Friday Links (4 Apr 08)

Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… Friday links:

  • Tom Krasovic at the U-T provides a brief overview of “Sandyball” (h/t LynchMob) — the Padres’ organizational philosophy under CEO Sandy Alderson:

    The club has made a habit of acquiring major leaguers who can be free agents at season’s end, or signing veterans to one-year contracts. More to the point, the Padres fish those waters year-round. Alderson has said such players can be extra motivated by the prospect of imminent free agency. Further, such a player can strengthen the farm system if his departure nets a draft pick or two.

    Whoa, that makes way too much sense.

  • Tom Verducci at has declared Jim Edmonds the NL’s most overrated player (h/t Phantom). I don’t understand this. Does anyone besides Verducci expect much from Edmonds these days? Verducci also cites Khalil Greene as the most underrated, which is nice but not exactly accurate. Greene at least shows up on the highlight reels for his defense. Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff would seem to be better choices.
  • John Conniff at MadFriars chats with Grady Fuson about the 2008 Portland Beavers (h/t LynchMob)
  • David Brooks at the New York Times offers a fascinating glimpse into the psychology of pitching (h/t Stu), citing two Padres (!) in his article:

    Dorfman once approached Greg Maddux after a game and asked him how it went. Maddux said simply: “Fifty out of 73.” He’d thrown 73 pitches and executed 50. Nothing else was relevant.

  • Doug Haller at the Arizona Republic ranks Chris Young’s fastball and Trevor Hoffman’s changeup among the five filthiest pitches in baseball (h/t Coronado Mike).
  • Love Jerry Colemanisms? Of course you do; go read ‘em at Rumors and Rants.
  • The legendary Bill James talks baseball with the New York Times (h/t Stu).

As always, feel free to add your own. Happy Friday!

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41 Responses »

  1. Forwarding from TW’s comment under previous post … BA’s doing an all-day chat on minor leaguers …

    … I’ve got a question in about Latos … we’ll see …

  2. I just read at MLBTR that the Red Sox are looking for a catcher. What ever happened to George Kottaras? Doesn’t seem like yesterday he was our top prospect? I guess all of us that were pissed to see him go were wrong.

    On a similar note… I wonder how the Padres front office feels after seeing Rick Porcello’s first pro ball start yesterday. Obviously it’s one start and not anywhere near the big league level but damn. It looks even better when you consider Nick Schmidt is probably just now able to use his left arm to brush his teeth.

  3. Going to see the Beavers on Sunday – well actually ‘working’ the game should be fun to see some of the guys.

    Hey LM hit me up via email td at rain-delay dot com

  4. 3 … will do, thanks!

    GY … do these comments help to ease your attendance anxiety?

    As of midafternoon Thursday, fewer than 1,800 remain for Friday night, fewer than 7,600 for Saturday afternoon and fewer than 7,400 for Sunday afternoon.

    Who’s going to games this weekend?

  5. 4.

    I’m going tomorrow!

  6. Looks like 3 sell outs coming for the weekend

  7. Nothing like having ESPN unabashedly belittle the Padres:

    We’re ranked below the D-Backs, Dodgers, and Rockies – despite playing a team that was arguably better than all of their opponents.

  8. 5: I’m going Saturday and Sunday!

  9. #4: Well, “anxiety” is overstating it. I still think this bears watching throughout the season, but yeah, people at the ballpark is a good thing.

  10. 7. I don’t mind that ranking. Even BP has them 4th and 1 or 2 spots in a power ranking isn’t anything significant, imo (not that the whole thing is significant in the first place). And I think it’s surely a positive that their ranking isn’t based on the few games played so far.

  11. KRS1 – Count me as one of the ones that was upset about the George Kottaras trade, and I still am….not because of his value on the ballfield (if you check the comments from then I was very skeptical, as were a few others, as to his abilities), but rather his “perceived value” in a trade. I still think that getting Boomer for Kottaras was not a good trade. Sure, George is not a legit MLB prospect today, but he was viewed that way by many and we did not leverage that very well.

  12. Some clips from the BA chat about Padres minor leaguers:

    Q: Fred from Irvine, CA asks:
    Fred from Irvine, CA asks: Where is Matt Bush starting this year? Still pitching? What are his chances to make it to the show?

    A: Matt Eddy: Bush had Tommy John surgery last summer and is currently on the disabled list for high Class A Lake Elsinore. His batting days are behind him; he’s a power reliever all the way. As to his chances of making the majors, it’s tough to say. But seeing as he was the first overall pick in 2004, he’ll be given his fair share of opportunities.


