Chatting with Sandy Alderson (Part 3)

This is the third of a three-part interview (Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here) with San Diego Padres CEO Sandy Alderson. Big thanks to Mr. Alderson for taking time out of his busy schedule to make himself available, and also to his assistant, Dayle Tedrow, for her indispensable assistance in making this happen.

Ducksnorts: Something that’s near and dear to my heart: Paul DePodesta has recently started a public-facing blog, which is really cool. When I was working in industry, that was one of the things I was trying to get my company to do externally… I’ve seen a lot of examples — Wells Fargo, Southwest Airlines, IBM — of very reputable corporations doing public-facing blogs, and really to great effect in terms of customer outreach and so forth. That said, it’s pretty revolutionary for the Padres to take that step. What factors influenced you to start that?

Alderson: Well, first of all, I really believe in as much interface with the public as possible. I do a radio show every week — we’ve got Grady [Fuson], Kevin [Towers], Paul — all those guys do a radio show every week, and my attitude is, the more people hear about us and from us, the better off we are because I have a lot of confidence in the people we have here.

The blogosphere creates another opportunity to communicate, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in Paul — in his ability to write, in his ability to self-edit if that’s necessary — to be as straightforward as possible under the circumstances. We ran it internally for, I don’t know, a month or something like that and decided… let’s go ahead. I’m not sure what we get back in the form of commentary is terribly useful because it tends to be — not a fringe element, but I wouldn’t say it’s [laughs] an accurate poll of public opinion.

Ducksnorts: It’s like the radio. [laughs]

Alderson: Right, and I don’t consider that to be perfectly representative either, but it’s another source for us…

Ducksnorts: You’ve got to be out there.

Alderson: Yeah.

Ducksnorts: I think that’s commendable that you guys view it as an opportunity, because [with] a lot of people — not necessarily within the baseball world, but within the corporate world, my experience has been, “this is new, we don’t know what it is, and let’s wait till someone else does it before we determine that, oh, hey, yeah, that was a good idea; we really should have gotten in on that.”

Alderson: The other thing we’ve been toying around with is allowing people like yourself into the press box. I know there’s a lot of controversy about that among mainstream media and so forth, but our attitude is, the more access, the better. In Paul’s case, it’s a chance for him to express himself on an unflitered basis. He doesn’t get interpreted by [radio host] Philly Billy [Werndl] or [newspaper columnist] Tim Sullivan or somebody else. It’s an unvarnished line of communication.

Ducksnorts: It benefits him, and it benefits us, the readers. I don’t presume to speak for everyone, but the people I’ve spoken with, in the circles I travel in, are very excited about it.

Alderson: Great, I’m glad to hear it.

Ducksnorts: Turning back to the draft, and player development — the draft just finished taking place and, as you say, we’ve gone out and gotten a lot of position players this year… There’s been criticism in the past that the Padres have been “overly conservative” in their strategy, with an emphasis on polished college players, and preferring risk avoidance over perceived upside — the Jay Bruces of the world, or the Upton brothers — obviously, those guys weren’t available at our slot, but I think you see what I’m getting at — the guys that are perceived as being once-in-a-generation types… How would you describe the current philosophy/strategy, and how satisfied are you with it?

Alderson: As we discussed earlier, we’ve made pretty significant strides in our farm system over the last couple of years. To some extent, I think a strategy has to be devised in the context of where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. In other words, if we had the #1 farm system in all of Major League Baseball, would we tend to take a few more shots in the dark? Maybe. Would we ever get to be the #1 if we didn’t take a few shots in the dark?

I look at a team like — just to give you an example — Tampa Bay. I think you could go back and look at Tampa Bay over the last 10 years or so, and the reason that they’ve now started to be successful on the field is because they’ve been successful over the last three, four, five years — but not before that — in converting #1 draft picks. You can go back and look at the kind of money that they’ve spent on draft picks, some of whom have worked out and some which haven’t. The guys that are starting to work out for them are not just high-ceiling high school players but high-ceiling college players that happened to be available to them in the first or second slot.

I think there’s a lot made in San Diego of what happened surrounding the Matt Bush selection, and I think that was — in terms of where we’ve come since that time — something of an aberration. The only other possible basis for that assumption is the fact that in the last couple of years there have been some players like Rick Porcello and so forth who’ve dropped, and Detroit or somebody else has swept in and taken those players. In some cases that’s worked, in some cases it hasn’t.

What I’m hoping is that our farm system from now going forward is going to be viewed as a single unit — the draft and Latin America, or our international signings. We haven’t done very much at all internationally, we haven’t been successful at all internationally.

