If there is a worse way to travel than by airplane, I’d just as soon not know about it. Anywho, I’m back from Hawai’i with links…
- 3 Questions: San Diego Padres (Platoon Advantage). The Common Man wonders what the future might hold for the 2011 Padres: “Is this a club that just needs to be strengthened around the margins, or should the Padres continue to look to fundamentally remake their club? Is this a team that is still rebuilding, or are they ready-made to compete?” Of course, the answer to this question informs what the team must do with its one superstar, Adrian Gonzalez, and TCM offers his thoughts on that as well.
- Garland, Torrealba decisions raise questions about Padres direction (U-T). As Bill Center notes, “Not only did the Padres get Torrealba and Garland at bargain-basement prices for 2010, the fact that both have signed with other teams automatically means the Padres will get a pair of supplemental draft picks after the first round is complete next June.” Draft picks are good. We like draft picks, although Craig at 619 Sports would like to see the Padres be more active this winter.
- Dodgers sign Jon Garland and Juan Uribe (Friar Forecast). I don’t understand why Garland gets only a 1-year deal. He does the one thing that most pitchers don’t, which is stay healthy. He’s an innings pig, a prototypical no. 4 starter. While I don’t expect that to command big money, it seems like it should merit a long-term deal. Meanwhile the Rangers sign Yorvit Torrealba to a 2-year deal for $6.25 million, which seems excessive for a thirtysomething backup catcher (they are planning to start him, but let’s be real) coming off a career year. Then again, I have trouble figuring out what a free agent is worth.
- Price to re-sign Hairston likely increasing (North County Times). Meanwhile, at least one veteran shortstop in a market full of weak shortstops (and one delusional one) understands his value. Quoth Jerry Hairston Jr., on the Dodgers’ signing of Juan “Hey, Buddy, Can You Spare An Agent?” Uribe to a 3-year, $21 million deal: “Uribe was big… With Uribe gone, I’m the only out there who can play shortstop.”
- Rockies jump gun with Tulo’s new deal (SweetSpot). Speaking of shortstops, Rob Neyer reacts to Troy Tulowitzki’s 10-year extension. As Neyer notes, the Rockies are assuming plenty of risk here. Still, it’s better than the deal they gave Todd Helton a few years ago. At least Tulowitzki is reasonably young and plays a premium defensive position. Tango runs numbers and likes the deal for both sides… a not unreasonable position assuming Tulowitzki stays healthy for the duration. Myron at Friar Forecast chimes in with his thoughts as well.
- My dozen favorite baseball movies (SweetSpot). Speaking of Neyer… I’m way down with Bull Durham, anytime, anywhere. I also have a soft spot for Field of Dreams, which I don’t consider a baseball movie. I never saw The Natural, mainly because I loved the book and heard they ruined the ending.
- Top 10 Prospects: The San Diego Padres (FanGraphs). Marc Hulet gives his list. I probably would swap Jaff Decker and Donavan Tate, and I’m still not a huge Cory Luebke fan (Hulet’s assessment of him as a potential no. 3 starter seems about right in terms of top end). I’d push James Darnell up a little higher. Still, I can’t find much to disagree with here. How boring. Bryan Smith chimes in with his thoughts on the farm system [h/t reader Didi], as does Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com.
- To Jason Hagerty! (Watson Files). Speaking of prospects, Dan informs us that Hagerty has been named Topps Class-A All-Star catcher. Hagerty will play 2011 as a 23-year-old and hasn’t yet reached High-A ball, but I like him. Catchers with on-base skills don’t grow on trees. Seriously, that would be weird.
- Kevin Correia’s journey after tragedy (ESPN). Jerry Crasnick profiles the soon-to-be-former (?) Padres right-hander.
- Trevor Hoffman should end his career with something revolutionary (Gaslamp Ball). Dex wants to see Trevor back in San Diego. Reader Didi points us to a different take.
