Here Come the Rockies

I’d hoped to interview a Rockies blogger for this segment, but no such luck, so you’re stuck with me. Colorado is probably the single most surprising team in the big leagues right now (you could make a case for Seattle in the American League); how are they doing it? Mostly by having a balanced attack. The Rockies are one of three National League teams (Braves and Mets are the others) whose OPS+ and ERA+ both are over 100.

The pitching, in particular, has been a revelation. We’ll get to that in a moment, but first, here’s a quick tale of the tape on the offensive side:

Padres vs Rockies, by Position
Pos Col SD
BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG
Stats are through games of August 13, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
C .244 .328 .357 .268 .337 .383
1B .291 .411 .452 .266 .339 .475
2B .274 .333 .378 .246 .317 .330
3B .276 .346 .464 .227 .291 .415
SS .279 .352 .434 .237 .276 .450
LF .343 .406 .587 .257 .345 .457
CF .302 .352 .376 .248 .318 .433
RF .284 .379 .552 .282 .362 .400

A few observations:

  • Taking park effects into consideration, the Padres hold a slight advantage behind the plate and in center field. The Rockies are superior everywhere else.
  • Brad Hawpe (.292/.390/.547) and Matt Holliday (.339/.401/.585) are complete monsters, but both are products of their environment. Hawpe loses more than 300 points of OPS away from Coors Field this year. Actually, he and Brian Giles are sort of polar opposites in right field. Hawpe is batting .253/.351/.420 on the road, while Giles checks in at .343/.409/.530. Holliday’s drop in OPS away from Coors is only about 200 points.
  • Troy Tulowitzki (.286/.362/.451) is having a fine rookie season, but it’s interesting to compare his road numbers this year to those of Khalil Greene. Tulowitzki is hitting .252/.335/.374 away from Coors; Greene’s road line is .267/.301/.498.
  • I love the way Todd Helton has reinvented himself. Helton’s power is in serious decline, and he’s probably never going to hit .340 again, even playing half his games in Denver, but the guy has tremendous strike-zone judgment and he continues to use that to his advantage. It would be more obvious if he called Coors Field home, but the aforementioned Giles is doing the same thing this season in San Diego. Smart players adapt.

To the pitchers…

Padres vs Rockies, Starters and Relievers
  Col SD
  IP/G ERA BA OBP SLG IP/G ERA BA OBP SLG
Stats are through games of August 13, 2007, and are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.
SP 6.00 4.62 .277 .333 .449 5.81 3.80 .255 .311 .383
RP 3.04 3.99 .266 .333 .394 3.35 3.08 .235 .305 .338

It troubles me that Colorado’s starters go deeper into games than do San Diego’s. Jeff Francis and the ridiculously efficient Aaron Cook have been outstanding at the front end, and even Josh Fogg has managed to keep his ERA under 5.00. The back end has been hit by injuries, which may cause problems down the stretch, but the Rockies find themselves in the thick of the NL West race in mid-August largely due to their pitching.

The bullpen, built in the mode of San Diego’s, has been remarkably effective all season. With closer Brian Fuentes on the disabled list, second-year man Manuel Corpas has stepped in and done the job for Colorado. Retreads such as Jeremy Affeldt, LaTroy Hawkins, and Jorge Julio all have made positive contributions as well.

Nobody is talking much about the Rockies, but they are a surprisingly solid club without any glaring weaknesses beyond possible rotation depth depending on the health of Jason Hirsh, Rodrigo Lopez, and others. I expect Colorado to be in the race pretty much the rest of the way.

Padres Prospect Report

by LynchMob

[Ed note: Long-time reader, prospect hound, and all-around good guy LynchMob is filling in for Peter Friberg this week.]

You will not see all the notable performances from the night before, but you will see the notable performances from those who are actually prospects.