We’ve done quite a bit over the last couple years to improve the system. When your system is ranked 29th or 30th, I think you do things a little differently than if it’s ranked 10th or 12th, or if it’s ranked first or second. If we’ve been a little cautious in the past, it’s probably been with a view toward improving our farm system at a time when it was absolutely barren and we didn’t have terribly high draft picks. If you’re drafting [in slots] 20-30, you’re not going to get Evan Longoria. The fact that we got a guy like Chase Headley in the second round I think says more about the way we’re approaching things than the fact that we took Matt Bush with the first pick in the country. That’s ancient history around here, and the problem is, people don’t understand that.

Ducksnorts: It doesn’t feel like ancient history to fans. Certainly much has changed. Not to mention that there’s nothing anybody can do about that; it’s done.

Alderson: Right. [laughs] The philosophy that we have here — I hate to do this, but if you want to look at a longer record… you have to go to Oakland and look at the stuff that Grady [Fuson] was doing, and while I was there and after I left. The philosophy hasn’t really changed, it’s just been in effect here for a shorter period of time.

Eric Chavez — but he was the 10th pick in the country. Tim Hudson was a guy taken in much higher rounds. Mark Mulder — but he was the second pick in the country.

You take that opportunity to take the #1 guy in the country, and we whiffed on it, but it really was a different time and place. The organization is substantially different now, the philosophy is substantially different, the process by which these decisions are made is substantially different, and the personnel involved are different.

Take our most recent draft. I know there’s been the bloggers — “oh, they took this guy and that guy.” You know, Arizona was going to take [Allan] Dykstra right after us… People make assumptions about what would happen, might happen, and so forth.

Ducksnorts: You’re not drafting in a vacuum.

Alderson: [laughs] No. Again, we were looking for talent and that’s what we took. The other thing that people should understand is that talk about lower ceiling or higher ceiling is really about probabilities. Let’s say the ceiling is 100 and a kid is a high school player and he’s now at 50… You can say he’s very projectable to get to 100, but the fact is he’s at 50 on a scale of 1 to 100. And you’ve got a college kid that’s at 80 and he’s not as projectable. Why? Well, in part because he’s already at 80 instead of 50.

Now that’s just in the abstract. If you take the tools that are available to us, that we try to use — and that’s not to say, hey, we know something you don’t know — but in terms of the way we try to do the analysis — and we’re not unique in this — you take the scouting, you take some of the other analytical tools, there’s no question that there is a higher predictability with college players than with high school players. It’s just the way it is because there’s more data available.

The other thing is that… in the average draft, take the top 30 players that are taken — the first 10 are pretty much consensus; in other words, all 30 boards — first 10 guys, 12 guys, everybody’s [board is the same]; after that it goes like this [sweeps hand over head], because the depth of true quality just doesn’t exist beyond the first — it doesn’t even get through the first round. Some of the guys who were taken in the first round we didn’t even have in our top 50, so that’s got nothing to do with high school…

There’s no question that we put an emphasis with position players on the ability to hit; you can’t hit, you can’t play in the major leagues. You can run like the wind, you can have a great arm, you can do this, you can do that — with very few exceptions, if you can’t hit, you can’t play.

I don’t subscribe to the notion that we’re more conservative. I think we’re more analytical and we do rely on probabilities. At the same time, as our system gets stronger and has more of a foundation, you may see a difference in approach — but again, I think what you’ve got to do currently is think in terms of the draft and the international market as a single entity and that one group of players complements another group of players.

We took a high school kid in the first round, [Jaff] Decker… He may not be a middle-of-the diamond guy, but let’s see what happens internationally, where we’re also committed to improvement. It’s got to be viewed as a composite.

Ducksnorts: That’s a really good point, because so much attention is focused on the draft — especially now that they’re starting to televise it and everything, and the international stuff is still very much behind closed doors, or maybe not so much in the public eye.

Alderson: There was a kid in the draft who — [people ask] “why did you pass on this guy, why don’t you take him?” Well, one of the kids that they were talking about has [long pause] — I mean, there were several issues related to, uh, not typical scouting issues. You can’t expect people to know that, but when they pop off with the absence of information, it’s frustrating.

Ducksnorts: Before the season start I was pegging this team as an 85-86 win team. I’m on record in several places as saying 85 or 86, and right now it looks like it’s going to take quite an effort to get to that total.

