Bumps in the Road

Quiet. Did you hear that? It’s the sound of people jumping off the Padres bandwagon. You know, because three games always provides an accurate representation of 162 games.

I heard the jumpers. They were screaming the whole way down; it was kind of pathetic, really. Oh well, I’m sure they’ll crawl back onboard after the next three-game winning streak.


On the bright side, we had an excellent time at the Ducksnorts meetup on Saturday night. In my extreme lameness, I forgot to get a group photo, but attendees included Phantom and fiancee, Paul R and wife, Peter Friberg, Turbine Dude and friends, Didi and friends, Anthony, and yours truly.

We even got a little scoreboard love:

Padres Welcome Ducksnorts

And apparently we also got a radio mention, being likened to a Marx Brothers act. I don’t know about all that, but we’ll take it.

Anyway, tough weekend for the Padres. It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last. As I’ve said all along, this is going to be a dogfight among the Padres, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks right up until the very end. There might be a few bumps in the road along the way, but that’s no reason not to enjoy the ride.

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

(You will not see a preamble.)

Friday, June 8, 2007


Vince Sinisi: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2B
Tim Stauffer: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 0 HR
Jared Wells: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 0 HR – thanks


Chase Headley: 2 AB, 0 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; 2B – PR for after 2B in 4th


Jose Lobaton: 3 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 3B, SO


Cedric Hunter: 4 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 0 RBI; BB


Wells may be a nice option if we leave him in the bullpen.

Chase left the game due to an injury.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Vince Sinisi: 5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2 2B, SO


No notable performances


Matt Antonelli: 7 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 2 RBI; 2 2B, HR
David Freese: 6 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 4 RBI; HR, 2 SO
Kyle Blanks: 3 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2B, HR, 3 BB, SO
Yordany Ramirez: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; BB, 2 SB, CS


Kyler Burke: 3 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 2 RBI; 2B, BB – hitting .203 and batting second


Comments from the Lake Elsinore game at Petco Park:

The Lake Elsinore Storm have six all stars; four are hitters and two are starting pitchers. On Saturday the Storm blew into San Diego to play in a minor-league/major-league double header. The game was suspended after 10 innings due to time constraints (they needed to get the big-league game in). The two starting pitchers each had the day off, but three of the four all-star hitters took the opportunity to shine on the big-league stage.

Matt Antonelli led of the home half of the first with a home run. He also looked remarkably comfortable at second for someone who only started playing 2B this season. Padres management has made it known that he’s a “70″ runner (on the 20-80 scouting scale) but we never got to see him really get it going.

[Ed note: Antonelli's homer was to dead center; granted, the ball carries better during the day, but still...]

David Freese looked like he was going to be MIA on the day as he started off the day 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. His next three at-bats went single-single-home run… His homer went up into the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

Kyle Blanks is a freak. He’s 6’7″ – 6’8″ and listed at 270-280 (depending on where you read it). The interesting thing is, if you see a picture he doesn’t look that big; he’s proportionate. He’s also wicked strong. He crushed one ball to the gap for a double, and another ball left the yard in a hurry, bouncing off the facing next to the Western Metal Supply Co. building above the first bank of left-field seats.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Clay Hensley: 6.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR – not ready…


No notable performances


Matt Antonelli: 5 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 2 RBI; 3B
Craig Cooper: 5 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 3 RBI; 2 2B
Kyle Blanks: 5 AB, 0 R, 3 H, 2 RBI; 3B, SO
Chad Huffman: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 2B


Cedric Hunter: 5 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 0 RBI


When it comes to pitchers, I look at a few things. I want to see 7+ strikeouts per nine innings. I want to see more than 2.5 strikeouts for each walk (preferably far more). And lastly, I want to see fewer hits than innings pitched. When Clay Hensley was in the minors, he looked like a solid prospect.

Prior to 2007 Clay had the following numbers (courtesy: TheBaseballCube.com):

MiLB: 3.60 ERA in 472.2 IP with 446 hits, a 7.99 K/9 rate and 3.03 SO per BB
MLB: 3.30 ERA in 234.2 IP with 207 hits, a 5.75 K/9 rate and 1.61 SO per BB

Obviously Clay was walking too many hitters in the big leagues (93 in 207 IP) and not striking as many as he did in the minors. However, his 2006 season was a tale of two halves. Prior to the All-Star Game, Clay posted a 4.84 K/9 rate. After the All-Star Game, he elevated his game and posted a 7.13 K/9 rate. Since the post-All-Star-Game rate is closer to his minor-league career rate, I’m inclined to believe he can replicate that 7+ K/9 rate. Likewise, his minor-league success and current struggles make me believe Clay is trying to pitch through an injury.

