I Wouldn’t Miss You if I Had Better Aim

Monday morning, it appeared that Everth Cabrera would make the big club as the Padres backup middle infielder. Despite Cabrera’s train wreck of a 2010 campaign and a less-than-inspired spring training, the path looked clear after Kevin Frandsen, the only legitimate contender for the job, was released on Friday.

As I quipped on Twitter, “Never dreamed I’d miss Jerry Hairston Jr. this much.”

Monday afternoon, we learned that the Padres traded for Nationals infielder Alberto Gonzalez, inspiring another Twitter quip: “I hope Alberto Gonzalez is a better pitcher than Josh Wilson.”

I’m not going to explain that joke. If you were here when the Josh Wilson Experience rolled through town, you know what I mean. If not, it would be a gross overexaggeration to say you didn’t miss much. Besides, it’s not funny.

The point is that Gonzalez is basically Wilson:

Player           Age  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+
Alberto Gonzalez  28 641 .253 .292 .331  66
Josh Wilson       30 920 .227 .281 .315  63

Gonzalez cost RHP Erik Davis (who “relies a lot on change” according to Tom Krasovic), while Wilson cost a mere waiver claim. Of course, Hairston is a much better player than either could hope to be, which is sad until you realize… actually, it’s sad regardless of what you realize.

Other available options not exercised include former Padres Luis Rodriguez and Oscar Robles. Hey, go big.

Here are the career lines of our various heroes:

Player           Age  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+
Alberto Gonzalez  28 641 .253 .292 .331  66
Luis Rodriguez    31 984 .243 .316 .323  74
Oscar Robles      35 471 .260 .323 .348  78
Josh Wilson       30 920 .227 .281 .315  63

I’m not interested in debating the relative (de)merits of each. This is just an elaborate excuse to point out a few things.

  • Rodriguez played at Triple-A Charlotte in the White Sox organization last year. Splitting time between second base and shortstop, he hit .293/.364/.493, with 16 home runs.
  • Robles hasn’t seen big-league action since 2007. He spent last season with the Mexico City Reds and hit .355/.443/.486, tying for 10th in the Mexican League in batting average. Sounds exciting, right? Well, okay, but he was tied with D’Angelo Jimenez. And both finished two slots behind Ruben Rivera, who hit .360.
  • Speaking of Rivera, the sure thing that wasn’t has become a beast for the Campeche Pirates over the past several years:
    Year Age  PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB SO
    2005  31 354 .342 .432 .621 44 66
    2007  33 448 .344 .435 .628 57 65
    2008  34 446 .350 .464 .637 66 74
    2009  35 477 .344 .461 .669 77 51
    2010  36 412 .360 .456 .610 57 48

    Check out the plate discipline. Turns out, all Rivera needed was to age 10 years and not face big-league pitching. With numbers like those, I’ll bet he can afford to buy all the Derek Jeter merchandise he wants.

Anyway, I miss Hairston. I’m kidding about the other guys. Sort of.

* * *

  • 2011 Umpire Projections (FanGraphs). Fascinating.
  • NL West Preview (Baseball Musings). David Pinto has the Padres finishing fourth, which is a popular opinion this spring. As I noted on Twitter (I sure waste a lot of time over there, eh?), “Consensus last year was Padres would finish 5th in NL West and they came in 2nd. This year, I’m seeing 4th… so champs, right?” [h/t reader Didi]
  • TinCaps add new dimension to game (MiLB.com). From the article: “The Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, will feature a variety of 3D segments on the Parkview Field videoboard during April 7′s gala season opener.” As long as James Cameron didn’t “write” the plot, it should be fine.
  • MLB over/unders: SweetSpotters weigh in (SweetSpot). The Padres are at 75.5 wins; 6 of us went with the over, 4 took the under.
  • Q & A with Jonah Keri, Author of The Extra 2% (619Sports). John Conniff chats with Keri about his latest book.
  • Cooperstown Confidential: Stories of Bobby Grich (Hardball Times). Grich is another of my favorites from childhood. Brian Downing, too…
  • Scrutinizing Sabean (Baseball Prospectus). Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles pens a guest piece. He had me at, “Somewhere out there, a stathead is hunkered down in his neighbor’s gazebo.”
  • Community Forecast. Tom Tango is crowdsourcing playing time projections again. Padres are here. Go do it.
  • More Predictions That Will Be Wrong (FanGraphs). I love that Adrian Gonzalez is now considered a favorite for the AL MVP. As I said in the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual, “If Gonzalez played in New York or Boston, you’d be sick of hearing about him by now.”
  • FanGraphs Top 100 Prospects (FanGraphs). Another day, another list… Padres represented are RHP Casey Kelly (no. 30), RHP Simon Castro (no. 54), and 1B Anthony Rizzo (no. 72).
  • 2011 Padres Minor League Season Preview (Friarhood). I’m excited to see this year’s Lake Elsinore Storm. An outfield featuring Reymond Fuentes and Rico Noel could be spectacular, at least on the defensive side.

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13 Responses »

  1. After reading this Corey Brock article …


    … I still can’t tell what the Padres Opening Day roster is expected to be???

    Who will start game #4? (after Stauffer, Richard, Harang) … Moseley?

    Who’s not in the bullpen? Frieri?

