Debuts, Artistic Mastery, and the Coming Thing

We watched Mat Latos’ season debut from Section 301. The stadium scoreboard had his fastball at 92-96 mph, and he mostly located his pitches well. Two exceptions came in the fifth inning. First, he got ahead of no. 8 hitter Paul Janish and couldn’t put him away. Then, after opposing starter Edinson Volquez failed to sacrifice Janish to second, Latos left a fastball up against Chris Heisey, who slammed it for a two-run homer to left that would be the game winner.

That the Padres managed to score just two runs against Volquez remains a sore point. They had him on the proverbial ropes in the first inning but let him escape with minimal damage. With the bases loaded and no out, Ryan Ludwick got hit by a pitch and Brad Hawpe lined to center to drive home the only runs. Nick Hundley ended the inning with a double play, and then Volquez and the Cincinnati bullpen got serious, spinning eight shutout innings against an inept Padres offense.

Ludwick and Hawpe, who are supposed to be providing pop in the middle of the lineup, have struggled. They are hitting a combined .125/.250/.203. Ludwick at least is getting good looks… hitting the ball hard and drawing walks. Hawpe, meanwhile, is late on everything. It’s 11 games, but his at-bats are painful to watch.

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Thanks to Kurt Elling‘s appearance at Anthology, I missed Tuesday’s game. His performance was better than Cory Leubke’s. That doesn’t do it justice; think more along the lines of vintage Greg Maddux. Flawless command and execution… a pleasure to watch and experience.

Luebke? Not so much. Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver was known for sticking young pitchers in the bullpen before moving them into the rotation. He did it with Mike Flanagan in 1976 and Scott McGregor the following season. Sometimes, the results were disastrous… maybe not as comical as Luebke’s showing (1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 0 SO), but a loss is a loss.

People have been asking me why the Padres are bunting so much in the early going. I don’t know. Maybe they like to bunt? I don’t (neither does Myron), but it’s not my call. What did Weaver say? “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get.”

Heck, sometimes you don’t even get that.

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Luebke’s implosion has knocked the Padres bullpen stats out of whack. Compare their numbers with and without that one appearance:

          IP  ERA
With    43.1 3.12
Without 42.1 1.91

We can’t just erase history. Luebke’s outing is part of the record, but bear in mind that it is skewing the numbers a bit.

Oh, and that 3.12 ERA is sixth in the National League. The Phillies rank first, with a 1.93 ERA that is essentially on par with San Diego’s minus one inning of Luebke.

But we still can’t erase history, so sixth place it is.

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I listened to the Fort Wayne TinCaps game on Wednesday. Right-hander Keyvius Sampson dominated again. He gave up two hits: an infield single in the second inning and a booming double to right field in the third. Sampson’s line through two games: 11 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 19 SO. He has fanned 19 of the 36 batters he’s faced this year.

After his first start, I’d mentioned that Sampson’s fastball was clocked at 88-89 mph, but I’ve since learned that the Parkview Field scoreboard readings run on the low side. Voice of the TinCaps Dan Watson has him in the low- to mid-90s, which is consistent with scouting reports.

Australian Corey Adamson came up to replace the injured Donavan Tate (he and Everett Williams collided in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader but should be okay; Tate is on the 7-day DL with a hyperextended left knee) and singled in three at-bats. Adamson also made a nice sliding catch in left field in the fourth.

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The Padres are 5-6 after 11 games. You know… just like last year.

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The club heads to Houston for four games against the Astros. Dustin Moseley and Bud Norris hook up in this evening’s opener. Expect to see more offense out of the Padres over the next week, when they get to hit in NL Central parks (Wrigley Field is next on the agenda).

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12 Responses »

  1. Wonder what the “real journalists” think of Duff being employed by the Worldwide Leader to produce junior-high journalism pieces?

    The bunting is killing us. And as yet, not a peep from the beat reporters about the tactic itself. It’s not just failed execution. In most cases it’s the wrong move whether it’s executed well or not, and it’s doubly painful when it doesn’t work.