I’m not the biggest Craig Cooper fan. I think he’s a solid hitter, but he has a serious uppercut swing. Also he was reportedly an above-average defender (coming out of college), but he didn’t look very fluid when I saw him Saturday. I didn’t think I was looking at a major leaguer. That said, he’s putting up impressive numbers (.328/.429/.503) and I don’t like to argue with numbers…

Thanks, Peter. The Padres are off on Monday, then head to Tampa for three against the Rays. Should be fun…

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43 Responses »

  1. I’m probably the last person qualified to give an opinion on the draft but I have to say I like Kulbacki. He’s got that Brian Giles build and looks like a hard nosed player. I was reading the Bill James Historical Abstract this weekend and he made the point that there have been a lot of successful hitters with that short stocky build. Puckett, Gwynn, Berra, Hack Wilson, etc. James mentioned that their shorter arms are probably helpful in getting around on a fastball. Then I was reading Curt Schillings blog and he says it’s a baseball truism that shorter guys are always good fastball hitters. Anyway, it’ll be fun to follow Kulbacki and see if he fits the mold. Just keep him away from OG and his tanning products.

    Another interesting tidbit from Schilling:

    someone referenced Ben Davis bunting to break up a perfect game in the 8th inning in 2002. I said what I’ve always said. I never said a word about that bunt and whether or not I thought it was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, and I never have. The game was 2-0 at that point, so the tying run was at the plate and the hitter was someone who’d swung the bat well against me. I was shocked at the bunt, caught off guard, but there is no quote anywhere, nor could there be, in which I said anything about the play being ‘bush’ or whatever term some people used. I wish he hadn’t bunted, I wish he’d laid down a good one actually. To lose a perfect game on arguably the worst bunt I’ve ever given up was the disappointing part of it. But as far as playing the game ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ it never occurred to me. You play to win, and do so within the ‘unwritten’ rules is something most guys do. I don’t think many guys would have the gumption to bunt but I also think you do what you think you need to do to win a game, again, within the rules, written or unwritten.

    Wasn’t it just Brenly who was complaining about the bunt? I was always taught that’s exactly what you should do, try to bunt your way on to break up the no hitter.

  2. re 3: correction… 3 in the top 54! none in the lowly 55-100 spots… :)

  3. 2: Of interest also, pertaining to the Padres hitters, from Schilling talking about his late innings:

    Hitters, I think, vastly underestimate the magnitude of making outs on the first pitch and how much of a relief it is to pitchers.

    I’m pretty sure that is true for every pitcher.

  4. 4: It doesn’t look like they’re consider park effects there either.

  5. 2: I’d be surprised if coaches would encourage anybody to bunt after the 5th inning if the intent is only to break up a no-hitter. I stopped playing in high school but I never heard that from anyone.

    If you’re bunting because it’s a close game, then it’s fine. If you’re fighting for your playoff life, then it’s fine no matter what the score, because rattling the pitcher could be important. Regular season game, not a close score, second half of the game? Chicken bleep.

  6. Meh not chicken Bleep if someone does it to the dodgers or yankees then its ok.

  7. Sure, if it’s like 8-0 in the 9th inning then it’s bush, just like stealing when you’re ahead in that situation, but in a close game you have to do what you can to win. That’s why Brenly’s comments were asinine, the Padres were trying to win. You don’t stop trying to win just because the pitcher hasn’t allowed a hit.

    5: Schilling has talked about that a lot, how he loves the quick outs because every time he gets one he knows it will help him go deeper into the game.

  8. Fuson talking about the draft right now on XX.

  9. 10.

    Fuson compares Kellen Kulbaki (*sp) to Nick Swisher.

  10. Not a bad comp, but I think Kellen will hit for more average…

  11. Question…

    I didn’t get a chance to see the kid the other night but is there any way Kyle Blanks has a chance at ever seeing a Padres uniform? I guess what I really mean is… Can the dude play in the outfield? I have heard that his athleticism is a lot better than what you would think based on his size but it doesn’t look like they have experimented with him anywhere but 1st and DH. He seems to have an insane bat and I’m just curious if he is might ever fit on the big club.