Alderson: We’re 6 1/2 out. [laughs]

Ducksnorts: Well, the great thing is Arizona has come back to earth and nobody else seems to be doing anything, so the opportunity is still there… Where is the disconnect? Obviously somebody like Josh Bard is hurt right now, but if you looked at all the expert prognosticators’ expectations of him, Khalil Greene, and a handful of other guys — it’s not even like he’s a little bit off of his normal game — what we would expect of this guy given that he’s in his physical prime; it’s like night and day — you’re not even looking at the same player. How do you account for that when you’re taking stock of your club — doing risk assessment, that sort of thing — and then when you actually get to the point where you look up and go, “oh my goodness, this isn’t where we wanted to be or realistically expected to be”?

Alderson: Well, partly what you have to do is go back and do a little bit of self-analysis, try to figure out, okay, where did we overestimate, why were we so off? The other thing is, you have to recognize that there are these vagaries that exist in life, they exist in the game, and they can manifest themselves over two weeks, three weeks, a months, six weeks, a year.

If you look at the places where we’ve really been hurt, you can say, okay, the [Jim] Edmonds thing didn’t work: is that because he didn’t have any spring training or is it because he’s just lost it? He’s actually playing decently right now with the Cubs, [but] I’m still happy we made the decision we did because it’s allowed us to look at people for the future. Jim Edmonds was not the future of the Padres. Could Jody Gerut or Scott Hairston have a role in that future? Yeah, I think so, depending on how things go.

We never really solved the left field problem except with the Hairston/Gerut/[Paul] McAnulty thing. We didn’t sign [Milton] Bradley, we didn’t get [Kosuke] Fukudome, which would have maybe allowed us to move some people around. Having said that, you look at catcher, you look at — [second baseman Tadahito] Iguchi wasn’t playing particularly well in April. Greene has been a complete disappointment…

Pitching wise, if you look back at April, [Jake] Peavy wasn’t pitching all that well, the bullpen was completely out of sorts, Chris Young wasn’t pitching at his best, Randy Wolf was erratic early, [Justin] Germano was Germano.

Part of it is just the unpredictability of the game, part of it is that we didn’t solve a couple of problems that existed in the off-season that we hoped we’d addressed. The bullpen was a concern of mine to some extend because of the amount of change that had occurred… We still had [Trevor] Hoffman, we still had [Heath] Bell, we still had [Cla] Meredith… we had [Justin] Hampson coming back, but he was hurt…

Ducksnorts: [Joe] Thatcher looked great at the end of last year.

Alderson: We had Thatcher coming back. Kevin Cameron had pitched pretty well. But they were all sort of having to move up a step and it wasn’t successful either because of injury or because of something else, and suddenly we were pretty vulnerable in the bullpen. Who knows, the 22-inning game or what have you, what kind of impact did that have on the ‘pen? But clearly the ‘pen was not performing well…

Ducksnorts: I know we’re running short on time here, but I’ve got a couple of fun ones to end with. You played second base at Dartmouth. What is your fondest playing memory?

Alderson: Well, I don’t have any real fond memories of playing varsity baseball there… In those days we had freshman baseball and varsity. I played freshman and then I played varsity one year, and I probably got about 10 at-bats. I don’t think I got a hit. I don’t really have any positive memories of playing college baseball. [laughs]

Ducksnorts: [laughs] Fair enough. What about your fondest baseball memory, period, if you can narrow it down to one?

Alderson: That would have to be winning the World Series. Especially now, after almost 20 years, winning in 1989, recognizing how difficult it is — I mean, we went to the World Series three years in a row — you realize how difficult it is to get there and then win it.

More generally it’s having been able to share baseball with my family — my kids, my wife, and my dad. My dad wears my World Series ring… It’s been great for the whole family.

Thanks again to Mr. Alderson for being so generous with his time and sharing his thoughts with us here at Ducksnorts. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with him about the game and the team, and I hope that came through for those of you reading this.

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109 Responses »

  1. #45@BigWorm: I’d agree that the severity of the regression was unpredictable, but the fact of it happening wasn’t. Did we have to know that Greene was going to put up a 65 rather than an 85 OPS+ to worry about our organizational depth there? Did we need to know that Young would get bopped in the noggin to worry about his having lost time each of the last 3 years?

  2. I think we should have picked up Ramon Vasquez to play third base. I KNEW he would have a better year than Kouzmanoff.

  3. #50@Tom Waits : A legitimate factor for mediocrity, yes indeed, but how much of a factor is Germano’s 3 bad starts on this season’s poor Padre performance ?

    What were the “predictors” for Banks and Baek ?

