Falling Off the Bandwagon

We are all products of our environment. The recent environment in San Diego baseball has been one of winning. Since moving downtown for the 2004 season, the Padres have seen unprecedented on-field success. For the first time in franchise history they’ve enjoyed four straight winning seasons. In 2005 and 2006, they reached the post-season in back-to-back seasons, another first. And as fans in these parts are all too aware, they came within a strike of making it three straight.

Through Monday, the Padres have won 360 games since 2004. That’s more wins than all but three teams in the National League (Cardinals, 389; Phillies, 369; Braves, 368) over the same period. Only the Padres and Phillies have posted winning records in each of the past four seasons.

Critics will cite the Padres’ lack of post-season success as evidence that the team has been “good but not great.” This ignores the fact that short series are largely variable and therefore unpredictable. Would anyone call the 2006 Cardinals a great team on the basis of their World Championship? They won 83 regular-season games that year, the same number as Florida had won the previous season. Heck, the Padres have exceeded that total in three of their first four years at Petco Park.

It’s in this context that we’re seeing an interesting response from fans in the wake of a poor stretch to begin 2008: people are giving up on the team six weeks into the season. Perhaps in the absence of adversity, we’ve lost the ability to deal with it. Perhaps the way 2007 ended has battered our collective ego to the point where we can’t shake it. Or perhaps we really are as fickle as our reputation (“Know what California and granola have in common? Just a bunch of nuts and flakes.”).

Listen to talk radio, read the papers (heck, they’ve even got the players buying into it), or peruse the comments right here. There is a sense of panic more appropriate to followers of an organization in disarray — the Pirates, Nationals, or Reds, to name a few recent examples. For fans of a team that is in the midst of its most successful run in nearly 40 years of existence to start fantasizing about next year with more than 120 games remaining on the schedule is nearly unfathomable, but that’s just what we’re doing.

Sociology of Sports

If you find this stuff interesting, and you probably don’t, there’s some good work being done in this area. I haven’t read through all of these carefully yet, but I’ve skimmed them and they appear to be worthy of further attention:

Academic Papers

Masters Thesis



This list is hardly comprehensive, I’m sure, but it’s a starting point.

The notion of fans abandoning their team when things go bad isn’t unique to San Diego. Sociologists have even come up with a couple catchy acronyms — BIRGing and CORFing — to help explain our behavior. BIRG stands for “basking in reflected glow,” while CORF is “cutting off reflected failure.” The clothes we wear and the pronouns we use in discussing a team (“we” win, while “they” lose) are manifestations of this. I haven’t found anything in the literature about bad-mouthing one’s own team, but I’m guessing that would constitute a form of CORFing.

Whatever the case, we’re encountering a lot of mindless negativity (as opposed to “constructive criticism,” which would focus more on solving problems than on belaboring them) toward the Padres right now in spite of their recent success. Where negativity does yield to constructive criticism, most of the “solutions” we’re seeing concern the promise of a brighter future as opposed to fixing the here-and-now. (The sociologists probably have something to say about that as well, but no matter.)

In this vein, I’ve heard some creative suggestions for “rebuilding for the future”; here are my favorites:

Jettison the Veterans and Let the Kids Play

The abstract concepts of, say, Matt Antonelli, Chad Huffman, and Wade LeBlanc are more appealing to many than are the tangible realities of, oh, Tadahito Iguchi, Paul McAnulty, and Shawn Estes. Nothing against Antonelli, Huffman, and LeBlanc, all of whom are fine young prospects, but it’s a lot easier to love them when you haven’t seen them play yet.

We have a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of Iguchi, McAnulty, and Estes (well, I don’t think he has any strengths, but you get the idea) because we’ve watched them enough to have a feel for their game. The prospects, on the other hand, are just romantic notions in our heads. They are a magic pill that will “solve” whatever it is that people imagine ails the franchise.

What happens when the pill doesn’t work? We had Ryan Braun in our minds but we got Adrian Gonzalez instead. Not the Gonzalez we’ve come to know and love, but the version the Rangers gave up on too soon.

So there’s one question: How long do you wait for the kids to become productive big leaguers before jettisoning them in favor of the next wave of prospects? Here’s another: How much confidence do you then have that your player development people will convert those kids into somethng useful?