    Q: Ben from San Diego asks:
    A name that seems to be popping up on the radar for the Padres is 2B/3B Rayner Contreras. What do you see from him this year and what position does he profile best at?

    A: Matt Eddy: Contreras profiles best offensively at second base, but defensively he’s more of a third baseman. His tools are a bit at odds with his ceiling, because he has speed and solid gap power, but he lacks classic infield actions. He bats righthanded, too, and most teams have plenty of options among righthanded backup infielders. Contreras is out with injury at the moment and has not yet been assigned to a minor league roster.


    Q: Tim from Santee, CA asks:
    Ben, what kind of season do you project from Matt Latos? Also, is it spelled Mat or Matt?-I’ve seen it with one T on a number of occasions.

    A: Matt Eddy: Latos is hanging out in extended spring for the time being. The Northwest League strikeout champ could compete in the Cal League right now.

    Matt Eddy: But as to the key question: Matt or Mat? His birth name is Mathew, but he was referred to as Matt throughout his amateur career. But now the Padres refer to him mostly as Mat, so that’s probably the way to go.

  13. 2:

    I think the problem with the Porcello/Schmidt debate is that we’re not looking at it from Moores’ perspective. The amount of savings is incredible. Schmidt’s bonus was only $1.260m and the chances of him being a bust are pretty high (he’ll be 24 next season and will never have pitched above Low A) he probably won’t make much more than $1m in major league salaries (if he even makes it). Porcello signed a 4 year, $7.28m major league deal plus the chances of him being good are much higher (you figure that if he pans out he’ll cost upwards of $10m in salary). So by taking Schmidt over Porcello, Moores might have saved $15m or more. That’s not an insignificant chunk of money.

    By the same token, you can see the genius in taking Matt Bush over Jared Weaver in 2004. Bush got $3.150m signing bonus and that’s likely it for his career (he might make it to the majors as a reliever but not for the Padres). Weaver would have made at least $5m as the 1st pick (probably at least $6m) plus he’s going to make at least $20m for the Angels in his 6 years before free agency. That pick alone saved Moores well over $20m. Again, that’s a lot of money.

    Of course, of lot of this is sarcastic but without that savings who knows if they extend Jake Peavy? Now there is also some lost income involved in the Bush signing — maybe they win at least one playoff series in 2006 and they definitely make the playoffs last year with Weaver and the increased revenues from that make it possible for the team to afford Peavy. I don’t know the correct answer although in retrospect it surely looks like taking Bush over Weaver was a huge mistake, I hope that the decision to save money last season doesn’t turn out to be the same.

  14. In case you are still interested, here is another question/answer from BA on a Padres prospect:

    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.

  15. 14 … re: Geer … that’s a very fair/realistic reply, imo … of course i’m rooting for more, but that’s a 3000-to-1 long shot at best …

  16. Can you imagine the Padres pitching staff if they didn’t butcher their first round picks in 2003, 2004 and 2007 (although it might be unfair to lump Stauffer in there as injuries have really killed his career). In 2010 the Padres would have a 29 year old Peavy, 31 year old Young, 28 year old Jared Weaver as their anchors along with Porcello (21), Leblanc (25), Inman (23), Geer (27), Latos (22) as potential starters. That would look pretty good in Petco Park. That pitching along with an offensive core of Gonzalez, Kouz, Headley, Antonelli, Hairston and Greene (if he stays) would probably lead to a pretty good team.

  17. 13: I know the draft thing has been covered a ton BUT …

    you’re looking that in terms of money saved. You could also look at it in terms of money saved. If Porcello turns into a major leaguer, the Padres saving a ton of money as he’s paid minimum salaries and is an ace type pitcher. Of course, he could turn into an average pitcher, a bust, etc. All that has to be considered.

  18. 17: um, yeah, my second line there is supposed to say “money lost.”

  19. I like the way everyone that doesn’t have an outstanding fastball gets compared to Maddux. I think people forget how hard Maddux threw in his prime, I certainly remember his fastball being in the mid-nineties when he was with the Cubs and his first few years with the Braves.

  20. 17: Some of that post was supposed to be sarcastic but then again, I can see the benefits to saving money on the draft (at least to Moores’ personal pocketbook). Certainly if the Padres spent money on the draft in 2004 and 2007 and those picks didn’t pan out (and with the Padres record in developing young players the chances are probably high) maybe they don’t extend Jake. I think everyone here would rather have Jake then the potential of Porcello and Weaver, especially since this historically hasn’t been a good place for young players to reach that potential. That maybe was a key point in not drafting for Porcello — since the Padres have zero recent history in developing a high school pitcher, why waste the money on him? Better to take the finished product in Nick Schmidt. The recent facts (and the success of Greene and now maybe Headley and Antonelli) show that this might be the right way for the Padres. It’s not exactly ideal but I guess you have to go with what works for you.

