Friday Links (12 Sep 08)

That was a fun one Thursday night, eh? I’d make a crack about how it’s only the Giants, but seeing as how we have virtually no chance of overtaking them for fourth place, that hardly seems appropriate.

Seriously, though, it’s cool to see a bunch of these kids that I watched at Elsinore come up here and have some success. Matt Antonelli knocked three hits and drew a walk (and only a fine play by Omar Vizquel kept him from reaching base a fifth time), Drew Macias collected his first big-league hit (a homer off Matt Cain, no less), and Josh Geer tossed a gem.

Meanwhile, we’ve got links…

  • Jason at It Is About the Money, Stupid interviews Paul DePodesta. There’s some good stuff in here, but this is probably my favorite bit from DePo:

    We get a pass/fail grade 162 times a year, and no matter how good the team is we will fail a lot. The losing can really take its toll when you dedicate so much time and effort to the cause. On the other hand, the triumph of high achievement that accompanies winning is special.

    It always cracks me up when fans assume that folks in the front office don’t give a damn. I learn more about the pride those fans take in their own work than anything else.

  • Portland manager Randy Ready is up with the big club (h/t Baseball in Fort Wayne). That’s great, but buried in here is a nice quote from left-hander Wade LeBlanc on his difficulties this season:

    If you look at it as a failure, you won’t make it through the season. I looked at it as if that struggle will help me in the long run.

    Will it help him in the long run? Who knows, but at least he’s thinking about it the right way. He’s admitting that it’s a possibility, which is better than the alternative.

  • Could right-hander Mike Ekstrom be a dark horse candidate for the 2009 bullpen? Some within the organization seem to think so. Quoth GM Kevin Towers:

    It looks a little bit like the path that Scott Linebrink followed to the major leagues. Scott was a starter, but his stuff and how he pitched was better suited to being a reliever.

    Hey, why not. Just keep throwing guys out there and see if any of ‘em turn out to be good.

  • Speaking of pitchers, DePodesta talks about the two newest members of the Padres, right-handers Charlie Haeger and Scott Patterson. I find his take on Haeger interesting:

    As is the case with most knuckleballers, Charlie can walk some hitters, and he can give up some fly balls. That’s not a great combo in the American League, particularly in US Cellular in Chicago, but it’s more palatable in our environment. Kevin Towers has said in the past that he’s been intrigued with the idea of a knuckleballer in our park given the coastal weather conditions and the spacious outfield. In a more general sense, knuckleballers can also create some flexibility within a pitching staff due to their ability to pitch often and in a variety of roles.

    The bit about walks being “more palatable” at Petco surprises me a little because the organization typically places a premium on guys who throw strikes. A natural gut reaction is to wonder why they are going against the grain with Haeger. A more telling observation is that the Padres don’t appear to be overly attached to their own tendencies and are willing to be flexible where the situation dictates. This, I like. The ability to adapt has served our species well over the years.

Recent Articles

And here’s what we’ve been talking about this week at Ducksnorts. Some of these discussions are still active, so feel free to add your $0.02:

  • It’s Funny Because It’s Truthy — In the end, does it really matter whether someone is trying to be humorous? If I laugh, it works. (See Wood, Ed.)
  • Help Wanted: All-Time Padres Team — We’re looking for a third-string second baseman and a third-string left fielder. As of this writing, Bip Roberts leads Quilvio Veras, 12-2, for the former, while Rickey Henderson leads Greg Vaughn, 8-5, for the latter. Unless I’m presented with compelling reasons to do otherwise, I’m inclined to put Roberts on the team. I remain uncertain about Henderson and Vaughn; feel free to convince me one way or the other.
  • Bounce or Crash? — Reader Tom Waits wonders about the Padres’ chances to rebound in 2009. Unlike most of us, though, he’s actually studied the issue a bit.
  • Partly Focused, with a Ten Percent Chance of Useful — So, yeah, that whole thing about Adrian Gonzalez fading in the second half? He has three homers in the last two games. Emily Litella sends her regards.

Rock on…

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27 Responses »

  1. Of course people in baseball care. Except for the GMs, the pay is not particularly good, so they aren’t doing it for the money.

    Someone needs to ask if Haeger makes the team long term, can we at least go back to an 11 man staff? With a knuckleballer, you really only need one mop up guy.

    Nice to see with Antonelli. His swing looks very choppy — was his double hit far or was it a down the line-grounder type?

  2. I think we’ve got alot of guys who were starters that need to be moved into the bullpen if they want a major league career; Banks, Hayhurst (who I still don’t think will be even on this team), Hensley (for good). As for Haeger, the issue is more about finding someone to catch the bloody ball and we have at least one catcher that can’t catch a knuckle ball to save his life. I don’t know how well Hundley will do considering he isn’t that good defensively.

    Good to see these young kids up there, I personally am feeling a bit more optimistic about hundley, headley (can ya give the brother a day off?), venerable, leblanc and even geer. Antonelli, jury’s still out.