    Hawpe worries me more than Ludwick, for the same reasons.

  2. Tom: Its because the beatwriters think it is the right move. They think it part of the smallball philosophy and the only way the Padres can win. It is not smart baseball. Bud is taking the smallball approach a little too far, especially this early in the season. Give your #3 hitters a chance to win the game, not waste outs and erase baserunners. Headley and Hudson are among the few that are actually getting hits. Why waste their ABs with bunt attempts?

  3. TW: That’s becasue the local media has bought into the “you have to play small ball to win in Petco” theory. Bunting is a key component, as is “hitting behind the runner,” “being unselfish,” “making productive outs,” and stealing bases. A common component of each of these is, unfortunately, giving up outs, which are even more precious in Petco, imo. I believe both the media and the majority of fans are convinced we won last season because of this type of play and it will take a long time for them to change this belief, if indeed they ever do.

  4. Not being related to anything but Duff McKagan is married to Susan Holmes who was two years ahead of me in high school – the same class as Phil Mickelson (although on wikipedia it says she was born in 1972 which I don’t think is right).

    Tom Waits and I had an argument about Hawpe a few weeks ago and nothing in the past few weeks has changed my mind about him – I think he’s done and the sooner they get a replacement the better. I don’t think Cantu is an adequate replacement and Blanks is just starting his rehab assignment at San Antonio today so I doubt he’d be ready before mid-May. The firstbasemen at Tuscon are Anthony Rizzo, Jesus Guzman and Matt Clark. I wonder if the plan is to suffer along with Hawpe/Cantu until they bring up Rizzo?

  5. Is there a worse team in getting a runner home with less than two outs? They had that situation again in the first and Ludwick struck out for the second out.

  6. Ryan is hitting just slightly better than Eric…Ludwick that is. But, April is long from over so there is more way to go up than down. Hawpe, otoh, possesses Nevin’s later bat speed, maybe he should try lighter bat.

  7. They aren’t playing good defense, they aren’t catching any breaks, they aren’t executing simple plays, and they just can’t seem to ever have a line drive fall in. I’ve never seen anything like it. The team is built well for this style of ball, filled with line drive, gap type hitters, and they get good at bats, make solid contact, and can’t get anything to fall in. It’s just about destroyed Ludwick. I wasn’t worried about his slump until tonight, because he was taking pitches, driving the ball well, they just weren’t falling in. But now he’s pressing. He looked terrible at the plate tonight, completely lost. Sit him for a night, have him watch film of all the good ABs he’s had and remind that he had the right approach, just to be patient.

    That said, pitching has been awesome, way better then expected, and Cameron Maybin looks like he’s going to be good. I think better than Mike Cameron, but not quite Andre Dawson. His speed and defense are better than I had heard, and he just drives the ball, especially to center and right field. I think he might have an up and down year, but I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was hitting #3 come September.

  8. I thought Earl Weaver said “Get me some of those Big Son of a %#4*& to hit the three run homer…….

  9. @Tom

    The argument was whether you could say Hawpe was done on Opening Day. Maybe a scout can tell his bat speed won’t come back, but if that was the case, the Padres have a lot of scouts who apparently didn’t pass the word to Hoyer or Black.

    Like others pointed out, no one has ever looked worse in a Padre uni than Edmonds, and he went on to produce for the Cubs. It’s quite possible Hawpe is finished, but we’ve seen worse players bounce back, and there was no way to say he was finished during the first game of the season.

  10. we should tell the Padres to raid Hawpe locker, maybe he found whatever leftover pills from Edmonds…then take those away.

  11. @Didi

    Man, did Hawpe look bad in his last AB against Figueroa yesterday. Missing high hanging sliders, and missing them badly.

  12. @Tom Waits: maybe he’s setting other pitchers up for the next hanging sliders.
    at some point, he really should stop setting pitchers up and show them what his mighty bat can do…like Edmonds did.

    was checking how Venable is doing and surprised that he only has 1 (one) XBH.