Friday Links (11 Apr 08)

Quick reminder: The Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual is on sale. People tell me it doesn’t suck, so go buy a copy or three.

To the links…

  • Jake Peavy has a mysterious substance on his hand (Yahoo!, h/t Kevin) and suddenly the “national” media knows where San Diego is. Solid effort, guys. Love this quote from Peavy:

    There’s nothing on my hands that’s not supposed to be. I thought it was funny that it was such a big deal. I’ve got no problems with anytime anybody needs to check me.

    In other words, he says “bring it,” which is exactly what MLB is and should be doing (AOL). Either Peavy cheated, in which case baseball needs to remedy the situation as quickly as possible (you know, like MLB usually does), or he didn’t, in which case life goes on as it was. Besides, Americans love a good witch hunt.

  • Speaking of Peavy, MB at Friar Forecast breaks down the game in question from a pitching standpoint.
  • Speaking of MB, he also discusses the relationship between stats and scouting. It’s an old debate, but as usual, MB offers a solid take.
  • Dex at Gaslamp Ball examines the sacrifice bunt. I love when he busts out his analytical chops.
  • Dex also builds on my Hardball Times article about Trevor Hoffman in non-save situations. First he examines Hoffman from a different angle, then he asks the same questions of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. Very nice work, although I disagree with the conclusion that — especially in Hoffman’s case — we have enough data to determine that their managers should keep these guys out of non-save situations. As Dex notes, both pitchers are nearing the end of their fine careers, so it’s tough to apply any lessons we might have learned in these cases. I’d love to see a much larger and more detailed study on this topic.
  • Tim Keown at ESPN discusses (h/t Kevin) Greg Maddux’s famous “17 percent of runners who steal second go on to score” dictum. According to the article, Sdpads1 ran the numbers for 2007 and came up with just over 40%, which jibes well with the number (43.2%) we found through the first 46 games of last season.
  • More Keown, more Maddux (h/t Kevin). I love that former Lake Elsinore Storm catcher Ben Risinger is featured so prominently in the hilarious opening bit. (I also got to see Risinger play in the annual Yuma “Stars of the Future” game back in ’03 — along with current Padres Justin Germano, Khalil Greene, and Paul McAnulty). Anyway, the Maddux article is highly entertaining. Read it, yo.
  • Dan Hayes at North County Times pens a nice feature on pitching coach Darren Balsley, who would be celebrated if he wore a New York or Boston uniform. Quoth Maddux:

    Balsley’s pretty good at being on the money as far as what you’re doing wrong. No (he doesn’t get enough credit). Not even close. Maybe he wants it that way. He’s got a good demeanor through the good times and the bad times. He’s very even-keeled and he’s smart. He knows the hitters very well, well as any pitching coach I’ve ever worked with. He watches a lot of video. And he really enjoys the tedious work.

    The emphasis is mine. Maddux, you may recall, worked with a guy named Mazzone in Atlanta. I’ve heard he’s a pretty good pitching coach.

  • Jon Heyman at wonders whether Trevor Hoffman has anything left in the tank (h/t Sean Callahan). What a novel thought. In related news, readers wonder whether Heyman has anything left in the tank. You decide:

    But what’s compounded the shaky start is that it comes on top of his brutal ending to the 2007 season, when he blew two games and enabled the Rockies to slip past the Padres into the playoffs.

    First, two bad games in the first two weeks of 2008 have nothing to do with two bad games from six months ago. Second, Hoffman didn’t enable the Rockies to slip into the playoffs, the entire Padres team did. If they’d won one more game out of the preceding 162, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Why can’t people get that right? Why can’t Heyman, whose job is to report facts, get it right? He makes some good points about Hoffman’s time eventually coming to an end, but they’re undermined by his inability to nail down the basics.

  • According to Corey at, backup catcher Michael Barrett is expected to miss two to eight weeks courtesy of a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament (aka elbow). The good news is that he’s not expected to need surgery, which would have cost him the season.
  • The U-T has an interactive thingy where you can vote on the Padres’ starting lineup (h/t KRS1). Pointless, but fun. There’s always value in that.
  • Baseball America did a monster all-day chat (h/t LynchMob) last week that’s still worth a look. Here’s a fun one:

    Q: Jimmy from San Diego, CA asks:
    Not sure how or why Josh Geer is the Padres #27 prospect. Watched him on TV last night and he was unbelievable. Threw all his pitches for strikes and not 1 ball was hit hard off him. I know he’s not overpowering, but neither was Greg Maddux in his prime. Do you see Geer in the big leagues soon?
    A: J.J. Cooper: Our first Greg Maddux comp of the day. Sure to be followed by a Tom Glavine comp at some point as well. It’s true that Greg Maddux had outstanding success without a blazing fastball. It’s also true that since than, roughly 3,000 minor league finesse righthanders have been compared to Maddux, and we’ve yet to see any of them equal Maddux’ big league success. Geer had a very nice Opening Day start for Portland, and his ability to throw strikes will likely give him a chance at the big leagues at some point. That said, unless he develops a better breaking pitch to got with his fastball/changeup combo it’s hard to see him being better than a middle reliever. The list of successful soft-tossing fastball/changeup righthanders in the big leagues as starting pitchers is extremely short.

