Partly Focused, with a Ten Percent Chance of Useful

Like that new Metallica song, I’m scattered and unfocused today, with hopefully a touch of good stuff in there somewhere…

  • Folks have been singing the praises of Cha Seung Baek because his fastball actually creeps into the mid-90s. I look at his track record and apparent disinterest in attacking hitters, and have concerns, but Monday night against the Dodgers he made Manny Ramirez look terrible twice.

    In the fourth inning, Baek kept pounding fastballs in on Ramirez, who eventually popped weakly to the right side of the infield. Then in the sixth, on a full count, Baek got Ramirez to chase a fastball out off the plate. The previous pitch was a 2-2 breaking ball that completely froze Ramirez but missed just high.

    As data points go, these are fairly minor compared to Baek’s larger body of unimpressive work, but clearly the guy has stuff. Then again, so did Wil Ledezma. Reader Tom Waits suggests that maybe Baek “could be a good high-leverage reliever.” It didn’t work with Ledezma, who has zero command, but several years ago, the Padres moved Jay Witasick to the bullpen and got good results.

  • Speaking of pitchers potentially in the mix for 2009 (and at this point, who isn’t in the mix?), the Padres claimed right-hander Charlie Haeger off waivers from the White Sox. Haeger throws a knuckleball, which should make Josh Bard happy. Reader Didi notes that Rany Jazayerli has some thoughts on Haeger, mostly positive. Rany, you may recall, is pretty much the only person in the world who identified Brian Lawrence as a prospect before he became a successful big-league pitcher. Just sayin’…
  • Kevin of Padres Nation fame asked the other day what I thought of the fact that Adrian Gonzalez has played every game this season. I’m one of those odd people who need to see some data before forming an opinion, so I looked it up and found this:

    First 73 games: .289/.354/.553, 20 HR
    Second 73 games: .256/.356/.405, 9 HR

    Or if you prefer, here is his OPS by month (through September 10):

    Apr: 833
    May: 967
    Jun: 854
    Jul: 781
    Aug: 767
    Sep/Oct: 712

    We don’t know the root causes of Gonzalez’s slide, but there is no denying that such a slide exists. Some have suggested that he could be better conditioned, but I find myself wondering about the mental grind of suiting up for a team that simply hasn’t been competitive all year.

    Gonzalez didn’t fade in 2007 despite playing 161 games, so this could be a fluke. Still, it might be nice to give the guy an occasional break next year, when the outcome of individual games late in the season might actually matter.

  • Reader Schlom notes that T.J. Simers continues to have a crush on San Diego. The headline reads, “San Diego is a town filled with losers.” He’s wrong, of course — it’s not filled; I’m pretty sure we could find room for one more.
  • My colleague Steve Treder has an excellent article at the Hardball Times on the 1970 Padres. I’ve studied the 1969 team extensively, and I have a good working knowledge of most of the squads from the ’80s on forward, but there are gaps in the ’70s (funny how that phrase can work in so many different contexts). I’ll need to learn more about some of these early teams, and Steve’s article is a great place to start.

Light… at the end of the tunnel… It is getting brighter, no?