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!

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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!

  8. #4 – Canham is a very streaky, and it’s good to see his bat starting to come around. I think the Padres have something in Canham, hope he’ll work out for the Pads.

  9. #6 – Good luck with that, I’m sure you saw what he did with my Braves. He’s one of the best pitchers on the planet not named Peavy..(and I’m not playing to the crowd here, Peavy is a stud period.)

  10. RD: Jeremy Guthrie was a monster last night. You ever see him as an amateur?

  11. I’m in favor of the Barrett acquisition for the simple reason that it offers myriad possibilities for puns, like the title of this post. :)

  12. GY: No not really, though the name does ring a bell.

  13. Peavy’s going to learn to stop talking to the media so liberally someday right?

    Here’s some lovely quotes he left in the paper today.

    “The thing he had with Zambrano – Zambrano took it to another level. As for the fight with A.J. Pierzynski, who doesn’t fight with A.J. Pierzynski?”

    The Zambrano comment isn’t too bad, but he shouldn’t have his nose in that business to start with. As for the Pierzynski comment, that one’s just not smart to make. I laughed out loud when I read it, but he just shouldn’t say stuff like that to the reporters.

  14. I know the Pads have fared relatively well against lefties this year, but Bedard frightens me. Here’s hoping we can rake in a day game and get some runs up early and often.

  15. 4,8 … I’m still not sold on Canham … here’s a local view …

    http://gazettetimes.com/articles/2007/06/21/sports/osu_beavers/4osu02_note.txt

    … going a month without an HR isn’t good. I’m going to continue to root for him, but in my mind, he’s a long-shot. I think Hundley is more likely to develop into an MLB catcher.

    (PS. and OT. – I loved the comment yesterday about Barrett being a good enough SS in high school to bump Adam Everett to 2B … now *that* is a fun fact!)

  16. 17: I look at Canham and see George Kottaras again, which isn’t a bad thing. LH catchers who can hit and hold their own behind the plate are worth taking a shot at.

  17. #18: I like the Kottaras comp. It’s also worth noting that guys with that profile have trade value. 8)

  18. I was all excited about the acquisition because then we could say that the Padres had had BOTH major leaguers with the last name of Barrett play for them (remember Marty?).

    But then I checked at Baseball-Reference and it turns out that there have been about a dozen big league Barretts. Oh well. Still, fun to think about the great Marty Barrett era in Padre lore, eh?

  19. Canham has a bigger frame than Kottaras yeah?

  20. #21: Correct. Canham is listed at 6-2, 212; Kottaras at 6-0, 180.

  21. Canham reminded me of Victor Martinez if he added a little bulk. It would be sweet if he had that kind of bat!

  22. Also gotta remember that Bard has caught 45 games now this season, he only started 51 or so last season so Barrett is a good hedge against anything happening again. Bard already sat last weekend for some rest/injury and has went on the DL once this season.

  23. What? Milton Bradley got DFA’ed by the A’s, and we don’t have a mad pack of reactionaries here screaming to go get him? I’m…I’m disappointed, is what I am!

    ;)

  24. Re: 25 he’s not exactly the power bat the pads are looking for, whats the advantage to Bradly over Cruz?

  25. #25: Ooh, that’s interesting. I actually kind of like him as part of a potential center field solution in ’08.

  26. 26: The advantage isn’t Bradley over Cruz. They’re basically the same player. It’s Bradley over Bocachica as a RH outfielder and over Sledge as a defensive player.

    With another RH hitter we could call up Robles to the backup IF, since he’s LH, and get Blum out of town. Not that it would ever happen.

    I’d take Bradley, but he’s the same kind of move as Barrett. We get a little better. Better enough to make up for his personality problems?

  27. Good read:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&id=2910803

    27: I wouldn’t bet on Bradley here in San Diego. If the manager is Bochy, maybe. ;)

  28. 28: Negligible upgrades are still upgrades. :)

    You make valid points, and a lot of the future part of this move (were it to happen) would be dependent upon cost prohibitions. The A’s pick up everything on Bradley’s deal this year, save for a pro-rated portion of the minimum. For that price and maybe a middling prospect, is it worth the high-risk, high-reward type of move that this is?