- Players A to Z, Chase Headley (Baseball Musings). David Pinto notes that Headley’s entire approach to hitting is different (and far less successful) at home than on the road. Anecdotally speaking, I’m pretty sure Headley’s game is hurt more by Petco Park than anyone wearing a Padres uniform since Khalil Greene played here. [h/t reader Didi]
- Padres reach deal with Denorfia for 2011 (Padres.com). It’s for 1 year at $800,000 and it effectively reduces the number of sons of former big-league outfielders on the roster by two.
- San Francisco Giants, Miguel Tejada reach one-year deal (San Jose Mercury News). It’s for $6.5 million, and the plan calls for Tejada to play shortstop every day. I love what he did here, but chances are, he’ll break down and/or lose effectiveness over the course of a full season. This probably isn’t a terrible signing for the Giants, but it wouldn’t have made much sense at that price for San Diego.
- Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton may be as good as he’ll ever be (SI.com). Tim Marchman offers thoughts on the talented youngster, while MGL pokes holes in said thoughts. Joe Pawlikowski provides thoughts on a similar topic, which tells me one thing: There’s way too much thinking going on around here.
- Card Corner: Topps’ top 60 and Joe Rudi (Hardball Times). Former Padres Gene Tenace and Dick Williams make an appearance. Tenace actually is central to this amusing tale of mistaken identity.
- Baseball’s Retirement Home (Dirk Hayhurst). Quoth the Garfoose: “I can’t think of one single player that’s played in San Diego and thought poorly of the town afterward. Just know that while life in San Diego can be sweet, it’s a premier club for the elderly to get into.” Yep, we’re totally taking over from Arizona and Florida. Respect the golf cart, dawg.
- Examining ISO Changes From 2009 to 2010 (FanGraphs). Very geeky, but very cool. Charts and stuff.
- When a catcher can no longer catch… (The Book). MGL asks an interesting question and comes up with this: “If you are a catcher and are not a great hitter, you better make sure you can catch for a very long time or you will be out of baseball in a heart beat.” Yeah, I wonder how many “poor-man’s Brad Ausmuses” never made it? Or Cliff Dappers for that matter?
- Bill James dishes on Cy Young, Greinke, etc. (MLB Facts and Rumors). Cool interview. [h/t SweetSpot]
- Marvin Miller sets the record straight on Jim Palmer and the union (HardballTalk). Craig Calcaterra’s chat with the former union head was off-the-record but it did net this gem: “Unlike most unions, where the real push for formation and early activism comes from the have-nots in the ranks, the baseball union was always strongly supported by players at the top.” [h/t SweetSpot]
- Wins and Salary (Hardball Times). Studes talks money [h/t reader Didi], while in somewhat related news, Mike Ozanian at Forbes notes that salary caps in other sports have benefited rich teams more than poor teams [h/t Hardball Times]
- National Anthem USA (YouTube). As “sung” by Lt. Frank Drebbin impersonating Enrico Palazzo. RIP, Leslie Nielsen. And don’t call me Shirley.
Links are nice, but maybe next time I’ll bring macadamia nuts…
When is the Rule V draft? There are some interesting players available this year. I think the Padres should take a chance on Arizona lefty reliever Clay Zavada. He had Tommy John in May but could be stashed on the DL for enough time for them to evaluate him on a “rehab assignment”. His numbers are truly ridiculous (0.43 WHIP in 2008???) and it looks like he throws strikes.
-Wilkin Ramirez, a righty corner OF with moderate power/speed
-Adam Miller, former Indians top pitching prospect has missed past two years but is reportedly throwing well
-Nick Stavinoha could be someone’s Oscar Salazar
-Chad Tracy (Rangers), a 1B/LF/C guy with good pop and a decent OBP
-Brian Anderson, a former top OF prospect who is now a reliever in the Brooks Kieschnick mold (could make for interesting double switches)
-Brendan Harris, the utility infielder
-John Drennen a lefty corner OF guy with a decent OBP but never played above AAA
-Matt Lawson, a 2B with a solid OBP who also plays a little LF
In response to the comment in your intro, yes, there IS a worse way to travel than by airplane, under certain circumstances, and you don’t have to worry about knowing it – it may even make you feel better about flying. Back in the ’70s when I had more time than money, and was planning a trip from San Diego to Boston, I bought a monthly pass from Greyhound for half the cost of a plane ticket. What I did was hop a series of intercity express buses, and made my way across the country in 3-1/2 days. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, because after doing it once, you’ll never do it again. Fortunately, you can’t take the bus to Hawaii.