Part of the trouble with embarking on a full rebuild is that you’re effectively putting all of your proverbial eggs into one equally proverbial basket. We saw how well that worked in center field this year. Even if the talent is there, why would an organization want to bet the farm on, well, the farm?

The Arizona Diamondbacks won 90 games last year with a youth-oriented roster. They’d won 76 the previous season. Aside from the fact that they have some exceptional talent in their system (how many teams can cast aside Carlos Quentin because they’ve got younger and better options?), the fact is that veterans like Orlando Hudson, Eric Byrnes, Doug Davis, and Livan Hernandez all played prominent roles on the ’07 squad (with Tony Clark and Randy Johnson providing value in more limited opportunities). If the Snakes had decided to ditch even one of those guys because of a “youth movement,” they most likely wouldn’t have won the NL West. By most standards, failure to reach the playoffs would be considered a less successful season.

Trade Established Guys Who Are Overrated

This one’s tricky because there’s a subtle bias at work. Look at the word “overrated.” Who is rating these players and according to what criteria? I’ve heard the label slapped on Kevin Kouzmanoff, Khalil Greene, and Chris Young, among others. We watch these players every day, and maybe in the process we lose some of our objectivity in attempting to evaluate them. It’s hard not to do that. It’s difficult to separate, e.g., Greene’s career 98 OPS+ from the image of his flailing at sliders down and away. We had trouble doing it with Phil Nevin when he was here, why should Khalil be any different?

Returning to the issue at hand, the concept, as I understand it, is that the Padres should trade these guys while they still have value. Of course, trades don’t happen in a vacuum. At the risk of sounding incredibly crass by speaking of human beings in this manner, an exchange of goods takes place. So if you decide to move Greene or Young, you’ll be getting something in return for them. And of course, from the Padres standpoint, a trade makes sense only if they’re able to get equal or greater value as a result of such a move. (I know this seems like really basic stuff, but you’d be surprised how many people miss the concept and simply want to trade someone because, well, just because.)

The good news is that Kevin Towers has a tremendous track record when it comes to making trades (see pp. 164-190 of the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual). That said, there still has to be a market. And if nobody wants (or more appropriately, is willing to pay an agreeable price for) the guys he might be dangling, then what can he do?

So when we talk about “overrated” and “while he still has value,” we need to be careful in defining our terms. Young, for example, is a solid #2 starter on most teams, maybe a #3 on some. I doubt that many executives view him as more than that, but if Towers can find one who does, then by all means, he should explore whatever resulting opportunities might arise. Unfortunately, for the most part (yes, there are exceptions), these guys getting paid big bucks to make big decisions aren’t nearly as stupid as we seem to think they are. Every now and then a team will run into something spectacular, but if it were that easy to turn, say, Young into Jose Reyes, then it would happen more often.

More to the point, the fact that you or I may think a player is “overrated” doesn’t make it so. And therefore our conception of his value shouldn’t play a role in what a team’s general manager, who is charged with doing this sort of thing for a living and at stakes a tad higher than bragging rights at the water cooler, ultimately decides to do in terms of personnel moves. (And if it does play a role, then you should be very afraid of your team’s general manager because he is making decisions based on the wrong inputs.)

Play for the First Overall Pick in 2009

It’s been suggested that the Padres might be better off trying to lose as many games as possible so they can tab SDSU right-hander Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick in 2009. This is so rich, I hardly know where to start.

Let’s disregard the ethical implications for a moment and focus on the strategy itself. Assuming the Padres finished with the worst record in baseball this year, picked Strasburg, and signed him, how long would it take to develop him into a big-league pitcher and what upside would he have? What are the risks involved in such an investment?

History shows that the chance for failure exists. Even if Strasburg (or whoever) makes it to the big leagues and achieves some degree of success, will it be enough to turn around a franchise that just finished with the worst record in baseball? According to Jim Callis, of the 301 first-round picks from 1990 to 1997, a mere 4.3% became stars. Those are pretty long odds.

Shifting our attention to ethical considerations, there are two basic problems. First, the strategy demonstrates a lack of integrity and respect for the game. It also betrays an alarming ignorance of history. You may recall that (some of) the Chicago White Sox tried to lose games in 1919 and it didn’t go so well. Pete Rose? There’s a reason he’s not in the Hall of Fame. (Although he never bet against his team explicitly, you have to wonder what he was thinking on days he didn’t bet for his team.)

