Where’s Tim Hyers When You Need Him?

After Tuesday night’s thrashing at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, the Padres are proud owners of a 9-15 record, tied with “natural rival” Seattle for worst in MLB. They are 4-10 at Petco Park… so much for home field advantage (nothing new for the Padres, in fact, but that’s a story for another day). Speaking of which, this is curious:

        IP  ERA   BA  OBP  SLG HR
Home 136.0 3.31 .233 .305 .355 12
Away  90.2 2.78 .238 .283 .318  5

Small sample, but this isn’t supposed to happen. Petco is known to suppress offense… which, if you are the Padres, it still does:

      PA   BA  OBP  SLG HR
Home 536 .200 .280 .296  6
Away 395 .226 .310 .344  8

Then again, it may be more a case of the Padres’ offense suppressing offense. Much as we might like, we can’t pin everything on Brad Hawpe. Don’t get me wrong, he’s been terrible at Petco Park, but so has everyone not named Nick Hundley (.262/.360/.476), Orlando Hudson (.294/.357/.392), and Cameron Maybin (.245/.339/.408).

Again, these are early returns, but I like that Hundley and Maybin are doing (relatively) well at home. They should be a part of the future, and you want guys like that to be comfortable in their home ballpark. Note Hundley’s career splits:

      PA   BA  OBP  SLG HR BB  SO
Home 437 .258 .331 .448 17 44  98
Away 462 .236 .284 .367  7 28 116

I’ve included BB and SO to illustrate how different his approach is away from Petco Park. Not that this a fair comparison, but as a reference point, consider how Adrian Gonzalez did at Petco:

           PA   BA  OBP  SLG HR PA/HR
Hundley   437 .258 .331 .448 17 27.51
Gonzalez 1650 .267 .367 .442 57 28.95

I didn’t expect to find that Hundley hits homers more frequently at home than Gonzalez did…

* * *

At some point, after the pizza (Filippi’s is the official vendor this year, which means it’s worth buying) and beer were gone, I got bored and tossed a suggestion out to the Twitterverse: “New 1B idea: Talk Tim Hyers out of retirement.” This, I am pleased to report, spawned a litany of mostly forgotten and forgettable names:

It was great fun, in a gee-I-wish-we-weren’t-getting-our-brains-bashed-in-and-could-talk-about-the-game kind of way.

The Padres were down, 5-1, at the time and I threatened to watch reruns of “Full House.” Then ex-Padre David Ross launched a three-run homer, his second big fly of the night, and nothing seemed funny anymore.

* * *

On the bright side (there is always a bright side), we got to see Evan Scribner make his big-league debut. I understand now why Kevin Towers was able to pry him away from Arizona for the last remnants of Tony Clark’s career. Scribner’s fastball checked in at 87-89 mph on Tuesday, which doesn’t excite folks.

That said, a 2.71 ERA over 259 minor-league innings speaks volumes, as does the fact that he has fanned 30% of all batters he has faced as a professional. Plus, he has this goofy-ass curve ball that was clocked at 68-71 mph… not quite Livan Hernandez territory but fun.

* * *

I listened to parts of San Antonio’s 6-5 victory over Frisco. Wolff Stadium is an extreme pitchers’ park, nearly as extreme as Petco Park. I don’t have the most recent numbers handy, but here are their respective park factors from 2006 to 2008 (courtesy of Baseball Prospectus 2009):

              2006 2007 2008
Wolff Stadium  925  925  934
Petco Park     917  907  903

It therefore comes as a surprise to see the Missions completely dominating the Texas League. They are averaging 7.89 runs per game in a league that averages 5.39 and whose second best offense (Midland, which plays in a bandbox) is averaging 5.56.

As a team, they are hitting .332/.415/.603 and account for nearly half of the Padres farm system’s home runs:

           PA HR
Missions  760 35
Others   2204 36

It’s a little ridiculous. Anyway, I listened to parts of the game, and there are a few things you should know…

James Darnell went 1-for-3 with a homer and a walk. His other two at-bats? In the sixth, he drove a 2-0 offering to the warning track in center field (the radio announcers called it “Death Valley”). In the eighth, he struck out looking at a 2-2 breaking ball on the outside corner — the seventh pitch of the at-bat; the previous pitch was an inside fastball that he pulled down the left field line and hooked just foul.