Friday, August 10, 2007

AAA

Clay Hensley: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO, 0 HR

AA

Matt Antonelli: 5 AB, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI; 2 SO
Will Venable: 4 AB, 3 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; HR, BB, SB
Chase Headley: 4 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 2B, BB
Mike Ekstrom: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR

High-A

Mike Baxter: 5 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 1 RBI
Craig Cooper: 4 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2B

Low-A

No significant performances…

Short Season-A

Luis Durango: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; BB, SO, SB
Jeremy McBryde: 3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO, 0 HR

Rookie

Alexis Lara: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 0 HR – I have no idea…

Commentary:

I heard Grady Fuson on the radio a couple days ago say that Headley got real discouraged (and subsequently slumped) when the Padres acquired Morgan Ensberg. Fuson went on to say that they had to talk to Headley to reassure him of he was still in their plans and get him going again. It’s good to see another multi-hit game with another extra-base hit (55 XBH on the season and the second consecutive day with a double).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

AAA

Craig Stansberry: 4 AB, 0 R, 2 H, 1 RBI
Brian Myrow: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 1 HR (#13) – .352/.436/.609
Tim Stauffer: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

AA

Matt Antonelli: 4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; BB, SO
Wade LeBlanc: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO

High-A

David Freese: 4 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 RBI; 2B, SO

Low-A

Cory Luebke: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO

Short Season-A

Luis Durango: 3 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 0 RBI; BB – .367/.419/.488

Rookie

Drew Cumberland: 6 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 RBI – .387/.424/.387 in 31 AB

Commentary:

At what point does Brian Myrow earn a shot with the Padres? At least a September callup?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

AAA

Craig Stansberry: 5 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 4 RBI; 3B, HR (#10)

AA

Chase Headley: 5 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI; HR (#19)
Chad Huffman: 4 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 1 RBI
Will Inman: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO (now 3-0, 1.96)

High-A

David Freese: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; CS
Craig Cooper: 4 AB, 3 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; BB, SO

Low-A

No significant performances…

Short Season-A

Mitch Canham: 5 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 1 RBI; 2 SO, HR (#2)
Kellen Kulbacki: 5 AB, 2 R, 4 H, 2 RBI; SO, 2 2B, 3B

Rookie

No game.

Commentary:

I went to the Eugene game Sunday night… Kulbacki was putting good wood on the ball (3 XBHs)… Canham’s home run was a high pop that the wind took just over the fence…

Monday, August 13, 2007

AAA

Craig Stansberry: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 3 RBI; 2B, SO

AA

None.

High-A

Matt Buschmann: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO (12-6, 2.89)

Low-A

None.

Short Season-A

Mat Latos: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO

Rookie

Drew Cumberland: 5 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI; 3B

Commentary:

Pretty blah night down on the farm…

Thanks, LynchMob! First of three against the Rockies at Petco Monday night at 7:05 p.m. PT. You know the drill. Rock on…

Tagged as: , , , , ,

98 Responses »

  1. #40 – not only could we do a lot worse, our entire franchise history is proof that we have done worse. Like him or not, the fact is that KG is the franchise’s all-time SS. Pretty much every SS between Tony Fernandez and KG was an absolute disaster with the exception of Gomez, who was average in his career season offensively and an average defensive SS at best.

  2. Wow Tulowitzk does have some nasty home vs away stats:
    Home: .322/.390/.532
    Away: .252/.335/.374

  3. Another good factor to consider in the KG discussion is Khalil’s impact on the pitching staff. I know that they’ve got to feel more confident with Khalil at SS then they do with Blum. Add that to the fact that most of Khalil’s team mates refer to him as the best they’ve seen.

    As Steve C also indicated, Khalil is a KEY part of our offense. So what sense does it make to trade away an extremely valuable defender and an important part of our offense and replace him with nothing.

  4. re 54: No rational Padres fan believes that Blum would the choice if KG were traded.

  5. 55: That wasn’t my point. My point was that pitchers like Khalil more than Blum as a SS.

    I’m not sure who they would replace Khalil with, but presumably it would be a Blum-type SS.

  6. Call me crazy, but I’d rather have Greene than some of the guys ahead of him in VORP. Keppinger (small sample size!), Gonzalez, Guzman…

    Since the all-star break, JJ Hardy has produced a whopping .257/.289/.385. His early power production was pretty fluky, all things considered. Anyone remember Chris Shelton last year? Or Ian Kinsler this year?

  7. No offense but I’d give any player from the minor league system for Kinsler

  8. I would probably trade Greene for him!

  9. #58: I kind of like Kinsler, but he is very much a product of his environment. Career road numbers:

    Greene: .274/.331/.509, age 27
    Kinsler: .244/.318/.375, age 25
    Tulowitzki: .244/.331/.360, age 22

    Antonelli is a better player, so probably is Headley.

