Notes on a Victory

Satisfying win on Tuesday night. The last two games I’ve attended have followed the exact same pattern: Randy Wolf serves up a two-run homer in the first, settles down, and watches his teammates play long ball late.

To the bullet points:

  • Hard to complain about a victory, but I’ll do it anyway. The Pads really should have put Shawn Hill away early. He had zero command.
  • I love watching Adrian Gonzalez play first base. Aaron Boone hit a grounder down the line at third to start the sixth. Kevin Kouzmanoff made a nice backhanded grab, then fired across the diamond well ahead of Boone. The throw came up the line, back toward home plate, and Adrian shifted his feet on the bag to maintain his balance and make the play with ease.

    Rich and I were talking about this the other day, and it’s a subtle point about first base defense that often gets overlooked. Andres Galarraga was the best I ever saw at it. A lot of guys will keep the back foot anchored to the bag no matter what and then reach across their body. The problem is, it’s real easy to fall over that way. The Big Cat used to keep his other foot on the bag on throws up the line and then extend with what normally would be the back foot. Adrian is very adept at that play, so much so that you probably haven’t noticed him doing it.

  • Khalil Greene drew two walks. That’s the second time he’s done it this season and the 21st time in his career. He tried for his first-ever hat trick in the fifth but was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch.
  • Speaking of Adrian and Kouz, how about homers on consecutive pitches in the seventh? Adrian’s just cleared Wily Mo Pena’s extended glove in left, but Kouz absolutely crushed his. He’s been doing that a lot of late. Heck, he has five homers on the current homestand. Kouz is batting .333/.389/.788 over those eight games.
  • Seven of Kouz’s eight home runs this season have come at Petco. Guess he didn’t get the memo.
  • Actually, the entire team didn’t get the memo. As they did in 2007, the Padres are outhomering the opposition at home, 24-22. That’s not as wide a margin as last year, but still… for all the fan and media grousing about the ballpark’s dimensions, the players seem to deal with their environment okay.
  • Just can’t get enough Kouz. Here are his stats through the Padres’ first 53 games last year and this year:
    • 2007: .204/.276/.372
    • 2008: .280/.316/.436
  • We sat in Section 300. Here’s a tip for anyone looking to buy tickets in the upper deck: If you’re in rows 9 to about 16, be sure to get seats in the middle of the row (seats 4 to 12 or so); at the ends, your view is likely to be obstructed by plexiglass and/or metal.
  • Another thing about Petco Park — and I’ve been meaning to mention this for a while — is there’s a cool little exhibit about the history of baseball in San Diego down the left-field line. From the 7th Street entrance, hang a right and go up the stairs. Once at the top, turn left and it’s on the wall to your left. The exhibit contains photographs, equipment, and other items of interest from by-gone eras.

    I learned, among other things, that Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr played for the PCL Padres in 1936, when the team called Lane Field home. Thanks to the SABR Minor Leagues Database, I can see that Doerr hit .342 with two homers that season. Doerr, inducted in 1986, returned to Cooperstown this past summer, where he was honored (and sadly, ignored by most of the crowd) shortly after Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. received their inductions.

  • Meanwhile, back in the NL West, the top two teams lost on Tuesday. Remember how the Diamondbacks were going to run away with the division because of one good month? Yeah, well, they’re 10-14 in May. Guess that’s why teams keep playing games this late in the season.
  • Off the field, the Padres have acquired right-hander Cha Seung Baek from Seattle for right-hander Jared Wells. Once upon a time, Baek was considered a prospect. He ranked #12 among Mariners farmhands in the Baseball America 2001 Prospect Handbook, sandwiched roughly between two pretty good relievers, Rafael Soriano and Brian Fuentes. The M’s #1 guy in ’01? Lefty Ryan Anderson, who never reached the big leagues. The runner up was that season’s American League MVP, Ichiro Suzuki… Anyway, I don’t know much about Baek, but I guess that’s obvious.

That’s all for now; more as it happens…

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63 Responses »

  1. #49@parlo: “Think” is different than “truth.”