Platoon Advantage’s first of its 3 questions raises an interesting point. The Padres worked around the edges after the 37-25 finish in 2009, eager to see if it was a fluke. The answer was 90 wins, but now THAT is being questioned as a fluke. TCM tends to view it as a fluke, that the club needs more “rebuilding”. I’m leaning toward TCM and the “experts” being unable to ever recognize a pitching, defense and just-enough hitting club that fits Petco as a contender. It doesn’t fit their conventional blueprint for a contending club, even though there’s a precedent in Al Lopez’ perennial winning White Sox teams of the mid-1950s to mid-1960s. Why can’t the Padres continue to contend for several seasons with just a little annual work around the edges?
I don’t know why TCM even bothered with the second question – Adrian doesn’t belong in Petco, even if the Padres had the money. The third question made me doubt TCM’s judgement, first for assuming Padres hitting is that bad – check out the splits, showing Padres hitters CAN hit outside of the Pitchers’ Paradise known as Petco, and second for TCM’s failure to recognize Venable’s power potential. It looks like we’re in for another Rodney Dangerfield off-season, where the Padres get no respect.
@dts317: The Rule V draft is on Dec 9. Brendan Harris isn’t a bad idea. Gaslamp Ball has a list of other intriguing names.
@Larry: Ooh, that trip actually sounds kind of cool (easy for me to say, right?).
Regarding what makes for a contender in Petco Park, the question remains unsettled. I suspect that your recipe is one (possibly among many) that might work; however, it’s worth remembering that the pitching part of the equation headed into last season was far from certain. The defense, beyond 1B and CF, looked a bit dubious as well.
This team has a lot of holes right now. How do you replace Garland’s innings? Aaron Harang reportedly has signed pending a physical; assuming he’s healthy, that should help offset the loss. Even still, the Padres have a lot riding on young pitchers; granted, they are talented, but Latos was worked harder than expected last year and Stauffer has a miserable injury record. Beyond them, you’re looking at less proven guys like LeBlanc and Luebke.
As for defense, the outfield shouldn’t change much (although Ludwick makes me nervous), but the middle infield is… well, there isn’t one. Bottom line: I don’t take issue so much with your recipe for success at Petco Park as with whether the Padres truly have the ingredients necessary to make said recipe.
Regarding Venable’s power potential… Oh, that is a fun one. The best way I can think to put it is that he is capable of hitting the ball out to any part of any ballpark in baseball, but I’m not sure he’ll ever improve his pitch recognition to the point where he can use his power with consistency. If he hits 20 homers in a season twice in his career, I’ll be surprised. At the same time, he is bound to hit some shots that will floor people who are just looking at his numbers.
Looking forward to your essay on why Casey Kelly is the 2010 version of getting Hoffy for Sheffield… I hope.
Ugh, why do I have to be a freaking Padre fan?
By the way, long-time lurker, grew up in central Illinois but with grandparents in San Diego and the annual vacation. 1984 forever solidified my lonely fandom in flyover land after listening to my Little League teammates, and Cub fans, mercilessly beat me down over games 1 and 2 of the NLCS. But it was a done deal anyway. I still have a picture essay from 1st grade of Randy Jones having his arm in a sling. I was so $cr3w3d.
Anyway, your blog is absolutely fantastic and to know the pain is shared by others makes things just that little bit better.
The story on Kevin Correia is heartbreaking… a good read about how baseball really isn’t the real world no matter how passionate we can be about the lovely game. I hope he’ll pitch much better next year no matter where he ends up.
@GY – thanks for the heads up on the Rule V date and article. Maybe they can throw a flier at the Rangers Chad Tracy to fill 1B for a year.
@Boondoggle: Thanks for the kind words… Losing Adrian stings, but we’ve been through this before with other players and survived. As you say, at least we have each other…