Familiar Refrain

On pages 141-143 of his 1985 Baseball Abstract, Bill James launches into a discussion of whether baseball dynasties are a thing of the past. This is technically his essay on the San Diego Padres, who were the defending National League champions, although only two paragraphs focus on the Padres:

I do not see the Padres as a great team, and I do not see them as likely to repeat. They’ve got three infielders that I wouldn’t put in the top fifteen men at the position. With Terry Kennedy’s defense and baserunning, he’s got to hit a whole bunch before he can help you, and he hit .240 last year. Their bench is thin. They’ve got a couple of great young outfielders and real good depth in the pitching staff, and, as mentioned, they do an outstanding job of keeping hit balls from becoming base hits. But if Atlanta, Houston or Los Angeles plays up to potential, I doubt that the Padres will be able to keep up with them.

It is tough to repeat; it has always been tough to repeat. That doesn’t change any because it is time now to have somebody repeat as champion. It is a tribute to the San Diego players that they were able to play so well together that it masked their individual weaknesses.

Now, 23 years later, you could remove many of the particulars from James’ comments and distill the following, which I think describes the Petco Park era Padres quite well:

I do not see the Padres as a great team… It is a tribute to the San Diego players that they were able to play so well together that it masked their individual weaknesses.

This is why, when I hear someone (Joe Sheehan in this case) telling the world there’s nothing to see here (hat tip to MB), my response remains constant: Yeah, what else is new?

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78 Responses »

  1. 50: I really hope that Hensley steps up and performs like he did late 06, and forces his way into the rotation. I, like you, believe that both CY and Wolf will miss some starts, but I’m hoping they’re more of the “9 days off” variety as opposed to the “15-day DL” kind.

    In terms of starters we haven’t considered much, any real chance of Geer or LeBlanc providing league average innings at some point this year?

  2. Expecting 45 starts from Wolf and Prior is unrealistic…but the national guys acting like they are only getting 10 starts between them is more unrealistic.

    I’d say a good over/under for the pair would be 30.

    Combine that with 30+ from Peavy/CY and Maddux and you only have to fill another 35 starts from everyone else.

    10 or so from Henlsey
    10 from LeBlanc
    10 from Germano(who Pecota thinks is league average by the way)

    Things aren’t so bad with the staff. Of course any time you can have Peavy/CY and 100 league average starts….that probably puts you in the post season.

  3. 49 … you’ve very clear (to me) when you’re being lighthearted versus dog’in’ … don’t let the dog in you bark too much :-)

    51 … re: Geer or LeBlanc … I gotta think that there’s no “real chance” of that … if Padres are out of it in September (which I do not expect, at least not until late-September (such as the 30th to 34th :-) ) ), then perhaps these guys get a few starts … and perhaps at that point in the season it will be versus teams that are similarly “playing for next year” and they do well … but I don’t think falls under what you are wondering about …

  4. 51: Can we count on a guy who is coming off labrum surgery to cover for guys coming off shoulder surgeries?

    I have more faith in LeBlanc than Geer, but not much hope in any rookie. Phil Hughes was league-average last year and he’s a much better prospect than either.

    I’m a little surprised Geer is still a Padre property. His K numbers should be setting off some alarm bells in a statistically minded front office. Maybe they think he can get more K’s at higher levels. I guess that’s not completely unprecedented.

  5. 54: I’m not really familiar with the details of labrum surgery, so I guess I’m going mostly on blind optimisim here.

    52: If we’re setting the over/under at 30 for those two, give me the over. Call me a complete fool, but I think that Wolf is going to be a big pickup for us this year.

  6. OT … BP @ SI … Top 100 Prospects …

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/baseball/mlb/02/08/goldstein.top100/index.html

    #23 = Chase H
    #39 = Matt A
    #61 = Matt L

  7. Quick reminder about the Comments Policy. Item #1: Attack positions, not people.

    Thanks,
    Dad

  8. 55 … you’re “a complete fool” … and I mean that with all due respect … i’ll take under … here’s the prop: if it comes in over, i’ll buy you a 2007 Annual and if it comes in under, you buy me a 2009 Annual … deal?

  9. #58: 2009 Annual? Now there’s some blind optimism. ;-)

  10. 58: Works for me.

  11. The PMac situation goes along with what I mentioned yesterday with too many AAAA type guys.

  12. Incidentally, I’ve updated the spring training roster in the right sidebar, grouped according to whether guys are on the 40-man roster or NRI. Note that Drew Macias was DFA’d to accommodate Tony Clark, which seems odd.

  13. 59 … I believe … in the power of high expectations! I was hopin’ you’d notice that … now get back to work … I want to get my hands on the 2008 book ASAP!