    Yeah, funny how that works.

  • MadFriars has a chat with everyone’s favorite non-prospect, Dirk Hayhurst (h/t Baseball in Fort Wayne). Here’s Hayhurst on his writing gig at Baseball America:

    I write their non-prospect diary. Everybody else writes this thing called a prospect diary, which is what it’s like to be cool and awesome and hitting real well and drinking protein shakes.

    Heh. For some reason I can’t get that character from Chuck out of my head. Man, I hope Hayhurst makes it.

  • Steve Treder at Hardball Times examines the worst number 2 hitters since 1957 (h/t Didi). Give it up for Hall-of-Famer Ozzie Smith.
  • Also at Hardball Times, Alex Eisenberg identifies six hitting prospects to watch in 2008 (h/t Didi), including Chad Huffman and Kyle Blanks, both currently at Double-A San Antonio. Alex offers this assessment of Huffman (along with some video of his swing):

    Huffman has a small yet effective load with his hands. He does a good job of shifting his weight forward and aggressively stepping into foot plant before unloading his hips. He generates good bat speed, and even though he could stand to let the ball travel a little deeper, he rotates his hips violently on his front leg, taking an aggressive hack at the ball.

  • The Chicago White Sox are running a radio advertisement in which Ken “Hawk” Harrelson explains, among other things, the origin of the term “ducksnort” — just in case you were wondering…

Padres are in Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Dodgers. First pitch tonight is 7:40 p.m. PT — rematch of last week’s Peavy/Brad Penny matchup. We’ll have the IGD up and running about an hour before then. Happy Friday, and go Padres!

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51 Responses »

  1. Over/Under on the number of times Torrie asks the umps to check the ball tonight?

  2. So at what point do we start worrying about Trevor? How ill we know that he has lost it? Good question for KT?

  3. It is what it is, Trevor will be our closer this year unless he has a major melt down (ie drops 3 or 4 games in a row). Like I said before I have been nervous every time Trevor ahs come out of the pen for the last 2 years but he proved my illegitimate fears wrong 90% of the time.

  4. That Maddux article was awesome.

    And yeah, Trevor might have his hiccups but he’ll still save 40 games this year. If the writing’s on the wall, he’ll retire after this season.

  5. Re: 4 I think he is going to retire after this year weather he saves 45 games or 4. I think the Padres are ready to look to the future next year and I don’t see Trevor pitching for the D-Rays or Giants next year.

  6. 5: If Trevor has a similar year as the last or even moderate dropoff, I would think they’d have to re-up him for another year or two. Even after the end-of-the-year stinkers, his numbers were very solid. Like Gwynn, I think he’d take a reduced role for a year or so before calling it quits.

  7. Re: 6 My point was more that I don’t think the Padres would be interested, I think after this season the Padres are going to go all young now that they have somewhat of a base of young veterans (yes I know its an oxymoron) on the team (Peavy, a-gon, Young, Kouz, Greenie) on the team they will prob drop the expensive underachieving older vets.

  8. Read Heyman for juicy rumors and straight reportage. In analysis mode, the dude is pretty much a hack.

  9. Geoff, I think you have misinterpreted what Maddux meant by his 17% remark, and I surprised this wasn’t addressed, acknowledged or refuted in your previous discussion.

    The point is that about 17% of base stealers score a run that they wouldn’t have scored if they hadn’t stolen the base, NOT that they scored a run a certain percentage of the time.

    This year, with a very small sample size, it is only about 20-25% so far. I wouldn’t count the last run of the Giants game against that total, b/c IMO that speedy runner would have scored from first anyway on that over-the-head-to-the-wall shot. By the end of the year, it is likely to be closer to the 17% number.

    The 17% number also explains why so many stat head require such a high success rate for SB in order to justify it as an offensive weapon.