  4. Jim Edmonds has a 122 OPS+ for the Cubs. It was very much a reasonable gamble that he could do something similar to that for us.

    Khalil Greene has a 65 OPS+. Josh Bard has a 50 OPS+. Chris Young got hit in the face by a line drive. If you predicted those things, you hit on 17 and got your 4 (to reference DePo’s process post).

    The Hardball Times’ projection system had this as the NL West division winners with 90 wins. Winning the division was a realistic preseason goal.

  5. #49@Tom Waits: For a guy who is “completely dependent on balls in play” his career BABIP is pretty damn low. I understand that you’re trying to comment that he doesn’t walk much. But his walk rate is up this year compared to last year. He is seeing more pitches per plate appearance. Given these things, we would probably guess he is improving, not regressing. Do you have an explanation for the complete drop-off in his power?

    #48@Tom Waits: You’re certainly not making up the negative run differential. What you are making up is the notion that we all expected the team to outperform their career norms. I don’t think we really expected that of many, if any, of our players. We reasonably expected that they would be close to their norms. Some would do better, some wouldn’t. We sure as hell didn’t expect this.

    You’re willing to say that 8 starts by Germano are a big deal, but better play by Edmonds in his 26 games wouldn’t have made a big difference? Huh? You always accuse people of taking one side of argument without the other. How is what you’re doing here any different?

  6. #41@Phantom: Here’s where we seriously disagree:

    “There weren’t many CFs out there for us to acquire, Kyle Lohse wasn’t in the team’s plans, there were virtually no SS available.”

    1. There were CF available, including the guy who’s playing there a lot for us now. Our not getting another CF besides Edmunds is not the same as none being available.

    2. How is Lohse (he of the 111 ERA+) not being in the team’s plans a positive? That’s an indictment.

    3. That’s another statement that seems to be based on “what happened represents what was possible.” As BigWorm noted, the depth of his fall is surprising, but it seems clear that the team has been ambivalent about him for some time. What prevented them from trading Greene for a major package and then using other pieces to get another SS?

  7. #47@BigWorm: I didn’t phrase that right. The Padres wasted the 2003-2005 first round picks. Once because they went cheap (or maybe twice if they knew Stauffer was injured before they picked him) and twice because they picked polished college players over high ceiling younger players. They certainly repeated those mistakes in 2007, and maybe in 2008 (definitely too early to tell of course but the concensus by draft “experts” is that Dykstra was a reach) and 2006 (Antonelli was also seen as a bit of an overdraft, at least according to Baseball America).

    From 2003-2005 it’s possible that the Padres might only get 4 wins and a 6.37 ERA out of their three top picks (4th, 1st, 18th overall). There’s a good chance they will get nothing from the 2007 and if the Padres extend Adrian it will be hard from them to get anything from this year’s top pick. Team’s with low payrolls can compete without getting anything from their draft as the Padres have shown, be even then they only won one playoff game.

  8. #51@Tom Waits: You were planning on a career low OPS+ by 10 points for Greene in his age 28 season? He has had four full major league seasons and in every one of them he’s been at least averagish. Sure he has no backup at all, but what shortstop does, and what good backup shortstop is acquirable and worth the price to be an emergency plan?

  9. #57@Schlom: If the Pads extend Adrian that can always trade Dykstra.

  10. #54@Ben B.: Coming off seasons of 88 and 110, a 122 was reasonable? Let’s see what Jimmy ends up with, both in rate and games played.

    Catchers are volatile. Greene’s offensive skills lend themselves to slumps. While Bard and KG both hit the bottom of their preseason predictions, how much better would we be if Bard was at 75 and Greene at 80?

    There’s no doubt the Padres had a lot of things go as wrong as possible. That’s not the same as being unable to predict that things would go wrong.

  11. #55@Phantom: That’s not what I’m trying to say, that’s what I said. Greene’s offensive contributions are based on his putting balls in play, not walking. When the hits don’t fall and don’t go out of the park, you get a 65 OPS+. He could still have a monster second half, but he’s not the kind of guy who can keep his head above water when his power is gone.

    I never once wrote that people were expecting Padre players to outperform their historical norms. What I said, rather clearly, was that hitting those norms gets you close to .500. What happened with the Cardinals (in St. Louis, you know) is that many of their players blew right past reasonable expectations.