    Also, don’t forget that Bocachica can play the infield, as well. I’m not sure how great he’d be there, but he can do it if need be.

  29. 22: Kottaras is GENEROUSLY listed at 6’0″ – he’s more likely 5’9-10″ Canham is a legit 6’2″ The comp is interesting from a performance standpoint, but their bodies are completely different.

  30. 30: Oh, I agree. It’s going to be very hard to find the big upgrade. The only ways to do that is if a stud goes on the market and the other GM forgets to tell anybody else he’s available, the other GM is not bright (Cincy!), or you get what you think is an incremental upgrade and he has a terrific second half.

  31. 31: I met Kottaras once and he seemed to be six foot to me. Maybe I’m shrinking. Or maybe it was his hat. He was slender for a ballplayer, let alone a catcher.

  32. Did anyone read Nick Canepa’s article in the UT today?

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/canepa/20070621-9999-1s21canepa.html

    As much as it pains me I have to agree with Canepa! However, as I’ve said before the main problem with the Padres hasn’t been their low payroll but their atrocious drafting. I think it’s amazing that they are successful considering how awful their picks have been. I think we will always look back at 2004 and think what might have been if they made a proper pick (imagine Verlander on this team!) instead they wasted it (no one from that draft will likely make the majors). They also wasted their entire draft in 2003 (1st pick was Tim Stauffer, no one else will make the majors. 2002 wasn’t bad as they got Khalil, McAnulty and Kottaras (they also took Andy LaRoche as a draft and follow but didn’t sign him). In 2001 they got Barfield in the 4th, Jason Barlett later but wasted their top picks on Jake Gautreau, Matt Harrington(!) and Tagg Bozied. In 2000 they wasted the #8 pick but drafted Xavier Nady and Justin Germano (and also Chad Cordero but didn’t sign him).

    That’s just the drafts since 2000. In 2005 they drafted Chase Headley and some other players who might have a chance (Carillo, Hundley, Venable). It’s too early to tell about 2006 although Burke did get them Michael Barrett. That’s a run of incompetence that rivals the Pirates and the Royals. Luckily for us we have Kevin Towers as GM instead of Dave Littlefield! I think we should consider ourselves fortunate that the Padres have put a winner on the field as much as they have in the past few years.

  33. Sorry for the long post but it takes a long time to detail the Padres missteps in the draft. That’s why I was so disappointed in their draft this year, again taking a lot of low upside polished college players. I’m not sure why they didn’t take Rick Porcello, the consensus #2 player in the draft, if Detroit thinks they can sign him why couldn’t the Padres. Plus we know what happened the last time the Tigers drafted a pitcher that the Padres passed up (hate to bring up 2004 again but that Matt Bush pick will just kill them for the next 4 or 5 years or until Verlander would’ve left them as a free agent).

  34. BP’s STAT OF THE DAY

    Bottom 5 2007 AL Second Basemen, by VORP

    Player, Team, EqA, VORP

    Erick Aybar, ANA, .190, -8.3
    Mike Rouse, CLE, .065, -6.6
    Josh Barfield, CLE, .219, -2.1
    Alexi Casilla, MIN, .198, -1.7
    Marco Scutaro, OAK, .234, -0.3

    … not fun to see a familiar name on this list …

  35. 33 … I saw Kottaras at Preoria a couple of times … and he sure looked VERY SMALL to me … he’s doing better his last 10 games …

    http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?n=George%2520Kottaras&pos=C&sid=milb&t=p_pbp&pid=435459

    … but he’s still got a long way to go, imo … .218/.295/.354 …

  36. 34/35: With all due respect, continually citing bad past drafts and using them to compare them to Verlander is somewhat akin to saying that something that blew up during the Schwarzenegger regime in California is Gray Davis’ fault.

    I think the FO’s mindset — and particularly that of scouting and development — has markedly changed over the past couple of years, and you’re starting to see that with the current direction of drafts by this club.

    To be fair, the MLB draft is pretty easy to Monday morning quarterback, and picking out Verlander’s accomplishments to compare them to Bush’s is simply cherry-picking.

  37. 36.

