Winning Is Better Than Knitting

Winning is so much more fun than losing, n’est ce pas? Every starter except Jim Edmonds and Chris Young collected at least one hit on Wednesday in the Padres’ 4-2 victory over Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.

Tadahito Iguchi broke out of a season-long slump with four hits, while Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff each homered. (The Padres, who allegedly can’t hit, have outhomered the Phillies, 4-1, in the first two games of the series.)

Young looked solid for the most part. He gave up a two-run bomb to Chase Utley in the first, but if Utley isn’t the hottest hitter on the planet right now, then he’s pretty darned close.

(And yeah, in hindsight, snagging Utley instead of Mark Phillips at #8 back in 2000 would have been a good idea. Then again, except for Florida [Gonzalez] and Tampa Bay [Rocco Baldelli], everyone who picked ahead of the Phillies blew it big time.)

Meanwhile, back at the game, relievers Joe Thatcher and Heath Bell were effective, if a bit inefficient. Between the two, they needed 49 pitches to make it through the seventh and eighth innings, although some of that was because plate umpire Mike Estabrook wouldn’t call a strike at the knees to Ryan Howard and first-base umpire Dan Iassogna misunderstood the concept of checking one’s swing.

As for the ninth, those who would write off Trevor Hoffman will need to wait another day. He got Pat Burrell to ground weakly to Kouz to start the inning, then allowed a single back up the middle to Geoff Jenkins. The Jenkins hit came on an 0-2 pitch, which means that Hoffman was being sloppy or aggressive depending on the point you’re trying to prove.

Hoffman then struck out pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs on a nasty change-up. Chris Coste followed with a popup behind the plate to end the game. For those interested, and to hammer home the point about small sample sizes, here is how Hoffman’s season breaks down so far:

Statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.
first 5 5 4.2 11.57 .333 .400 .476
second 5 5 5 1.80 .211 .211 .421

This doesn’t get told, of course, because it doesn’t fit with the storyline that Hoffman is done. Also, it’s just as ridiculous to draw conclusions from his last five games as it was to do the same from his previous five.

Whatever. People believe what they believe, and in my experience there isn’t much you can do about that.

Anyway, the important thing is that the Padres won, and that Kouz and Iguchi finally stopped sucking (kinda like Scott Hairston did the night before). If Bard and Khalil Greene can do the same (and their track record suggests they can), the club will be in good shape.

I continue to maintain that this is a good team playing bad baseball, not a bad baseball team. If the hitters regress to career norms and the pitchers start performing away from Petco Park (5.62 ERA so far this year, vs 4.46 in ’07), results will follow. Enough to catch Arizona? Maybe, maybe not. All I can say is that anyone who gives up with 134 games remaining on the schedule probably should follow a different sport.

Or take up knitting…

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60 Responses »

  1. Far be it for me to disagree with the host of the website… but I will.

    With all the talk of small sample sizes, why are we still ONLY talking this year for Trevor? The “Hoffman is done” crowd, myself included, point to a steady decline in performance over Hoffman’s last 30 or so outings, dating back to last year. His WHIP is up, his strikeouts are down, and he is constantly working from behind in the count. He got the bottom of the Phillies order last night, but he gave up a hit in the process and was behind every hitter but one. This is a bad trend.
    It shows either a) he can’t hit his spots or b) he doesn’t trust his stuff and is nibbling. Either way, it’s not good to be forced to throw a fastball for a strike in a 2-0 count.

    It is my opinion, and I’ve been wrong before, that the Hoffman appologists are not viewing Trevor through the same lens as the rest of us. In other words, they love him so much, remember all his great moments, think of “Hells Bells”, etc that they don’t look at him objectively. If his name was Kevin Gregg, I think fans would be clamoring for him to be pulled from the closer’s role.

  2. Nice! I like the hopefulness shown by the author of the blog, and I like the results from last night. Here’s hoping the Pads can build on their success going into this month of May.

  3. #1@Richard D.: Who are you going to put in the closer spot instead of Trevor at this point? Bell has looked better as of late but its not like the 5 other pitchers in the pen have been blowing people away.