  12. 15: Peter noted on Saturday that once Blanks gets moving, he can move. Whether or not there’s a place for him in the NL (other than 1B), I’m not sure. Hopefully we can get some trade value out of him if he keeps it up, but I’m not too hopeful for a spot on the Padres for him.

    Unless they can teach him how to catch. That would be awesome.

  13. I would feel horrible for a 6’8″ 280lbs catchers knees. Actually at that size he could probably just sit indian style behind the plate and be fine!

  14. Wow, missed every game this weekend and even the scores, another lost weekend, but cracking the standings this morning, I see we are still in first tied with the snakes, so really we are doing great. Dodgers still still 1.5 back. Funny, if I had seen the three loses I’d be throwing things at the TV or radio. Looks like I got lucky on the weekend I disappeared from lectromagnetic contact. Get em tomorrow.

  15. This was something I had talked about on Saturday with the Ducksnorts crew, but I was wondering if anyone could look at our stats with and without OG. More than just our winning record, I’d be interested in seeing what our OBP, SLG, OPS, and average runs/game are.

    Does anyone want to look that up? I think it could make for some interesting discussion.

  16. 5&9: #’s this year when hitting the first pitch from Schilling .389,.389.593. He’d love to see you wait arount for one of his walks 28 in over 8oo plate appearances in 2006. In 2006 batters hit .339 on the first or 2nd pitch vs. .276 latter. Sly one.

  17. Closer to home. Didi,your fav. as well as,Lynch’s and mine, P-MAC. is 6 for11 on the first or 2nd pitch and 1 for 23 deeper in the count. Small sample, but he would have to go 26 for 27 in deep counts to equalize.

  18. 20 … nice research!

    21 … nice research!

    OT … saw this flash-from-the-past at BP today …

    Jake Gautreau, 2B, Triple-A New Orleans (Mets)

    Six years ago, Gautreau was the 14th overall pick in the 2001 draft after a fantastic college career at Tulane. Some scouts saw him as the second coming of Jeff Kent–-an offensive-oriented second baseman with middle-of-the-order potential offensively. His career quickly went off-track thanks to a chronic case of ulcerative colitis, and after stagnating in the Padres system, he moved on to the Indians, and early this year, the Mets. Saturday night he had the kind of night that most players only dream about, going 6-for-7 with four doubles, a home run, five runs scored, and eight RBI. He’s 26 years old, and more of an organizational player at this point, but you have to give props to a night like that.

    … yup, I’m still rootin’ for this guy!

  19. 21 … otoh … i’ll betcha OBA is much less skew’d … right? (you can’t draw a walk on the first or 2nd pitch :-) )

  20. SI has a post-draft analysis article. The Padres make #10 on their list of 10 organizations that have valuable drafts. The D-backs and San Fran both ranked above us.

    Overall, I think it was a positive take on our draft. They seem to be high on Schmidt and they saw the team’s draft as a great way to replenish our system.


  21. I have a theory that is strictly anecdotal, but has actually made me a lot of money on NFL games — betting against a team coming off an emotional win.

    If my theory pans out to baseball, the Pads just came off a highly emotional, but gratifying series sweep against the Dodgers, we had the best record in the NL, we were ranked no. 1 in ESPN rankings and undoubtedly feeling pretty good about things.

    That strikes me as a recipe for getting swept by the Mariners.

  22. 23:True but The Padres totals of .339/.339/.544 on 1st & 2nd pitches vs. .197/.302/.313 thereafter as of last Friday make me begin to question conventional patience wisdom.What do you think?

  23. Also check out Kahlil’s early count splits.

  24. 20, 21: The team numbers are kind of interesting as well. Here’s how the Padres have done on the first or second pitch over the past couple years:

    2006: .328/.331/.523 (29.0% of all PA)
    2007: .339/.341/.547 (29.4% of all PA)

    Last season, 41% of the Padres’ homers came on the first or second pitch of an at-bat. This year it’s 51%.

    I haven’t run all the league numbers, but last year, 40.3% of NL homers came on the first or second pitch; so far this year it’s 39.7%.

    The Pads’ percentage of PA in which there is action on the first or second pitch is very much in line with that of the NL over the past two seasons.

