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?

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14 Responses »

  1. Baek is Chan Ho Park — later edition. Throws a bunch of pitches, decent velocity, decent breaking stuff, straight fastball. When his control is on and he can throw the curve for a strike, he can be pretty good.

    I don’t see that as a great move to the bullpen. Usually guys who do better in the pen than as starters are guys who have one to two plus pitches, not a wide array of mediocre stuff.

    Doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work, but he’s not the protoypical move.

  2. I was pretty sure I remembered thinking Adrian could have used some rest last season also … but checking the facts is better than relying on memory …

    He was VERY down in June and July … but was VERY up in Aug and Sep …

  3. Getting brighter? I say yes. Of course it could be a train. ;-)

  4. I, too, would hesitate to judge Adrian based on this year alone. Neither 2006 nor 2007 reflect the late year slump we are seeing now. It certainly couldn’t hurt him to work on conditioning and improving himself as an athlete, but I don’t think we can say he wears down based on the results of his career to date.

  5. If I can recall correctly, Adrian did actually did have a similar slide last year. I believe that he got one of his first rest days in Jul but I do not know where to check that out.

    Apr: .909
    May: .891
    Jun: .720
    Jul: .685
    Sept: .886

    I think it was that slump in Jul that convinced buddy black that he had been playing Adrian too much.

  6. If the Padres really are going to cut payroll into the mid-$50 million range, which KT has acknowledged could happen, then Padre fans need to get used to the idea of having Baek in the rotation next season. Baek is probably the leading candidate for the #3 spot right now. Scary, but true.

    Of course, things could change quickly in the offseason. I’m guessing KT will try and trade Kouz or maybe even Kyle Blanks for a #3 starter but I don’t see them signing a mid-market free agent veteran again like Maddux or Wolf for the #4 role. That means that Baek is a good bet to begin 2009 as the team’s #3 or 4 starter.

    I love him as a #5 starter. Over the years, not many Padre pitchers have shown his ability to pitch deep into games, throw strikes, and shut down good hitting teams. He’s done it at least 6 or 7 times this season now.

    BUT, as a #3 or 4 starter, he’s going to kill us unless he can become more consistent. I still don’t think he’s put together more than 2 good starts in a row this season. He’s still much better than any #5 starter we’ve had in years.

    As for AGON, I’m also perplexed at how his production has declined over the last few months. He had the one bad month in ’07 (mid-June thru mid-July) but he finished strong. I figured he just had a nagging injury that he was trying to play through. Of course, he had Milton Bradley batting in front of him down the stretch last season, which seemed to revitalize him. I can’t imagine he’s getting much to hit these days. Maybe he just doesn’t feel a need to draw walks at this point of the season and is expanding the zone.

  7. Wouldn’t it be something if Haeger works out to be in the rotation and Bard is his personal catcher? I can see that happening if Hundley ended up being the starter and Bard is the backup next season.

  8. I’m pretty excited (or as excited as you can be with a waiver claim) about the Padres pickup of Charlie Haeger. First of all, major league baseball needs more knuckleball pitchers. Secondly, knuckleball pitchers have traditionally been late bloomers and Haeger is 24. Finally, he seems like the type of pitcher the Padres should target as he’s a flyball pitcher (groundball % of 41 the past two seasons). And it’s not like the Padres have any better starting pitcher candidates except for Peavy and Young. The only possible drawback is that it appears that Bard can’t catch a knuckleball but who knows if he will be here next season?

  9. I like how Simers makes fun of San Diego’s football program… kinda like a double amputee making fun of someone’s limp…

  10. Padres also claimed Scott Patterson off waivers from the Yankees. He has put up some impressive minor league numbers.

  11. #5@DM: You can see a player’s individual game logs at Baseball-Reference. Here’s Adrian’s from 2007:

    Looks like the first time he didn’t play was July 5, Game #85 on the season.

    #9@Johnny Utah: Nice…

    #10@SDSUBaseball: Patterson is a good example of scouring unexpected sources for talent. He didn’t play affiliated ball until age 27:

    He might not be anything, but what’s the harm in finding out?

  12. #11@Geoff Young: Agreed. He was a good pitcher in college, it was interesting that he went underrated. He has had a great K-rate all through the minors. He is old, but so is Baek. He is worth giving a shot.

  13. Macias has a pretty nice swing and sprays to all fields, not to mention his good defensive work. The Pads may want to protect him on the 40 man roster after all.

    This crappy year hasn’t been all bad and may help in the long run, giving a cat like Macias a 20 game look would have been highly improbable in anything other than a 90+ loss season -

  14. I don’t think Adrian should be rested based on this season (although it could be the beginning of a trend). I don’t think any player or almost any player should play more than 155 games in a season. Maybe 150.