    Good to see the Padres bats wake up hopfully they can keep them going today against Eaton.

  4. Two in a row would be nice.

  5. #4@Mike Champion: and one more after that is what we call a winning streak!

  6. Over his last 30 outings, Trevor does have a 6.11 ERA.

    BUT, he has a 9.0 K/9 and a respectable .96 HR/9 IP. His walks are up to 3.5 BB/9 which is definitely an issue, but the guy has a 2.55 K/BB ration. That’s not shabby at all.

    In 2006, Trevor had a 2.14 ERA, K’d 7.1/9 IP, BB’D 1.9/9 IP and gave up .86 HR/9 IP.

    There’s no doubt he’s losing something. But one, it isn’t a total collapse like you say. And to mirror #3 — who’s in the role? Bell? So you just flip flop Trevor and Heath? Thatcher?

    He’s here for the season, regardless. He’s not even the worst problem the bullpen has.

  7. Starting an inning with a lead is one of the places any pitcher, including Hoffman, stands the best chance of succeeding. If you put Bell there, you’ll lose games in the 7th and 8th inning.

    Of course we all want Trevor circa 1998 again, but that’s not happening. Closing games is where he can help the team the most / hurt us the least, because, like Steve said, the bullpen isn’t as deep as years past.

    Sure would be nice to have Soria around.

  8. #4@Mike Champion: Actualy if the Pads win today it will be the first time this year that they won on back to back nights.

  9. #1@Richard D.: Ugh. May I point out his name is not Kevin Gregg and he does not have Kevin Gregg’s track record?

    On a more serious note, why should the sample size be the “last 30 or so outings?” Is this cherry picking or do you have some rational basis for making it 30 outings? Is there evidence “he is constantly working from behind in the count?” Is the poor performance from the end of last season evidence of a decline, or is it possible it was due to problems caused by the chips in his elbow which were removed during the offseason? What is your criteria for determining whether an outing by Hoffman was good or bad? What is your criteria for determining whether there is a trend in performance (as defined by your criteria for whether an outing was good or bad) showing decline, precipitous decline, and total inability to get the job done? Based on your criteria for determining trend performance, where does he fall in the following categories: maintaining performance more or less in line with his post-2003 return; in decline; in precipitous decline; completely unable to get the job done?

    If I’m not viewing him through the same lens as you are, I’d at least like to know what the lens you are viewing him through is. And if I’m not viewing him objectively, I’d like to know how you are maintaining your objectivity in your view, which I believe the above questions would help answer.

    I know that probably sounds snarky, and to an extent it is, but those really are the sorts of analysis and information which should inform an objective opinion. And if you have done the analysis and have the information available to show, I’d like to see it and I’d be open to it.

  10. Has anyone heard any update on Carlos Guevara and Justin Hampson?

  11. #1@Richard D.: It’s certainly possible that Trevor is done but he does have 9 strikeouts in 9.2 innings this season. I certainly worry about him but he’s not high on the list of things that the Padres need to worry about now, there are much bigger problems.

    Speaking of players that are done, I wonder if it might be time to give up on Edmonds. I was one of his biggest defenders but I wonder how much more time they can give him. He’s 1 for his last 38 with 6 walks and 10 strikeouts (at least that one hit was a HR!). He hasn’t hit the ball out of infield in the two games in Philadelphia and he’s 3-33 at home. He’s not the worst player in baseball so far (Cano, Tulowitzki, Tony Pena have all been way worse) but he’s certainly not helping out at all.

  12. I’m wondering if by the end of May if the bullpen could be some what re-built with Hensley, Hampson, Thatcher, Meredith Bell, Hoffman, and Ledezma if they continue to insist on going with 7 guys.

  13. #11@Schlom: The Rumor is that Edmonds has 10 days to shape up or ship out. KRS1 mentioned yesterday that a trade for Randy Wynn may be triggered with Edmonds departure.

  14. #11 Schlom, the last two games really make me feel like he is done.
    He was the only one to K against Moyer other than CY. If he couldnt get a hit last night, when is he going to ? Maybe there is a chance that he is hurting more than we know. But things appear to be getting worse, not better.