  10. I have never hidden my distaste for KG…his OBP is abysmal, his K rate is entirely to high, and I still think his defense is overrated. (Please don’t throw your rotten fruit at me…I really think he is for reasons we have gone over way to many times) Sure, the HR’s are fun and neat to pile up, but to put up those peripheral number’s, he needs to be hitting a lot more than 20 bombs…I also am frustrated b/c if you look at his career numbers, they have been in decline, not getting better as he enters his prime years.

    The biggest problem is that we really don’t have anyone else that is a reasonable replacement…I could name 6 SS in the NL alone that I would rather have, but I don’t think we could get any of them…so, we have to wait out another year, hoping that something will materialize to create a way for us to get out from KG’s hot box.

  11. 61: You mean his homers being stuck at 15 for 3 straight seasons then improving to 18 and counting this season? Isn’t his best OBP seasons, in order, 04, 06, 05, 07?

  12. XX OT: Some caller was defending the Tom Werner ownership, saying that it at least signed free agents, pointing to Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff, and got Hoffman in the fire sale. He said “free agents” twice and Kentera didn’t correct him, other than to say Sheffield was a young up-and-coming player. Ugh. This happens too often, the hosts not correcting dumb callers.

  13. 61: I agree with your points (except I think Greene’s defense is only overrated by a couple of runs, and he’s still above average). But there are a lot bigger holes on this team right now than Greene, and it makes more sense to focus on solving those than dreaming about stealing Ramirez from the Marlins. There’s not a huge need to ditch Khalil and upgrade at short.

  14. #61: That is the situation in a nutshell — Khalil is a useful but flawed player; good luck finding someone better.

    Actually, I think we probably could bring back Deivi Cruz or Ramon Vazquez…

  15. Re: 65 Chris Gomez is still playing!

  16. Yeah I think the outfield is a much bigger question mark going into next season as I don’t see them bringing back Cameron, with Bradley being 50/50 at best to come back.

    Additionally, is OG going to be very happy if little bro’s option is declined?

  17. CM: How do you feel about Mike Cameron? He Ks more often than Khalil (116 to 83) and he slugs for less power (435 to 456). He does walk more often (43 to 22) but it’s arguable that more people pitch around Cameron than Khalil.

    Cameron and Khalil are both regarded fairly highly defensively, but I think that Cameron is on the decline while Khalil is still getting better. Of all of the Padres starters, Khalil has the lowest BABIP (which would imply he’s getting unlucky http://www.hardballtimes.com/thtstats/main/index.php?view=batting&linesToDisplay=50&orderBy=baBip&direction=DESC&qual_filter=ignore&season_filter%5B%5D=2007&league_filter%5B%5D=2&team_filter%5B%5D=SD&pos_filter%5B%5D=All&Submit=Submit).

    I know nothing’s going to change either of us CM, but I think there are other people on the team more deserving of your ire than Khalil.

    Slightly interesting: According to THT, the Padres have a higher BABIP in the NL than only Arizona and SF.

  18. Phantom…I will give you that there are others that deserve my ire, but I guess the thing that gets me is how KG’s reputation far out-reaches his actual numbers. That is no fault of his own, but it just frustrates me…

    And I actually like Cameron…his OBP is higher than KG’s, his defense, save this season, has been leaps and bounds better than most, and he also provides other things like a higher Average, SB’s, and, of course, the dreaded intagables…now, with all of that being said, Mike’s 2007 has really made me wonder about his ability to continue playing well over the next 3 years. If you would have asked me in March if I would take Cammy for 3/$27 extension, I would not have balked…now, I am thinking that Bradley on a 1+ option contract would be a better fit for us…

  19. Top 10 seasons by a SD shortstop by OPS+

    2004 Greene 112
    1998 Gomez 99
    1985 Templeton 99
    2005 Greene 98
    2006 Greene 96
    2001 Jimenez 96
    1992 Fernandez 96
    1991 Fernandez 95
    2007 Greene 93
    2000 Jackson 90

    So all 4 seasons by Greene arein the top 10, and three are in the top 5. When our franchise’s history has 1 total above average offensive season from a SS, I have a hard time rushing to replace that particular SS. If history tells us anything, the next guy will be worse than KG, and very likely spectacularly so.

  20. re 70: Sounds like Drew Cumberland should just hang em up now then

  21. 70: Nice find!

    69: I too am concerned about Cameron. He definitely seems to be declining defensively, and I don’t think he gives us quite enough offensively to remain. Regardless, he might be the best available option, so we’ll see what happens.