    I don’t mind seeing Barfield on that list at all! Barfield’s struggles this year have really been god sent for me and all the other people that think the trade was the right move either way. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Barfield a lot when he WAS here but if he was having a kick ass year all we would hear about from those dumb ass’s who call into XX and write the newspaper is how stupid the trade was and how they think we should have sent a package of “Mike Thompson, Justin Leone, and Manny Alexander to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrerra” (yes, someone actually suggested this). KK had his struggles but I think Barf’s performance in a weird way bought KK some extra time to figure his sh!t out.

  38. I dont think the Marlins would give up Cabrera for our dirty laundry haha

  39. Wait… You didn’t think that was a totally reasonable trade proposal? You’re crazy man!

  40. haha are you sure the guy wasnt joking when he called?

  41. I don’t think that comparing Verlander to Matt Bush is cherry picking simply because Verlander was the next pick. The Padres had the #1 overall pick that year which is far and away the valuable pick in the minor league draft. If you remove the injured #1 picks (Bullington, Matt Anderson, Paul Wilson, Brien Taylor) the last failed #1 pick was Shawn Abner in 1984. And he’s likely to be a better pick than Bush. The simple fact is that the Padres went cheap and paid dearly for it. They could have taken Jared Weaver or Stephen Drew (Boras clients who were the top talents that year) but decided to save a little money. And they are going to pay for it. Granted there were other terrible picks that draft (the #6 and #9 picks were bad) but the Padres had the choice of anyone and failed miserably. As I said I think it’s amazing that they have been as good as they are since their drafting (which is the easiest and cheapest way to procure talent) has been more like the Pirates then another successful team.

  42. 39: I think that may not be true considering that the Padres got Marcus Giles at 2B. Had 2B been a disaster, the callers would have been relentless about the FO. It helps that Kouzmanoff was hitting after April.
    I still wish Barfield to get out of his funk.

    I think you right that there are plenty of clueless callers who’d complain about anything. That trade suggestion made me laugh.

  43. 43: There have been several discussions on this board of how Baseball America looked at the picks that year, and Verlander was by no means the consensus #1. As for going cheap, the Padres are certainly not the only team guilty of doing that, and they aren’t the only team to pay for it.

    You make more hay on the body of your draft than you do on one pick, irrespective of whether it’s #1 or #1000.

  44. 43: Verlander was paid less in that draft than Matt Bush, I think. Yes, that was a bad year for drafting but I don’t think the FO was even thinking about Verlander. Remember, the talk was that he was overworked in college and a lot of scouts were worried about that.

    The FO was thinking of picking Stephen Drew, I believe, who is not doing as well as expected currently in AZ. And Weaver was rated higher than Verlander that year. So, had the Padres not gone cheap, Verlander wouldn’t be in a Padres uniform anyway.

  45. Speaking of stupid write-ins, I “enjoyed” this comment on a UT article today:
    “Didn’t Barrett play some third base in his past? Given the production of our current third basemen I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take some turns over there. Right now our options are Kouz, Branyan, Headley and Blum…none of which are hitting over .227. If management was happy with how things were going they wouldn’t have pulled the kid up from AA.”

    Yes, calling up Headley had nothing to do with Kouz being injured and we should totally get rid of the bat that’s been hitting over .300 for the last month after getting off to a predictably slow start in the majors.

  46. 46: LOL. Maybe, that was his fantasy team proposal that got turned down.

  47. 48: I thank Geoff and the Ducksnorters for far more intelligent comments and discussions here.

  48. #45: The problem is that a few national writers have worked the Bush vs Verlander angle, and now it’s stuck in people’s minds as truth. In actuality, we were looking at Drew, Weaver, and Jeff Niemann. Those first two would have been great picks; Niemann, as it happens, would not have been.

    As bad as it is that Bush has failed, much worse in my mind is that in grabbing him, the organization abandoned its plan. If Niemann had turned out to be a bust for us, we might have been more forgiving because at least we were targeting him. The process involved in drafting Bush was terrible, and the Padres have taken steps to correct this. There is nothing more we can do about the Bush pick beyond wishing that it hadn’t happened and hoping that his conversion back to the mound somehow works.

    As for claims that we were targeting Verlander and that he was a consensus #1 (Baseball America had him and Bush at #7 and #8), these have no basis in reality, and it’s unfortunate that some members of the media have chosen to rewrite history in light of events that have occurred since then.