Friday Links (21 Sep 07)

I love a pennant race. We made it out to all four games against the Pirates this week — even got to sit in Toyota Terrace on Thursday. I try to do that once a year because they keep all the riff-raff out of that level. Hey, wait, I’m the riff-raff.

Anyway, the Padres are a half game back with 10 to go. They need to win half of those to finish with 90 wins for the fourth time in franchise history. But you know what? I’m a greedy SOB, and I want ‘em all. Finish the season on a 17-game winning streak. Actually, make that a 28-game streak.

While we’re all waiting for Hades to cool off just a tad, here is an extra large helping of links:

Happy Friday!

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81 Responses »

  1. This weekend series is huge. I’m not gonna be greedy and call for a sweep, but we definitely need to win this series. If we do, the Rox are likely dead.

    Also, even though the Dodgers are done, could somebody please fire that team up for their series in Phoenix? The last thing the D’backs need right now with the Pads hot on their heels is to get some confidence.

    And on a Mae-related note: I have more respect and love for that band now than ever before. My fiance and I delivered a wedding invite to them at their last show (we sort of know the keyboardist, Rob) and we actually got a reply card back in the mail. They’re not coming, but they took the time to write a really nice note. Gotta love that about unknown bands, that they truly love and appreciate their fans.

  2. Would it do any good at all to rant against ESPN for utterly ignoring west coast baseball last night? Guess not. 7-game win streak, super tight race with AZ and Phil (East Coast team guys), dramatic HRs and see still fall behind yanks and RS (big story that they didn’t play) Mets, Phils, Notre Dame football, Blue jay game, etc, etc. No love what so ever. Ok, who cares, just win baby.

  3. Re: 2 Really I saw them covering the Padres game and talking about Trevors 40th Save ect.. I was shocked!

  4. RE: The SF Chron link. Speed? Has he seen our team? Perhaps he is speaking in relative terms only. The rest of the team is fast when compared to Josh Bard.

  5. Phantom,

    I have a brochure for you: “So, you’ve become a stalker.”

  6. Here’s a link GY, it looks as though the Dodgers, Padres and Mariners are being approached about playing a game or two (read: spring training games) in China next year.

    http://tinyurl.com/yr4fgv

  7. Heard on Chronicle podcast: “Sabean and Bochy are kind of, uh, quantifiable veteran lovers.”

    I knew it!

    It’s funny hearing these guys – beat writer and sports ed – talk about the Padres built for the park with pitching and defense. OK, kinda true, but where’s the speed? As far as offense, we’ve heard Sandy basically say, “No, we aren’t going to tailor our offense to Petco’s perceived strengths.”

  8. Problem with finding players to hit specifically in Petco is that it isn’t as crazy hard to get stuff out down either line or to dead center……to either “power” alley though good luck….unless you’re Andruw Jones in which case you’re hitting stuff half way up Cortez Hill

  9. I think I did advocate going from the windup with runners on. It couldn’t get any worse, right? Although it was refreshing to see Tomko put some effort into holding the runner on. Just paying more attention to the runner, holding the ball longer or shorter and throwing over can make a difference.

    I’m fine with Kouz at 3rd. His defense is bad but not atrocious and it’s something that can be improved upon with practice. I think .270 is a lot closer to his true ability that .106 was. If you watch those early ABs you can see he was struggling with breaking balls. He didn’t see many major league breaking balls in AA so it’s understandable that he had to adjust. And he did adjust, he’s learned to recognize the breaking balls he can’t hit and lays off them. I’m very optimistic about Kouz because Adrian went through the same process last year and turned out alright.

    What were our pre-season expectations for Kouz? I think we all would have been very happy to see him hit .270 with 20 HRs and it looks like that’s where he’s going to end up. I love his power to right center, he knows he can hit it out there and doesn’t have to get pull happy.

  10. I don’t think Kouz has left much doubt that the Bill James predictions of a few .320/.390/.550 seasons may happen despite playing in Petco

  11. If Headley and KK are both in the lineup, you have to move Kouz. Neither is graceful or fast, but Headley has the better glove at 3b. From LF a throw that’s five feet off-line is still caught without problem by the cutoff man.