    No player has more impact on any given game than the starting pitcher. It’s fairly hard for a position player to be even 1 win better than his peers over the course of a season. A win is a lot. Now, Edmonds was a gaping wound in the torso of our early season, but in 26 games you’d have to be Superman to be worth a few wins. Last year David Wright over the course of an entire year was worth 12 wins more than a replacement player. That’s a whole season from one of the best players in baseball and he was worth 12 wins. Jim Edmonds would have to be Roy Hobbes to be worth a few wins in 26 games.

    The larger problem with Germano is that he was counted on at all.

  12. #55@Phantom: Actually, Germano had only 6 starts and 3 were of quality.

  13. #56@Tom Waits: I said that Kyle Lohse wasn’t a person that the team was interested in. I’m not sure how that’s an indictment, it’s just a statement of fact. They didn’t feel that he would do what he’s doing for the money he got. He now has an ERA+ of 96, which has been skewed upwards by his performance this year. What was his ERA+ this offseason, probably low 90s? It’s not like Lohse was poised to be dominant this year.

    As for Cameron, the team allegedly (we have no idea what really happened) made several overtures to keep him here. He didn’t want to stay. It’s that easy. You can’t blame them for failing to sign a guy who didn’t want to be here. And that said, Cameron wouldn’t have exactly solved our Jim Edmonds problem, as he wouldn’t have been here for most of the time that Edmonds played for us (due to his suspension).

    As for Khalil, why would the team want to trade him after the season he had last year? We all knew the power was there, but until 07, he hadn’t managed a full healthy season. His 07 season seemed to validate the team sticking with him despite his low OBP. So I’m not really sure it’s fair to criticize the team for failing to predict his collapse or for not wanting to trade him after his best seaon as a pro (after which he was still under club control for 2 years).

    The team made moves that they (and most people) thought would be adequate to good and that the team as a whole would be adequate to good. We’ve suffered devastating injuries and sub-par peformance from several members of our team. If you’re going to disparage the FO for that, then I guess there’s really no point in debating the capability of the FO. You’ll likely never be satisfied.

  14. #34@Tom Waits: Interpret his words however you see fit. I’m just telling you what the man told me.

    #37@MB: Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

  15. #60@Tom Waits: You’re being rather unreasonable. Kouzmanoff, Greene, Iguchi, Hairston, Bard, Edmonds, Clark, Barrett, Huber and Morton all underperformed their Marcel projections which are based primarily on recent performance.

    I’m sure you knew Kouzmanoff would underperform his projections by 20 points of OBP and 40 points of SLG. I’m sure you knew Khalil would underperform his projections by 40 points of OBP and 120 points of SLG. I’m sure you knew Tadahito Iguchi would underperform his projections by 20 points of OBP and 70 points of SLG. I’m sure you knew Hairston would underperform his projections by 60 points of OBP. I’m sure you knew Bard would underperform his projections by 80 points of OBP and 170 points of SLG. I’m sure you knew Edmonds would underperform his projections by 80 points of OBP and 210 points of SLG. I’m sure you knew Clark would underperform by 170 points of SLG. Seriously, Tom. This team has many, many guys way underperforming their projected performance. Please don’t pretend we should have seen all of it coming.

  16. #61@Tom Waits: But your statement would seem to be predicated on the argument that Khalil must have had a high BABIP in year’s past and is not having them fall in now. His BABIP has always been low, and this year is no different. I think the problem is less that the balls aren’t falling in and more that they’re not going farther.

    Not sure why you get smarmy with the Cardinals being in St. Louis. I’m pretty sure I haven’t said anything to indicate that I’m unaware of where the Cardinals play. Perhaps you should take a step back and relax a bit? It’s just a discussion on the Intertubes. You don’t have to denigrate someone you’re debating just because their argument doesn’t mirror yours. We both see the facts as they relate to this season a certain way. Some of us think this year couldn’t be predicted because of X, Y, and Z. You think that X, Y, and Z are proof that the FO sucks at their job. There’s a fundamental difference in the way we look at the world, but implying that I’m somehow unfamiliar with the basic concepts of baseball does nothing to futher your point.

  17. #61@Tom Waits: To go more into the norms discussion; look at the 07 Padres. They had fairly normative production from a lot of players, which, with that roster, got them to around .500. Wells and NOG gave them two handfuls of poo. They had 4 players who produced well above expectations – Jenga, Shrek, Peavy, and Bell. They didn’t all have to outproduce norms to get 89 wins, but with that collection of talent, some of them had to.

    The norm for the 08 Padres was closer to the mid-80s. I think GY predicted somewhere in the 85 range. It doesn’t take that much to knock a mid-80s team down, because an 85 win team doesn’t have the same talent cushion as a 95+ win team (obviously).