  3. I put up a few words on Adrian’s second straight 30-100 season on my site, if anyone would like to check it out.

  4. #1@Alan: It was a down the line grounder type.

    Last night T. Gwynn made a comment about how Adrian’s success wasn’t a fluke. That as long as the people ahead of him keep getting on he will continue to have great seasons.

    It made me think about how important OG was this year. Without him I can’t imagine that Adrian gets nearly as many RBI’s. Adrian needs to be sending OG a nice X-mas gift this year, maybe a life time membership to sunset tan. (if he doesn’t already have one)

    (I will have to look up and see how many of the RBI’s were with Giles on base. )

  5. Rob Neyer blogs about Charlie Haeger move. Neyer adores knuckleballers, so consider that when reading his prediction:

    Next spring, Haeger opens the season in Triple-A Portland, where I will enjoy him personally. He’ll pitch moderately well, and get the call from the Padres in the second half of May. Pitching in a variety of roles, he’ll finish the season with seven wins with the big club. Management, impressed with a couple of September starts, signs Doug Mirabelli and pencils Haeger into the rotation. And in 2010, he goes 14-9 for the National League West champions.

    Hey, a guy can dream a little, can’t he? (Neyer’s comment, not mine)

  6. kevin
    I like to dream too but the idea that that fool Doug Mirabelli joins the padres again isn’t dreaming but going through a nightmare. No thank you. Sooner teach Carlin to catch a knuckle ball.

  7. From SF:

    Cocky or confident? Mouths were agape in the clubhouse after rookie Conor Gillaspie, a college student three months ago, declared in print, “I think I can play as good as any of these guys up here.” Gillaspie might get a talking-to from some of the more seasoned players.

    Third-base coach Tim Flannery laughed and said he was the same way when he came up with the Padres, recalling a 1980 game at Philadelphia.

    “I was runner-up for a couple of batting titles in the minors,” Flannery said. “I came up here and batted third. Dave Winfield was fourth. I drag-bunt for a single, get to first base and Pete Rose is standing there. He said, ‘That was nice, kid. You trying to get your team going?’ I said, ‘Pete, I’m going to be going after some of your records.’

    “He said, ‘Kid, not only are you not going to hit in 44 straight games, but you’re not going to play in 44 straight.’ After 10 years, I don’t think I did.”

  8. #7@Didi: Great story about Flannery. He was a character.

  9. Went to saturday’s game (the lincecum/young match) and haeger did not look good. Most of the knuckleballs that he threw were up in the zone and didn’t seem to fool anybody. I guess that is to be expected at times with that particular pitch.

    I understand the theory that we need to play for next year at this point but it was particularly painful to be at the game and watch the padres just give it all away. (this was doubly painful as I was right behind the giants dugout and the Giants fan were unusually snarky and arrogant) I guess that I will have to just close my eyes and grit my teeth for the next couple of weeks. :(

  10. I watch every Padres game with as much excitement now as I have all year. Why ? They have some young players that look like they belong.

    You hate to see anyone get hurt, but Jody Gerut’s minor injury has been a bit of a blessing in that it has meant more playing time for guys like Venable and Macias — and the Padres have to like the brief look they have seen so far.

    Drew Macias looks like he could be a decent 4th or 5th extra outfielder for the 2009 squad. His defense is superlative (he possesses a rocket arm) and his offensive capabilities may continue to develop.

    Antonelli looks like he is worthy of this September call up as well. He has an eagles eye at the plate, with better speed then I thought – though he needs some more work defensively.

    Josh Geer reminds me a bit of Rick Reuschel as his delivery looks like he is weakly flinging it up there but in actuality he throws in the low 90′s and locates the curve –not too mention,the kid possesses what you like in a young pitcher –he is cocky and brash.

  11. #10@JP: Yup I agree with you, September has really given me a little more confidence in the Padres future, I really would not mind seeing a complete youth movement next year. I would love to see the Pads move Kouz or Headley in the off season for a good young starting pitcher and continue putting lineups out like they have been doing this September. I would be ok with a rotation of Peavy, Young, New pitcher, Leblanc and Geer next year with the possibility of Carrillo being called up when he is ready.

    Would anyone else be ok with an OF of Venable, Gerut and Hairston with Macias on the bench?

  12. #11@Steve C: Not if the goal is to win games. That’s possibly 2/3 of a starting outfield, but Hairston and Venable both look like platoon players. It’s not such a big deal with Venable because he’s a lefty.

    Geer’s gumption won’t save him from being Justin Germano.

    If we’re just retrenching and rebuilding, then by all means play the kids. We already missed Geer’s probable peak trade value after 2007. Of course, if we’re rebuilding and OG’s option won’t be picked up, then you have to ask why he wasn’t moved before the deadline.

  13. #10@JP: JP … I liked your comment about Geer … Reuschel was an interesting and underrated pitcher (I saw him during his Giants days) … so I posted you comment to MadFriars … and got this feedback from John Coniff which I think you’ll find interesting …

    He can occasionally touch 90, but he sits in the mid to high 80′s. Also he throw a slider, not a curve. I agree with you, I like him too. I think he has a starter’s job locked up next year if he has another good outing.