  15. Trevor isn’t something to really worry about, there are much bigger problems. Here are their hitting stats since April 16th when they were 8-6:

    Since that win over Colorado they’ve been 3-11 and only Gonzalez has hit at all.

    Also, do you realize that the Padres are 6-14 since Barrett got hurt? Not only are they losing but Bard’s numbers have also been terrible since he’s played everyday and I doubt that’s a coincidence.

  16. #15@Schlom: According to that Cubs fan last year Barrett was the one that was making us lose. ::Scratches head:::

  17. #11@Schlom: Plus Cano and Tulo play good defense. Probably nit-picking but I dont see how Tulo or Cano have been worse.

  18. Time to freshen up the ol’ Ducksnorts poll, no?

    How about…Will Jim Edmonds still be wearing a Padre uniform on June 1?

  19. #16@Steve C: I dont see how Barrett helped us win.

  20. #17@SDSUBaseball:

    Tulo in 116 PA’s .152/.226 /.238 20 OPS+
    Cano in 114 PA’s .151/.211/.236 22 OPS+
    Edmonds in 82 PA’s .153/.235/.222 27 OPS+

    Edmonds has had a bit more production at the plate but has been worse in the feild.

  21. #19@SDSUBaseball: I was being sarcastic. There was a crazy cubs fan that came on here last season saying that Barrett was cursed and that every game he caught the Pads would lose. But in all fairness he was somewhat right, most of the games Barrett caught last year the Pads did lose but you could hardly pin it on Barrett.

  22. #19 SDSUBaseball, The other day I was looking at April 2007 stats.
    Barrett hit well for the month: 4HR, 276BA, 114OPS+. I know its just one month, but it helped offset the April slumps of Kouz and Cameron.

  23. #22@parlo: Barrett was not a Padre in April 2007.

  24. #23 Steve C, Oh yeah….WHOOOPS!!!!

  25. #21@Steve C: I remember the guy, but from a baseball standpoint Barrett hasn’t done anything here to help us win, so I don’t see how having him now would make a difference.

  26. #20@Steve C: Ya I dont see how he has been any more prodcutive at the plate. The OPS+ only tells part of the story. He has had less AB’s and has struck out more than both of them. Its totally nitpicking because they have all been bad, but he has slugged less, driven in less runs and struck out more. Plus he has been worse in the field. There is no way that Tulo or Cano have been WAY worse like Schlom suggested.

  27. #25@SDSUBaseball: It is possible that Bardo is not equiped to maintain his hitting ability when playing everyday. Barrett could have helped spell Bard, keeping him fresher for his starts.

    Just postulating.

  28. #9@Pat: Bingo! Post of the Day!

    I don’t know if I’ll ever have the wherewithall to answer those questions … but that’s the goal … thanks for asking them …

    The “done” label seems worthless now … too many possible meanings … for me, it means that I think Trevor will have less than 80% success from here on out (ie. for as long as the Padres choose to use him in save situations) … and I realize that still a pretty high bar (ie. I don’t know how many teams have closers that they expect to be successful > 80% of the time), but Trevor has earned that high bar … and I don’t think it’s being radical or disrespectful to say that he’s sliped below that level …

    I don’t think I/we/Padres can wait for a non-small-sample-size to make the “done” call … and so I/we/Padres have to base our predictions of the near-term-future events on more scouting-like observations … does Trevor appear to be able to pitch to locations that he is aiming at? I think he could do that for 2-3 pitches per batter in the 90s … and now he’s down to 1-2 pitches per batter … it’d be cool if I had physical data to back up that description of my anecdotal observations …

    I hope to work on Pat’s questions during May … and to be clear, I totally agree with folks that the Padres do not currently have a pitcher in the org who I think is clearly likely to be successful in save situations > 80% of the time (ie. they don’t have a good option to Trevor right now) … so I think we will be getting more data to apply to these questions …

  29. Join us next week when we tackle the nagging question of “is Hollywood Jim done”?
    See you all then same time some channel.