  18. It’s too bad you didn’t play along with OBG08. Then you could point to where you said Khalil Greene would slug .330 and Josh Bard would have an OPS that barely cracks .500

  19. #57@Schlom: I agree with all that stuff 100%. The Padres’ draft picks from 2003 and 2004 put them in the mess they are in this season. I just think it’s a little early to call the 2007 draft a waste.

  20. #63@Phantom: Lohse is pertinent because you’re using it as an explanation of why the Padres are where they are. Lohse not being in their plans is not a good answer to why they went with Germano.

    You’re absolutely right that Lohse was unlikely to post a 111 ERA+, and it will be surprising if he stays there. But he was a lot more likely to throw 170+ quality innings than Germano.

    I don’t blame them for Cameron. Mike Cameron and Jim Edmonds were not the only possible solutions to CF.

    Why would the Padres trade Greene? Because as the great Branch Rickey said 50+ years ago, it’s better to trade a player a year too early than a year too late.

    The team played its worst ball well before any devastating injuries. The only injuries that I would classify that way are Peavy and Young, and they have both been hurt in the past few seasons. The mechanism was different for Young, but it’s not as if the team should have reasonably expected 200 innings from him.

  21. I definitely think we are harping on the wrong things here. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the total collapses by both Khalil and Bard as their track records were certainly good (Khalil’s bad seasons were still around league average offensively and that’s pretty good for SS). I could understand trading Khalil this past off-season as he was coming off a probably career year and isn’t a good bet to stick around with the team long-term but it also wouldn’t make sense to trade him for the future when you are trying to compete. Now that they are losing it might be easier for him to be traded.

    The simple fact is that it’s really hard to compete unless you have a bunch of guys having career (or at least unexpectedly good) years. The Padres have Gonzalez and Giles doing well and that’s it on the offense. For pitching they have Peavy and Bell. If the rest of your team is seriously underachieving, you aren’t going to win period, no matter what moves you make in the off-season.

  22. #65@Richard Wade: I’m not at all saying that the Padres had to predict the massive collapses they’ve had. My concern is they didn’t have a fallback plan almost any regression.

    A better plan for the BP, the back of the rotation, and Greene and/or Edmonds and this team is maybe 3.5 games out. Is that unreasonable? Swapping Germano and Edmonds (money) for Lohse, finding another high-octane arm for the bullpen, and trading for other CF the Padres were said to be interested in (McClouth, Scott), and we might be at .500 even with the Young/Peavy injuries. None of those moves required that the Padres foresee that many worst-case scenarios would occur.

  23. #70@Tom Waits: Why are we blaming the Padres for not having a backup plan in CF when they clearly did have a backup plan and he is performing very well right now?

  24. #66@Phantom: I’m having flashbacks to two weeks ago. . .

  25. #71@Schlom: I completely agree with this. If guys are underachieving, it’s tough to win. I personally don’t give the FO grief on this, since if the team is indeed underachieving, then by definition they aren’t as good as they should be.

    I certainly think that the FO could have been prepared to handle this with more depth in a couple of places. A legitimate backup SS would have been nice, but I don’t think many people counted on a backup SS in the event that Khalil sucked out of control. I think most people thought of a backup SS as an insurance policy on his health. The same can be said for Bard.

  26. Re: Sandy Alderson

    I think the reason he is so honest and candid and clear and tough is because of his military background. That’s why Gregg Popovich and Jerry Sloan are such good NBA coaches and have been with the same teams for so long.

    I don’t have a military background. I know some of you do. So feel free to say I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    I’m glad Sandy Alderson is running the Padres.

  27. #66@Phantom: If that’s the way you want to read it, fine. His offensive production is dependent on balls that he makes contact with (and thus are in play). Most players with that skill set are more prone to fluctuation. Nothing like this, but a substantial falloff wasn’t all that unlikely. It did not, as you and Richard seem to suggest, require psychic powers.

    After I specifically wrote a couple of times that one big reason the Cardinals are doing so well is because several players are outperforming expectations, only to be told that I meant that people expected Padre players to outperform expectations, I turned to smarm to make sure the point came across.

    “The Padres FO sucks at their jobs.” That dog won’t hunt. Saying the Padre front office could have done a better job is far, far different than saying they suck at it. It’s true, I don’t simply accept that Edmonds was the only available CF, or that they had no other options but Greene to play short, or that because Lohse wasn’t in their plans that we must accept it. If you’re going to give the front office all the credit for building a winning team from 04-07, making those wins their responsibility, how do they escape responsibility for 2008? It was skill THEN, it’s luck NOW? There’s definitely been some bad luck, but that ain’t the whole story.