  14. Heated debate regarding Kouz in the comments at John Sickels’ Minor League Ball:

    http://www.minorleagueball.com/2008/9/5/607674/prospect-retro-kevin-kouzm

    Wonder if Sickels will have to disable comments?? (Just funnin’ with ya, Geoff…)

  15. #11@Steve C: Do people think that the Padres will not pick up Giles’ option for next season? He’s only going to cost them $6m next year. They also can’t offer him arbitration since he would accept so they won’t get any draft picks if he leaves as a free agent.

    I guess we’ll find out if the Padres are serious about winning next year as soon as they make their decision on Giles.

  16. re: Geer, he won’t be able to sustain this success so far. I don’t see him pitching in the 90′s at all, mid-80′s sounds right and he still lacks stuff to get ML hitters out. I wish him best but at best he’ll be a Bannister type and at that, I’m pessimistic too. I’m not so sure he’ll have the starting job for next season that he’ll lose as soon as Germano lost his this season.

    re: Hairston, he’ll hit 25-30 HRs given 500 AB+ as long as we can tolerate his play on the field and his long slump with high K’s that will happen. Not sure how we’ll be able to use him, otherwise.

    re: Antonelli, I’m so glad his hitting as he didn’t seem to be missing pitches by striking out a lot earlier. I hope he’ll be taking the second baseman job for next season. BTW, let’s hope his Coors success is not due to the launching pad effect but rather from his hitting skills and the launching pad effect. I’d hate to see him develop a bad habit from that place.

  17. #10@JP: You all have been following baseball more closely than I for a long time, but what is is about geer that makes him more promising than Germano or Banks. They both looked fantastic for about 4 or 5 starts and then the league caught up with them.

  18. #12@Tom Waits: I just don’t see the Padres rebounding next year especially if they are looking at a $50 – $55 Mil payroll so why not go with the total youth movement.

    I would love to see Venable and Hairston platoon in LF but I don’t see the Pads bringing in any everyday player FA’s and who knows if Giles will be back or not (at this point I really don’t think so because he will be a 10-5 guy and they will not be able to move him at the deadline if they find themselves in a similar spot as they did this year).

    I agree with you on Geer but I was kind of hoping that he would be able to keep the seat warm until Carrillo was ready.

  19. #12@Tom Waits: Of course, we should not automatically assume that Geer is Germano, though I understand why you draw the comparison. After all, Germano’s first dozen or so starts in 2007 were superb and he ended up struggling the rest of the year and 2008 was horrific. But we must give Geer more of a look before we write him off as Germano.

    However, why do you think that Venable is a platoon player ? He seems to hang in there quite well against lefthanders and seems to be better defensively than many were saying. Gerut can’t seem to stay healthy —his durability is more than questionable and not only that, I really believe that when you consider age and upside, that Venable is the man for center.

  20. #10@JP: Agreed about Macias. I’ve been saying for a while that he could have a career as a backup. He does a lot of things well.

    #14@Lance Richardson: Only if he values his sanity. ;-)

    #19@Steve C: Why don’t you see the Padres rebounding next year? Beyond payroll, which I count more as an excuse than a reason, what specifically leads you to believe that 2009 is a lost cause before it begins? Lack of pitching? Strong division? You’ve piqued my curiosity. 8)

    #20@JP: We should not automatically assume anything. However, as has been discussed here before, Geer’s minor-league track record looks an awful lot like Germano’s (except that Germano was younger when he posted his numbers). Geer may help bridge the gap, but he’s not part of the long-term solution.

    As for Venable, I’m beginning to think that maybe he can have a Gary Matthews Jr. type career. There isn’t really much upside to speak of, but he looks like he can hold his own here right now, which means he doesn’t need upside per se. Of course, it’s September and plenty of guys perform well in a small sample. Still, he’s done enough to make me want to see more.

  21. #20@JP: Geer has 567 minor league innings in which he didn’t strike people out. You just don’t see quality major league pitchers with a K/9 rate that far below average. History is littered with guys who won a few games with subpar stuff and bad peripherals, then the magic wore off. My money’s on Geer being one of those guys.

    It’s something similar for Venable. He’s only had 16 major league ABs vs lefties. He did okay against them in AAA, but did his real damage vs righties. It’s easier to live with since he’s on the good side of the platoon, but if you’re looking for a solid OF, Gerut/Venable/Hairston still comes up half a player short.

    If we whack Venable’s finger with a hammer, we’ll see if he’s any more robust than Gerut. But Gerut’s bat this year plays in a corner, too.

    Hopefully last night will get the UT writers to shut up about Estes as a possible starter next year. Given enough innings (and that’s not many), Shawn Estes turns into Shawn Estes. I’d much rather see Geer have those starts next year. At least you get an answer to a meaningful question.