  14. 62: That does seem like a bizarre decision. Hopefully nobody picks him off waivers.

  15. 62 … so Drew Macias won’t even be NRI’d? I guess I don’t know what “designated for assignment” means in terms of his status for ST …

  16. 61: How can you say PMac is a 4A guy when he’s only had 77 major-league at-bats? He’s hit at every stop in the minors. He’s a good enough hitter to play for a lot of clubs. He’d be more valuable than many players who will make big league rosters. But he’s still very unlikely to be an average starter in LF.

    It’s not his fault the Padres went with other options last year or the year before. In 2006 he did everything he could, and the Padres still went with Sledge in 2007. I heard something about McAnulty sulking in Portland, which isn’t good, but I can’t really blame him.

  17. Pat, all I was trying to say is that you need to be very careful about throwing out accusations of steroid abuse. If you look at Edmonds’ numbers and his age during his peak, it certainly doesn’t scream out steroid abuse, at least to me. Now if he hit his peak much later like Barry Bonds, I could understand it. Just looking at statistics aren’t enough, especially if you are misrepresenting them.

  18. OT … the mystery of Gaslamp Ball is explained …

    http://gaslampball.com/story/2008/2/11/224845/619#commenttop

    … yup, that seems a good analogy they’ve got goin’ there. Me, I’m a Ducksnorter … but it’s a big world out there … even Padre Nation is broad and high and deep in many ways … onward … to 2008!

  19. 66: P-Mac is quoted in the bottom of the ST article on Padres.com today, saying that he’s trying to earn a starting gig out of ST: http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080209&content_id=2369366&vkey=spt2008news&fext=.jsp&c_id=sd

    I was really impressed with P-Mac last spring, but he just got derailed at the worst possible time by that injury. Hopefully he can replicate his performance from last spring and force the issue.

  20. People think steroids is a more likely issue for Edmonds, rather then his post concussion syndrome? Interesting, but considering guys like Koskie and Matheny are basically out of the league because of it, giving Edmonds a year to recover seems like a good idea before drawing any conclusions.

  21. I was just looking up McAnulty’s stats. He was drafted in the 12th round in 2002, not too many other good players drafted around him although the Twins drafted (but didn’t sign) Jeff Clement out of high school. In the 13th round, Matt Harrington was drafted by the Devil Rays. Do people remember him? He was drafted 7th overall in 2000 but held out, the Padres took him with the 58th pick the following year, in 2002 he went 374th, in 2003 1301st, and in 2004 1089th. That’s quite a fall. Maybe he should signed the first time he was drafted…..

  22. No mention of Callix Crabbe as a back up center fielder?

  23. Adrian: 27 win shares
    Iguchi: 15
    Greene: 19
    Kouzmanoff: 15
    Total: 76

    Phillies
    Howard: 26
    Utley: 28
    Rollins: 28
    Feliz: 10
    Total: 92

    I think Gonzalez is better than Howard, but that’s about where it ends.

    Mets
    Delgado: 14
    Castillo: 14
    Reyes: 24
    Wright: 34
    Total: 86

    Catchers are not members of the infield, but:

    Bard: 16, Schneider: 11, Ruiz: 13.

    Their addition makes no difference.

  24. 72: Corey Brock at Padres.com has written two articles recently that mentioned Crabbe as the next most likely lock for the bench after Barrett and Clark because he can play second, short, third and the outfield. One article emphasized that he was likely to make the club because he has speed and can play center. Maybe Corey could clarify what he’s hearing if he stops by any time soon.

  25. 42: does plethora imply quality? If it does, then, I’m mistaken. The Padres got quantity with some past quality which in no way predict future quality. Isn’t that fun?

    Hmmm….no Macias then. Well, go Jody Gerut and Jeff DaVannon.

  26. Strange about Macias. They seemed to be high on him lately.

  27. Morning from Peoria. The Padres like Crabbe for several reasons, he can play anywhere in the infield (other than first) and some center field. He also has something no one else on the team has: speed. Since he’s a Rule 5 guy, that means they will also take a real good look at him since if they don’t keep him, they would have to offer him back to the Brewers. That said, he won’t just be handed a job this spring.

  28. 73: Adrian’s extra win share is because he played 21 more games than Howard in 2007. That’s not insignificant, but if you’re looking for who’s going to do more given relatively equal time, it’s Howard. He contributes more per-game and per-AB. Unless we assume that Howard is likely to miss time each year while Agon isn’t, I can’t see how the latter is better.

    It’s almost all because of their plate discipline. RH has reached base 67 more times the last 2 seasons, despite almost identical plate appearances.

    In 2006 Howard beat Gonzalez by 14 WS.