Second, it breeds tolerance for and even encouragement of losing on the field of battle. If you tell your charges that the goal for this season is to lose as many games as possible in pursuit of the first pick in next year’s draft, how motivated do you suppose those players will be to perform for you when you’re ready for them to stop losing?

As strategies go, this one is right up there with cramming oneself into a barrel and floating over Niagara Falls. It could work, but I wouldn’t want to bet anything of value on it.

Bringing It All Home

The Padres have played some of their best baseball in franchise history over the past four years. Fans have been mostly supportive — the occasional grousing about payroll, beer prices, and “boring” (low-scoring) games notwithstanding. Despite the level of trust we might expect this to afford the club, with less than a quarter of the season behind us, many folks have given up hope. Attendance is at its lowest since the Padres moved to Petco Park, and fans are more interested in ditching the current plan in favor of some other, ill-defined plan than in seeing their team make an honest attempt to compete.

Without question, the Padres are off to a poor start. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. They aren’t hitting well and they aren’t pitching well. They’re already 8 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, and it will take a fantastic effort to make up that kind of ground. At the same time, with 123 games remaining on the schedule, it’s hardly fait accompli that the team will continue to stink all year.

With a few notable exceptions, players aren’t performing up to their abilities. Greene and Josh Bard have been hitting well below their established norms, Young has been inconsistent, and Trevor Hoffman stumbled out of the gate. In the case of Hoffman, maybe we could sense it coming because of his age, but the other guys are in their primes. We knew there were questions in center field and the #5 spot in the rotation, but who imagined the bullpen collapsing the way it has?

The season is long. We’ve gotten spoiled with a winning environment these past four years, and that’s great because — well, it’s been a long time coming and we deserve it. The downside is that success raises our expectations. When the club falls short, we don’t quite know what to do. The logical course of action would seem to be getting behind the team and encouraging them to win, but instead we stop attending games and devise various schemes for tearing the club apart and putting it back together again.

It’s a fascinating response, don’t you think?

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94 Responses »

  1. #29@parlo: This is good food for thought, thanks. I will have to take a closer look at the ’74 Mets.

    #34@Bryan: Yes, I agree that the current regime is paying for the futility of eras past. It’s too bad, but that seems to be the reality. As for 86.5 wins, NL teams have reached the post-season with fewer in each of the past three seasons, and one of them won a World Series.


    …combine a fan base where a good percentage readily admits that the Padres are their second favorite team in baseball and that leads to people just looking for something else to do until the team turns it around again.

    That’s a pretty good description of “fickle,” I think.

  2. #48@Schlom: I did consider this. Here’s a bit that got cut during editing…

    Acknowledging that the first pick overall won’t necessarily be a franchise-changing player (sure, I’ll give you Harold Baines, Darryl Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, and Alex Rodriguez; you can give me David Clyde, Danny Goodwin, Al Chambers, Shawn Abner, and Matt Anderson)…

    Assuming that you’ll end up with one of the former is a dangerous idea.

  3. Speaking of Strasburg, on Baseball America today:

    Great writing, Geoff. Love feeling the fire in you. Just what we need right now.

    I commend you on mentioning the integrity of the baseball game. At times we as fans just lose it and completely forgot how good a baseball game is and that we all should enjoy it as such and that means taking the losing gracefully at times like this.

  4. I disagree that people should not be frustrated. As others have outlined, the FO took some risky moves that seemed to designed to fill things in on the cheap this year.

    Capable CF options were out there
    Just saying “Hairston is it” without any plausible back up is very risk
    Capable 4/5 options were out there
    Just saying “Kouz is it” without any plausible back up is somewhat risky
    Bullpen is hard to predict, but they ended up with some stinkers; this may be bad outcomes to good decisions

    Then there is my frustration with penny-wise/pound foolish on drafting. Granted drafting is messed up, but seeing the Padres trying to buck the system and enforce drafting slot discipline is fine but a losing battle.

    My final irk when I see them taking extra risk towards avoiding final commitment is the taxpayers have skin in this. They paid big money for the ballpark. What do they get? Pay more for tickets.

