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.