Q&A with Tom Krasovic

Tom Krasovic has been covering the Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1994. Recently he took time out of his busy schedule to discuss baseball, the beat, and life. We exchanged emails over the course of several days, and although it’s difficult to convey certain nuances over the ‘net, Krasovic’s passion for the game quickly became evident.

Ducksnorts: Who were your favorite baseball players when you were growing up?

Krasovic: Immortal Angels such as Tom Satriano, Roger Repoz and Alex Johnson, just because the California Angels were my team as a young boy. Then came the 1970s and a move to southern Ohio so I tracked [Joe] Morgan, [Johnny] Bench, [Pete] Rose, [Tony] Perez, [George] Foster, [Dave] Concepcion, [Cesar] Geronimo. Rooting for the Angels still came naturally so I followed [Frank] Tanana, [Nolan] Ryan, [Don] Baylor, Disco Dan Ford and those guys. I also liked a lot of other players — [Tom] Seaver, [Cesar] Cedeno, [Ron] Guidry, [Lou] Piniella, [Willie] Stargell. And, of course, Jerry Turner, who showed up in every baseball card pack I got. The 1970s were great. Here’s another one: Joe Sambito. Amazingly smooth.

Ducksnorts: Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in sports journalism?

Krasovic: Unemployment. My internship as a new reporter with the Riverside Press Enterprise had ended. At the time, my days were spent in hellaciously hot trenches in Moreno Valley, doing grunt work for a roommate who was in the home construction business. I had sent resumes to every newspaper in California. When the Camarillo Daily News offered me a $20,000 salary to join its two-person sports department, it wasn’t a difficult decision.

Ducksnorts: Before covering the Padres, you wrote about the aerospace industry, football, and soccer, among other things. How did those experiences help prepare you to write about baseball?

Krasovic: Working for Aviation Week and Space Technology as a copy editor exposed me to some very bright people and taught me that large segments of the media aren’t so good at covering technical subjects. My ability to meet deadline improved as I covered high school sports, the Sockers, SDSU football and the NCAA basketball tournament. As a Chargers beat writer, I became more comfortable with writing about professional athletes and team officials who may not like what you report. Being a general news reporter gave greater meaning to the old newsroom expression, “There is no such thing as a boring story, only a boring reporter.”

Ducksnorts: You’ve been known to quote statistics advanced by Baseball Prospectus and similar outfits. To what degree does sabermetrics inform your thinking and writing?

Krasovic: When I got the Padres beat, the club’s director of baseball operations was Eddie Epstein, who brought a sophisticated statistical perspective to player evaluation. He wasn’t always right, of course, but he could always back up what he said, and he tended to be right more than he was wrong. Epstein had an air of discovery about him. He was like a treasure hunter who had tapped into reliable methods to find sunken ships or oil reserves. He had been empowered by Larry Lucchino, the club’s CEO, so he deserved to be taken seriously as a significant figure within the organization, and that’s how I treated him. I quoted him several times, and he unquestionably added depth to my reporting; years later, Kevin Towers said Epstein had furthered his evolution as a general manager. Fortunately for me, Epstein was succeeded by Theo Epstein, who also could take arcane statistical material and explain how it applied to player evaluation. He became a key advisor to Towers, and it behooved me to help our readers understand the perspectives he provided. Had I been covering the Pirates, I probably would have been less inclined quote some of the statistics advanced by Baseball Prospectus — whose web site was recommended by Theo Epstein. That would have been my loss.

Ducksnorts: Bob Costas recently took some heat for comments he made regarding bloggers and blogging. At the same time, many mainstream outlets (including the U-T) are adopting blogs as a part of their overall strategy. How do you see the roles of traditional news reporter and blogger evolving in the future?

Krasovic: My guess is that we’ll err on the conservative side. Some newspaper writers use a blog as a launching point for their opinions on a wide variety of topics, including the team they cover. We’ll mostly stick to the Padres and baseball, and keep most of the commentary as fact-driven as possible. The other thing we’re figuring out is, how often should we blog? Blogging takes away from our reporting. It’s possible to serve both masters, but that’s an evolving process for us.