    This FO has been very good on trading and bullpen, but stingy on impact FA and on paying for quality draft picks. When you pull it off, yes, you can shut people up. When it blows up in your face, I don’t think you can ask people to say “Shucks, what do we do next?”

    Especially when the city ponied up money into the franchise.

    Again, it sure looks like they are gearing up for 2009 all along. But, if that is so, do it whole hog and not partially.

  5. #54@jay: Nearly every city “ponies up” money for their sports franchises, one way or another. It’s why the franchise is there. Ask the people in Seattle how they feel about the Supersonics getting stolen by Oklahoma City.

    By your logic, every team whose ever had a facility built with public monies must win, or they are renegging on their deal with the city. This seems like such a flawed argument to me. You voted to build a new ballpark to have the right to watch baseball. Give that choice to people in Nashville. Give that choice to people in Boise. Give that decision to people in New Orleans. I guarantee you they’ll vote for a team, even if they suck.

    I do not understand the conflation of “I voted for the stadium, therefore I deserve a winner.” You voted for a stadium. You voted for the privilege of watching a team play professional baseball. You didn’t vote for a World Series.

  6. 30: Nice counterpoints/addition.

  7. Geoff,

    Wow. That’s why I constantly tell you that you are a great writer.

    Keep it up, man.

    Dave Rouleau

  8. #54@jay:

    “This FO has been very good on trading and bullpen, but stingy on impact FA and on paying for quality draft picks. When you pull it off, yes, you can shut people up. When it blows up in your face, I don’t think you can ask people to say “Shucks, what do we do next?”

    That’s it. If the front office wants to be known as the uber-smart crew that thinks its way to success, then there’s no complaining when they get a D on an essay. They can’t talk about how much success they had with Piazza and Maddux and ignore Vinny Castilla and Jim Edmonds. They can’t use Jenga as an example of the buy-low philosophy and expect everyone to forgive Joe Randa. They can’t tout Kevin Cameron and throw up their hands when people ask about Joakim Soria.

  9. #55@Phantom: Not to speak for jay, but I didn’t see “I paid taxes and I deserve a winner.” I read that as “the citizens of San Diego have an investment in the franchise and have a right to make their feelings known, not to be accused of disloyalty.”

    GY was worried about the fan support before the season started. If he was right, and support had not kept pace with the team’s on-field success, then doesn’t the problem lies more with the Padres ability to sell themselves to the public than with the fans overreacting to a bad April. It’s like a parent telling his kid that the bedtime story is great because it won an award from Whatever Association Gives Kids Book Awards, but the kid thinks it’s boring. If fans aren’t buying the Padre “story,” then you need to get a new story or tell the current one differently.

  10. #55 Phantom: Much of your argument seems to be based on the idea that we should be grateful that we have a franchise, and therefore we should not ever complain. I wholeheartedly disagree.
    If our only alibi is to bring up Boise Idaho, and Nashville Tennessee, then god help us all.

  11. #55: its just the finesse on paying for talent; I am thankful we don’t do Juan Pierre deals, but in that calculus of how much to pay and how much is too much, when they err on the side of caution, which keeps the risk to their profitability lower, it is a trade-off of profits vs. higher-expected wining percentage. Knowing what that right trade-off is belongs to the FO, but in a year like this when they seem to err way on the side of frugality instead of filling holes, it irks you.

    I can stomach this easier when the public has not already tossed in a bunch of money to the franchise. I don’t know about other cities, but I know SF privately financed their stadium. Hate the Giants but respect that choice. They are the exception and not the rule, but it can be done.

    The NFL is much, much worse offender because they have much more favorable labor deals, with money flowing out of every orifice yet STILL make cities pony up for them to stay in the city or attract new ones. Given their profitability flows from exemption from anti-trust legislation, conferred by the government, it seems nuasiating greedy to stick up the government (albeit a different level) for more money. I digress.

    I still love our FO, our team, etc, but think we are big trouble this season, think we could have avoided it reasonably easily, and think the quality in the minors is going to need some FA help to compete.

  12. For those of you interested in the economic politics of stadiums, here is a site that deals with that issue. Its not always a simple issue. Some teams pay for construction of the stadium, but want free land and tax breaks that dwarf the construction costs. Each case needs to be looked at individually. And the economic boosts are always overstated.


