He knows changes aren’t permanent,
but change is.
–Rush, “Tom Sawyer”
The world is in a constant state of flux. All that we know with any degree of certainty is that what holds true today may or may not hold true tomorrow.
The Padres have been awful this year. I have witnessed it personally and had others confirm the fact for me as well.
That’s why I feel guilty enjoying this team. I want to hate, but I can’t do it. As reader Lance points out in a thoughtful piece at Seamheads, watching games here in San Diego hardly constitutes “suffering” according to any reasonable definition of the term.
But some people prefer to wallow in self-pity, and that’s cool. If you find that supporting the Padres is causing problems, here are three ways to remedy the situation. There may be others, but these should get you started:
- Cheer for a different team, preferably one that is playing well so you can feel like a winner. I suggested the Red Sox back in November, but maybe you could try the Dodgers. They play just up the road from here and are doing great; I’m sure they’ll make room for you on their bandwagon. Pretend to love them for a while. It may help assuage that feeling of utter despair you fear — at least until something else comes along to remind you that winning isn’t all that matters in life. Hey, it’s not like anyone will think the less of you for abandoning your team. Nobody will mock you publicly for being weak of spirit.
- Give up baseball and find a new hobby. Focus your energies on something less unpredictable. Try gardening or needlepoint. Go for long walks on the beach. Nothing clears my head like a long walk on the beach. You may find it similarly invigorating and cleansing. Or you may just get sand in your shoes.
- Stop whining and watch the games. Really, they’re not that bad… if you like baseball.
* * *
Reader Tom Waits posed a good question over at Padres Rundown the other day. In discussing the current crop of prospects versus that from 2003 or so, he asked:
What reason, other than faith, do we have to believe that the current system will fare any better at providing the bulk of our roster in four years?
The answer is, there is no other reason. Faith is it — Faith that the player development folks know what they’re doing and that the Padres get a little lucky.
The vast majority of prospects don’t develop the way we hope they will. That’s the nature of the beast.
Flux. Uncertainty. The kids from a few years ago (George Kottaras, Tagg Bozied, Jake Gautreau, etc.) put up nice numbers in the minors — as good as or better than those of current prospects — but most have not gone on to have significant big-league careers. What does this tell us about the kids we’re seeing now?
Hard to say. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Neither is it a guarantee of future failure. All we have are indicators and probabilities. How things play out remains to be ssen. Life has its own ideas about fairness, caring little about our theories and constructs.
Is this comforting? Probably not, but that’s not why I’m here. If you want comfort — again, try the Dodgers or needlepoint…
* * *
The Padres have fired hitting coach Jim Lefebvre, replacing him with Randy Ready. It’s become a summer ritual in San Diego: Go to the beach, grill up some steaks, ax the hitting coach.
Will Ready be an improvement over Lefebvre? No clue, but I like the fact that Ready worked with many of these kids when they were in the minors. Reminds me of when the Padres promoted pitching coach Darren Balsley from Double-A to work with Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez, etc. I can’t speak to Ready’s qualifications, but I imagine that some familiarity may help guys like Kyle Blanks and Willdebeast Venable make the transition from prospect to productive big-league player.
* * *
One of my favorite “suggestions” is that the Padres should spend more money on players. I couldn’t agree more. You get cracking on that and let me know how it goes.
* * *
- I’m thrilled for Jake that he gets to pitch for a contender.
- I’m bummed that he won’t pass Eric Show to become the Padres’ all-time wins leader.
- I’m glad that the Padres free up money going forward and I hope Tom Krasovic is right that this helps them sign Donavan Tate and Everett Williams.
- I’m okay with gutting a team that stinks.
- I’ll miss watching Jake pitch; he did fantastic work here, and I have a soft spot for guys that I saw play at Elsinore — Oliver Perez, Peavy, Xavier Nady, Khalil Greene, Jake.
This was a salary dump, plain and simple. The Padres were hurtling toward 100 losses with Peavy on the roster, and he was eating up a huge percentage of the total payroll. If you’re going to stink anyway, why not do it for a fraction of the cost?
My overall feeling is one of relief and gratitude. Specifically I’m grateful that:
- I had the pleasure of watching Peavy pitch in San Diego these past several years.
- He agreed to waive his no-trade clause.
- The Padres got four arms in return.
- The White Sox are taking on all of Peavy’s salary.
- We no longer have to wonder whether a trade will happen.
The Padres have committed to a course of action and have given themselves payroll flexibility. The arms are a bonus. I’m not super excited about any of them, but maybe one or two will turn into something. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Chris Ello isn’t happy with the deal. He raises some good points but makes a mistake here:
It’s what bad baseball organizations do. Good organizations have younger players coming up to keep the team rolling. Younger players they can trade to get other star players — not the other way around.
