Reality: You’re Soaking in It

Where do I even begin? That this isn’t the way I’d wanted to see the season end seems so beyond doubt that it hardly bears mentioning, and yet I just mentioned it. Even though a thing is obvious, it still needs a voice.

I hate writing this. I hate thinking this. Honestly? I hate everything about this.

But you can’t go through life hating, right? Well, you can, but it’s probably not a good idea. Besides, it’s just baseball.

“Just baseball.” I hate that, too. Like that somehow negates it all, makes the experience less important, less real. Yeah, buddy, screw you.

Anyway. Now you see the problem. I can’t even get started. Do I whine about Monday night’s outcome (box score), or do I express gratitude at having witnessed a tremendous game that most teams didn’t have the right to play? Do I make excuses for Jake Peavy, Brady Clark, and Trevor Hoffman, or do I give the Rockies their props for outplaying our guys?

Yeah, I said it. They outplayed the Padres. Deal, yo.

Or maybe we can think about Milwaukee. Sure, let’s play “what-if” there instead. Why did Hoffman throw eight bazillion change-ups in a row? What if he shows Tony Gwynn Jr. a fastball? (What if Gwynn hits it?) Or perhaps we’ll go back further and pin the blame on Mike Winters for baiting Milton Bradley, Bradley for gobbling it up, and Bud Black for taking out his own guy in the process. Or we could…

Here’s what happens when you go down that road. Aside from the fact that you make yourself miserable, you’re not even being honest with yourself. Replace every “should have” throughout the course of a 163-game season with “could have” and see what happens. When you say “should,” you’re basically conceding that games don’t even need to be played. Yeah, probability and all that. Okay, fine; I get it. But on the field, none of that matters. The only legal tender currency is what actually happens — you may know it better as reality.

Painful? Sometimes, yes; sometimes, no. But it remains constant even as it constantly changes.

I’m not making sense again. Sorry, it’s been that kind of life.

Another approach would be to take pride in knowing that the Padres, despite missing two of their starting outfielders and getting negative contributions from the best starting pitcher and best reliever in franchise history, pushed an improbably hot Colorado team to the edge of a mile-high precipice. This one might work better a few months from now, when the throbbing is less intense.

How can we reflect at a time like this? How can we analyze and be philosophical? Why would we want to even if we could? Now that the season’s over, it’s not like there’s a sense of urgency. Grieve, mourn, vent. Whatever it takes. Then sort through the rubble over the winter and return in spring with maybe a more prominent chip on the collective shoulder.

We can’t play in the big game? But, but… well, then, do it already. Nobody gives us respect? Oh, but they do; they give us exactly as much respect as we have earned. Want more? Okay, play better. Until then, suck it up like everyone else and get back to work.

The Padres have completed their fourth straight winning season. That’s the first time in franchise history if you’re scoring at home. They’ve made the transition from lousy/mediocre to good. How do they get from there to great? I don’t know, and I’m not prepared to think about it just yet.

I do know that this organization is in better shape than ever and that the better it gets, the more I want. This is a credit to the folks who run the club but also a burden for them. Not that the Padres have anywhere near the same track record, but I’m beginning to understand why the Braves couldn’t sell out home playoff games in the ’90s. At some point, as obnoxious as it sounds, reaching the playoffs isn’t enough.

To say nothing of not reaching the playoffs…

* * *

Man, this post sucks. I keep writing because… well, I don’t know what else to do. Is it spring yet?

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234 Responses »

  1. 36 & 37: Yes, declining K rates and increasing BB rates are definitely an area where you can see a negative trend; however, these rates have not yet manifested as an inability to do the job he’s being paid to do. Yes, they decidedly have made him a less dominant pitcher, but we all knew that already, or should have known it. I just don’t see that as being what many people are saying. They seem to be saying he’s completely shot, and I don’t buy it.

    TW, did you notice his DH numbers on BP? Despite his decreasing ability to keep hitters off base and from making contact reflected in his K’s and BB’s, he’s still putting up negative Delta H numbers.

    Generally, this is deemed to be luck, but when you look at a guy like Trevor who has put up negative numbers in 12 of 16 seasons with one season of 0, I have to think he’s having an impact on the hitter’s ability to put the ball in play for a hit. And again his past four seasons of Delta H are better than his 4 seasons prior to surgery.