  21. Yeah Maddux used to work in the 92-93 range, he didn’t always top out at 85-86 like he does now, plus he has so much natural movement on his pitches.

    On the draft stuff-I would have loved for them to be aggressive and take Porcello, but I think we all know that this organization isn’t going to commit 7+M to a high school kid any time soon.

    If they take relatively “safe” picks on the US side, but bring in some high upside guys from latin America….that might not be the worst way to go about building a farm system given their revenues.

  22. 20. You make some good points on Porcello, but there are also a few other factors that should be taken into account. (1) Although Porcello has a tremendous upside, his contract demands made it a very expensive gamble. Remember players such as Jeff Allison in 2003, Mark Rodgers in 2004 and Kyle Drabek in 2005 had similiar upsides but haven’t come through for one reason or another.

    Taking a right-handed high school pitcher has always been one of the more riskier propositions in the draft. Heck even taking a college pitcher and investing that much money in him isn’t exactly the smartest business plan. For example in the 2004 draft I would have gone for Jeff Nieman, who still hasn’t gotten out of the minors with Tampa.

    Spending the amount of money on Porcello was more than the team spent on the entire draft this year in addition to having to put him on the 40 man roster right now – which is something they weren’t crazy about. Honestly, I’m not sure which way I would have gone but (1) its not my money and (2) its not my butt if he doesn’t make it.

    You can make a better argument that the Padres should have taken a flier on Michael Main, who was selected right after Schmidt by Texas for less money was a better pick.

  23. Today’s UT has the TV ratings for this week’s past games and while attendance was down, the ratings seemed real good. So intrest in the team is there, I’m sure it was just weather/prices keeping people away.

  24. #4: I’m there tonight and Sunday. I always find Friday night crowds to be a great time. End of the week. Blowing off steam from work. Crowd really gets going, although some of it is alcohol induced.

  25. Allison, Rodgers and Drabek weren’t as heralded as Porcello. I certainly wouldn’t throw money as just anyone but Porcello was said to be the best high school right handed pitcher since Josh Beckett — I don’t think that the others had quite that much praise around them.

    As I said, I don’t know if it makes sense for the Padres to take high school players since they have a complete inability to develop them (other then Peavy, for some reason I left him out before). Right now they have only 3 players on their 25 man roster that were drafted and developed by them (Germano moved around a bit so I’m not counting him) — Peavy, Greene (probably the two most irreplaceable players) and McAnulty. That’s not much of a track record. Now maybe Porcello would have turned into another Peavy, but then again he might have turned into Matt Bush.

  26. 11: That’s exactly it. Kottaras wasn’t just our most highly valued prospect, other organizations thought well of him too. Trading him for a month of David Wells was poor resource management, whatever happened (and happens) to Kottaras in the future.

    That works for the draft, too. Just because a high-upside player eventually flames out doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have been a better pick than somebody who turns into a utility player or a journeyman or flames out at a higher level. The day after the Marlins signed Jeff Allison they could have traded him for a big return.

  27. 25. (1) Since Germano was drafted by the Padres, played at every level of the minor leagues with them – I would count him. (2) They haven’t drafted many high school players – but recently have had sucess with Cedric Hunter and Drew Cumberland and 2 good draft-and-follow selctions with only one year of JC, Latos and Blanks. (3) Allison, Drabeck and Rodgers didn’t get the tag that Porcello did, but they were pretty close, especially Allison.

    I think more of the problems of the Padres farm system were from some bad drafts – namely 2003 and 2004 – before the Fuson regime and Bruce Bochy not really wanting to play young guys.

    I go back and forth on Porcello too, but its just very hard to tell with high school guys and its quite a big investment, which is usually several times the rate of standard first rounder.

    If you want to go back a few years the Padres did take a big gamble on a high school kid once upon a time – 2000 with Mark Phillips. Gave the big lefty $2.2 million – Baseball America said he had control of three pitches and a fastball that touched 96. Kevin Towers went out to PA to personally scout him and raved.

    He never made it out of A ball.

  28. 26. True, but after waiting the mandatory year teams may have been concerned with his drug habit.

  29. For the P-Mac fans:

    Mudcatsfan from Raleigh, NC asks:
    What are your thoughts on Paul McAnulty? Matt Stairs v2.0? or more? Gotta love his production, can we ignore his lack of upside?