    I fully expect him to be called up, like many prospects would be if they were in AAA and the team wanted to get them some exposure before counting on them the next season. But again, if money and worrying about Super Two status was so critical for the Padres, why didn’t they play Geoff Blum at 3b last year instead of calling up Headley? Why not call up a Stansberry or Luis Cruz to act as a utility man?

  2. #37@JMAR: I’m excited to see what Sinisi can do. I think he was really turning the corner when he got hurt.

  3. #51@Tom Waits: Because last year they were not 10 games out…I would imagine if the Padres were in the division hunt and were getting poor production out of LF then Headley would already be dressing in blue and sand every night, but as it stands the Padres are 10 games out and brining Headly up will prob not change that so why not let him spend more time in AAA and get use to the OF and maintain control of him for a longer period of time.

  4. #51@Tom Waits: They were in a pennant race and brought up the player they believed would help them the most. In 2008, they could deal with his status. That is what I believe happened when he was not on the Opening Day roster.

  5. #53@Steve C:

    The Padres weren’t 10 games out on Opening Day 2008, either. They weren’t 10 games out on April 15. By mid-April they weren’t getting much out of McAnulty and Gerut had already been sent down.

    It’s hard to imagine that money was so determinant this year that the Padres would go with weaker options, even when the division still seemed within reach, but didn’t matter at all last year. Looks to me like it’s not nearly as important as Sullivan claims.

  6. #55@Tom Waits: Right I agree with you.

  7. No one is debating that the financial considerations have played a role in keeping Headley in Portland, however Sullivan thinks that financial considerations is the only reason he’s there. Sure everyone is entitled to their own opinion but in that case it’s wrong and doesn’t deserve to be a front page article in a major newspaper’s sports column.

    #50@UC Michael: I think that’s kind of our point, in that the Padres are so risk-averse in their drafting philosophy yet willing to take huge gambles at the major league level. For a team that operates as a small market franchise those kinds of decisions don’t make a whole lot of sense — wouldn’t you rather gamble $6m on someone who might be worth $50m over his career with the team like Porcello rather then spend $6m on someone like Edmonds who best case would only be worth $4m?

    I’m going to discount the public relations part of it because do you think that signing Jim Edmonds would look better then signing one of the best, if not the best, players in the 2007 draft? And instead of signing Mark Prior (one mostly healthy season in his career) they could have signed someone who could turn out to be as good as the “good” Mark Prior.

  8. #55@Tom Waits: Perfectly said, TW. Money is always part of the consideration. It has to be. But there is no evidence that it’s the biggest consideration with regard to Headley.

  9. #54@parlo: So in 2007 they cared so little about money, and so much about winning, that they gave him 17 June at-bats and put him in “danger” of being a Super Two, but on Opening Day 2008 and for a few weeks thereafter, when the NL West still seemed winnable, they were just “Meh. Who needs Headley to help us maybe make the playoffs if it costs us 1 million bucks 2 years from now or 4 million bucks 5 years from now.”

    If I was estimating the importance of the various factors, I’d put money between 20-40% of the reason Headley was kept down.

  10. Now if we’re talking draft, there’s no question in my mind the decisions are based primarily on money.

  11. #59@Tom Waits: OK, so you believe that money is 20-40% of the reason. Thats pretty significant.
    I am not sure why you feel in such disagreement with someone who thinks its probably 50-60%.

  12. #61@parlo: Is that you or Sullivan? Because Sullivan’s piece starts with “Kevin Towers’ official position is that his motivation is not money…That claim is pure poppycock, of course.” Sure sounds like more than 50-60%.

  13. #24@Tom Waits: A little late to this conversation, but if the Padres take a college reliever with their first pick, I am going to be supremely disappointed. It’s one thing to take another “polished,” “strike-throwing,” [insert whatever cliche you want] college starting pitcher (and thankfully even Fuson has admitted the crop is not as deep this year), its quite another to waste a pick on such a player when your system lacks a great deal of upside.

    The fact that there have been a few rumblings that the team might be considering a hitter and even *gasp* a high school hitter, I have allowed myself to get excited about next week. If they were to take a college reliever, you’re right they better take a ton of risks later in the draft.