On Local Kids and Calculated Gambles

With the Padres now playing in a part of the country where games are over by the time I get home from the day job, I can’t offer much in the way of meaningful commentary beyond maybe you want to fire up the offense before the seventh inning. Instead, I’ll just make a couple of general observations…

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It’s great to see El Capitan High School product Kyle Phillips up with the club in Nick Hundley’s absence. Not that you want the one productive hitter on the world’s worst offense to land on the disabled list, but Phillips deserved the shot.

Although Phillips wasn’t dominating at San Antonio like everyone else was (granted, 1 K in 82 PA is impressive), the Missions radio announcers praised him for his leadership qualities. We don’t know how to quantify “leadership qualities,” but in absence of better information, I’m good with having a guy who possesses them on the team.

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I have been thinking (too much, it seems) about Brad Hawpe. More specifically, I have been thinking about the nature of calculated gambles and how sometimes they make you look like a genius, while other times they make you look like the opposite. For example, here are the 2010 lines of two first basemen that nobody wanted this past off-season:

Player        Age  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+
Brad Hawpe     31 346 .245 .338 .419  94
Casey Kotchman 27 457 .217 .280 .336  73

Acknowledging that we still don’t have a lot of data, here’s how these two are doing so far in 2011:

Player        Age  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+
Brad Hawpe     32 104 .198 .250 .292  56
Casey Kotchman 28  75 .348 .427 .455 154

We could apply a bit of revisionist history and invent reasons why we should have seen Kotchman’s resurgence coming, but the fact remains that sometimes when a guy looks done, he is; other times, he isn’t.

Satisfying answer? No. Copout? Maybe. True? Yep.

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16 Responses »

  1. Lots of AAA injury updates here …


    Rizzo is day-to-day with a bruised left hand. He said it swelled up Monday after an at-bat in Fresno. His hand was wrapped Tuesday to reduce the swelling.

    Outfielder Mike Baxter is close to being able to play, Kennedy said. Baxter (thumb) has been on the major-league 60-day disabled list.

    Castro, who went on the DL Friday with a right lat strain, is close to throwing, Kennedy said.

  2. One player I’ve always thought would fit perfectly on the Padres is Scott Podsednik who was just recently released. Any thoughts on whether the Padres would actually get a proven leadoff hitter or is it just a dream? Of course, even if they signed him Bud Black would bat him everything but first.

  3. @Ben

    Pods in Petco is probably a 260/315/300 hitter with decent defense in LF. That’s approximately Jason Bartlett’s current offense in a corner OF position. Give him 20 net SB and it’s still not a solution.

  4. @Ben at this point I don’t think the Padres need another sub-par veteran who will not be here next season. I think the Pads would be better off bringing up Cunningham, Hunter, and/or Durango and see who may end up helping this team in the future.

  5. I find Baxter’s near recovery intriguing. He bats LH and can play 1B. I don’t see Rizzo coming up this year, except for a cameo in September, with Blanks not ready until July. Could Baxter be an early option to replace Hawpe until Blanks is ready?

    I earlier suggested trying Milton Bradley at 1B, so you might get the impression I’m not in Hawpe’s corner. You’d be right. His multi-piece swing looks like it requires the youthful flexibility a player no longer has in his 30s. I don’t think he’ll “find his swing” the way Edmonds did, and the sooner Jed cuts his losses, the better for the team.

  6. LF – I like the Baxter idea … but I’d guess he’d not be ready any sooner than Blanks … though I percieve Blanks as struggling (based on # of Ks) … so in my mind, it looks like the Padres have 2 options for about the All-Star Break … 3 if you count Rizzo … and that does give Hawpe (and/or Ludwick) the chance to “find something” …

  7. Why wont Blanks be ready until July? He seems to be hitting OK in AA. How could Baxter be ready to go before Blanks? Also, I doubt Jed will pull the plug on Hawpe just yet. Unfortunately Hawpe has started to hit a bit (12 hits in the alst 10 games).

  8. Blanks actually heated up just as he crossed the 50 plate appearance threshhold. Over his last 10 he’s got a 333/356/615 line with 9Ks in 44 plate appearances. I can’t imagine a scenario in which he wouldn’t be ready by Memorial Day.

  9. re: 9 Ks in 44 ABs … that’s >20% K rate against AA pitchers … that’s a red flag, imo. And just based on anecdotal looks at box scores and game logs, he’s striking out in ABs which surprise me (ie. either before or after what I’d think/hope were lesser hitters got hits or walks).

    Similarly, that .356 OBP is almost exclusively AVG … ie. he’s not walking as much I’d like him to.

    Look, I’m a *huge* Blanks fan … got him on my reserve roster in both my roto leagues … I’m just saying he’s not kickin’ butt on the San Antonio Missions like the Deckers and Darnell and Tekotte are doing … so he’s performing below my hopes/expectations …

    I think he’s got more talent than most realize … I just hope it hasn’t been flushed by health issues … that’s tragic when it happens …

  10. LM: That would concern me if it didnt fall right in line with his strike out rate at every level. Blanks is going to strike out a lot, but he is starting to hit in AA and that is enough for to say bring him up. This may be the last chance the kid gets.

  11. @SteveC

    Cunningham and Durango have seen action, unfortunately because Black is such a horrid manager, they weren’t even given a chance, and that trend is continuing this season. Both of them are averaging less than 3 ABs per game in the Bigs which is why they’ll stay in the minors until the Pads get rid of them. They’ll never get the chance to actually get in the swings they need to be proven. And since “team by committee” is already rampant this season, can you imagine how silly it’s going to be when the rosters expand?

    I just hope Black is getting some cut of Patterson’s salary, cause that would be the only explanation for his infatuation with him.

  12. @Ben – If the likes of Ludwick and Patterson are released and Venable is traded then Black would have no choice. It’s how Jed Dealt with Maybin, take away Buddies other options (ie Gwynn) and force him to play the kids.

  13. Wow, totally disagree on Black. Durango deserves no shot; he’s not legit for anything more than a 4th and better suited to a 5th OF. Cunningham is legit, but where has there been room for him? What is Black supposed to do, lobby for him to be brought up and sit Ludwick? As to Patterson, perhaps the injuries to Bartlett and Hudson have something to do with his playing time.