    It’s an open question whether either of them is athletic enough to play in the garden, at least at home. If the answer is no, then send Headley to Portland to retain or improve his trade value and make a decision at the end of the year. Or trade Headley this winter when his value is high.

  12. 2: There was alot of Padre/NL West Coverage on ESPN last night. Alot compared to the usual nothing at least.

  13. This is going to be one of the most interesting off seasons in the franchises history, peculiarly if they continue to play well win at least 1 post season series.

    -There would be a ton of pressure from fans and the 5 media types in San Diego to bring everyone back, although this same team most likely regresses a ton next season.

  14. On top of the Del.icio.us list right now is this link to BA’s AZL Top 20 …

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/features/264877.html

    … which features Cumberland @ #7 and Yefri @ #14.

  15. 13 … I honestly think the current FO is in good shape to deal with that pressure and “do the right thing” that maximizes both the short-term goals for 2008 and the long-term goals for 2009 and beyond. In other words, I agree with you that “This is going to be one of the most interesting off seasons in the franchises history” … and I’m going to enjoy getting there too (ie. my expectations for the post-season are pretty *high* right now) :-)

  16. 13: I agree that this will be a particularly interesting off-season.

    Going through position by position, we have a lot of question marks/options:

    C: Bard/??? – No way you bring Barrett back, but I’m still not convinced Bard is our best option to catch. However, we don’t seem to have much else in the system and it’s not like there’s a deluge of catching available.

    1B: Adrian – Doesn’t need a back-up since apparently he never gets days off.

    2B: This is one of the more interesting spots. I’d be surprised if they exercised Marcus’ option, but I’m not sure Antonelli should be starting the season in the bigs. Do they sign a stop-gap guy to play 2nd/stick with Blum?

    SS: Khalil – Another lock. The only question is whether they extend him this off-season. I’d love to see the club sign Khalil to a 3 year/$10 million extension this off-season. He’s had by far his best season as a Padre and he seems to be better developing his power.

    3B: Like second, this will be an interesting spot. Kouz is certainly a capable ML-level starter, but it depends on the club’s plans for Headley.

    LF: Likely depends on the outcome of the 3B scenario, but Hairston provides a very capapble 4th OF. Also, if they can resign Bradley (which I’m in favor of), maybe this situation takes care of itself.

    CF: Probably the most interesting position for the Padres in the off-season. No way do they (or should they) sign Cameron to a 3-year deal. If he comes back for 2 at 7 or 8 a year with a club option for a third year, we should probably do it. We don’t really have much better options.

    RF: Giles is a lock for ’08, and he handles the Porch area well. Giles is actually a much better defensive RF than we ever give him credit for.

    SP: Jake – So long as they don’t trade him this off-season, he’ll be back and better than ever.
    SP: CY – Hopefully a long off-season of rest really helps to recharge him.
    SP: Maddux – After this year, we’d be dumb not to exercise his option.
    SP: ???
    SP: ??? – I’d be OK with giving Tomko, Cassel, et al, a shot for the fifth spot. I’d even throw Germano into the mix.

    The relief corps should be fairly static and probably won’t change all that much. It will be interesting to see what the Padres deign to do with K-Cam.

    Bench: We clearly need a back-up catcher of some-sort, and Blum probably makes it as our utility IF (or starter). Wouldn’t mind keeping Stansberry/Robles around for another back-up IF. Hairston and Clark are good 4th and 5th OF options, so I’m OK with them if we can keep them.

  17. 13: The position players seem less likely to regress. We’ve had surprising power from LF, and 2b has been a hole almost all season, but otherwise the players are doing about what you’d expect. Greene is having a Greene year, but with a lot more games played.

    I’d focus on starting pitching. Peavy’s having a season for the ages, and by definition those don’t happen often. Young seems like a good candidate to miss 10 starts. Maddux has been better this year than he has in the recent past and the calendar keeps turning. It would be nice to get another SP with dominant potential, even if there’s risk, instead of another Petco special. Next year we should have plenty of possibilities for “league average starters who are really helped by their home park” in the 5 slot. I can’t suggest who that pitcher might be without thinking a lot more than I want to on Friday.