    No argument you can find a decline or negative trend in those K and BB figures, but I still see him getting the job done in the 9th, with no one on, and a lead, at a high rate one more year.

  2. Pat, WOW!!!

    I understand sample size very well and you’re playing semantics comparing part of Brosius’ post season resume with Hoffman’s ENTIRE post season resume.

    I understand you want to stick up for the guy, we all wish he had another 1-2 good years left in him but it’s getting about time to face facts.

    -Yes it is only 12IP, but those are the most important 12IP he’s had without a ton of success. I don’t see why you have a problem with me saying he hasn’t pitched as well in the post season as he does during the regular season, its a fact. You asked for numbers, I posted them.

    -More importantly: Hoffman’s in the decline phase of his career. That K rate is starting to match what we all visually see, a pitcher who doesn’t generate any swing and misses any more. It is getting time for the Padres to start making other plans. They can no longer afford to turn the ball over to him in the 9th and start packing up the equipment.

  3. 96 – giddyup. I plan order one, hang onto it and burn it in a ritualistic ceremony as soon as the Pads make the playoffs next year.

  4. No, Mark, you don’t understand it. You’re still trying to draw a conclusion about Trevor’s clutch/big game/post season performance based on 13 IP. You can’t becasue there isn’t enough data there to draw a conclusion from. The numbers in that small of a sample show nothing other than randomness and luck.

    Trevor’s ENTIRE post season resume is 13 IP, Brosious picked up 17 AB’s in the 1998 WS; it’s as reasonable a comparison as your assertion that you can draw a conclusion on Trevor based on 13 IP.

    Yes, Trevor is in decline; no, 2 blown saves, despite the horrible timing of their occurence, is not evidence he’s done or that he can’t pitch in big games. I hope this helps clarify what I’m saying.

  5. 102: Hoff has this last year in him and we need to take care of it properly. We need to groom Bell and give Hoff the chance to still save games and go out on a good note. He is definitely not the same guy, but he deserves to go out starting next year and get the chance to save games one last year. If he cant make adjustments then the club will have to.

  6. I’m not drawing any conclusions about Hoffman based on his post season performance, I’m simply saying he hasn’t been good. Sorry, thats a fact. He’s been worse in the post season then regular season.

    It would sure be nice to have a larger sample size to draw on, but unless you’re a Yankee/Red Sox there isn’t going to be a big enough sample to be statistically significant. So do we completely discount it?

    Sorry I’m not comfortable acting like the playoffs don’t exist, especially when his post season experience is creeping up on what amounts to 2 months of work during the regular season.

    You seem to be missing the point on the K rates and BB rates and his decline. Most of us are saying they better start to think of other options to bail him out when the going gets tough because if Hoffman loses much more stuff he’s Germano out there.

    Doesn’t seem like someone I want trying to protect a 2 run lead with the playoffs on the line.

  7. 101: The question then becomes, how many pitchers can get that job done – 1 inning, with no one on, and a lead, at a high rate one more year. And, by averages, who’s going to face the worse half of the lineup half the time.

    The pitcher who is going to be the best at that is the same kind of pitcher who is going to be the best at every other important pitching job. He strikes out a lot of hitters, doesn’t walk many, and keeps the ball in the park. The fact that lesser pitchers can succeed in the role suggests the role itself is easier to perform than many believe.

  8. 101, again: I find it hard to counter a serious, steady decline in rate peripherals with a counting stat. It gets close to Joe Carter territory. Sure, he had a 290 OBP and a 391 SLG in 1990, but darnit, he drove in 115 runs!! That tells us that RBI are a function of opportunity more than skill or performance, just like saves.

  9. Pat

    I see you argueing sample size and what not but unfortunantly Trevor has become rich pitching (mostly) 1 inning at a time. So 12 or 13 innings that you guys keep stating doesn’t look to me to be all that small considering the role. While I don’t think Trevor is completely washed up because I think he can still be useful in the right situation, it looks obvious to me he is no longer our best option at his position.

  10. 107: I think I read before that 70% of the time a run doesn’t score in an inning, and I think it’s upwards of 95% that 3 runs don’t score. Just on average alone I think the save stat is pretty useless.

  11. 108: The job may be easier at times but that does not discount the pressure that the closer faces every time he is on the mound which is not measurable and obviously I cant really back it statisically. I am sure there make been alot of shut down relievers that struggled once they became “closers”