Everything in Its Right Place

I couldn’t sit still on Monday. I can’t sit still a lot of the time, but on Opening Day it’s always worse. My nervous tics develop nervous tics.

I arrived downtown just after 4 p.m., wearing my Chris Young jersey, and toting my digital camera and scorebook. Mrs. Ducksnorts and I wandered over to one of the many fine establishments within walking distance of Petco Park, where we snacked on finger foods and quaffed Belhaven Scotch Scottish Ale on tap at $3.50 per pint.

I thought about the folks who are outraged at being charged more than twice as much for domestic swill at the ballpark. After brief consideration, I decided that “continuing to buy domestic swill at the ballpark” probably isn’t the most effective way to show one’s outrage. My crazy theory is that if fans stop buying the stuff like it’s water (which it is, but that’s another story), then eventually the Padres will have to adjust their prices. Until then, what’s the incentive?

I was on my way to a baseball game and an ecomomics lesson broke out. I hate when that happens.

Anyway, after snacking and quaffing, we headed over to the ballpark, where we picked up our free hats and watched the tail end of Astros batting practice. Behind us, kids were playing at “Park in the Park”; as we moved along the concourse toward our seats, the strains of a band playing classic rock gave me some nasty flashbacks.

Hi, this is .38 Special and we’re here to ruin your life. Have a super day!

Eventually we made it up into left nosebleed and found our seats. The Astros were introduced, and all the ex-Padres got nice rounds of applause — even Jose Cruz Jr. One of the endearing qualities of San Diego is that it doesn’t take much for us to forgive a guy. Pretty much go away quietly, and we’ll treat you like family. Seriously, if Marcus Giles hooks on with another team and returns to Petco Park, it will be to cheers.

The game, dude; the game.

Gotcha. Jake Peavy struggled a bit with his command early but looked sharp as the evening progressed. He tossed seven scoreless innings and finished with just four strikeouts. By my count he allowed two well-struck balls all night: a drive off the bat of Hunter Pence in the third that took Brian Giles to the warning track near Petco Porch in right, and a Miguel Tejada fly to right-center in the sixth.

Peavy worked a little too deep in the count at times — although he didn’t get much help in the fifth when third-base umpire Marty Foster ruled that Michael Bourn hadn’t swung at a 1-2 pitch that should have ended the inning. Peavy had to throw seven more pitches as a result, not that it mattered.

On the other hand, Peavy allowed just 5 two-strike foul balls, so he wasn’t wasting much energy there. His opponent, Roy Oswalt, threw 17 two-strike foul balls. The Padres did a nice job of making Oswalt work.

Tadahito Iguchi enjoyed his Padres debut, knocking two doubles and a single. Kevin Kouzmanoff worked three full counts but had precious little to show for his efforts. Adrian Gonzalez singled twice and scalded a ball in the sixth that looked like extra bases, but it hung up in the air and Bourn, who got a good jump, was able to track it down.

That sixth inning was frustrating to watch. It reminded me of last year’s Padres. They managed to load the bases with one out and come away with nothing. That shouldn’t happen.

They made amends the next inning. With Khalil Greene on second and two out, Paul McAnulty fell behind in the count, 0-2, before coming back to draw a walk. Tony Clark, making his Padres debut, whacked the next pitch into center field to bring home Greene with San Diego’s final tally of the night. It’s a sample size of one, but proper execution is always a welcome sight.

Speaking of McAnulty, he looked terrific at the plate. He lined a single to left in the second, grounded one into right-center in the fourth, worked an eight-pitch at-bat in the sixth before striking out, and drew the aforementioned two-out walk. He also spat on some pretty good looking pitches. Opinion is divided as to whether he’ll cut it at the big-league level, but I believe he can, at least in some capacity.

Josh Bard had good at-bats, as did Peavy, who drove in the Padres’ first two runs. He hit a ball to deep left in the second that plated Bard. Then in the fourth, with Houston looking bunt, Peavy smoked Oswalt’s first offering over Tejada’s head and into left-center, bringing home Bard again.