  18. GY … the comp of winning & chemistry to chicken & egg is RIGHT ON! It amazes me how predictable it is for winning teams to be ascribed, after the fact, “good chemistry” … blah, blah, blah …

    On an unrelated note, here’s a look at AA stats (scroll down to “Texas League”) …

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=602

    … which have interesting looks at several of the San Antonio players and pitchers …

  19. 16: Here’s the list of FA catchers at the end of the season.

    Brad Ausmus (39)
    Michael Barrett (31)
    Ramon Castro (32)
    Jason Kendall (34)
    Paul Lo Duca (36)
    Jorge Posada (36)
    Jose Molina (33)
    Ivan Rodriguez (36) – $13MM club option for ’08
    Yorvit Torrealba (30)

    The only guy that really stands out to me, would be Posada. But I wouldn’t put it past the Yankees to resign him over the winder. Other than that, not a lot of catching on the market this year.

  20. 10: I’d be shocked if Kouz ever puts up a .390 OPB. A reasonable, unscientific projection to me for him next year for him is .280/.330/.480. If he can play a tolerable third base, then that’s a fine line for a third baseman in Petco.

    17: The problem is, there are zero good options on the free agent market this year. Kyle Lohse is about your only guy with upside, and there’s no way I’d take a 4 year, $45 million dollar chance on him.

    So, we’d have to get somebody in a trade. He doesn’t really fit your description of a top of the line guy, but I really like Dave Bush. Petco would definitely help him out to the point where he could like like a good number 3. Plus it doesn’t look like he really has a spot in the rotation next year. A guy that actually fits the mold of your high risk, high reward is A.J. Burnett. Never healthy, the GM in Toronto apparently doesn’t like him anymore and regrets signing him to that contract, and he can opt out of his contract after this year. But when he’s healthy, he’s got incredible stuff.

  21. Re: 16 Good analysis I just wanted to add a few things.

    I think the Pads will offer Ensberg arbitration this year because he had a down year they might be able to get him on the cheap. They also will probably exercise Mackowiaks option so he will also be in the mix as a backup OF/IF.

    I do see them brining back Tomko but I think they may try to put him in the pen as a 7th inning guy. The Padres will sign a lefty for the 4th spot in the Rotation. I don’t think you will see Jack Cassel in the 08 rotation, I really think Germano will be the 5th starter.

    For 2B will be an interesting spot, if the Pads sign a guy like Kent or Lorretta then they have no intention of Antonelli seeing any MLB time in 08 but if they end up signing Graffanino or Iguchi then I think we will be seeing Antonelli by the ASB.

    Kouz will be the starting 3B for all of the 08 season.

  22. Holy Innovation, Duck-man! I’m going to repost one of the links you have above …

    America’s Most Exemplary Innovator Works in Baseball
    – Sandy Alderson

    http://cmdr-scott.blogspot.com/2007/09/americas-most-exemplary-innovator-works.html

    … for those of us with a man-crush on SA, this is an incredible article … thanks for posting it, GY!

  23. re 21:

    -If they agree to pick up Mackowiak’s 3.5M option for next year I’ll eat my shirt!

    re 20:
    -So you’re saying that Kouz basically won’t be improving from his numbers this season .270/.323/.455. Not sure why that would happen, but ok. For the record since the break he’s hit .317/.362/.537

    I think those numbers are a good bet going forward.

    I’d love to take the chance on AJ Burnett, I doubt he opts out given his injury issues but he’s still owed 3/36. I can’t imagine the Padres being willing to pay anything over 8M per year for him….the Blue Jays throw in 12M with the shortage of pitching this winter? Doubtful

  24. For anyone interested in the PITCHf/x stuff, there are new player cards up at this blog …

    http://www.baseball.bornbybits.com/blog/blog.html

    Awesome stuff.

  25. Re: 23 I think they will try Mackowiak in LF next year, he can also play CF in a pinch

  26. Mackowiak as the starting LF? Are we planning on a rebuilding year? I thought going into the year with a Sledge/Cruz platoon was bad enough but Mackowiak hasn’t been anything more then a .750 OPS bat despite playing in a hitters friendly Chicago.

    Personally I’d rather save the 3.5M and use it toward bringing back someone who can actually hit(ie Milton) especially considering Hairston is going to be making 400k as a backup.