    As for whether or not Khalil is hyped, I think mostly his D gets hyped. There aren’t that many people that hype him offensively (although his power numbers are great this year). As far as over-rated defense, I’d be curious to see your arguments there, since I legitimately feel that he is a phenomenal SS that makes the easy and the tough plays consistently.

  22. Not that I am for getting KG out of here but there is a guy I like…

    Brandon Wood of the Angels. The kid strikes out too much but he has some skills. They have tons of bodies on their roster and in the minor leagues at the 3rd base and SS positions so he might be expendible. Just a thought. It would be a nice core infield of Headley, Antonelli, Wood, and Gonzalez. He came into this year as a higher rated SS prospect than Troy Tulowitzki.

    With that said… I don’t think KG isn’t going anywhere.

  23. We will all probably appreciate Khalil Greene more when or if he out of here. I harken back to the Padres moving 26 year old Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith because he couldn’t hit. Let’s hold on to Greenie for another three of four years…in this case the grass is NOT greener on the other side.

    Ozzie was 26 when we moved him.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/smithoz01.shtml

  24. Maybe someone can explain to me how it makes to argue that the Padres will make the wrong decision about KG because they have made the wrong decision about ss in the past.

    By that theory shouldn’t have George Arias been an all star at 3B(between Caminiti and Nevin)

  25. A comparison is a element of critical thinking.
    Naturally, no two situations are the same.

  26. re 76: Not sure what to say if you really think the past efforts of the organization show what KT is going to do…wouldn’t KT’s past trades be a better indicator?

    What about Sandy Alderson’s? Paul DePodesta?

    Jack McKeon(he was the GM back in the day, right?)?

    I feel like I should be asking which one is not like the others

  27. 75 – I’m not arguing that at all, and I’m not sure how you can come to that conclusion.

    It’s not like we’ve had consistently good or bad 3B – there have been some good ones (Cammy, Nevin, Nettles) and some bad ones. The same can be said with about every position we’ve had with the exception of SS, which we’ve had poor results consistently. With no obvious cheap solution on the farm, I don’t know how you expect that we’re going to go on the the FA or trade market and get anything better than KG – there is not history of that being done despite a dire need for it as long as the Padres have existed.

    Also note that outside of KG’s rookie year, his average season is pretty much every other SD SS’s peak season. Gomez had an average ’98, but was horrible in 97 and 99. Templeton’s years outside of 85 were all far below average. A SS who is consistently at or above average is pretty rare. Fernandez is the only one who comes close, and we traded away Roberto Alomar to get him.

  28. #77 Good point. For the most part, I trust the current brass. Also, they may know some points about Khalil’s overall make up that we now do not know (ig- his preparation and/or his ability to synthesize teaching ).
    BTW, since we have NO other options at any level in this organization to play at shortstop, should I assume that we will get a front line starter at shortstop to replace KG in the same trade or other, such as when we received Garry Templeton for Ozzie…sorry…..

  29. #77: I think the comparison is between Ozzie and Khalil. Incidentally, this is as good a time as any to remind everyone that Ozzie’s development as a big-league hitter was freakish. Absolutely nothing in his history suggested such a progression.

  30. #79: People forget how much better Templeton was than Ozzie when that deal was made:

    Tempy: .305/.325/.418, 104 OPS+
    Ozzie: .234/.303/.284, 69 OPS+

    Templeton was also 15 months younger. His comps at the time included guys like Rod Carew and Paul Molitor, while Ozzie stacked up against Bud Harrelson, Roger Metzger, Mark Belanger, et al.

  31. Apparently Corey Brock has been dealing with the same Khalil Grene question. Scroll down to the last question for this verbal smacdown:

    like Khalil Greene, but I have to ask: Is the only reason why we keep Greene or not designate him for assignment because of his defense? Or is it just his streaky bursts of offense? Or because he’s a fan favorite? Enlighten me on this subject please.
    – Virgil A., San Diego

    Virgil, are we watching the same guy? I realize that Greene’s batting average isn’t what many would like it to be — including Greene. But look what he brings to the club. He’s tied for second in the National League in home runs (18) and third in RBIs (63) and third in extra-base hits (48) among NL shortstops. I don’t know what more you want there. He’s been very good in the field as well, saving far more runs than he’s cost the team.

    http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070813&content_id=2146607&vkey=news_sd&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd

    Remember, this comes from a guy who is new the Padres this year, so it can be argued that he doesn’t have some of the pro-Khalil biases that some of us might harbor.

