Back in April, I wrote my annual “Looking Forward to…” piece on the Padres over at Baseball Think Factory. In the interest of holding myself accountable, and maybe learning something in the process, I thought we should do a quick review. We’ll cover the position players today and the pitchers on Monday.
Marcus Giles, 2B
What I said: “…he should provide the Padres with a nice mix of on-base skills and gaps power. On balance, Giles probably is no worse an option than last year’s starter, Josh Barfield.”
What happened: Technically this last statement was true, but only because Barfield had a disastrous season in Cleveland. Giles hit .229/.304/.317 and eventually lost his starting job to Geoff Blum. Giles had a terrific April (.327/.376/.459) and played solid defense, but a .191/.277/.268 line over 340 plate appearances from May 8 onward killed his season. On-base skils? Gaps power? No, and no.
Brian Giles, RF
What I said: “At age 36, we shouldn’t expect anywhere near a full rebound [to his performance in Pittsburgh]. A return to somewhere between his ’04 and ’05 levels, however, isn’t out of the question.”
What happened: He basically repeated his ’06 season, sacrificing a little in the on-base department to make minimal power gains. For the second straight season, Giles notched a career-low OBP. This doesn’t necessarily bode well for the future. On the bright side, after being sidelined for much of the first half, he hit .266/.353/.461 after the All-Star break. Giles isn’t a star at this stage in his career, and folks need to get over that. He still provides decent value on offense and does a very nice job negotiating a difficult right field at Petco Park.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
What I said: “Gonzalez’ power numbers may have taken some observers by surprise, but with his ability to drive the ball hard to all fields, those most likely are the result of real growth and not a fluke.”
What happened: Well, his ISO increased from .186 to .220. As we’ve already noted, Gonzalez’ drop in batting average this year has masked his growth in the power and on-base departments. Needless to say, ’06 was not a fluke.
Josh Bard, C
What I said: “Bard won’t repeat that  performance in expanded duties this year, but he should do a pretty nice Johnny Estrada impression (with a chance of pushing into Michael Barrett/Ramon Hernandez territory), which isn’t too shabby.”
What happened: I underestimated Bard…
|Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.|
If you think it’s unfair that I present Bard’s ’07 against those other guys’ career numbers, know that if I used their ’07 stats, this would look even worse.
Mike Cameron, CF
What I said: “At age 34, Cameron hasn’t yet experienced any appreciable decline. To the contrary, last year he finished with a career-best .482 SLG despite his slow start and the fact that he plays half his games in a pitchers’ park.”
What happened: I didn’t really commit to any predictions with Cameron, which was a mistake. In my head, I thought he would repeat his ’06 performance, but in fact, he slipped quite a bit. Cameron’s batting average dropped 26 points, but that could be due to anything. More disconcerting are the 25 point swoon in ISO and the 22 point rise in K/PA. Normally I’m more in the “strikeouts don’t matter” camp, but when the power goes down and the inability to make contact goes up, that raises some red flags for me. Cameron still is an above-average center fielder who should command plenty on the open market this winter, but I’m not sure that it’s in the Padres’ best interest to be the ones flipping the bill.
Khalil Greene, SS
What I said: “He still looks like a good candidate to bust out with a few Rich Aurilia/Jose Valentin type campaigns.”
What happened: Sort of, but not really…
|Statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.|
The OBP is miserable, of course, but I like to focus more on what a player can do than what he cannot. What Greene did is knock 74 extra-base hits, play a solid shortstop (this was the first year that both his fielding percentage and his range factor were better than league average), and most importantly, stay healthy enough to play 153 games. Any discussion of Greene runs the risk of turning into a religious debate about his value to the Padres, but if we focus on his actual contributions, we see a useful player. Greene is not as good as his most ardent supporters would have you believe, nor is he as bad as his detractors might claim. He is, like Valentin and Aurilia before him, an above-average shortstop with flaws in his game.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B
What I said: “There’s cause for enthusiasm with Kouzmanoff, although it should be tempered somewhat by the fact that he’s already 25 years old. Think of guys like Mike Lowell and Todd Zeile — not stars, but useful players…”
What happened: Kouzmanoff hit .275/.329/.457. His line stood at .121/.178/.209 through May 13 but manager Bud Black, in one of his finer moments, stuck with Kouz, who hit .310/.364/.514 from that point forward. Baseball-Reference hasn’t come out with their latest version of comparable players yet, but Kouzmanoff’s ’07 looks a lot like Lowell’s ’01 (.283/.340/.448). Lowell was two years older and a much better defender than Kouz, but that doesn’t detract from the overall point, which is that there’s a lot to like in Kouzmanoff’s rookie campaign.
Terrmel Sledge, LF
What I said: “Sledge could end up being a real nice surprise in 2007 and make the deal with Texas look even more lopsided than it already is.”
What happened: BBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZTTTTTTTTTTTT…….. Sledge was terrible. Sometimes you give a guy a chance and he doesn’t do anything with it. Sledge showed some power and on-base skills, but his inability to make consistent contact or play the outfield negated those. I don’t know what exactly I’d expected, but what I got was another Mark Bellhorn.
Geoff Blum, UT
What I said: “He hasn’t seen an OBP north of .300 since 2002 and his range isn’t great, so you don’t want to see him in the lineup more than once or twice a month, but he won’t kill you if used in moderation. Unfortunately, if the previous two seasons are any indication, Blum most likely will see close to 300 plate appearances.”
What happened: He broke the .300 OBP barrier (.319) and notched 370 plate appearances. Blum finished the season starting at second base, which is to say that finding a more permanent solution at the position remains a priority.
There you have it. We’ll get the pitchers next week…