Ducksnorts: In your years covering baseball, what’s the strangest thing you’ve seen happen in a game?

Krasovic: The Braves’ inside-the-park home run against the Padres, circa 1997, comes to mind. The ball rolled into a booth behind the home bullpen at Qualcomm Stadium. Greg Vaughn mistakenly called for time instead of getting the ball. By the time he retrieved the ball, it was too late. Just a strange play, maybe not the strangest, but that one comes to mind. Here’s another one: Watching Braves right fielder Jermaine Dye run into and around umpire Tim Welke during the 1996 World Series. When that play happened, you sensed that the World Series had just turned toward the Yankees. Welke is a large man who badly misjudged a foul popup. Dye couldn’t get around him. It a was goofy play, but I suppose that I remember it vividly because it was integral to the outcome of that World Series. Bobby Cox was furious even after the game. I think he’s still angry about it.

Ducksnorts: Kevin Towers’ track record in terms of trades is impressive. Comment a little on the way he operates.

Krasovic: I quoted Billy Beane as saying that Towers is extremely likeable, more likeable than the typical GM. I think that’s part of his success. It’s a small part of it, but I believe that he has a knack for making fellow GMs comfortable when they are dealing with him. That’s a gift. Basically, a lot of these guys don’t trust each other. To hear Beane and a few other GMs, Towers makes you like him, even trust him. He’s also an information hound. In that regard, it helps that he’s a former ballplayer. He is very comfortable at working a clubhouse and the scouting section behind home plate. He talks to a lot of people — ballplayers, scouts, executives, agents, clubhouse staff, trainers, sportswriters, broadcasters. He also has empowered his statistical people. He sees them as an asset, not a threat. Two of his closest advisers are longtime scouts Ken Bracey and Bill Bryk, and I know Towers considers them invaluable. The bottom line is that when Towers makes a trade, he tends to be very informed.

Ducksnorts: What are your expectations for the Padres and the NL West in 2008?

Krasovic: Barring catastrophic injuries, it should be more of the same for the Padres — a fifth consecutive winning season and playoff contention deep into the season. They’ll probably give up fewer runs than any team in the NL. They’ll probably rank among the NL’s top half in road scoring. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they outhomered visiting teams by a good margin, which seems to be part of the [Padres CEO Sandy] Alderson formula. What will that all add up to? That’s where it gets interesting. It may add up to first place, second, third or fourth. It’s that kind of division. I kind of feel for Giants fans. Sure, they had a nice run from 1997 to 2004, but you’d like to think that if you’re going to lose 90-100 games, you’d get to see some exciting young players in the everyday lineup. I doubt that will be the case.

Ducksnorts: Who among current Padres do you think has a chance to surprise people this year?

Krasovic: Last summer, the White Sox were willing to give away Tadahito Iguchi, and even when the Phillies were desperate for a second baseman after Chase Utley went down, the White Sox didn’t hold them up — they sent Iguchi to them for a Single-A pitcher who is a borderline prospect. Iguchi had some problems with a finger injury early last year, and the White Sox were looking to save money. He’s a solid player, better than his stats of last summer would indicate.

Ducksnorts: What big-league ballpark, other than Petco Park, is your favorite to visit?

Krasovic: Wrigley Field if the weather isn’t brutal. Otherwise, San Francisco’s ballpark. If you don’t get decapitated by a foul ball, the view from the pressbox there is as good as it gets.

Thanks again to Mr. Krasovic for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us here and provide some insight into the 2008 Padres and what it’s like covering the club. Be sure to check out his work at the U-T and his blog throughout the season.

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64 Responses »

  1. A great read, GY. I’m especially interested by the fact that he covered so many other things before he settled on sports. I would have loved to write about sports when I interned for a newspaper, but I’m not sure if I could ever reign in enough of my fury and passion to objectively cover the teams.