Giles? The box score says 0-for-4 with a walk, but he made Oswalt and company work. I show him as having seen 28 pitches on Monday. That helps in the ol’ “war of attrition” and gives his mates a good look at what’s coming their way.

The only downer was Scott Hairston. He had no clue what Oswalt was doing, and his at-bats against the Astros bullpen weren’t much better.

On the bright side, Hairston looked comfortable in center field. He wasn’t really tested — well, unless you count the mind-bogglingly stupid baserunning of Tejada in the ninth.

Explain this to me. Your team is down four with three outs to go and you hit a fairly routine single to center. Why would you possibly try to stretch that into a double?

There are so many things wrong here, I hardly know where to start. First off, if you reach second safely, what have you done? You’ve put yourself into scoring position so that, say, a single can bring you home and cut the defecit to three runs. Well, I suppose there’s some value in that. Except for the whole possiblity of getting thrown out at second thing.

Fortunately there’s a real easy way to eliminate the risk of getting gunned down at second. It’s called “defensive indifference” and it’s what probably would have happened if Tejada had remained at first base. But even if the Padres hadn’t conceded the bag to him outright, it’s not exactly a secret that they don’t control the running game.

Why willingly introduce risk into the equation? Seriously, Tejada’s been around the game long enough to know better, but that is one of the stupidest pieces of baserunning I’ve seen in a long time.

Not that it mattered…

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81 Responses »

  1. I guess my comment didn’t post correctly when I tried the first time. Anyone else notice ESPN’s announcing team discussing what a “mess” the Pad’s OF is? They went as far as to decry the fact that ‘there’s no one to play LF’ – no mention of Headley or ‘youngsters on the way up’… but I guess I shouldn’t be too shocked given that it’s ESPN.

  2. I saw that SI.com article too and thought the same thing. I don’t think anyone expects Edmonds to have another season like 2004, do they? It is that much of a surprise that Edmonds has declined from one of the greatest CF seasons of all-time? I wouldn’t think so.

    As far as the bench goes, I think they have the best options up at the moment. As long as they are going to carry 12 pitchers, the players on the bench have to be able to hit. Since none of the available options (Rodriguez, Robles) can, why bother with them. The weak spot of the team is the outfield, so doesn’t it make sense to have more backups there then in the infield?

  3. Oh, crap. Well, now everyone knows I’m a blockhead…. (#s 44 & 45)

    *slinks away in shame*

  4. Frankly carrying another infielder is a stupid idea, we do realize that Crabbe is on the roster right? How many back up infielders do they need?

    When is the last time KG came out of a game when he wasn’t hurt?

  5. 49, 55: Agree. A defensive-minded infielder is right there with “third catcher” in things a team doesn’t need. I’d much rather have guys on the bench who can hit.

    Now a quality defensive CF who’s healthy, right-handed, and doesn’t completely suck at the plate, that would be worthwhile. Hairston is likely to get a much sterner test in center tonight.

  6. 54: That’s OK TLB. The other night I posted something with a misspelling and hit the stop button on the browser, then corrected the spelling and hit submit. Sure enough, two identibal, back-to-back posts by yours truly: one with a misspelling and the other with the correct spelling. :-)

  7. 51: Read the Verducci piece. He’s probably right about Edmonds being overrated by many people, but he tries to make too much of a statement about the Padres not realizing it. I believe we gave up fringe prospect for him and St. Louis is picking up some salary (not so sure about the latter). It’s not like the Padres paid through the nose with the expectation he would be our CF for years to come. We picked him up no the cheap for one year.

  8. 58: I believe the Cards sent us $2 million of his $8 million salary. And don’t say we traded a fringe prospect for him, or else Peter will cry…


  9. Edmonds isn’t “rated” by anyone. So how can he be overrated? Is Randy Wolf overrated?

  10. 44, 45, 52 (and 54?) I really hate watching the teams I follow on national TV… browsing a media guide for 15 minutes before the game doesn’t really prepare you the way that following the team all season does. When they started ripping on the Pads BA from last season, I screamed “PARK EFFECTS!!!” at my TV, but I don’t think they heard me cuz they just kept gabbing on about it.

