That Was the Weekend, This Is the Title

Did you expect a big finish on Sunday? I didn’t, although after Saturday’s near miss, maybe I should have. If Hunter Pence doesn’t make that sprawling catch of pinch-hitter Nick Hundley’s drive to lead off the ninth, maybe the Padres come back against a shaky Brandon Lyon, who tried his best to cough up the lead.

As for Sunday, let’s be honest; the Astros helped. A lot. Three singles, three walks, and an error in the decisive eighth inning? Not exactly the stuff of legends, but we’ll take it.

Due to a variety of circumstances, my viewing of the series was scattered. So, therefore, shall be my observations:

  • After three starts, Aaron Harang is looking great. If he stays healthy, he’s a better pitcher than Jon Garland, but betting on Harang to stay healthy isn’t exactly a safe investment. Still, I’m enjoying it while I can.
  • Alberto Gonzalez and Eric Patterson will swing at anything. They took some ugly hacks on Saturday, each fighting off pitches that almost hit them. I don’t mind a guy expanding the zone a little if he sees something he can drive, but yuck.
  • In the sixth inning of Saturday’s game, Brad Hawpe struck out swinging against Nelson Figueroa, who fed him an assortment of junk. Not that I’m the first to notice this, but the problem with Hawpe is that because he can’t catch up to big-league fastballs, he has to start his swing very early, which makes him susceptible to anything that isn’t a fastball. Welcome to Lunge City, population you.
  • Mat Latos hasn’t quite shaken those command issues he experienced this spring. He’s allowed three homers — to Johnny Gomes, Chris Heisey, and Chris Johnson — in two starts. This is hardly cause for alarm, but those aren’t great power hitters and two of the home runs — to Heisey last week and to Johnson on Saturday — came on absolute meatballs.
  • Perhaps more remarkably, Latos managed to walk Johnson on four pitches in his next trip to the plate. That was Johnson’s second walk of the season and first four-pitch walk since September 24, 2010. The guy makes Kevin Kouzmanoff look like Dave Magadan. There are two active big-league hitters (min. 400 PA) with worse SO/BB ratios than Johnson’s 6.17: Miguel Olivo (6.43) and Brandon Wood (11.77).
  • Jorge Cantu’s first Padres homer on Sunday was fun and timely, always a good combination.
  • Cantu and Chris Denorfia both made fine defensive plays in the game as well. I’ve compared Cantu’s defense to the music of Pavement in the past, but sometimes “Cut Your Hair” happens despite one’s best efforts and there is no explaining it.

* * *

Meanwhile, down on the farm, there have been some impressive offensive performances in the early going. Here are a few:

Player          Age Lvl Pos PA   BA  OBP  SLG BB SO Rnk
James Darnell    24  AA  3B 44 .514 .591 .771  8  1   4
Jaff Decker      21  AA  LF 52 .366 .500 .854 11  9   1
Beamer Weems     23  AA  SS 44 .421 .465 .684  3  7   -
Anthony Rizzo    21 AAA  1B 49 .378 .429 .689  4  9   6
Logan Forsythe   24 AAA  2B 44 .306 .432 .667  7 11  13
Blake Tekotte    24  AA  CF 47 .359 .468 .590  7  8  20
Jonathan Galvez  20  A+  SS 41 .375 .488 .563  6  8  16
Edinson Rincon   20  A+  3B 42 .333 .429 .556  6 10  15

Rnk is my preseason ranking. You know about most of these guys, but keep an eye on Weems. Like most of San Antonio’s hitters, he’s playing over his head right now, but if he can retain any semblance of offensive skills, he could prove useful. Dude is a legit shortstop.

* * *

On another note, friend of Ducksnorts Jonah Keri is in town on Tuesday. He’ll be appearing at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park to promote his book, The Extra 2%. The event starts at 11 a.m. and is free to the public, so get out there and listen to a smart guy talk about baseball.

* * *

The Padres head to Chicago for a three-game series against the Cubs starting Monday evening. Don’t mention 1984… or the war.

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Responses »

  1. Love the Minor League coverage, Geoff! Thanks and keep it up. Will be curious to see if Decker cuts down on his K’s as the season progresses. Seems like about the only adjustment he’ll need to make, thus far anyway.

  2. As long as Decker is walking 11 times for every 9 K’s, he doesn’t have to worry too much about the strikeouts.

  3. seriously, the Padres’ need to score runs.

  4. Well, not saying he needs to worry about them, but it is a higher rate than he’s ever experienced before. Not unusual given the jump in level/competition. And, if he needs something to work on, might as well be that. :-)

  5. @Pat and Didi

    I love Decker, but sometimes high strikeout rates in the minors are a legitimate concern, even if the player also draws his walks. I’d be more worried if his ISO or his batting averages were lower, but they’re very good.

  6. We’ll see as the season progresses if his K%, BB%, and ISO are tapering off or not.
    He could be our own homegrown TTO player…maybe.

  7. Hard to say with a player so young and so early in his development (and not being a professional baseball talent evaluator ;-) ), but he seems like too good a hitter to be a TTO guy. He’s always hit for such a high BA.

    Could be the higher level of competition at AA causing the higher K rate, could be simply a small sample size. Whatever it is, he’s a fun guy to watch, albeit from afar. Hopefully one day it will be fun to watch him up close in Petco!

  8. @Pat

    Agree. His K’s are worth watching, but I’m more worried about his health. If he’s on the field and uninjured, I believe he’ll hit everywhere.

  9. I’m not sure what you guys are talking about in re: Decker. His strikeout % (K/PA) this season is 16.1%. That’s better than his career strikeout rate of 20.4%, better than his 2010 rate of 23%, and better than his 2009 rate of 20.2%.

    Seriously, why are you worrying?

  10. @Paul,

    congratulations on baby Lucy’s arrival. may she grows to be a Padres and Jaff Decker’s fan.

  11. @Zach

    First off, I’ m not all that worried and I fail to see how a reasonable reader would think Pat is, either. Both of us basically said that it’s the one part of his offensive game that causes even a smidgen of concern. High strikeout rates in the minors are potentially a sign of a player who will struggle in the majors, and even a 16% rate in the minors is on the high side. I’m much more concerned about the injuries that have prevented him from ever playing a full minor league season.

    As for why we’d worry… I need to go through the list of Padre prospects who put up terrific minor league numbers and then disappointed in the majors? I’ll worry about Padre hitting prospects until they give their Cooperstown speech.

  12. @ Zach: What me worry? No, I’m not worrying or worried, just talking baseball. All I did was quickly go to his page at B-R and divide K’s into AB’s or something like that. Maybe I didn’t look at them right, maybe I didn’t do the math properly. I thought he was striking out at a slightly higher rate than in previous seasons, but I probably didn’t do the math right. I’m not very good with numbers. Glad to hear he’s doing better in this area, too!