  2. Nice job on the tube last night GY. Good job!

  3. 1. The paradox of sports writing. Fans think it would be great to be a sports writer, but sports writers cannot allow themselves to be unfettered fans. There is no cheering in the pressbox.

  4. I’m a fan of TK @ UT … thanks for the interview, GY!

    OT … an article up at MadFriars about LeBlanc …

    http://padres.scout.com/2/740070.html (sub only)

    … my favorite part is this:

    “LeBlanc’s changeup is stupid,” said catcher Colt Morton. “He’s throwing his fastball at 87 to 88, and then his changeup is 68.”

    … can that be right? A 20 mph difference? And I like that the article quotes Grady and Bryk and other coaches with specific things that LeBlanc needs to improve on … which they all seem to expect him to … in order to be successful in MLB …

  5. re: “Two of his closest advisers are longtime scouts Ken Bracey and Bill Bryk, and I know Towers considers them invaluable.” … thanks for this … it begins to answer a question I posted last night, wanting to know about Bryk, who is quoted often in this look at the best of the Padre minor leaguers …


  6. Excellent interview and great choice of subject, Geoff. Like LM I’m a big fan of Krasovic, who does a great job covering the Padres and integrating the advanced statistics into his coverage.

  7. Did you see this comment?

    LHP Cory Luebke (sandwich round, Ohio State) was 5-3 with a 3.07 ERA in 15 games (nine starts) in the Northwest, Midwest and California Leagues. His two Cal League appearances resulted in a 1-1 mark and 7.71 ERA over seven innings. “He was the best pitcher in the draft last year as far as I was concerned,” Bryk said

    Muy interesante…

  8. 6. I second Ben’s comment! I really enjoy Krasovic’s stuff (and this interview). fwiw, I was looking up stuff on Eddie Epstein the other day. I think he used to have a site years back that I ran across once, but it looks like it may have been taken down (or I can’t find it).

  9. 4: That’s not too far off from Hoffman’s speed differential. He’s usually 88-70 with his fastball and change.

    Also, thought some of you all would be interested in this:


    There’s a lot to sift through, but the most telling are the pie charts about halfway through that show the results of averaging six different projection systems 1000 times each through Diamond Mind Baseball. The NL West pie chart is an amazing illustration of how competitive the division is. Something that’s been discussed here many times, but seeing it illustrated like that was still pretty startling, at least for me.

  10. 7 … here’s a couple of video’s i shot of cory at peoria early in spring training …



    … a lot to like about cory luebke!

  11. Nice interview with Krasovic, a very enjoyable read.

    As for Costas’ comments on bloggers, I agree with it to an extent – a great many blogs are simply a waste of time. The problem is his comments are too general, which is somewhat akin to lumping together the New York Times or National Review, a nod to the conservatives out there, and the National Enquirer.

    There are all types of blogs, “webzines” and other internet periodicals which derive their popularity because they cover a specific subject with more depth than print periodicals.

  12. 9: That’s really incredible. Amazing that the Padres seem to be only behind the Dodgers in those projections.

    What’s really interesting is that if you look at the aggregate range of predictions for teams (based on the different systems), the top 4 in the West are predicted anywhere between 83 & 89 wins.

    Given this, we really cannot afford to run out our “B-squad” on Sundays like Buddy did a couple of times last year. He’s going to need to stagger the days off a little more efficiently. We cannot throw away games this year.

  13. 12 … the concept of “Buddy’s B-squad” is of interest to me … GY, I think it’d make a good chapter in the 2009 book :-) … first question: was there such a thing? sure seemed like it to me (ie. that he did throw away games last year by starting all the 2nd-stringers) … I don’t think I’ve ever read anything where someone asked Black directly about what his thinking is about this … but if he did it 5 times and the Padres went 0-5 in those games and would have gone 2-3 with a more normal lineup and doing so would not have impacted the results of the other 157 games … well, I think you can see both where my thinking is headed, as well as some of the complexity of the decision making …

    I’ll bet it’s part of Bud Black’s style … meaning that I’m expecting to see the same thing this year …

  14. 12: I think complexity is a good word, LM : )

    I mean, I would think you’d want to “throw away” games where you’re facing a great pitcher and have a not so great guy going. Let’s say Santana vs. Germano at Shea — Padres have a 15-20% chance of winning (just making that up, of course). Sit the starters that day, and maybe it drops to 5% or so, but you were expecting to lose anyway.