    John Manuel: Lots o’ Mudcats Fan questions, I took my favorites . . . McAnulty’s absolute ceiling is Stairs but I doubt he gets there. Stairs was once athletic (he was a 2b in the low minors). I like McAnulty but not that much.

    It’s hard to picture Matt Stairs playing 2B, isn’t it?

  30. 27:

    I’m not calling Hunter or Cumberland a success yet, especially the latter. He’s an intriguing player, but he’s barely had 100 minor league at bats.


    Allison would have to be a PTBNL, but they’d still have to wait a bit unless they fudged his DL status. But really, the list of higher-upside kids who held enormous trade value for their first year is long.

    In terms of risk vs reward, draft picks aren’t very expensive. I’ve used this example before, but a losing team that chooses to spend 9 million on Matt Morris and not less on Rick Porcello is stupid.

    Yes, Phillips flamed, but so did college pitchers Adam Johnson and Beau Hale, first rounders both.

  31. 31: To me the Porcelo / veteran question is a little more complicated. If that losing team has farm system filled with young talent then getting Porcello could be a strategic move that jump starts the organization. But, if their system is essentially bear, the Porcelo acquisition would be an act of futility.

    Today, The Padres are a winning team with a stocked system. You could make the argument that Porcello would of been a low risk gamble, because they have enough talent in the system to absorb the loss.

  32. 31: I don’t understand how that works. How is adding a potentially great player to your system ever futile? The kid they drafted in the first round, Moskos, got 2.5 million. He’s somewhat less likely to fail completely than Porcello, but he’s far more likely to turn into a situational reliever. A system doesn’t get better by adding less-talented players. But the question wasn’t between Porcello and Moskos. It was between Matt Morris and Porcello. Unless the Pirates trade him, they’ll have spent about 12 million on a player who will still not help them much. If they just need an innings eater to help protect their young major league arms, there were plenty around at a much lower cost.

    The Padre system is stocked only compared to its recent barrenness. It’s better than it was, but it’s not stocked. It’s heavy on corner position players with limited athleticism and pitchability arms.

  33. 30: To be clear, I’m not calling Hunter or Cumberland a failure at all. Just not a success yet, not until Hunter flashes either more power or better D in CF and at least until Cumberland has played a full season.

  34. 32, It is futile because an empty system is a systamatic failure and if you do not start by adressing that issue, continued failure goes with the territory. The perenial loser that sees Porcello as their savior is going to wind up with Porcello and nothing much else. IMAO. You cannot fix a broken system with one bold stroke. The solution for the Pirates was not Porcello or Morris, they need to build an entire system, not purchase a crown jewl.

  35. 34: Nothing stopped the Pirates (or any other team with a low-ranked system) from drafting Porcello, paying him with the money they later allocated to Morris (far from all of it), and then using their ‘regular’ draft budget on other players. Nothing except a desire to adhere to slot.

    The Tigers built a tremendous farm system by continually purchasing crown jewels. They then traded almost everybody away, but at this point last year they had a great minor league system based largely on jewels like Verlander, Maybin, Miller, and Porcello.

  36. 34: Let me add that if you’ve experienced systemic failure that continues until the day of the draft, it seems to make MORE sense to take a consensus top talent. You already know that your process for evaluating amateur talent doesn’t work. Why continue to use a broken process in hopes that this time you’ll execute it better? Draft the best available player, get your process in order, continue.

  37. I think that a lot of teams are extremely negative when it comes to drafting. A lot of teams probably looked at Porcello’s price tag and figured that he wouldn’t pan out and so the money would be wasted, the Padres obviously thought this way. Now for some teams, like the Pirates or Padres, that might make sense because of their track record. Other teams, like the Tigers, know that they can develop pitchers (look at the difference between the #1 and #2 picks of 2004) so they don’t have a problem with spending the money.

  38. Speaking of he Colemanisms I have an almost-Colemanism. I once was sure I heard him say, “Tim Flannery at the plate. Bad legs, no balls, two strikes.” I immediately pointed this out to someone with me and he told me that Coleman said, “battling, no balls, two strikes.” Oh, well. Almost.

  39. Mark…I like your story better than the likely truth. I will hold onto it.

  40. In Vegas tonight and hoping to find a sports book that is playing the LA/SD game. OT — So much more building still going on here. I think the bubble has bursted. 6000 new foreclosures this month. Traffic too…….went to Hoover Dam today and it took 3 hours.

    I still think they could get an MLB team someday. Tons of people out here now plus lots of out of towners who’d stop to see a game. If they built it right off the strip people would walk to the game. Only problem is the gambling thing =)