    OT: is Pepe Negro following Ned Yost’s example?


    Good write up, Geoff. Let’s hope the team is in the mood of knitting more wins.

  30. #26@SDSUBaseball: Using VORP from Baseball Prospectus, the worst three hitters are Cano, Tulowitzki and Tony Pena. Edmonds is 10th worst, ahead of those three plus Johjima, Guillen, Buck, Lamb, Kearns and LaRoche. In another stat that takes out position adjustments, Marginal Lineup Value, Edmonds is 7th worst, with the bottom six being Nix, Pena, Cody Ross, Cano, Tulo and Buck. Obviously the reason that Edmonds is ahead of these other guys even though his stats are about the same is because of the stadium adjustment. I don’t think you realize how bad hitting 152/226/238 in Coors Field is. That’s beyond awful. At least he’s probably right around average when you add in his glove, Cano doesn’t have that advantage. He’s probably been the worst player in the majors so far although I’m sure that won’t last.

  31. #28@LynchMob: Thanks LM. And I appreciate your at least putting up criteria. I think you are furthering discussion by doing so whereas many comments don’t seem to be anything more than emotional outbursts. But I guess that is to be expected from fans because we are emotional about our teams. I know I am!

  32. Scott Hairston broke out because of one good game? And you keep mentioning sample size….

    Sledge April 2007
    .234/.379/.426 3HR 14K

    Hairston April 2008
    .212/.266/.424 4HR 24K

  33. #9@Pat: Obviously I am not saying he is Kevin Gregg… I am not saying he’s as bad as Kevin Gregg… I picked a name, it could have been “Joe Smith”, to make a point that some give Trevor more benefit of the doubt because his name is Trevor Hoffman.

    To you points:

    I pick the number 30 for appearances because I’ve done research and I dated his decline back to August 5, 2007. since then he’s be converting saves at a 72% rate, with an ERA over 6. I’m at work right now, so the numbers are not right in front of me.

    So no, he’s not completely inable to get the job done…. I’m saying that over the past 28 outings, he’s converting saves at a 17% lower rate (72% to 89%) than his career rate. The other observations, working from behind in counts and not able to locate are my observations, no data. If you disagree, so be it.

    Ultimately, it comes down to this: if we had to win one game to win the World Series and we had a lead in the 9th, I wouldn’t want Trevor on the bump. Obviously the Padres have nothing else in AAA or the bullpen to take his place, so if the argument is “we have nothing better” then that’s fine. But my argument is “Trevor can’t do the job as well as it should be done.”

  34. #15@Schlom: Giles sure seems to be hitting during that same time.

  35. Enough to catch Arizona? Petcota’s postseason odds today have our Padres at 4.3% to win the west and 6.2% to make the playoffs. Their “third order wins” including “pythagenport w&l” adjusted for strength of schedule shows they are exactly as expected win-wise and project to 75-87. We’ll be watching, but will the gp fan?

  36. #25@SDSUBaseball: I agree with CM that if Barrett was healthy Bard would only be playing 60% of the time and probably have better production at the plate.

    #26@SDSUBaseball: I was not trying to defend Schlom’s post I was just posting the numbers for people to see.

  37. I think it’s a little inconsistent to cite small sample sizes as a reason why we didn’t hit in April, and then go thumping our chest over outhomering the Phillies over two games.

  38. #38@Bryan: Where do you see chest thumping?

  39. #13@Steve C: 10 days to shape up? Wow. That’s harsh for Padre standards. Even Vinny Castilla had 263 at bats a few years ago before they released him. If the Randy Winn rumor is true, my first instinct is to strongly oppose it unless the Giants were to eat at least a big part of his salary. He hasn’t done much this season but if he was still capable of coming close to his 2007 numbers (.300 BA, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 42 2B, 15 SB), I’d consider doing that deal for a Steve Garrison, not Inman.

    #19@SDSUBaseball: Barrett was probably the worst hitter in baseball after he came to the Padres last season. However, he looked much better in the spring and I think he would’ve helped this season. Bard hasn’t done much and who knows if Bud Black will ever give Colt Morton a chance. He’s going to play Bard regardless of how little he does offensively.