  13. #52@Geoff Young: Absolutely I agree — however the chances of getting an all-star are still a lot higher then later in the draft. Of the #1 picks 16 of 42 have been all-stars (along with the three probably Hall of Famers in Griffey, Chipper and ARod). However, players like Burrell, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Upton haven’t made it yet and aren’t counted and it’s too early for Hochevar (although he’ll likely not make it but was also a signability pick as well). So either 19 or 20 (if Burrell can ever make it) of 42 first picks will have made the All-Star Game.

    Contrast the 1st pick with the 16th pick:

    Not only have only 28 players made the majors (none of the last 4 picks have made it yet however) there are only 7 All-Stars (Parrish, Tabler, Howe, Hernandez, Remlinger, Green and Berkman) and no probable Hall of Famers.

  14. #60@parlo: I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t have a right to complain. Complaining is one of the best part about being an American.

    What I was trying to communicate is that I don’t think there should be heartburn or expecations solely BECAUSE taxpayers made a contribution toward the franchsie. As you noted in 62, stadiums are paid for in a majority of ways, most of which rely on some component of public financing. Paying into a franchise through taxes shouldn’t be a reason to feel entitled to success. I’m not accusing you of this, but I definitely get the sense that there are people who illogically believed that if they supported Prop C, they were signing a contract for a World Series. This is simply not the case.

    It’s easy to blame the FO in San Diego, because we have such a small margin for error. Sure, people in LA are pissed about Andruw Jones failing miserably. But they have the financial resources that they can still effecitvely manuever around the problem. There is no way the Padres could deal with the situation if they had signed Jones to a similar contract. And it is exactly that risk, and that inability to recover from such a risk, that causes them to err on the side of financial conservatism.

    Not everyone can be confident that MLB will bail them out for irresponsible spending like the D-Backs did in the early 2000s.

  15. #15@Tom Waits: There have been a few comments in the past couple weeks that suggested the Padres tank to get the No. 1 pick. Geoff response was something like — that’s a crappy way to run a franchise.

    It’s has been an overwhelming movement, but there have been a few comments that suggested tanking.

  16. #65@Kevin: I didn’t see any that “suggested’ tanking. I saw a few that questioned whether the Padres would do it (no), but the others (that I read) were all about whether we could get the SDSU ace if we had the chance.

  17. I’d like to make the distinction between giving up on a season and giving up on the Padres. As “Bigworm” #12 mentions above, the Pads contending by September seems unlikely at this point. The Pads are the worst team in baseball and look horrible most games this year. I’ve been a Pads fan for almost 30 years and we’ve had some bad years. It is hard to watch night after night and see the Pads eke out 4 hits or have a slim lead blown by the bullpen late. It is just hard to take. So, I think even a loyal fan is going to watch fewer games this year. Getting punched in the gut night after night takes its toll. This is not “mindless negativity.” It is just reality. The ’08 Pads are not a good team. But, this does not mean that you give up loyalty to the team or don’t pull for them to do better.

  18. I agree about 99 percent with Geoff’s comments.

    I don’t know about some of the specifics — being sort of spoiled — because I don’t live in San Diego. In fact, I live about as far from San Diego as a fan can.

    But there have been a significant number of posts saying the season is over. Sure, one is entitled to that opinion. But if the season is over and all you are doing is waiting for a big trade or the draft, then stop keeping up with the season and don’t post.

    Not trying to be obtuse here, but if watching a baseball game isn’t innately enjoyable, especially in San Diego, at Petco Park, then do something that is innately enjoyable to you.

    I don’t understand the fanaticism that seems to be required to be a sports fan today. I think all of sports talk radio is unlistenable. I always thought pulling for the Padres was unique and cool, because San Diego didn’t have the same disposition as New York or Philly. The attitude seemed to be more laid back. If the win, great. If not, hell, we still live in San Diego and have the best hitter in baseball. For me, there has been enough winning since 1983 — when I became a fan — to satisfy me.

  19. #66@Tom Waits: I can’t really go trough all the posts of the last two weeks. But there were a few comments like that, enough that Geoff responded to one of them.