    Now, it seems silly to throw away games when we’re going to need every win we can get, but what if sitting guys make them that much better in the other games. If you throw away 5 games completely (that you’ll probably lose, anyway), but can win 6-7 more than you’d expect because of the extra rest, then maybe it’s a good strategy … then again, you could argue to sit different players on different days, etc., etc. Who really knows, but it is kind of interesting.

    And thanks for that link Matthew. Awesome stuff.

  15. 12-13: I concur. I think there is also a real problem with the Padres targeting players who fill more holes than we have, but don’t fill any of them particularly well. We can refer to this as the Geoff Blum Corollary, or the myth of flexibility. Why on earth would we be interested, at this point, in Robert Fick?

    From this perspective, I fail to see the benefit of sending Headley back down, unless his defense in left is really that bad. I don’t really think he’s had much trouble with MLB pitching, and I can’t believe we can’t do better than Gerut. At least stick McAnulty out there. I think that a Gerut-Hairston-Giles outfield is going to be abysmal offensively and will be “thrilling” defensively, especially at home. And not the good kind.

  16. er, that was supposed to reference 13 … and kind of 12 too, I guess …

  17. 14: I think you bring up a really great point here. There are certainly times when it would seem to behoove the team to “mail it in.” Especially if you’ve got a total pitching mismatch and you’ve got guys who need a day.

    Then again, wierd things can happen. Didn’t one of our nameless 5th spot guys in 05 (or 06 – don’t remember) manage to defeat Johan Santana in Minneapolis?

    I know for a fact that one such B-game last year was against Chad Billingsley. Germano was pitching for us.

  18. 17: Darrell May.


    Padres walk their way past Twins
    Patience pays off against Santana in seventh
    By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Padres knew what all the sharpies and experts were thinking about this one: Mismatch with a capital M.
    Here was Darrell May, winless with a 5.20 ERA, being asked to duel the Twins’ 2004 Cy Young Award winner, Johan Santana, on the floor of the Metrodome.

  19. 17/18: Hey, maybe they would have won with their B team, too! ; )

  20. Iguchi gets things started with a 1st inning single for the Padres vs Angels …


  21. I tried to start going through the 07 lineups at BR and pull out any games where two or more starters were either out or playing out of position, but it’s too exhausting. The simple fact of the matter is that with all of the injuries we had last year, there were rarely games where our core lineup started. Add in our revolving door LF and the problem is compounded.

  22. 20 … Wolf K’s Anderson with 2-on to wiggle out of the 1st …

  23. Glad y’all enjoyed the interview.

    #2: Thanks, bud.

    #11: Yeah, the trouble is that a great many [insert anything] are a waste of time. Take that approach with, say, TV shows, and you end up sticking “Punky Brewster” in the same category as “Arrested Development,” which only makes sense to someone who hasn’t bothered to learn what TV is.

    #13: That’d be an interesting line of inquiry. Thanks!

    #18: The two things I love about that game are that a) it was May’s only win of the season and b) Dave Roberts homered off Santana!

    OT: I was at the USD/Harvard baseball game this morning. Josh Romanski threw a no-hitter. First time I’ve ever seen one in person. What a great week for the Toreros!

  24. That was an interesting read, Geoff. I’m a fan of Krasovic’s writing in the UT.

    15: I believe we already cut Fick.

  25. 24: Also, wrt Headley, I think optioning him has something to do with a potential Super 2 situation.

  26. Khalil with an RBI double to put the Padres up in the top of the second.

    By all accounts, it was an E-5 all the way. Somehow, I temporarily transported to Tempe to score it as an RBI double. Either way, it gets the job done.


