Review the Preview: Hitters

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 [2006] 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.
Bard, 2007 .285 .364 .404 105
Estrada, career .280 .320 .406 86
Barrett, career .266 .322 .426 88
Hernandez, career .263 .328 .423 98

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.
Greene, 2007 .254 .291 .468 98
Valentin, 1996 .259 .336 .475 99
Aurilia, 1999 .281 .336 .444 106

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…

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82 Responses »

  1. Matsui just hit a two-out grand slam to put the Rox back on top 6-3 in the 4th.

    If Matsui had done that against us, I would have shed tears. That’s a second baseman, hitting a grand slam. The Rox are just en fuego.

  2. Remember when people thought the NL West sucked this season?

  3. 52: What do you mean? We were totally the weakest division in baseball. Nothing like the Central, where the Cubs valiantly fought the Brewers to see who would get elimintated first.

  4. God, is it time for the Winter Meetings yet?

  5. #51

    According to the box score on, Matsui is a single away from the cycle.

  6. Speak of the devil, from a BP chat yesterday:

    Tony (Stillwater): Crisp to San Diego for Kouzmanoff? San Diego replaces Cameron and Boston replaces Lowell.

    Christina Kahrl: Perhaps, but Kouzmanoff won’t be a third baseman for too many years into the future. Better that they move Youkilis back across the diamond and add a first baseman.

    No offense, but why would the Padres want to pay 5M extra a year for a worse player? Serious east coast bias, the NL West is just a farm system for the east coast teams right? Just look at the Rockies/Phillies and DBacks/Cubs…..wait no that doesn’t work.

  7. I’d be very wary of signing Torii Hunter because of his performance history. Here’s his OPS+ since 1999: 72/77/102/126/97/105/107/112/120. Guess which two years were his free agent years? He’s also played in just 84% of games since then and has only been over 148 games twice in that time (this year and 2003). And he’s two years older than Jones. Crisp has a lot of value as he’s coming into his prime (turns 28 in November), cheap ($4.75m next year, $5.75m in 2009, $8m club option in 2010), and considered great defensively. He’s certainly a more cost effective option than Cameron (not counting what you have to give up to get him).

    As far as leftfield goes I think that they should give Hairston a shot as he’s been very successful in the minors and in his short time here. I also think they will bring Bradley back as I can’t imagine there will be much of a market for him and the team should probably feel obligated as Black was the one that ultimately injured him.

    For 2B, I’d like them to sign someone like Loretta as a temporary stopgap solution until they bring up Antonelli. The better the temp does, the longer they can leave Antonelli in the minors.

    It shouldn’t be that hard to find good pitchers as free agents should be falling over themselves trying to come here (in the same way that it’s going to be very difficult to lure hitters here).

  8. Re: 56 maybe they are factoring the Mirabelli for Bard/Meredith trade in as well?

  9. 56: Kahrl is in Chicago and has always struck me as fair-minded. I don’t think she looked at the values of the players involved after seeing that it was predicated on Kouz staying at third.

    57: Testify on Hunter. Cameron’s career is substantially better and Hunter may make nearly twice as much before he retires.

    57: It depends on what Cameron wants. Cameron at 9m is more expensive, but he’s also a much better hitter and has always been a great defender, unlike Crisp.

  10. re 59: She did answer “perhaps” like it was something both teams would have to think about.

    The Padres wouldn’t even think about that deal considering salaries or player performance.

  11. If Hoffy and Maddux both decide not to come back next year and the Pads decide to re-tool do you think they could get anything of value for Giles?

  12. 61: Giles had microfracture knee surgery. The story says Monday, but I doubt he went from the Colorado game to the operating table.

  13. Padres release Brady Clark sorry GY no USD love

  14. 62 … story now says Wednesday …

    Padres right fielder Brian Giles had microfracture knee surgery on Wednesday in an attempt to stimulate cartilage growth and provide cushion for the 36-year-old leadoff man, who reported stubborn pain in the right knee dating to late April.

  15. Rox are Jox … now up 2-0 on Philly …

  16. Holy Cow! Clay Condrey sighting, and in the post season no less. Pitched 1.2 and gave up a bunch of hits but only 1 run. I have a feeling he let a few of Joe Table’s inherited runners to score though.

  17. Sounds like Giles was hurt much worse then anyone let on

  18. 64: I believe that microfracture surgery is what Greg Oden had, which has sidelined him for the season. I wonder what the timeline is for OG’s return?

    As for Crisp’s defense, he is beloved up here in RedSox Nation now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Crisp stick in center for at least another year in Boston. Ellsbury is ready to go, but with Manny being Manny and JD being JD (read: fragile), they’re going to want four starting outfielders on that team. They’ll spend their money elsewhere than the outfield.

  19. #63: Ah, well; he was only a temporary solution anyway. Too bad Clark had such a horrible game in Colorado; he’d been doing a great job for us until then.

  20. Based on the defensive zone ratings of the hardball times, Kouz was actually very close to average this year. UZR (mentioned above in post 2) didn’t have Kouz in the bottom 3 for NL third basemen, so he was better than -12 runs in that system as well.

    THT’s zone system also really liked Hairston’s defense, both in San Diego and in Arizona, rating him as a combined +9.

    UZR rated Cameron as the third best centerfielder in the NL. In the numbers released at about the halfway point of the season, he was slightly below average, so it looks like he bounced back well from his slow start.

  21. #71: Good stuff, Ben. The numbers on Cameron match my perception of his defense from a visual standpoint.

  22. 71, 72: Am I reading that right in that Cameron’s -0.2 in the yellow column is below average?

  23. 73: Yes. By RZR (revised zone rating) he’s -.2 runs. Which basically means he’s average (again … by that system).

  24. says that Giles will be 100% by opening day.

  25. Thuuuuuuuuuuuuh Yankees Lose … the day just got better … and, don’t get me wrong, I think that Alex Rodriquez is the best player in the game today, but I prefer games when he 0-fer’s … like this one!

    One other note … Mariano did get a blown save … eh … can’t have everything, I s’pose …

  26. Here’s what I felt like after the game last Saturday … and again on Monday night …

    … oooffff!

    (compliments of

  27. Here’s some followup to yesterday’s brief discussion about the All Blacks …

    … quite a row, eh mate!

  28. 45 & 47… I assumed Antoneli wouldn’t be ready by opening day next year.

  29. Here’s a *very* interesting tidbit to keep an eye/ear out for more details …

    … Corpas cheating?

  30. I think Antonelli is closer than people think. A strong AFL performance and spring … he could win that job.