” Towers says. “Yes, he’s familiar with us. But we’re familiar with him, too. He knows our ballclub fairly well, obviously, but we know his tendencies, too. I don’t think it’s a great advantage just because he’s managing them and knows our ballclub.”

    The Padres hired local resident Bud Black, formerly the Angels pitching coach, to replace Bochy. Black, who pitched for 14 years in the big leagues and also has worked in the Indians front office, has no managerial experience.

    “I think this will work out well for everybody,” Towers says. “Boch will be a difficult guy to replace, but now we’ve got a guy who went to San Diego State, lives here and is in a similar situation when Boch first got his opportunity.”

    The Padres and Giants are scheduled to meet in the season opener for both teams. That will be the first time Towers and Bochy have competed against each other. In 1988 they were teammates at Triple-A Las Vegas, where Towers pitched and Bochy was his catcher. A year later Towers was Bochy’s pitching coach at Spokane in the short-season Northwest League.

    “Even in fantasy football, we were teammates,” Towers says. “The competitive juices will be flowing, and we’ll always have mutual respect for one another and be great friends, but when we go out together this spring, the information flow will be a whole lot different.”

  19. 20: cool article. Which brings to mind that for Spring Training, anybody going to the Giants facility to see Bochy? I wonder if the clubs have scheduled a game vs. each other.

  20. BTW, Gwynn retro and Cedric Hunter at Sickels’

  21. Just post the link, not an entire article.

  22. re: Greene

    I don’t think most Padres think he is the best shortstop in the league. The feeling among some posters that he’s one of the worst is a lot more out of whack.

  23. re: 12 … Thanks for that link GY … I hadn’t found that …

    And who knew the Padres were above league average in OPS for 2004 + 2005 + 2006???

  24. And that both the 2006 batters and 2006 pitchers were younger than their 2005 counterparts!

    Lot’s o’ fun facts …

  25. Re: Chargers & Marty

    “EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership. (emphasis mine)” John Maxwell.

    4th and long ball on defense’s 40 = defense needs to swat ball down
    muffed punt = dive on ball
    other team insinuates stuff = keep your wits

    Every one of those mistakes was a mental one. Mental mistakes are minimized by great coaching staffs. I do not think Marty is in that camp.

  26. CM: Not sure how I earn the “soft” label when I say I’m disheartened with his performance and feel he has shown an inability to adjust to ML pitching. I’ve also not said I’m averse to trading him although I think at this point he would not bring much due to his declining offensive performance and injuries. I think your idea for going after Ensberg and Everett was a great one, but not viable at this time because of Kouz.

    My idea during the winter of 2005-2006 was to sign Furcal and move Greene to 3B. I think his reactions and agility are a good fit there, and the lower demand on range could allow him to bulk up and go for more power at the plate. But that didn’t work either. :-)

    GY: what about including Greene in a package to DC for Lopez and Kearns? Maybe include Linebrink, which could allow them to move Cordero (something I’ve heard rumored), and a prospect? Bowden is an idiot so KT should be able to fleece him pretty good. ;-)

  27. BR has put in some amazing new tools. I took a look through the “Splits” pages the other day when I was comparing Palmer to Blyleven. Great stuff! I found out I had not calculated BABIP correctly, or at least that I had calculated it differently than BR does.

    But more importantly I found out that, CAREER, Palmer had a BABIP about 40 points below normal!!! It wasn’t just in a particular season, but nearly every year of his career he was around .250 when the normal BABIP is about .290. Extraordinary!

    I really need to sponsor a page or two over at BR or just send them a donation/contribution. What a great website!

  28. 29: Did you look at other Orioles pitchers during those years? They put a lot of emphasis on defense, I’m sure that affected BABIP. I would bet it has a lot to do with why they had those great pitching staffs for so many years.

    27: I agree 100%. The Patriots were outplayed but because they didn’t make stupid mistakes they put their great QB in a position to win the game. The coaching staff and front office put together a team of guys who bought into Belichick’s system and do all the little things right even if they’re getting beat physically. During the game they kept saying Marty was letting the coaches call the plays but that’s not why he loses playoff games.

    What made that game so hard to take is there were so many key plays, any one of which would have won the game if it went the Chargers way. None of them did so they lost.

  29. 30: Like if they’d recovered one of the five fumbles which is entirely a function of luck?

  30. Pat: I could get behind Khalil and Linebrink for Lopez and Kearns. I’m not sure Bowden would do that, though; he’s actually made some real smart moves of late (trade that brought those two to DC, Vidro for Snelling, Jerome Williams signing). I don’t get the sense that he’ll undervalue Kearns the way Cincy did.

  31. Anthony, I did not, but I absolutely agree with you that defense for the Orioles during that era was HUGE and was a large part of why Palmer, and others, enjoyed the success they did.

  32. GY: So what about Snelling instead? I didn’t think he was much to get excited about, but if youthink he was a good pickup, perhaps we could go after him instead.

  33. Pat: I like Snelling in the context that he’s more valuable to the Nats than Vidro was. I’m not sure he’s any better than Sledge, though, and I wouldn’t make him the target of a trade unless we were looking to get rid of a bad contract. What a weird feeling not to have any bad contracts hanging around anymore…