  20. #68@Kevin: That doesn’t seem to be what GY is complaining about, though. Fans ARE choosing to do something that is more pleasant to them than going to Petco and watching the Padres muster 5 hits, 1 run, and a loss. If the Phillies hd started the season at .360, they’d be burning people in effigy outside the park.

    So (many) people are responding in a laid-back way, and that triggers a call that “You shouldn’t do that. You should go to the games and take your lumps. And don’t complain about the 5 hits, either, because 15 years ago the team was worse.”

  21. #64: Why does Andruw Jones enter every discussion about the Padres? The Padres FO chose to field a team with Jim Edmonds, Scott Hairston, Bard, Callix Crabbe, McAnulty, and Tony Clark. We need to look in our own mirror. They raised ticket prices at the same time, and told us this was a 90 win team. The Dodgers, Cardinals, and Yankees have been involved in Latin American player development for decades. The Padres ownership has been involved for two weeks. Moores didnt promise a WS, but he did lead people to believe that the FO would be more aggressive in fielding a championship caliber team. If you believe that Edmonds, Hairston and Bard fulfill that promise, so be it. You have a right to your opinion.
    But I respectfully disagree!

  22. #70@Tom Waits: True enough. But I think what he is saying, which I agree with, is that the posters here are complaining and being negative. That’s who I’m talking about when I say, maybe this team is too frustrating for you and maybe a movie or walk on the beach would be better.

    Here is at least one comment about tanking the season and Geoff’s response:


  23. #71@parlo: Andruw Jones enters the discussion because it’s a salient point about the ability of the team to take on considerable financial risk. Just because you don’t like what it points out doesn’t mean it’s an invlaid point.

    Bard was a fantastic offensive catcher last year, probably one of the most underrated in the NL. Scott Hairston looked phenomenal last year when he was with us. Going into the season, I think many of us thought we were a mid to high 80 win team. If that’s not contending, I don’t know what is.

    Again, the FO cannot be blamed for failing to predict that certain members of the team would completely abandon their historical track record. I just don’t see how the team could have possibly predicted that Khalil and Bard would completely regress and that the bullpen would implode. Are you going to blame the team for not having adequate replacements for those players? Barrett got hurt and Khalil has pretty much always been the starter, regardless of his offensive struggles. Crabbe is probably as effective as a Geoff Blum or Oscar Robles. That’s why they’re backups.

    And as for the bullpen, nobody saw Thatcher’s demise coming. Sure, Trevor struggled at horribly inopportune times. But the rest of our struggles in the bully were for the most part unanticipated.

  24. #72@Kevin: That was from me. I was wondering if the Front Office would tank the season, not whether I thought they should. In fact, I said they shouldn’t because it wouldn’t matter if they got the 1st pick as the chances of them getting nothing from that pick (based on past history) are very high.

    If you read my follow-up comment: http://ducksnorts.com/blog/2008/05/friday-links-9-may-08.html#comment-183165
    you can see I was specifically talking about the Padres, not me.

    If this were about another team (with success drafting and developing pitchers) I’d want them to finish last. In reality, what’s the difference between 64 wins (and a potential dominated ace) and 75 wins? Wouldn’t make that much difference to me although I think you should either compete or rebuild for a following season.

  25. #72@Kevin: That’s exactly what I’m getting at. I don’t see anything in Schlom’s post that ADVOCATES for tanking the season, but a question of if the Padres would do it. I guess what I’m suggesting is that maybe people are seeing radicalism where it’s not.

    On the complaining thing, a lot of that is based on individual tolerance. This isn’t intended to pick a fight with you, but your own web site has stories that are highly critical of Bud Black. GY has posted his own comments that call the team to task for both in-game play and specific player decisions (notably Estes). It’s hard for me to see why “that” complaining is okay but criticizing the team for Edmonds, Hairston, Rusch, Germano, etc. is beyond the pale. It’s the kind of a line that squiggles all over the place.

