Draft Impressions, First Basemen, Curmudgeonliness

Today’s not-so-fully formed thoughts are brought to you by Tempus Fugit, frustrating humans since forever…

Preliminary Draft Impressions

  • I’m cool with the Padres’ first day of drafting. Cory Spangenberg doesn’t thrill me at no. 10, but he is eager to “definitely sign right away,” which is key for a pick that won’t be compensated if a deal doesn’t happen. During Monday night’s game, Jason McLeod stopped by the broadcast booth and indicated that Spangenberg, who played third base in junior college, would be tried at second base. The cynical among us will add him to a list that currently includes Jake Gautreau, Matt Antonelli, and Logan Forsythe. With luck, Spangenberg won’t follow in their footsteps (well, the jury is still out on Forsythe).
  • I like the pick at no. 25 of RHP Joe Ross, younger brother of Oakland A’s pitcher Tyson Ross. Channel 4SD ran footage of Joe, and Mark Grant commented on how clean his mechanics are. McLeod agreed, saying that’s one of the many things that attracted the Padres to Ross.
  • Baseball America has scouting reports of the entire first round. BA compares Spangenberg to Floria’s Chris Coghlan and suggests a possible future move to center field. Ross has a strong commitment to UCLA.
  • I’m still sorting through the other players taken by the Padres on Day 1. They are RHP Michael Kelly (no. 48), C Brett Austin (no. 54), and SS Jace Peterson (no. 58). Kelly and Austin are high school players… high school catchers make me nervous (howdy, Ben Davis). I can’t find much on Peterson, although apparently he played defensive back at McNeese State, so presumably he possesses athleticism… athletic middle infielders are always welcome. John Sickels seems to like him.

Musical First Basemen

  • Brad Hawpe made his first start in right field on Monday against the old uniform. Hawpe, who had been the starting first baseman, moved to accommodate Jorge Cantu… because you just can’t get enough guys like Cantu in the lineup (literally, you can’t; the Padres have cornered the market on lousy hitters). Quoth Hawpe, before his Padres were blanked by Colorado:

    We’re coming into this game against a team who, their middle of their lineup is strong, too, and this gives us a chance to match up very well against them.

    “Or not,” he neglected to add.

  • The real motivation behind moving Hawpe to the outfield may be to clear a spot for Anthony Rizzo on the big-league roster. If this is the case, I hope folks aren’t disappointed. My concern is that they’ve been hearing enough about Rizzo to be perhaps overly enthusiastic about his arrival and to harbor unrealistic expectations of a young man who will be asked to replace one of the franchise’s great players. Rizzo is a good ballplayer; he may be a great one, but I worry that some fans will get stupid when confronted with his numbers at Tucson. Few expectations were placed on Adrian Gonzalez when he arrived in San Diego; thanks to Adrian’s success here, Rizzo won’t have that same luxury. Try not to be too bummed out if he only has Adam LaRoche’s career.

General Curmudgeonliness

  • I cringe whenever Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt enters the game. He is a slow worker, which is mildly annoying, but what really gets me is the obsession Grant and Dick Enberg have with his pace. Mention it once or twice, and then get on with life. In the late innings of a tight game, surely there are more interesting things to discuss than how boring it is to watch Betancourt pitch.
  • Is it legal to send a batter to home plate without a bat in his hands? Because I’d like to see the Padres try that with Alberto Gonzalez. His attempt to bunt the runner over in the seventh would have been laughable if I found incompetence funny. After he fouled a couple of pitches off while stabbing at the ball with his bat (and really, if you’re a career .247/.286/.321 hitter, what possible excuse could you have for not knowing how to bunt?), I started rooting for the strikeout, fearing the inevitable double play that killed yet another potential rally.
  • People complain about Eric Patterson (51 OPS+) and rightfully so, but he isn’t alone in this: Cantu (46), Gonzalez (41), and Rob Johnson (35) have been even worse (when I said that you cannot stop Gonzalez and Johnson, it was a rip on the Astros pitchers, not a compliment to anyone). Between those four guys, that’s a .183/.235/.264 line with one sacrifice bunt between them. Not that I’m any great fan of bunting, but that’s as many as Chase Headley — the Padres’ best everyday player — has all by himself. Honestly, if you’re going to make outs, at least be useful. And if you think it’s no big deal, realize that those four guys have accounted for a little more than 18 percent of all Padres plate appearances this year. Yep, two out of nine batters is one of those guys; a third is the pitcher… so that’s not good.