  27. Dave Bush is a great call. He would definitely benefit from Petco and he’s got good stuff.
    As far as the ‘pen being static… when was the ast time the pen was static? KT will put together another group of guys no one else wants and they will perform pretty well. I see Bell, Hoff, Cla and Thatcher back next year. The other 2 or 3 spots are up in the air IMO (then again I didnt look at any contracts).
    25: They already have Hairston for that

  28. Re: 26 I think they will platoon Mackowiak and Harston in LF and Have Milty play CF.

    Im not saying I think its the best option but its the option that I think the Pads will go with. I dont see them signing any big name FA to play in LF and if the re-sign milton I think it will be to play CF.

  29. Hairston has some big hits and big games for us this year. But, Arizona dumped him for a reason. I’d rather not see that shoe falling, but I think you have to legitimately wonder if it’s coming.

  30. Regarding Tomko’s postseason ineligibility – is there any way around it, since he joined the orginization after 8/31?

    Also, I’ve been reviewing Padre prospects at various levels and was wondering if anyone has information on several players. I know about a lot of the “regulars” but not too much on these guys. I’ve seen the stats and know the positions they play, but that’s it. Any information (firsthand thoughts, etc) is much appreciated.

    Portland – Ray Chang

    San Antonio – Brett Bonvechio, Drew Macias

    Lake Elsinore – Ernesto Freiri, Brooks Dunn, Matt Buschman, Seth Johnston, Nathan Culp, Mike Baxter

    Fort Wayne – Rayner Contreras, Eric Sogard, Brent Carter

    Eugene – Drew Cumberland, Mitch Canham, Luis Durango, Jeremy Hefner, Colt Hynes, Jeremy McBryde

    Arizona – Edinson Rincon, Alexis Lara

    Thanks!!!

  31. 29: He seems to be doing ok with regular ABs. We are putting him in a position to do well and its working. I think alot of people in AZ didnt want him to go either.

  32. I think it’s hard to predict exactly what moves KT/Alderson is going to make, but I think we can make a few assumptions based on the information that we have:

    -We can assume Andruw Jones is going to the highest bidder(when is the last time a Boras client took an under market contract 2 times in a row?)

    -Cameron has stated publically on numerous occasions over the past 4-5 years that he’d love to play in Atlanta

    -We know the FA market bites, meaning there should be more trades

    -Padres have at least 10-15 prospects(according to Alderson on 1090) that other teams were interested in at the deadline

    -We know KT asked about both Felix Pie and Anthony Gwynn at the deadline which seems to suggest that they’d like a young CF next season.

    If I had to guess, they trade for an MLB ready CF prospect and resign Milton to a 1 year deal with an option for 09 which is entirely dependent on plate appearances.

  33. Summing up:

    Like Mark, I’ll be stunned speechless if they retain Mack. That 3.5 million may sign Bradley outright or at least go a long way towards keeping him.

    Hairston has outstanding minor league numbers. Doesn’t mean he’ll keep producing, but he’s not out of nowhere.

    David Bush is an excellent target. Don’t know about his breakout potential, but he would be a lot more solid than the 4s and 5s we’ve used this year.

  34. 30: A lot of the guys you mention in the lower levels were drafted this year, so I’m not sure how much of a look they’ve gotten in professional baseball.

    As for Mike Baxter, I don’t know much about him, but he was killing the ball in LE towards the end of the year. He came up with some clutch dingers this year if I remember correctly. I think GY could give a more helpful scouting report.

  35. Cumberland was a supplemental 1st round pick. I’ve heard he’s a decent bet to end up a good defensive ss with .290+BA and 30 SB speed. There is potential for him to grow into a 10+HR guy as well.

    He’s the player capable of playing ss defensively to even pay attention to in the Padres system so his development is going to be totally up to himself.

  36. 30: Not all of this will be informed by anything besides reading BA a lot, but some of it is. I left off guys I know zilch about.

    Ray Chang: Soldier.

    Brett Bonvechio: Oft-injured former Red Sox prospect, corner IF, doesn’t seem to have the bat to play those positions in the majors.

    Drew Macias: Awesome full name, “Andres Apolonio Macias.” CF, good reports on defense but very little power and not much basestealing speed.