Someone suggested that Darnell didn’t like his assignment and is taking it out on the entire league. It sure seems that way.

The game featured a bizarre ending. San Antonio closer Brad Brach, nursing a 6-4 lead, served up an apparent go-ahead three-run home run to Michael Bianucci with two out in the ninth. After conferring, the umpires later reversed their call and gave Bianucci a ground-rule double, putting runners at second and third.

Frisco manager Steve Buechele was ejected for arguing the call. Brach then struck out Tommy Mendonca on three pitches to end the game, at which point things got ugly, with fans and Frisco players mixing it up a bit.

Also, Kyle Blanks got another start at first base. He went 1-for-4, the one hit being a triple down the left field line in the eighth.

People keep asking me about Anthony Rizzo, and with good reason — the guy is raking at Tucson. But as I said the other day at Baseball Prospectus, “Given the attention focused on him as a key component in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, this can’t be a 17-game experiment.”

The San Francisco Giants, in case you missed it, gave their first base phenom, Brandon Belt, 17 games to prove himself at the big-league level before sending him back to the PCL. I’m fine with the Giants doing that; in fact, I encourage it. But I’d just as soon not see the Padres waffle.

Blanks is nearing the end of his rehab assignment. Assuming he holds up physically, I’d like to see him get first crack at the job. Rizzo is almost certainly the guy long term but there’s no need to rush the kid. I’d prefer not to see him up before the All-Star break. Meanwhile, maybe Blanks can come up and establish trade value.

* * *

At the risk of overstaying my welcome, here are some links:

  • Anibal Sanchez nearly pitches the FIFTH no-hitter in Marlins history (Baseball-Reference). How is it that the Marlins have four no-nos against NL West teams and the Padres, who play in the freaking division, have none? Don’t even get me started on World Championships…
  • Crazy ’86: Last pitcher to hit walk-off HR (SweetSpot). Mark Simon gives us more details about the Craig Lefferts walk-off homer, complete with recollections from Lefferts himself. Very cool.
  • How to Speak Sabermetrics to a Mainstream Audience (FanGraphs). From the article: “Focus on Concepts, Not Stats.” This times a thousand. Nobody cares about your stupid hammer, they just want assurance that the nails will stay in the wall.
  • Teams seek solutions to declining crowds (Yahoo!). The Padres’ numbers are up so far this year. Bear in mind that their numbers were terrible last year. Also, Opening Day and an early series against the Dodgers represent a disproportionate percentage of all home dates thus far. Revisit this after the Pirates have come to town. [h/t reader LynchMob]
  • Before Manny Became Manny (New York Times). I know, everyone is tired of Manny Ramirez, but this is worth reading [h/t BBTF]:

    I had gone up to Washington Heights to check in on Manny’s former high school teammates. I found eight of them watching the first game of the series in the basement of a bodega near Manny’s old apartment. They sat on milk crates, glued to a 19-inch color television wedged on a shelf between cans of evaporated coconut milk and beans and bags of rice.

  • Clement toils while ’05 draft mates shine (FOX Sports). Cesar Carrillo sends his condolences… [h/t BBTF]
  • Cameron Maybin: Already Worth It? (FanGraphs). Eno Sarris discusses Maybin’s defensive statistics, which perhaps don’t do him justice. Sarris’ conclusion:

    As long as he can keep his wOBA above average by flashing his considerable athletic assets and avoiding pitches outside the zone, his glove looks like it will make him worth far more than the two arms it took to get him.

    To which I add, Yup.

  • Chainsaw: The Enemy Within (619 Sports). From Chainsaw Randolph’s latest:

    Having watched games at over 20 major league ballparks from coast to coast, I can safely claim the fans of Padres opponents make more noise than at any other stadium.

    Welcome to San Diego; make yourselves at home. The pizza may not be as good as it was where you came from, but at least the weather is nice. Be sure to make lots of Anchorman references. One day, they will be funny.

  • Hundley stands out on Padres’ ASG ballot (Padres.com). Those of you who do the All-Star Game thing may find this interesting.
  • Padres uniform history: The final vote! (SweetSpot). The correct answer is 1975, but it’s your call.
  • Cracking the Scouting Code (Baseball Prospectus). Ever wonder about the 20-80 scale scouts use? Jeremy Greenhouse fills in the details.