  40. The Padres, who allegedly can’t hit, have outhomered the Phillies, 4-1, in the first two games of the series.

    Four homers in two games is far more insignificant than a whole month of regulars consistently not hitting. It does not dispel the notion that the Padres can’t hit.

  41. Bard/Barrett…Edmonds/Whoever… Doesn’t it make you mad that THESE are the guys the Padres are throwing out there year after year? This team is playing about as good as it can with these average players. This is pretty much the same team we’ve had since 99, except now we have outstanding starting pitching. Hairston might as well be Eric Owens, Kouz might as well be George Arias…It’s a shame we have wasted this great pitching for 3 years. I wish the Moores would realize that putting an exciting product on the field would put butts in the seats. I love pitching, but no one wants to see low scoring affairs every single night.

  42. #33@Zagz: “stopped sucking” = “broke out”?

  43. #41@Bryan: Thats hardly chest thumping…

    GY may be a little overly optimistic at times but I think it really helps to keep all of us half glass empty guys in line. I mean would you really want to read something every day that say “The Padres SUCK and they will never get better!” that stuff starts to grind on you after a while its always nice to come somewhere that has a postivie vibe, which GY ahs done a great job of doing.

  44. #42@Matt: They are paying the price for their terrible drafts over the past few years. They aren’t going to have a big payroll, we all know that. The fact that they’ve been successful with almost zero products from their farm team (and a low payroll) is absolutely miraculous — I don’t know if it’s unprecedented but if you look at the teams with similar payrolls they are filled with products from their minor league system.

    As far as great pitching goes, it was only last season when the team was carried by the offense, not the pitching. Don’t overlook the effect of the stadium.

  45. #45@Schlom: True but most teams in similar situations could not have won thier division with 84 wins…

  46. #40@JMAR: On the Vinny situation, that was because Bochy refused to listen to the front office’s advice and kept playing him. Bochy had a strong allegiance to veterans, and that, in some part, was why the Padres didn’t mind him interviewing with other teams, I’m guessing.

  47. #34@Richard D.: “I picked a name, it could have been “Joe Smith”, to make a point that some give Trevor more benefit of the doubt because his name is Trevor Hoffman.”

    I think people give him the benefit of the doubt because of what he’s done, not what his name is. Who do you believe is giving him the benefit of the doubt because of his name?

    “I pick the number 30 for appearances because I’ve done research and I dated his decline back to August 5, 2007.”

    Whick is exactly what cherry picking is. In other words, you’ve picked a set of data to fit your conclusion.

  48. The simple fact is that the Padres are only going to be able to max out at around 90 wins unless they start drafting better. They aren’t going to be able (or willing) to sign a big name hitter free agent and it probably doesn’t make any sense to sign a big name free agent pitcher. But unless their drafts start producing talent teams like this years are all we are going to have to look forward to.

    Just looking at the 2002 and 2003 drafts here’s what the NL West has produced. The Padres drafted Greene and McAnulty (they also failed to sign Andy LaRoche in 2002). The Dodgers have drafted Loney, Broxton, Martin (all 2002), Billingsley, Kemp, and LaRoche (2003). They failed to sign Luke Hochevar in 2002 and Antonelli in 2003. The Diamondbacks have drafted Snyder, Nippert, Lance Cormier (2002), Jackson, Quentin and Matt Chico (2003). The Giants have drafted Cain, Lewis, Ortmeier, Correia, Hensley (2002), Aardsma, Schierholtz, Buscher, Misch, Brian Wilson (2003). The Rockies have drafted Francis, Baker, Spilborghs (2002), Stewart (2003) and failed to sign Micah Owings in 2002. You can see what a disadvantage the Padres have compared to the rest of the division although not so much with the Rockies those years. Pretty much all those players are making around the minimum or were traded away for help (although of course some were just given away like Hensley). It’s hard to overcome drafting like that (and there are numerous other terrible drafts from around this time).

  49. #45@Scholm, Are you saying last year’s Padres were carried by offense not pitching?