    Confused :-(

  2. Has to be Moseley unless they are going to start Luebke. They are carrying 12 pitchers (Stauffer, Richard, Harang, Bell, Adams, Gregerson, Qualls, Neshak, Frieri, Moseley, Luebke, and Dudeno). I’m kind of surprised that Luebke made the Opening Day roster as he seems to have a future in the rotation so why put him in the bullpen? Unless he’s going to be the 5th starter over Leblanc.

  3. strange that Frandsen was let go. maybe he can’t pitch at all.

  4. Gonzalez and Cantu aren’t my first choice for infield backup either, but the large number of late DL assignments means more changes are coming, and maybe some early season trades. I was concerned that the roster uncertainty to begin the season could be disruptive, but then I realized that the core of the team is pretty tight in the clubhouse, by all reports, so until they prove me wrong, I’m going to assume they’ll circle the wagons and gut it out for the first weeks of the season until things settle down. I’m toying with the idea of lowering my 93 win prediction, though.

  5. @ Larry Faria – I think Gonzalez was the early season trade for a back-up IF… :(

  6. Geoff, if we’re talking about someone who can be a serviceable big-league shortstop, reminiscing about the good-old days of Jerry Hairston Jr’s .287 (2010) wOBA seems beside the point.

    While Gonzalez’s .274 (career) wOBA is putrid, (a) it’s not much of a step down from Hairston’s “production” last year; and (b) it comes attached to a guy who can do more than simply stand between Headley and Hudson hoping a ball might occasionally bounce into his hand.

  7. Fangraphs thought Hairston’s defense at short was pretty good last year…..

    Bench players worth 1.9 wins above replacement are not easily replaced.

    That said, he probably had a lesser chance of repeating that performance this year.

  8. Several things about this late move mystify me. First, the Pads gave up way too much for this guy. Unless he’s suddenly the next Ozzie, he makes little sense defensively with Cantu being the corner backup, and Gonzalez has no stick.
    Ruben Rivera. There’s a blast from the past. Still remember Mr Five Tool getting picked off on fake throw to third pickoffs and forgetting the number of outs. It’s a six tool game.

  9. @Frank

    Erik Davis is from the line of Justin Germano-Josh Geer pitchers. Sometimes minor league strikeout numbers, and Davis has good ones, don’t tell you enough. Little chance we’ll end up missing him.

    You can go two ways with a backup middle infielder. The guys who can hit usually aren’t great fielders, but they’re playable behind a strikeout or flyball pitcher. The guys who can field often can’t hit, but you’re not afraid of the ball being hit to them. If Bartlett had been more durable you could stash the backup SS in Tucson, but he’s not and you can’t. Pick your poison.

    Ludwick better hit, because that 6.7 million bucks could have done a lot of things.

  10. @ Tom – One of my biggest gripes w/ Fangraphs in general is that they do a disservice to using information they freely admit is statistically utterly irrelevant (i.e. – fielding data with less than 1,000 innings behind it) to generate a seasonal WAR value. The fact that they then compound that disservice by REALLY fing it up for guys who have no statistically relevant data at LOTS of positions is just weird.
    Given that Gonzalez actually IS a good defender, (and that Hairston is a poor offensive performer, vs. Gonzalez being a piss-poor offensive performer) chances are pretty good that his overall contribution to the team will be about the same.

    @Frank – I guess we can safely assume you’ve never seen Erik Davis pitch? Dude’s a smart kid, has balls of steel (or at least a face of it!), and has performed quite nicely on the field since he was drafted. But best case scenario for him is he turns into Dirk Hayhurst (without the arm surgery or writing career) and gets a few short-term big league gigs.

  11. @David

    That all may be true, but it’s also possible that Hairston simply had a good defensive season, and that the combination of an 83 OPS+ with quality glovework in a lot of innings made him worth about 2 wins above replacement. Hairston played a ton last year, for a utility infielder. For the 2010 Padre team to win 90 games, a lot of players had to chip in. It doesn’t seem outrageous that he was worth about the same as Eckstein or Norf.

    If Gonzalez logs anywhere close to the 1,000 defensive innings Hairston clocked in 2010, I seriously doubt he’s as productive. The benefit will (hopefully) come from Bartlett playing the bulk of the time and playing well.

  12. @LynchMob: Not sure if this has been answered elsewhere, but I’ve been hearing Moseley. (Sorry, can’t find the source at the moment.)

    @David: You’re probably right. I just find it interesting that (a) Hairston ended up providing so much value last year (as TW points out) and (b) the Padres had to give up a warm body to get someone like Gonzalez, who is basically Josh “Waiver Claim” Wilson.

    @Frank: I remember the Rivera game. It was against the A’s; he came in as a pinch-runner and ended the game by falling for that move.

    Sadly, this wasn’t even close to being his worst baserunning blunder.

    @TW: Spot on with the Davis/Geer comp. I don’t think the Padres will end up missing Davis; I’m just surprised they had to give up anything to get Gonzalez.

  13. Sadly, Rivera’s not the only former Padre outfielder to fall for that move in the 9th inning and thereby cost the good guys a chance at victory!

    What’s worse is that the other guy was actually the tying run at second base with one out and two future Hall-of-Famers coming to the plate.

    Who can name him?