  10. 9 … makes sense to me, TF … and I was reading an interview with Bill James recently in which he explained that he initially was studying stolen bases with the intent to prove them more valuable than they were percieved to be, and he ended up interpreting the data he found to indicate them to be much less valuable than they were percieved to be … and it’s my recollection that 80% was the break-even point … which seems close enough to Maddux’ figure …

  11. 10: The break-even point was around 60% during the dead-ball era, and near 70% in the early eighties. I think Tom Tango has recently re-evalated the issue under today’s conditions. I don’t know his findings, but the break-even obviously would be higher during the recent high-offense era. I doubt that it’s all the way up to 80%, but 75%-77% wouldn’t surprise me.

    The value of a stolen base should never have been in question. Rather, loss incurred by a caught-stealing should be measured.

  12. “Every now and then the duck’s gotta pass some gas.”

    “Bats right, throws right, farts left.”

    Two fart links in a single blog post. Is Ducksnots a baseball blog, or a flatulence blog???

  13. There is also value in a stolen base at the right time even if the run does not score, such as keeping the offense out of a force situation and prolonging the inning, forcing the pitcher to throw more pitches.

    There is also that “intangible” value of having a speedy runner on base in terms of “distracting” the pitcher, but I have no clue how to measure that.

  14. #9: You raised this point last year, and I did address it. Here’s the pertinent part of what I said then:

    It’s impossible to know what would have happened had the runner not stolen the base. The conditions would not have been the same, and so pitch sequence, etc., might have changed as a result. In other words, we cannot assume that DeRosa would have hit a double to the wall if the Cubs runner had been on first rather than second.

    I guess my main point is that I remain skeptical of Maddux’s contention.

    I know that not everyone agrees with this stance, but I stand by it.

  15. Fair enough, I didn’t remember your response, and as I am not persuaded by it, we can agree to disagree. :)

    I don’t think your impossibility argument is fair in the least. Just like if a runner at first who steals second, followed by a home run; your argument requires that run to be counted.

    That makes no sense to me. Taking your argument to its logical conclusion, the home run has a causal connection to the stolen base. IMO, we should be viewing them as mostly independent instances, particularly with the work done by statisticians showing that having base stealers on base doesn’t really adversely effect how pitchers throw to batters at the plate.

  16. #15: Well, this is complicated and it goes way beyond the realm of baseball, but let’s just say that I believe in the concept of sensitive dependence on initial conditions (aka Butterfly effect).

  17. I am aware of the butterfly effect, but imo you are stretching it way too far when there is such a closeness in time between what happens immediately and before a stolen base.

    By that logic, you could argue that a stolen base in the third inning has a meaningful causal connection to a reliever blowing the save in the ninth.

    So, for fun, I am going to start blaming Trevor Hoffman’s failures on Chris Young/Greg Maddux/Jake Peavy’s inability to prevent base runners from getting huge jumps and stealing bases. ;)

  18. #17: Yep, we’ve successfully pinpointed the precise nature of our disagreement. We rock! ;-)

  19. I remember reading the blog entry that Sdpads1 did and it made a lot of good sense. The only thing that couldn’t be measured was the causal effect of a SB on pitching pattern. My not having the method or smart to figure that out, I tend to agree that stolen base should be measured by whether or not it scored and from that entry, the number was about 20%.

    I think Dex did a study on this too last season and the conclusion was that those SBs were not as damaging as we thought. It may damaged some pride but gamewise it wasn’t as pertinent. Of course, given how last season turned out, we should find that singular SB that came around to score as the culprit and take all this blame off of Hoffman and put it on the catchers/pitchers. :)

  20. FWIW, even though I remain unconvinced of Maddux’s findings, I do agree with his overall point. I’m especially fond of pointing to this game as anecdotal evidence in support of it.

  21. 20: I’m guessing that Maddux is agreeing with you.
    I wonder if that game was the one that brought the catcher’s ERA to its height of ridicule.

  22. 20: Did you notice that when that game was played (5-18-2000) Luis Castillo had an .877 OPS?!?

  23. I think with SB’s you have to look at what kind of team you have and where your team plays. Because of Petco’s stingyness and the Padres dominate pitching and average offence they are in a lot of close games where every run scored makes a huge deference. In 2007 the padres lost 28 games by either one run or in extra innings, that’s 35% of their losses that may have been prevented if they would have allowed their opponent to score one less run. When your playing that tight of baseball games night in and night out like the Padres play every run scored can makes a huge difference in the game. If 17% of the 189 base stealers (32) the padres allowed last year went onto score when they other wise wouldn’t I think that could have made a huge impact and maybe if they would have paid a little more attention to it they would have been beating the Phillies in October instead of watching the Rockies do it on TV.

    I guess what my point is if you rely on big home runs and limited pitching (see the Phillies and Reds) to win a stolen base is not going to mean much. But when you rely on pitching and defense and don’t score a lot of runs you have to do everything you can from keeping the other team from scoring.