  32. Ozzie had speed and when he moved to turf it undoubtedly increased his value as an offensive player.

    The big question may be this: Former manager Whitey Herzog claimed that at his peak Smith saved 75 runs per year with his glove. How many do you estimate Khalil saves. This is that some of you were trying to answer earlier…this, I believe, is the key one.

  33. #83: True about moving to turf, although it still was impossible to predict that he’d improve that much.

    As for Herzog’s claim, Bill James pretty well exploded that in his 1983 Baseball Abstract (pp. 172 & 173). He put the figure at somewhere in the 25-35 range for 1982.

  34. 74: Oh, I don’t think that we don’t appreciate Khalil. We just wish that he were a better hitter. I don’t want KG to be moved. I think we all think (and the Padres) that he would be a better and more discipline hitter by now.

    In that case, it is not unlike the expectations we have for the Padres of late. Because they both have been successful, we expect them to get better all the time. Padres should move to the next round of the playoff and Khalil should have OBP higher than .310.

  35. #81 – I guess hindsight is 20/20 but perhaps there are certain principles that a GM should apply when trading great defensive players for lesser defensive players particularly those who are perceived as having more upside on the offensive end of their game. The Padres will probably win the West because of their pitching and defense – if they had a lesser defensive shortstop who had better offensive numbers (outside of ungodly Hanley Ramirez’s numbers) , then I am not sure they are as successful down the stretch with a guy like Blum playing the last quarter of the season at second base and a guy with limited range at third base like KK.

    In retrospect, Garry Templeton’s .315 type years StL where undoubtedly inflated due to that hard late 70′s sun faded tartan turf which ironically thrashed Tempy’s knees. He was always hurt as a Padres and it obviously affected his performance.

  36. 49: FanGraphs.com is better.

  37. I love KG. Keep him. I think they should send him to an island where there is nothing to do except watch videos of low, slightly-off-the-plate, outside sliders and curves. If he could learn to recognize those pitches as balls, he would be a stud. He is stud, but he would be more studly.

    I can dream…

  38. Also, anyone read anything about MB’s recovery? He’s not on the DL, but definitely not out on the field.

  39. Khalil Greene’s hitting is roughly league average (above average for a shortstop) and he is clearly an above average fielding shortstop. There aren’t a lot of those.

  40. #89 This is a given and therefore I shouldn’t be wasting your time with it but , boy oh boy do they really need Milton Bradley in this lineup right now. The Padres have to be careful and not rush Jenga though.

    And I was also thinking earlier, wouldn’t it have been nice if Hairston – a guy who was finally showing his potential for maybe the first time in his career, finally breaks out and helps the Padres in a big way. It was such a slap in the face to Hairston that the DBACKS traded him to an interdivisional rival/contender in a pennant race. I really hope we are talking about this particular trade on a blog, fifteen years from now as it is extremely rare for a first place club to trade an active roster player to a close contender. Anyway, two great moves for KT in bringing these guys in for, I don’t want to say nothing (Brown is pitching well for the A’s) but at a great price and now they are both players that have showed top, game winning performance.

  41. I wonder if the Padres regret not putting Bradley on the DL. They could really use the extra guy out there. Blum should never have to start in LF, despite the fact that he’s done a good job out there for the most part.

  42. There’s not a complete all around offensive player in the Padres lineup. To single out Khalil only is silly.

  43. 92: Good question. I was wondering if the reason was that Jenga can bat and so, he can PH. Still, Silent L shouldn’t be in LF.

    93: There aren’t many complete all around hitters in the league let alone in a team. Still, singling out Khalil is SILLY. Perhaps, it’s because he’s homegrown and popular.

    A good article:

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/strikethrowers-and-control-freaks/

  44. It’s getting down to crunch time for the 2007 draftees … here’s a look at the players who have signed …

    http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070814&content_id=289041&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

    … a few interesting notes at the bottom on Leubke and Payne.

  45. Is it true (did I read the numbers right ?) that Khalil is a much better hitter on the road in his career ? Like 50 points difference on his average and twice as many career homeruns.

  46. DBacks getting killed tonight at Miami. Prediction (biased) : Diamondbacks will fold. No starting pitching.

  47. Atlanta losing by 3 late. Phillies losing by 2 late. Pads can gain ground on both.