Right. Like Gary Sheffield for Trevor Hoffman?
Snark aside, the larger point is that the trading of established stars for unproven youngsters is not the hallmark of a bad baseball organization. What does identify a bad organization is the refusal to acknowledge shortcomings and a failure to take corrective action.
The Padres pitching depth at the highest levels was non-existent. In moving Peavy and Scott Hairston, they picked up seven pitchers, three or four of whom could be ready to contribute next year. None of these pitchers is likely to be anything special, but maybe one or two will be useful in an Andy Ashby/Sterling Hitchcock kind of way. Grab a bunch of ‘em, improve your odds of success. At the very least, we won’t be subjected to the likes of Josh Geer or Walter Silva.
I went to Clayton Richard’s Padres debut Saturday night. He looked okay (Mike at Friar Forecast has the PITCHf/x goodness). Threw a little harder than I’d expected: 88-92 mph, touching 94. I see him as a #4 starter at best, a long reliever at worst. He’s John Halama with a fastball. That’s good enough to survive in the big leagues, at least for a while.
* * *
It’s-a not so bad,
It’s-a nice-a place,
Ah, shaddap-a you face!
– Joe Dolce, “Shaddap You Face”
Everyone is down on the Padres right now, and understandably so. It’s an easy position to take. It doesn’t require much thought or effort to slag the organization when things aren’t going well.
Empires rise and fall. Stuff happens. You say goodbye to some players, hello to others, and hope for the best. We’ve been through this before and survived:
Unless you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates, there’s a decent chance that things will turn around before too long. I like what I’m seeing from the kids so far, and I’m glad the club has decided to run aggressively in one direction. Off a cliff? Maybe. I hope not, although you never know with young talent.
The Padres have possibilities, which is more than they had at the start of the season. Everth Cabrera (who reminds me — and it bugs me that I didn’t notice this earlier — of Quilvio Veras), Headley, and Venable look like they can play at this level. Same with Nick Hundley when he’s healthy.
On the pitching side, Luke Gregerson and Edward Mujica should contribute, which nobody could have anticipated a few months ago. Ditto Richard. These guys aren’t exciting, but they could be useful, which is an improvement.
Beyond the cogs, Kyle Blanks and Mat Latos look like potential impact players around whom to build. Will they reach their potential? We don’t know yet, but they might and now they’re getting a chance to show what they can do… you know, kind of like Peavy had that chance back in 2002.
* * *
But I will rise
And I will return
The Phoenix from the flame
–Sinead O’Connor, “Troy”
Where is my outrage? That is an excellent question. The truth is, I have embarrassed my outrage too many times and now it won’t come when I call. Here are some places I wasted my outrage:
- Scott Sanders for Sterling Hitchcock
- Joey Hamilton for Woody Williams
- Mark Phillips for Rondell White
- Jay Payton and Ramon Vazquez for Dave Roberts
At some point you get tired of being wrong all the time. Had I been paying closer attention back then, I’m sure I would have been outraged by the ’93 Fire Sale as well. But then Ashby and Hoffman became key parts of the ’96 and ’98 teams; Derek Bell was part of the payment for Ken Caminiti and Steve Finley; and Brad Ausmus brought John Flaherty and Chris Gomez.
I’ll hold my hysteria for now. There are things in this world that are worthy of outrage; Peavy being traded to the White Sox is not one of them.
* * *
I need to be clear on one point. None of this should be taken to mean that criticism of the organization isn’t warranted. The Padres have fallen into a state of disrepair. Some of this (e.g., questionable draft strategies) is their own doing, some of it (’07 meltdown) is just dumb luck.
At the same time, the people in the front office know more about baseball than some folks may think. I tell you this because I used to be a smart guy, too, rattling off reasons why a particular move was idiotic.
Knee-jerk reactions sell advertising, but ultimately what is of value are well-considered points of view. As one who once made a habit of launching such brash proclamations, let me assure you that it is wise to consider multiple angles before doing so. Otherwise you run the very real risk of having your outrage desert you.
Modified Box Scores
Here are your boxes (explanation) for the week.
Positives: Kyle Blanks and Everth Cabrera are playing often and playing well.
Negatives: Drew Macias was optioned to Portland… again.
Cabrera hits first big-league homer.
Cabrera doubles twice, steals two bases; all 13 of his steals this year have come since June 23, and 5 have been of third base.
Blanks hits 451-foot homer to left; Latos allows 1 hit over 7 innings.
Headley reaches base four times; Venable collects four hits, including a homer.
Blanks and Venable go yard.
Venable homers in third straight game; Headley doesn’t show up here, but he knocked a pinch-hit double to right-center in the eighth that missed leaving the park by inches.
Oh well, at least we got to see Trevor pitch.