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. #18@michael: Excellent suggestion, thanks!

    #36@malcolm: Cool. Last I checked, 4.3% is more than 0.

    #41@Bryan: And yet, if they couldn’t hit, they wouldn’t have pounded four homers in two games.

    #44@Steve C: Thanks, man. I can do a “Padres suck” blog if folks would prefer that. It will be immediately followed by a letter of resignation. Come to think of it, that actually sounds like a reasonable option at this point.

  2. #50@malcolm:


    Last year’s team had an OPS+ of 101 and an ERA+ of 108. The hitting wasn’t as bad as many people think, the pitching wasn’t as great, but the pitching still pulled more of a load.

    The pitching only let us down in September, when CY was hurt, we had trouble at the back of the rotation, and the team panicked and threw Jake on short rest.

  3. #51@Geoff Young: Serenity Now!

  4. #53@Tom Waits: Yeah, that ain’t really working, but I appreciate the thought.

  5. #54@Geoff Young: You seem more snarky of late. I love it.

  6. 42: You are nuts. Kouz = Arias? Hairston = Owens?
    Last I check Bard is a little better than average the last two seasons.
    Yes, he’s taking his slump right now but he seems to be handling the staff just fine.

    55: He’s frustrated with the team as much as we are but our harping on the suckiness that is currently the Padres aren’t helping.

  7. Pointing out problems may actually be symptomatic of more radical, fanatical, affection for one’s team,……especially if you live in a fringe Padre-hostile area like the OC. eg I’m off to go runing with a club where about 50 there may point out the Padres standing vs. the Angels and Dogs.

  8. Just to blow out the last of this frustration. The Padres were the only team in the last 15 years in either league to lead the league in ERA and finish lower than 2nd in their division. As I see it, only twice( LA both times) in 15 years did a NL team, top in ERA, not win their division, and one of the those years LA made the playoffs. It happened 3 or 4 times in the AL(twice by NY or Bost who made the playoffs). That is a pretty radical stat, if I didnt miss something. If the hitting was ok, and we know the fielding was very good, manager ok, what caused this unprecedented occurance? Whatever you attribute it to, how was that addressed this offseason? BTW 15 years chosen because that was realiegnment, I believe. Sorry guys, no more digging up negative stats.

  9. #48@Pat: When I say “his name” I mean what you’re saying: all that he’s done…. which I don’t care about. I care if he can get guys out now.. not in 2001.

    And I don’t think you can call my numbers “cherry picking” because they are the most recent numbers… cherry picking would be picking 30 appearances from August – Sept. 2002.

  10. #59@Richard D.: “I care if he can get guys out now.. not in 2001.”

    Right, 2001, let’s ignore the highly consistent results of each of the past 4 seasons.

    “And I don’t think you can call my numbers “cherry picking” because they are the most recent numbers…”

    Cherry picking is exactly what it is. You’ve arbitrarily selected a cutoff date which only, or primarily, includes data supporting your position. What is your basis for not including the 30 appearances prior to August as well? Does it distort the numbers you’re using? What happens if you do include them? Any response to the possiblitly August and September of last year could have been a result of bone chips?