    Top 5 2008 Projected NL Strike Out Leaders

    Player, Team, SO

    Johan Santana, NYN, 239
    Jake Peavy, SDN, 223
    Yovani Gallardo, MIL, 177
    Cole Hamels, PHI, 176
    Aaron Harang, CIN, 176

    … which makes me smile :-) … and reminds me that the Mets are not going to be fun this year …

  28. 20 … and Clark with an RBI (looks like he knock’d in Iguchi, who got his 2nd hit of the game and stole 2B) …

    and Wolf is getting his spring ERA solidly under 10 now :-)

  29. Khalil with 2 knocks today. Leitner says his bat speed has looked much better the past 2 days and that he is starting to look season ready.

  30. 29: Add a SB.

  31. 29 … that is good news! I’m OK with ‘just in time’ …

  32. Yesterday BP ran an interview with Xavier Nady. It’s subscriber-only, which I am not, so I can’t give a summary.

  33. 31… I second that. Khalil is the only regular I’m really worried about… Good news is good news.

  34. 32 … it was a good interview … a bit fluffy (as most are, really) … but it struck me as “realistic” in that they asked him about things he’s struggled with and he didn’t sugar-coat / rose-colored-glasses his responses … he enjoys being a major league baseball player and he’s hoping to get better in 2008 after working this off-season to strengthen hammy’s which were a problem for him last year …

  35. 20 … Wolf now with 5 shutout innings … vs Angels lineup, I’m impressed! I caught a bit of the Angels playing Mariners on the radio yesterday and the Angels seem to have been swinging the bats well this spring … they scored 8 runs on 16 hits yesterday, for example …

  36. Khalil with a sac fly to right to plate Myrow from third.

    Pretty good day for him. 2 for 2 with a SF and 2 RBI.

  37. Wolf with six shutout innings. Great start from him.

  38. The boxscore will say Bass had a bad outing, but don’t believe it. He was the victim of a bunch of seeing-eye singles. He looked good to me.

  39. 38: Agreed. I think he went 0-2 on all but 1 of the batters he faced.

  40. 38 … were they “seeing-eye singles” because our defense is just a little below average?

  41. It bothers me just a bit that the Padres didn’t draw any walks off Ervin Santana during 7 innings …

  42. Oh no…Bass is taking a pounding…

  43. Six shutout innings and two hits from Khalil. Nice! Those two guys were starting to worry me. Even though Wolf has traditionally pitched very poorly in the spring, it’s a great sign that he can shut the Angels down just 10 days before his first start of the year.

    Good job on sportswrap yesterday George … er, I mean Geoff. Laslavic could have at least gotten your name right.

  44. #43: Thanks! LOL, I’ve been called worse. 8)

  45. #38, 42: That bullpen picture is looking crowded. Even if those four hits weren’t hit very hard, that can’t be a good sign for Bass. It seems like there are six guys competing for the last few spots in the bullpen. Assuming Germano holds onto the #5 spot, take a look at who’s left. Three of these guys aren’t going to make the opening day squad:

    Adam Bass, Kevin Cameron, Carlos Guevara, Enrique Gonzalez, Wil Ledezma, Glendon Rusch

    Every one of these guys has been terrific, with the exception of Cameron, but he’s been hurt. This is going to be a tough call.

  46. 43: Please. An experienced journalist with legitimate credentials would never make that kind of mistake.

  47. Incidentally, here’s the box for Romanski’s no-hitter:


    Check out Ryan Watson’s line for Harvard. Seven walks, six wild pitches, and a hit batsmen in one inning of work. Rick Ankiel, eat your heart out. That is one of the most frightening pitching performances I’ve witnessed.

  48. Any guesses as to the starting rotation?

    1. Peavey
    2. Young
    3. Maddux
    4. Wolf
    5. ???

    1,2 and 3 are a lock. I am just wondering about 4 and 5. Maybe Wolf is a lock?

  49. 48 … I think Wolf is the #4 starter … there was no doubt even before today … the competition has been for #5 …

  50. 47: Yes, but after the game he text-messaged his girlfriend that he held a nationally ranked team hitless!