  28. #73@BigWorm:Gerut is having a nice two to three week stretch right now but I really don’t want him starting in centerfield come (July), August or September. In fact, if I had my way, I would have Venable patrolling centerfield right now.

  29. #73@BigWorm: Two reasons:

    1. It’s a 7 million dollar mistake. The Padres have set their budget so that a 7 million dollar mistake is nasty.

    2. If they’d believed in the backup plan, they wouldn’t have curtailed Edmond’s rehab trip to the minors.

    Let’s step back and look at Edmonds from a macro perspective. Let’s say he was a good gamble, per Ben B. If that’s true, then you can’t release him after 26 games. That suggests that either the initial analysis was wrong (he wasn’t really a good gamble) or that the decision to release him was hasty.

    Now let’s speculate that Edmonds continues to play at something like his current pace. It doesn’t seem like he will to me, but we’ll say he does. That, again, should lead people to question the underlying process by which the Padres made the decision.

    I happen to think that the original decision to acquire him was suspect, but that the decision to release him was good, and that sometime in the near-future he will get hurt and stop producing. But I don’t see how a process-driven team can make both decisions and still believe that it has a robust decision-making system.

  30. Since June 3rd, Khalil is batting .313, and has hit in 11 of 13 games. Despite some ugly at bats yesterday, he has looked better over the last few weeks. He’s laying off of more curveballs and hitting the ball to right field. I think he’s sacrificing some power (1 HR, 1 double in June) in taking this approach but at least he’s not an automatic strikeout right now.

    On June 18th, 2007, he was batting .229 with 8 HR’s with 38 RBI’s.

    On June 18th, 2008, he’s batting .226 with 6 HR’s with 27 RBI’s.

    Even though he’s slightly behind last season’s pace, he can still easily finish the season with a .250 BA, 22 HR, and 70 RBI’s. That’s very good production out of the shortstop position.

    OK, I do watch the games and I realize he’s been absolutely awful at the plate and he might be in a funk for the entire season.
    But I still have hope that he can put together a decent-looking statistical season, and help the Padres battle for the NL West lead down the stretch.

  31. #76@Kevin: The military has a pretty broad cross-section of the population. I do admire the Marine Corps’ relative lack of tolerance for BS. As part of the Navy they do have to deal with Naval Academy graduates, some of whom get special treatment, but it never seemed as bad as the way the West Point Protective Association took care of its own.

    I’m glad that Alderson is running the Padres, too. I just don’t buy 100% of what he’s selling.

  32. #80@JMAR: Agree that Khalil is only a month-long hot streak from respectability. He’s fun to watch when he’s guessing right, and he also comes up with some great, uncommon quotes. He probably fits in better with the Padres clubhouse than he would a lot of places; saying “Who’s to say this failure won’t make me more prepared for other things in the future, when I’m out of baseball” would probably make a manager like Lou Pinella throw up his spleen. That’s not an exact quote, but I think the sense of it is right.

  33. #75@Phantom: Bard’s one of those positions where I don’t fault the Padres at all. They took the somewhat unusual step of retaining Barrett precisely to protect themselves, and then Barrett blows his arm. That’s like the CF situation late last year, there aren’t many teams that can survive the loss of their 1 and 1a players at a key position, and those that do are often more lucky than prepared.

  34. #82@Tom Waits: I agree on this as well, but I don’t know if his approach this year has negated his power numbers. I know that JMAR posted his HR totals, but it felt like KG was hitting more doubles last year.

    I do like that he’s trying to fight off the slider a bit more by going to RF. The only bad thing is that he tends to loft the ball quite a bit when he hits to CF or RF, which usually results in fairly routine fly balls for outs.

    I’m encouraged by his P/PA this year and his ability to draw walks at a greater rate. That said, it has certainly been a disappointing season from him so far.

  35. #84@Phantom: This is anecdotal, but it seems like KG has had a lot of long fly-outs. I mean fly-outs right up against the wall. The kind of hitter he is, missing three feet on a few fly balls hurts him worse than most, especially at home since balls that are short of the wall seem to hang up longer. I checked his hit chart and….it still seems feasible that he’s juuuuuuust missed 4 HR at home, which is almost as many as he missed at home all last year. That’s going by the scientific eyeball of the hit chart.

    KG seems like the kind of player who drives a computerized projection system to drink.