  26. I think a better question is whether or not the Padres thought they were even going to compete this season. From the somewhat strange comments by John Moores before the season (I can’t remember exactly what they were but they didn’t sound real confident) to the way the team was put together — no real improvement from last season when they finished in 3rd place and the teams above them were significantly younger and the Dodgers spent a ton of money to improve, I’m not sure the front office really had much faith in the teams ability to compete. I’m sure they were hoping for a St. Louis Cardinals type start (where the scrubs and retreads start off amazing) where they could hang around through the summer and hope to improve at the trade deadline and their rivals to fade down the stretch. That’s not too unrealistic as it almost happened last year (only the Rockies unprecedented stretch run kept them out of the playoffs) and their gambles weren’t any more outlandish then the Cardinals (in fact their outfielders all had better track records then the Cardinals).

    But I think the main point that Geoff is making — that it’s too early to give up on the season — is probably true. As we learned from last season and 2006 anything can happen. Each day that they scuffle along lowers the odds of course, but if a .500 team can win 21 of their last 22 games (33-10 down the stretch) or a crappy 83 win team that went 25-36 to finish of the season (.409 winning percentage or about 2 games better then the Padres right now) then anything can happen.

  27. I don’t have the time nor the patience to read all of the previous posts, so I’ll just stick my own two cents in and be done with it.

    Re: Falling Off the Bandwagon
    Kudos GY for your opening thoughts and observations. I’ve never considered myself a ‘Bandwagon’ type fan. I’ve always supported whatever city’s team I lived in. I grew up in the Chicago fan area as a Cubs fan, but I was still cheering on the Padres last night. I stuck by the Chargers the year they went 1-15. If it were possible, I would be a full blown season ticket holder, regardless of the teams performance. Work and family don’t permit that option.
    As for losing deliberately, I’m appalled by that. Look what happened to the Chargers when they had a first round draft pick and chose Ryan Leaf-’nuff said.
    I am upset when out teams lose. But, I keep on supporting them for love of the game and our fine city. Thank You.

  28. #73 Phantom: Point well taken. The FO has already said it would not pursue high priced FAs. I am not criticizing that stance. Thats why I think the Zito and Andruw Jones comments that pop up in every Padre conversation are a diversion tact. Why not bring up Wayne Garland too. I didnt expect them to sign Santana or Guerrero either. But if you are not going to pursue FAs, then there should be a solid farm system in place. Moores has owned the team since 1994, and only now are they starting to focus on the DR. The farm system has been unproductive for years.
    And regardless of the good or bad FAs, the FO still chose to field a team that included Edmonds, Hairston, McAnulty, Crabbe, Bard, and Clark. Their backup plan is Gerut.

  29. #75@Tom Waits: #74@Schlom:

    I guess I took it as a suggestion because it’s such an odd idea. I don’t think a team would do that. Not in baseball, I don’t think. I guess I read it too it a little.

    As for the criticism of Black, I think that’s legitimate criticism, things I might say if the team would winning. I probably wouldn’t, but modern day use of all bullpens is stupid. What I fail to understand is the sky is falling, the season is over attitude. Not among San Diego fans in general but on this blog, because those are the only Padres fans I know.

    Criticism is OK and interesting. But if the season is “over,” then why follow it. Maybe I’m taking that too literally, but it seems to be a constant post. I think the Padres could go .500 or better the rest of the way, and I don’t think that’s dreaming. A baseball is season is always fascinating and interesting and innately enjoyable.

  30. #76 Schlom: here is the story from 3/3/2008 where Moores says that we hope to play meaningful games in September. Its the best we can hope for, or something to that effect. If you read the comments, I was very critical of the Edmonds signing. HA!


  31. #79 Kevin: My criticism is real, but it is not to be confused with abandoning ship. I find myself challenging points made on here, that state this is a very good team that is just playing poorly, or has had bad luck. (there are still a few people here claiming that)
    I see serious flaws from the field, to the FO, to the farm system.
    But I think you are right that the team could play .500 from here on out. The pitching is too good for this to get much worse.

  32. #75@Tom Waits: For me, personally, there’s a question of intent. If BB makes mistakes, Estes sucks, or whatever, that stuff happens. But if I ever come to believe the front office is “tanking” anything, I’ll have to rethink a great many things. And again, personally, I think they have done enough positive for this franchise that I won’t question their integrity in such matters.