  25. One thing to keep in mind is that these numbers are exclusively on first pitches put in play. It does not follow that it is a generally good idea to swing at first pitches – you swing at a bad or marginal one and you miss it or foul it off, then you are in an 0-1 hole and the numbers swing against you. Of course, if you let a meatball go right down the pipe like Khalil is known to do, then you end up with the same result. ;)

  26. Thanks, Malcolm for the stats. Pretty cool. I wish P-Mac would get more starts. It must be killing him to be watching game from the bench, knowing that he can really help with the hits at least.

    #26: I wonder if that is because the scouting reports say, the Padres, like to swing at early pitches, throw strikes to get ahead of them, and thus, more fastballs are being thrown early in the count. I think if the opposing pitchers are good, they’ll start throwing breaking balls for strikes in the early going.

    Khalil surprised us on Saturday when he walked in the early going and struck out swinging later at the slider out of the zone with runners on. When will he learn?

  27. 30: For whatever reason, he really seems to have trouble picking up those sliders out of the zone. I’m always stunned when he does lay off of them.

    I know that he was having more BP early in the year, which I think was helping him see the ball better. His K rates in the early part of the season were lower than they are now, so I wonder if he’s curtailed this BP a bit.

    I would rather have him swing at a first pitch and foul it off or weakly pop-out then look ugly on an 0-2 slider in the dirt.

  28. #29: Precisely. I think we’re dealing with a bit of a sample bias here. If it’s a good pitch, guys generally are going to take a whack at it. Swinging at more pitches early in the count won’t help unless guys start serving up more hittable pitches in those counts.

    #30: Padres batters are getting action on the first two pitches at a rate consistent with the rest of the league.

  29. Re: 31 give him more big league AB’s and he will learn to pick up on them.

  30. One of the weird stats that is skewing the averages is 51 bb on 52 pa on 3-0 counts and 64 of 128 at 3-1. Are we that good at spoiling good pitches or are they afraid to lay one in there? BTW we are getting almost exactly the same # of 3-0&3-0 pa’s this year as last(7.45%), so opponents aren’t necessarily adjusting to the Padres patience ethic in that regard.

  31. Sorry, make that second 3-0,3-1.

  32. Not sure if everyone has realized it, but Kouzy has been by far our best hitter over the last 30 days. (.399 wOBA)

  33. The good numbers on the first pitch are absolutely a function of being selective. If the guys swung at all the first pitchs, they wouldn’t have that good of numbers…

  34. The point is that we shouldnt automatically criticise guys for swinging at the first pitch. The numbers show where we’d be without first pitch hitting.

  35. To change the subject, and I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, (well maybe a little bit) but there was an interesting yet irritating tidbit in the UT this morning. It seems that Grady Fuson was disappointed that Main “got away.” One might ask, well how could he have gotten away if you had the chance to snag him at #23? It seems the answer lies in the fact that the Padres would have drafted him as a center-fielder and not as a pitcher, which if I remember would have likely have meant that they placed a second round grade on him.

    I don’t know what disappoints me more, that they liked him, or that they were not looking at him as a pitcher. The Schmidt pick has grown on me, but this doesn’t help. Here’s the link:


  36. Bruce, you’re looking at it backwards… We liked Schmidt so much, we passed on Main, whom we also liked a lot…

  37. Re: 38. Not much of a point, since all major league teams have similar numbers. It is generally not a good idea to swing at a first pitch unless you know that the pitcher is going to throw a get over/get ahead fastball. Pitchers will adjust if a team becomes first pitch swing happy.

    There are valid reasons to “automatically” criticize NOG’s prediliction to swinging at first pitches in pretty much every at bat following his first, as well as when Khalil Greene does it. It really looks like they have made up their mind to swing before the pitch is even thrown. It is about plate discipline, and this year’s Padres haven’t shown much of it so far.

  38. 41: Not disagreeing w/ you – let’s say, taking your point further…

    1st pitch – look certain zone, certain pitch (usually fastball) – if you get your pitch crush it.
    2nd pitch – if they got strike 1 on you, expand that zone a bit – if pitch one missed the strike zone, repeat 1st pitch tactic

    …and so on…

  39. re 41: Sounds good to me.

    If Khalil Greene is actually following that, is his certain zone “up and in” and the certain pitch he is looking for “offspeed”? He just never seems to get that one on the first pitch, and instead lets fat fastballs go right by. ;)