  11. 61. I find the concept of browsing through the media guide before the game, complely unaccetable. If it is your job to talk about MLB, you need to have a working knowledge of all 30 teams. Most of the talking heads have a working knowledge of a half dozen major market teams, and that is about it. In depth knowledge, forget about it. I am dumbfounded by the number of sports commentators who choose ignorance on a daily basis.

  12. I assume that we are talking about espn? They seem to take pride in their ignorance outside of a few exceptions. It’s like they go out of their way to seem as stupid as possible. Here’s a story on the front page of the website today:
    It talks about how A-Rod makes more then the entire Marlins roster. What’s that have to do with anything? Don’t they know that you could easily put together a really good team of players who each make less then $1m? Hanley Ramirez is making $440k this season and I’m not sure whether I’d rather have him or A-Rod this season — and I’d definitely want Hanley for the next five seasons when he makes probably $25m rather then A-Rod’s $150m.

  13. 59: Thanks Phantom. Sorry Peter, I clearly misspoke regarding that prospect.

  14. Interesting to see who BB uses at Catcher tonight. Bard swung well last night, but he’s 1 for 5(.400 OPS) with Barrett hitting 5 for 11(1.000 OPS)

    Should give some insight if it really is going to be a time sharing arrangement like they talked about in spring training.

  15. Nice preview of the AAA Portland Beavers at MadFriars …


  16. The ESPN announcers were amazing. They’d call our offense awful. In the next sentence, they’d talk about the park being a pitcher’s park as if it were completely unrelated.

    They never drew a connection between the two.

  17. Alan/68: That is funny and I noticed it too. In fact, I notice it quite a bit. One of the announcers also said it was a doubles park and NOT a triples park when, in fact, it is the other way around. Of course, triples are extremely rare and the Padres don’t have a lot of speed (like he said), but it seems like there’s no attempt to look at the park by itself … or at least to realize that it also hurts other teams a lot, too.

  18. Oh, and great recap, Geoff …. as usual.

  19. 69. Yeah, that was Orestes. “It’s not a triples park because the Padres don’t have a lot of speed.”

    Ummm, that doesn’t make the park not a triples park; it just makes the Padres not a triples team.

  20. Re: 67…maybe his padres ties made him feel it was a great opportunity to stick it to the Dodgers….ha. ;-)

  21. 72: Marcus Giles is just a dumbass.

  22. 71: Exactly.

    I think it’s still an interesting issue … that is, what kind of team to build and things like that. But it is pretty much fact that the park suppresses offense of pretty much all forms. And you can’t talk about the Pads’ offensive numbers without at least mentioning the park that they play in half of the time.

    Like you said, it seems like a lot of times people mention this, yet fail to realize that it is part of the reason those reported numbers don’t look that good …

  23. Like Rob Neyer has said, unless the talk is about Coors Field, most people seem completely clueless about park effects. Or are really lazy. We’re not most people :-) Arizona seems to get a complete pass on the offense question, too, even though its road numbers were awful last year.

    I think the “offense is terrible” thing has replaced “fixation on fielding .pct” as my No. 1 announcer pet peeve. Speaking of which, Geoff, why does Mr. DS Annual ’08 forward writer continue to harp on fielding pct during telecasts?

  24. #57 – Thanks Pat, makes me feel a bit more “normal”…

    And to everyone else that heard how shitty ESPN’s “coverage” was – AGAIN / As usual – yyyeeaaaaa…. I’m gonna need that OPS report on my desk this afternoon….

    [/terrible Office Space bite that can't even hold a candle to GY's awesome use!]

  25. Re Tejada’s baserunning:

    Good God, Geoff —

    Have you never watched a Cubs game?

  26. LynchMob,

    What’s your browser?