  36. #85@Tom Waits: lol, good point. I always question my observations regarding his hitting since I am such an unabashed KG apologist. In addition to the long fly outs, he also has been victimized by some of his line drives finding gloves. The play that Delwyn Young made last Thursday is a recent example.

  37. #78@JP: Since Gerut’s been hitting for the last month (nice of B-Ref to break the splits down into 7, 14, and 28 day bits), and Venable didn’t hit last year at AA, I’d give Will a few more months in Portland. That’s partly to give him the best chance to succeed and partly to protect our pitching, because I suspect Gerut is a much better defender in center.

  38. #76@Kevin:

    Well, I’d contend that he isn’t always perceived as “clear” in those radio interviews that he values (again, goes back to big words and things like “processes” and “systems”). But then I haven’t heard one of his 1090 spots since maybe the offseason. I am glad, though, that he’s here. I used to listen to him every week but I can’t tolerate sports radio any longer.

  39. #88@Stephen: If you go to XX Sports Radio’s archives you can listen to just his interviews. They’re still sort of painful because the hosts are poor interviewers and know little to nothing about the game of baseball.

  40. #78@JP: Why?

  41. #89@Richard Wade: I’m not in SD often enough to get to know the hosts you are refering to … I’d assume that, rather than knowing little to nothing about the game of baseball, they think their ratings will be better doing what they are doing rather than doing what you (and I) think would be better.

    I appreciated the Q&A with SA about neither the comments in DePo’s blog nor the callers into radio being “an accurate poll of public opinion” that’s “perfectly representative” … but it did seem a bit harsh to call it “[not] terribly useful” … just tells me we have room to improve …

  42. #89@Richard Wade: I still contend that Sandy Alderson cannot be interviewed in person by those guys, or if he is, it must be carefully monitored. Perhaps not more often than once per month in person. No matter how much self-discipline he has, the temptation to strangle Werndl with a microphone cord would be overpowering.

    One of the most amazing things about GY is how he comes up with fresh content day after day. The radio guys are often just phoning it in, and probably getting better compensated for it. Speed! Big bat! Situational hitting! Hit and run! Clutch! Repeat.

  43. Gee ,with all this underperforming talk directed at 08 Padre’s hitters I was amazed to see these freaky stats. 07: 71 games 65HR .246/.317/.396. 08: 72 games 62HR .246/.317/.376. Check those #’s for me. But I’m wondering what changes were made to make people think they would bat better in 08 than 07. LF? CF? maybe 2B, but the rest of the starters are holdovers.

  44. #92@Tom Waits: The man has remarkable tolerance. The last two interviews have been especially annoying. They keep trying to “prove” Alderson’s philosophy of working the count is flawed. Today they broke out numbers showing that Giles and Gonzalez are hitting well when putting the first pitch in play. That was their whole argument…

  45. #79@Tom Waits: No one is questioning whether Edmonds was a mistake or not – obviously it was. And an expensive one, at that. But many have made the point that the Padres did not have a backup plan when in fact they did have a backup plan, and that backup plan is performing well.

    I didn’t like the Edmonds move when it happened and I liked it even less when they dumped him. I thought the FO made a mistake. But they didn’t make the mistake of not having a backup for him. In other words, they made a bad mistake but they didn’t compound it by not preparing for a bad outcome.

  46. #93@malcolm: LF (before Bradley) and 2B were an absolute hole last year, so I think the general consensus was “it can’t be any worse in ’08″. In addition I think most people expected increased production from Gonzalez and Kouz.

  47. #78@JP: I’m a big Venable fan (yes he’s older, but he’s a relative newbie to baseball so I’d like to think there is still more upside there) but reports are that his CF defense is suspect. Also, why would you give up on Gerut? He plays a good CF and looks like he knows what he is doing at the plate. He’s had 120 AB’s. . .who is to say that his success doesn’t continue?

  48. #96@BigWorm: Actually Crudge played fairly well the first couple months. GY has pointed out a few times that LF really wasnt the hole we thought it was. Also early in the season Marcus was playing well as well.

  49. #97@BigWorm: Exactly. Gerut has played good defense and has had good production for a CF/leadoff hitter. If it continues what is not to like?

  50. #96@BigWorm:


    SDSDU is right. Sledge had a good April and June, Cruz had a really good April. They were terrible in May, but the team won anyway. Both were bad in July, but only Cruz had enough at-bats to mean anything.

    It’s sort of like people saying we’re getting nothing from LF this year. Sure we are. The stat line isn’t formatted all that pretty, but PMac’s been an above-average hitter who gives some back on defense.