    Ernesto Freiri: Reliever with good strikeout numbers, walks too many (but not super wild, half as many BB as K), low 90s fastball with movement.

    Seth Johnston: Soldier.

    Nathan Culp: LH pitchability. Very skeptical of this type of pitcher making the majors at all, or being more than a LOOGY / long man for a few years.

    Rayner Contreras: Last year BA called him a future utility guy. Still really young, but since he’s played more 2nd and 3rd than short, utility seems accurate.

    Eric Sogard: Offense-first second baseman, often comped to Pedroia. Drafted in June, hard to say much based on his first-year stats.

    Drew Cumberland: SS drafted in the supplemental round this year. On the Arizona League top 20 (linked above), there are concerns about his ability to stay at short. Really fast.

    Mitch Canham: Two-way switch-hitting catcher, one of my favorite picks from June. Had power in college, didn’t hit for much in short season but that doesn’t mean much.

    Jeremy McBryde: Signed as a draft-and-follow about the same time as Latos but for much less money. Called a power pitcher, but fastball also referred to as low 90s, which is about average.

  37. Ben B. (#20) only .280/.330/.480? He’s been doing better than that since May… I don’t want to be greedy and predict a .300+ BA, but I think a .280 BA would almost be a disappointment for KK next year.

    Regarding rosters… I sent this e-mail to Geoff earlier this week:

    2008 Roster

    1. C – Josh Bard
    2. 1B – Adrian Gonzalez
    3. 2B – Matt Antonelli
    4. SS – Khalil Greene
    5. 3B – Kevin Kouzmanoff
    6. LF – Milton Bradley
    7. CF – [free agent/trade - Coco Crisp?]
    8. RF – Brian Giles
    9. SP1 – Jake Peavy
    10. SP2 – Chris Young
    11. SP3 – Greg Maddux
    12. SP4 – Clay Hensley (if healthy)
    13. SP5 – Brett Tomko???
    14. Setup1 – Cla Merideth
    15. Setup2 – Heath Bell
    16. CL – Trevor Hoffman (if we win the W.S. he could retire)
    17. MR – Will Thatcher
    18. MR – Kevin Cameron
    19. MR –
    20. MR –
    21. MI – Geoff Blum
    22. OF4 – Scott Harriston
    23. OF5 –
    24. 1B/PH –
    25. C2 –

    Would you trade Chase Headley for Coco Crisp?

    http://www.mlb4u.com/profile.php?id=877

    Coco is due $4.75m in ’08, $5.75 in ’09, and either a $500k buyout or $8m in ’10.

    Career numbers: .280/.329/.410 (.270/.332/.386 in ’07)

    Gold glove caliber D, but pretty light-hitting…When I started writing this, I was thinking I would do the deal, but that bat would likely fade further in Petco. I don’t know… There is not an attractive option for CF – not even one. Even Mike Cameron has negatives (too many strikeouts, too expensive). Maybe Coco’d be worth it due to reduced strikeouts…

  38. Re McBryde, I think he pitches in low 90′s but can bump it up to 94-5ish…

  39. 37: As I was reading about Crisp, I thought “the only player we have that Boston might want is Headley.” I’d rather package Headley in a bigger deal than swap him for Crisp.

    It’s that 4th spot in the rotation that’s most dangerous. I would consider moving Headley (and more) to Milwaukee for Hart and Bush. Put Hart in RF, move Giles to LF, use Bradley/Hairston in CF. The Brewers have to get Braun off 3b. Not sure how I’d feel about that idea with more thought. Maybe just sign Randy Wolf, keep Headley, and figure out what to do with him and Kouz later.

