Cogs in a Machine

San Diego Fires

Yeah, our city is going up in flames. I’m okay, but a lot of folks I know aren’t doing so great; I hope you’re not one of them.

If you want to follow what’s going on or learn how to help, I’ve got a thread open for that; otherwise, and intending no disrespect to anyone affected by the fires, we’ll keep doing what we do around here. Whatever helps us keep our sanity, right?


As you know, I’ve been re-reading the old Bill James Baseball Abstracts this off-season. There’s an interesting discussion about ballpark tendencies in the Houston Astros section of the 1983 edition. I wonder if some of this might apply also to the Padres and their current environment at Petco Park:

Fenway makes ballplayers look like better hitters than they are. That inflates egos. Inflated egos cause resentment, in particular among those not favored by the park…

The Astrodome is a negative image of Fenway…. And for what were the Astro players of the fine teams of 1978 to 1981 known? Their openness with the press, their closeness and almost family-like atmosphere…. As the park knocks 20 points off every player’s average, it humbles hitters and it controls egos.

But even more than that, it is my feeling that the mere fact that in Fenway a hitter can create runs by his own actions tends to cause Fenway teams to pull apart over time. A key fact about the Astrodome is that it takes three players to make a run. In order to do your job in this park, you have got to see yourself as part of a plan, a cog in a machine.

My feeling is that, over time, that changes the way that the Astro players think of themselves in relation to their team…. And thus, I believe, if the Astros are to win it is extremely important for them to keep a team together, to maintain a stable personnel.

Just something to consider…

Winter Leagues

  • Scottsdale 10, Saguaros 1 (box). Will Venable doubled and struck out in four at-bats; he still hasn’t played the field. Matt Antonelli batted eighth and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Jonathan Ellis surrendered four runs in 1 1/3 innings, Neil Jamison gave up a run of his own while retiring just one batter, and Will Startup worked a scoreless ninth.
  • Licey 1, Escogido 0 (box). This is Sunday’s game. Vince Sinisi, batting third for Escogido, went 1-for-4. Yordany Ramirez has been out of the Licey lineup for several games; not sure what the deal is there.

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65 Responses »

  1. Speaking of Razor, if I missed that on Sci-Fi, I might use one. Not on my wrist, but somewhere that’ll leave a mark.

  2. Re: 50 and Khalil Greene is a glorified Chris Gomez

  3. While I can’t point to anything specifically, perhaps SA was referring to second basemen being interchangeable last year because there was a glut of 2b on the free agent market. I remember him saying on XX that if you ranked available 2b last year, you’d find that there wasn’t a big difference between 2 and 9, yet there would be a huge difference in dollars to sign them. I’m not sure he was stating that is was easier to find 2nd basemen every year. Maybe he was just referring to 2b being easier to find last year.

  4. 33: I’ve followed the Red Sox my whole life. They had some great teams in the 70s and 80s. Those teams were not close knit and were not emotionally resilient and they choked because of it. The recent teams have much better chemistry and I do believe it’s helped them overcome adversity. It’s a debate that can never be settled and I suppose one opinion is as valid as another but the current team did have good chemistry (unlike anything previously seen in Boston) before the 2004 comeback. The chemistry didn’t magically appear after they beat the Yankees.

    42: Perhaps Antonelli isn’t such a great prospect? If the team felt he could handle CF I’m sure they would have tried it. If his bat and defensive skill set is better suited to 2B then that’s where he belongs. Even if replacement level 2B are cheap it’s still cheaper to grow your own.

    CF is one of the premium defensive positions, it’s not something you can just stick any fast player in and expect him to adjust. If Antonelli was CF material wouldn’t he have been playing there in college? How many guys go from 3B to CF and succeed? For that matter, how many starting centerfielders in the major leagues played anything other than CF in high school/college?

  5. #50: Barfield has had one good year and one bad year. His defensive metrics aren’t as poor as you suggest.

    I agree with your overall point, but not your assessment of Barfield. Given such limited data, I’m not comfortable declaring him “not that good” just yet.

  6. 53: SA was pretty clear about, his quote was something like “In Oakland we had 8 different second basemen in 10 years.”

    54: “If the team felt he could handle CF I’m sure they would have tried it.” I see no basis for this. When he was drafted they had to choose where he’d play.

    I’m not arguing that they should have moved him to CF, necessarily, just asking if the Padres considered it given their approach to CF. They’re now trying other misfits in CF – Venable and Hunter – so they definitely don’t have some ideal in mind that must be met before they try a player there.

    I don’t know enough about Wake Forest’s coach, their home park, and who else they had on the team to inform any remarks about why Antonelli didn’t play somewhere else in college. He was an elite defender at 3rd, a possible future Gold Glover if he’d stayed there.

  7. I rember an interview with Antonelli last off season when I think Coach John asked him if the Pads had talked to him about playing CF, he said that hey had not approached him yet and that he has never played OF at any level. But look at Craig Biggio he came up as a catcher and ended up playing CF.

  8. 57: He had the athletic profile to try it, it was mentioned in many scouting reports before the draft. Same sort of thing with Khalil Greene, the Cardinals wanted to draft him as a catcher after his junior year of college. They did talk to him about it and he had no interest.

  9. Re: interchangeability of second basemen

    I think when talking about the interchangeability of second basemen, SA is talking about the easy availability of guys that are below average but above replacement level. Luis Castillo, Marcus Giles, Tadahito Iguchi, etc. But second basemen that are above average are not just floating around. Guys like Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips, and Dustin Pedroia are really valuable because they provide plus offense at a position where others are settling for Iguchi as a cheap free agent. If the front office thinks Antonelli can play a solid defensive second base, hit .300/.400/.450 with 20 steals, that’s a huge advantage over the Marcus Giles stopgaps.

  10. Re: 59 .300/.400/.450 with 20 steals, wow an 850 OPS with 20 steals his first year in the majors and third as a pro? You ask alot out of the kid.

  11. 60: If Antonelli started from Day 1 at 2B and played the whole year, I’d expect a .255/.345/.345 type season (and I think he can/will become an All Star @ 2B)…

    56: Hunter isn’t misfit @ CF… The question, is whether he grows out of the position (loses speed/range) and if he doesn’t have enough power to play a corner… He plays fine @ CF now…

  12. 60: No, no, no, definitely not in his first year. That would be downballot MVP stuff in Petco. I meant that could be his peak performance in the eyes of the front office, which would make him very valuable at second base.

  13. 61: Just saying, there are scouting reports that question his defense there now, and almost all of them say that he’ll have to move if he loses any speed. He’s definitely not a guy with classic CF tools, which is even more true of Venable, so (more in response to Anthony) I don’t see that the Padres had some Platonic notion of a CF that Antonelli couldn’t match. It seems like they really did want him at 2b, which is fine, but not entirely consistent with SA’s stated feelings about how easy it is to find production there compared to elsewhere.

  14. Re: 52…No, no Steve. I said that KG was a “Flashy” Chris Gomez.

  15. Re: oops my bad