  24. 13: Wasn’t it determined that stolen base attempts actually impacted the hitter negatively rather than the pitcher? I swear I read that somewhere…

  25. 24: Steve, I think you put forth a VERY good argument. It seems to me that both sides are right, but only in the context of how that game is played, at that particular time, by those particular teams, at that particular ballpark.

    And that my friend is precisely why I love baseball. For the infinite variances and subtleties that make it so fun and thought provoking.

  26. Fathers, your example in #9 is exactly to the point of what Geoff is saying. “The speedy runner would have scored from first” , since the ball was over Edmonds head. But most likely Edmonds would not have played so shallow if the runner was on first and the ball might have been caught, and maybe the runner would have advanced to second, but then maybe the next batter would have……

  27. Mud is currently on XX with Philly Billy and Darren and they just finished talking about blogs, discussion groups, etc. and the fact that most of the posts are basically anonymous and that they don’t think its cool that people on the discussion boards slam them without stating who they are.

  28. #23: That’s kinda scary.

    #28: I’ll bet nobody ever used a fake name when calling into a talk radio show.

  29. Re: 28 My name is Steve, im 26, im an aries and I enjoy watching padres baseball and playing fetch with my dog. Am I still anonymous?

  30. Re: 28 – My name is Michael…I live in VA…I graduated from SDSU in 1998. I write a blog where my posting name is “Bogart”.

    I don’t like Philly Billy Werndel. I think he is a blowhard. His voice is annoying. He knows little to nothing about baseball. He should go back to the East Coast and never come back.

  31. Meh I’m not a big fan of any of the hosts on XX. I mostly only listen to Xtra (both LA and SD) and ESPN.

  32. 28: Yeah, and no one in entertainment/media has ever changed their name. Archie Leech anyone?

  33. Yeah, because we all know that if one has a name, one’s opinion is then very much valid and true.

  34. I once introduced Jake Peavy to a distributor of pine tar at a party. Not only that, I actually saw him in the bathroom stall with Gaylord Perry during a game.

  35. Re: 35 been a while since we have had a dodger troll.

  36. No troll, that was me try’n to be funny.

  37. Re: 37 ahh good stuff then!

  38. 34: Agreed. That’s what’s so cool about the internet. It takes the artificial stuff out of discussion, leaving only the content. Ok, maybe that isn’t completely true, but it does a pretty good job.

    Re: Peavy’s response:
    I for one don’t find cheating in baseball a laughing matter, whether it is true in this circumstance or not. The sport took a major hit from a culture that allowed and encouraged it. I don’t want to make that same mistake.

  39. the fact that most of the posts are basically anonymous and that they don’t think its cool that people on the discussion boards slam them without stating who they are.

    Do people really slam them, other then Philly Billy? And isn’t that part of his shtick to take other people’s criticism and slam them back? I don’t ever remember people being very critical of Mud or Matt nor Darren Smith. Except for Philly Billy who on 1090 is particularly divisive? I’m only counting the local guys, not Jim Rome or Dan Patrick who I know a lot of people dislike.

  40. 37: that was chuckle worthy.

  41. 37: PF4L, that was not trying, Buddy, that was doing. Outstanding!

  42. 25: The Book covered something like that. They found that a stolen base attempt reduced the batter’s wOBA by 22 points, compared to the runner staying put at first. Other interesting discoveries: they found batters’ wOBA increases by 14 points with a runner on first and less than two outs, compared to their overall wOBA. However, for fast and “disruptive” runners, the advantage to the hitter was only 2 wOBA points.

  43. 42: Philly Billy and Kentera.

    I can never listen to the Coach ever again because his “power only shows up every fifth day, but speed shows up to the ballpark each and every day” line torments me. Hey, Coach, the Pads had 171 homers last year.

  44. Mark Grant’s comments were in the context of the Peavy “controversy”, the fact that some anonymous yayhoo with a blog can post a few pictures and now something minor is blown out of proportion. He has a point I think, but it’s not like the media hasn’t been doing that forever.

    If anything, I think the overwhelming access to information has caused the internet savvy fan (and media consumer in general) to be much more skeptical of what we see on tv or in the paper. If Joe Morgan says something that sounds stupid we can actually look it up on the internet and read a rebuttal from any number of blogs. I think that irks the media people more than anything, the fact that they can’t get away with spouting idiotic statements anymore.

  45. 45: Thanks, Ben. I knew I wasn’t just imagining it.

  46. 47: Joe Morgan is, of course, the best example of that as there is an entire blog devoted to pointing out his many, many, many screw ups.

  47. 46: Well sure, Stephen, but isn’t it possible they hit those 171 HR’s in only 36 games? ;-)