  40. 30 … Derek … you should check out madfriars.com … there’s a “minor league” discussion board that’ll have some comments on a lot of the players you’re asking about … but to truely be informed, you’ll have to subscribe … i finally did at mid-season, and i’m really enjoying it …

    i’ll comment on 3 guys i’ve seen play …

    Drew Cumberland … was just named #7 prospect in AZL League by BA … i only saw him play 1 game but he looked good … good size … good plate presense

    Mitch Canham … i saw mitch play *many* times here at oregon state over the past 3 years … he’s *obviously* a winner … but he never wow’d me … he’s got some pop and hit a HR in the 1 game I saw him play @ Eugene … jeff clement (from USC) looked *much* better, imo … but mitch’s performance in the pro’s during the short season (shortened ever further by an injury) exceeded my expectations … so we’ll see … and i’ll be rootin’ for him

    Luis Durango … he’s a fast, little guy that can put the bat on the ball … co-MVP of the NW League … but *many* of his hits were “infield” … in the last game i saw him play, he bunted a ball right at a charging 1B-man and simply ran past him as he was fielding the ball … base hit, as Durgango sure wasn’t going to get beat to the bag by the pitcher nor the 2B-man … but he’s not Freddy-Guzman-fast either … if Durango makes it farther than Freddy Guzman, I’ll be very surprised … but, by all accounts, he’s very determined, and I like that in a young ball player … not as much as i like talent … but attitude can go a long way towards surprising “the pundits” …

  41. Good stuff, folks…

    #2: Prolly not; we aren’t their target audience.

    #15: Agreed that FO isn’t likely to buckle under fan pressure to make certain moves. They took heat for letting go of Barfield and Roberts last winter, but both moves worked out well.

    #19: Interesting list. I’m good with Bard as the starter again next year, with Morton backing up if ready.

    #23: Please, no jokes about Mackowiak’s option being picked up. I really don’t want to see that happen.

    #29: Hairston could pull a Branyan and come back to earth next year, but based on what he’s done this year, I’d say he deserves a shot.

    #30: Bonvechio and Baxter are good bats. I could see either oneon a big-league bench at some point. Frieri has good stuff and could be a bullpen option in the future or the next guy (Andrew Brown, Leo Rosales) we trade for a good outfielder. Johnston is a spare part — maybe a lesser version of J.J. Furmaniak; Carter throws junk and will get killed at higher levels. I like Macias, but his upside is probably a fourth outfielder.

  42. 37: Last year Adrian had a slow April/May and then hit like crazy for the rest of the year. His numbers still fell of a little this year from last year.

  43. TW, I’d do that deal… I love Bush (insert any number of jokes here)… He’s a stud.

    I don’t think Hairston’s a CF and since I can’t count on Bradley for more than 90 games, I don’t want to use him in CF unless I have a more-than-capable offensive/defensive CF backup…

    Can’t Hart play above-average CF (I don’t remember).

    I think Hairston could be a super-sub in OF (give Bradley a weekly day off in LF and Giles a weekly day off in RF plus he’d be the first PH guy and sub for Bradley in the expected DL trips)…

  44. 39: oh yeah, I think it would take more than Headley to do that deal

  45. #42: For grins, here’s what Kouz’s line next year would look like assuming that a) his pre-May 14 numbers are not a true indicator of his abilities, b) he experiences the same amount of dropoff as Adrian has this year, and c) offensive levels in the NL remain constant:

    .283/.343/.508

    Granted, I’m making a lot of assumptions, but this strikes me as a reasonable place to start.

  46. I dont think that the redsox have as much intrest in headly as one would think. They are looking to get rid of Lowell so they can move Youk to third and get a power hitting 1B.

  47. 42: Before this year, I recall a scouting report that said Hart could handle CF, but Milwaukee’s center is not like ours. He’s been blasted for his defense this year by some Milwaukeans, but I have no idea how valid those are.

    I don’t know if Hairston’s ever been tried in CF. He’s athletic, but also prone to injury.

    44: Thus the (and more) in my trade proposal. They’re not moving Hart unless there’s an incentive, and getting a player to replace Braun at 3b is a big part of that. But I don’t want to move Headley for a 5.00 ERA pitcher straight-up.

  48. 46: I’m not claiming they have any interest in him, but of all our top prospects, he’d be the one they’d ask for.

    It’s asking a lot for Youk to go back to 3b after 3 seasons spent primarily elsewhere.

  49. Re: 48 true but its alot easier to find a good hitting 1B then 3B. I dont see Headly as much of an upgrade for them. I would think the Sox would want MLB player if they did any deals with SD.

  50. althoiugh they could use Headly as a chip to try and get Cabrera from FLA so they may have intrest.