Grin and Barrett

Michael BarrettWednesday night’s game (recap | boxscore) was a dog, and I don’t have much to say about it. Instead, I’ve been thinking about Michael Barrett, and what his presence means to the Padres. First off, according to Padres.com, San Diego is on the hook for $1 million of his remaining salary. Even for a team that is reluctant to spend a lot of money, that’s chump change for 3 1/2 – 4 months of one of the National League’s better hitting catchers.

Short term, Barrett provides an immediate upgrade over the Josh Bard/Rob Bowen tandem; long term, his current contract is up at the end of the year — either he re-signs with the Padres or he walks and leaves the Pads with an extra draft pick in 2008. I can live with either scenario, especially given that the cost to acquire Barrett was a waiver claim (Bowen) and a former first-round pick (outfielder Kyler Burke) who is more project than prospect at this stage in his career.

Don’t get me wrong, Burke could turn into something, but he’s hardly the kind of guy that holds up a deal for Barrett. If it works out for Burke and the Cubs, great; meanwhile, the Padres have a legitimate shot to make some serious noise this season, and a big-league catcher with a 734 OPS is of more use to them now than a Low-A outfielder with a 573 OPS. I mean, sure, we could regret this trade in 2011 or 2012, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Turning to Barrett, one aspect of his game immediately demands my attention:

Michael Barrett vs LHP, 2005 – 2007
Year PA BA OBP SLG ISO XB/H PA/HR
Stats are through June 19, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
2005 147 .320 .415 .624 .304 .550 21.0
2006 97 .313 .396 .663 .320 .577 16.2
2007 47 .262 .340 .548 .286 .545 15.7
Total 291 .308 .395 .624 .316 .558 18.2

Individually, those are some small sample sizes, but he keeps doing it every year. Barrett’s BB/K ratio against southpaws over that stretch is 36/25. This isn’t a fluke; it’s a pattern of abusive behavior. He simply destroys left-handed pitching.

What’s weird — and I didn’t realize how weird until I looked it up — is that contrary to popular perception, the Padres actually are hitting much better against lefties (.258/.333/.430) than against righties (.241/.312/.383) this year. Care to guess who the club’s most effective weapon against southpaws has been so far? Bard. He’s hitting .378/.462/.578 over 52 plate appearances. Against right-handers, Bard is batting just .208/.286/.264.

Well, crap. I had this whole spiel ready about how it makes so much sense to address a glaring weakness and now I see that I can’t back it up with, you know, facts.

Let’s try a different approach. Last year, in a more limited role, Bard’s platoon splits were almost non-existent. Maybe his current performance is an aberration and he’ll enjoy greater success back in the “one-third” role he assumed in 2006. I’m not sure how much I believe this, but… honestly, the whole “Bard destroys lefties, too” thing is kind of throwing me here. I wonder if he does become trade bait?

Back to Barrett. I hear conflicting reports about whether he is a “good clubhouse guy” or not. What does this tell me? Mostly that people have no idea what they’re talking about. The only thing I can say is that in my life, I’ve worked under conditions (not very often, thankfully) that weren’t necessarily conducive to my being a “good clubhouse guy,” and I’ll leave it at that.

Okay, I lied. I’ll also note that Greg Maddux has worked with Barrett in the past, apparently without incident, and that Jake Peavy is reportedly close with Barrett as well. (Random aside: The Expos’ first-round picks in 1994 [Hiram Bocachica] and 1995 (Barrett) are now on the Padres’ active roster. The Pads’ first rounders in those years? Dustin Hermanson and Ben Davis.)

Bottom line? Barrett is a guy who has finished first or second among NL catchers in OPS in each of the past three seasons (minimum 400 PA). He’s someone that should have been of interest to a division rival (Arizona’s catchers are batting .202/.281/.315 this year), and the Padres didn’t really give up much to get him. I keep looking for downsides to this deal, and all of them — questionable defense, questionable clubhouse presence, the fact that his primary asset is similar to Bard’s — are flimsy at best. The Padres added value for minimal cost. We can nitpick here and there, but it’s hard for a big-league ballclub — especially one that considers itself a contender — to pass up an opportunity like this.

Padres Prospect Report

by Peter Friberg

You will not see Kyler Burke in this report. He was part of the bounty to bring Michael Barrett to San Diego — but then, you knew that. Good luck Kyler.

AAA

Paul McAnulty: 3 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; 2B, 2 BB
Pete LaForest: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 4 RBI; 2 HR

AA

Sean Thompson: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR

High-A

No games scheduled

Low-A

No games scheduled

Short Season-A

Danny Payne: 1 AB, 3 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 4 BB, SO, SB
John Hussey: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR

College World Series

Mitch Canham: 5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 3 RBI; HR
Robert Woodard: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 0 HR

Commentary:

It’s two games so it may not mean much, but how intriguing is it that Payne has only 3 official at-bats (he has not been subbed for), with 1 hit, 7 walks, and 2 stolen bases?

Hussey did all he could in Fort Wayne to prove he wasn’t a prospect: 24 IP, 25 H, 2O ER, 20 BB, 10 SO… So the gem he spun on Wednesday in Eugene stands out for the 20 year-old Australian. I don’t know if he’s a legitimate prospect or not, but he’ll be another interesting guy to watch on a very interesting team.

Thanks, Peter. Day game on Thursday at Petco. We’ll have the IGD up and running by 11:30 a.m. PT or so. Go Padres!

Tagged as: , , , ,

52 Responses »

  1. And the Dodgers lose Schmidt for the year due to torn labrum, an injury from which very few pitcher came back. I’m glad the Padres passed on signing him.

    In CWS, UCIrvine Anteaters ran out magic and pitchers. Still, it was a great run for the first time participant. Good luck to the Beavers. I hope they repeat. 8)

  2. Geoff, don’t you just hate it when the facts are in the way of a good article? I check Bowen’s split and he sucked against RHP too.

  3. Well, if the it doesn’t work out for Schmidt with the Dodgers, then the Saints might have some interest…..

  4. I had no clue about him before but after last night I am developing a serious man-crush on Mitch Cantham. I think we may have gotten a pretty good player.

  5. I had forgotten that it was Barrett who clocked A.J. Berninski in the jaw after a hard slide last year. UT has a picture of it and an article. Guess he is a hothead. No wonder Peavy and he are buddies. The thing about catchers is they work with the pitchers and call the game (with manager’s help) and I have heard nothing about how Barrett calls a game or handles pitching.

    BTW, I’ll bet Clay had a big smile on his face with he cracked the sports page this morning.

  6. Wow. Change in the rotation against the Red Sox: Maddux, Young, Peavy.

  7. #6: This reminds me, the Sunday matchup is now Peavy vs Josh Beckett. Oh, my!