  33. Let’s say the front office went crazy over the off season. Instead of settling for Edmonds, Towers got Shapiro really drunk and traded David Freese for Grady Sizemore. Next, they went out and signed Bonds for $10 million to play left field, and he comes out and hasn’t lost anything over last year. Finally, they address the fifth starter spot by shelling out the big bucks for Hiroki Kuroda. Bam, we’ve gone from question marks in left, center, and 5th starter to having some of the best players in the league for those spots, although it did take a $20 million increase in payroll. Now you’ve got potentially the best team in the league! And yet, after all those moves, you’re still looking at a team that’s something like 19-20 at this point and still 4ish games back. Sizemore’s about 2 wins better than Edmonds, Bonds is about a win better than our current left fielders, and Kuroda’s a win or two better than our fifth starters. 5 wins better after these ridiculous moves, and still under .500. Small, simple moves were not going to be enough to make this team a contender at this point.

  34. Though there are certainly more people in the San Diego area now than there was in 1984, I still have to cringe a bit when I hear about people complain about a 30,000 crowd average when I clearly remember crowds of 9,500 for a Padre team that was playing .600 (mid June) for the first time in its franchise history. I’ll never forget reading and hearing the many commentaries in the local media (and L.A media) at the time, openly questioning San Diego’s fans and their love for baseball when a Monday Night Game of the WeeK (National feed as most were) against the 2nd place Braves and only 9,271 show up.


    My point –This franchise has come a long way !

  35. #82@Geoff Young: I’ve had a hard time questioning 98% of what the FO has done given Sandy and Kevin’s track record to date.

  36. #81@parlo: I don’t think you are abandoning ship. I think there is a lot of talk radio vitriol. Not saying you are a part of that, because I don’t remember all of your specific posts.

  37. Why all the hate for Estes ? If so, fine but at least spread the extreme dislike to newly acquired Bryan Corey who is one year younger than Estes but hasn’t accomplished, even recently, one-sixth of what Estes has done in his career. Point is, sometimes a grizzled vet taken off the deep shelf can offer quite a lift (many examples posited upon request). Estes worked his butt off to get back here and truth be told, put up much better numbers than any other starter up a Portland. He deserves this start.

  38. #86 Kevin: You cant group every person who is dissatisfied with the team into the same group. Isnt that what talk radio does also?

  39. #83@Ben B.: still looking at a team that’s something like 19-20 at this point and still 4ish games back. —

    I’ll take this in a heartbeat !!! 14-25 puts a team on the cusp of it being an almost unprecedented – impossible trek while 19-20 – 5 games better is huge after only 38 chances —
    19-20 – I’ll take it. Its early, two 17-10 month’s and we in the hunt. Two good months now and we barely break .500

  40. #83@Ben B.: I guess that is where my interest in new stats diverges from many others and sways back into older school baseball scouting.

    Taken in a vacumme, those numbers may be right, but I would go so far as to say this team would have been significantly better than 500 with those type of changes. We suddenly catch that double that scored two b/c Sizemore gets on his horse and tracks it down…we have the bomb in the 10 inning by Bonds, saving 12 extra frames, and probably a lot of wear and tear on Bard…we might have even pulled out a couple more because Kuroda kept us in the game.

    The residule effect of those type of moves cannot be statistically measured, no matter what Bill James says. Think about the difference just a couple of those changes could have made. Heck, let’s even just consider the ones that would have been more likely…Milton in LF or CF or Mike Cameron resigning would have kept Jimmy Edmonds off the roster, presumably giving us a better OPS and overall defense for the month of April…even if it were Cameron.

    What if the Pads signed Livan Hernandez…his 3.8 ERA and IP alone would have saved our Bully for other outings and kept us in games that we would have had a legit chance to win.

    Please don’t try to argue this team is only 5 games better with those moves…I don’t think that holds much water.

  41. In case anyone is interested…a new indictment has been filed against Bonds, giving him new charges and 14 counts of perjury…


    Wonder how the union will react to this given their recent inquiry into collusion against Bonds.

  42. #88@parlo: I said there is a lot of vitriol, not all vitriol or not all negativity. But there is enough negativity among the fans that Geoff, who is a reasonable person, thought to address it.

    So no, I don’t think I’m stereotyping. And my comments are not at all like talk radio, because they are not extreme or mean-spirited.

  43. #91@Coronado Mike: Cameron wouldn’t have played in April because of his suspension.