Some days it is difficult to cheer for this team. Happy thoughts… okay, Johnson is cheaper than Yorvit Torrealba, who is stinking up Texas and whose departure allowed the Padres to draft Austin. Is that happy enough for you?

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16 Responses »

  1. I just hope that the Hoyer regime does a better job drafting than the Towers regime. Geoff, you hit the nail on the head about the difficulty in cheering for this team. I’ve been a Padres fan for the last 27 years and now live in Texas. The 2011 Padres make it difficult to want to pay attention to them.

  2. @Geoff:
    RE: Draft – I can understand the cynicism with drafting Spangenberg; however, the Spangenberg possesses more speed than any of the other players you listed, the hope is that he can use that to his advantage and draw the infield in to make sure he doesnt hit infield singles. The result, if all works as expected, should help him hit singles over the heads of the infielders. I see tape of Michael Kelly and his “stuff” is electric – better break than any of the pitchers the padres have at the ML lever, IMO. If Kelly can learn control and a changeup – lookout.

    RE: Rizzo – I don’t expect him to hit .300/.380/.550 off the bat, 1-2 years in the big leagues at his age should be in order to determine what we have here. Padres fans do need to be patient. I do hope he becomes the .300/.380/.550 hitter but wont hang myself if he becomes a .270/.350/.450 hitter.

    @Geoff and All:
    RE: last nights game – Bottom of the 8th with 2 on. The next 4 batters are Cantu, Patterson, Gonzalez, and Johnson…… might as well turn the TV off at that point. I can’t wait to get Hudson, Hundley, and Maybin back into the lineup. Cut Cantu and lets see what Rizzo can do.

  3. hey, Kyle Blanks, where are you now?

    Cantu sucks, he tries to pull every pitches and slow with his bat and on the field, full of indecision in his movement. That Gonzalez at-bats, if one can call them that, were painful to watch and bound to raise any baseball fans’ blood pressures.

    I know nothing about the draft but at least I’m seeing no Whitson debacle this year. Oh, wait, Ross has heavy commitment to college. Hmmm…

  4. Is it legal to send Gonzalez to the plate without a bat? No. I recall an exhibition in San Diego with Oakland managed by Billy Martin, in which he didn’t want his pitchers to hit, and sent them up with those giveaway mini-bats. The umpire sent the pitcher back to get a real bat, Billy came out to argue and got tossed.

  5. YES!!!…. Austin Hedges, another high upside highschool catcher! Say all you want about the “safe” Spangenberg pick, but they have been drafting high upside hard signs since. Lets just hope the Padres can get these guys signed. Hedges is supposed to be the best defensive catcher in the draft. Project Prospect has him 12th overall on their draft board.

  6. Good to see Simon Castro back in AA. Looks like he pitched well. Still only 23. I hope he regains his top prospect status.

  7. I want to see Gonzalez shipped out if for nothing more than having AGonzalez in the box score gives me flashbacks of greatness followed immediately by cranky sadness.

  8. @PadresFuture (Spangenberg)

    He’s a terrific bunter, but he’s no Durango, the defense can’t cheat him. Not a bold pick, but as I’ve said before, more than a passing similarity to Dustin Ackley.

  9. I think the 18% is telling, yes about 9% is because of injuries, but 9% of their playing time is just because Bud Black wants them to play. That’s scary.

  10. 17 of 34 players taken by the Padres are Pitchers. 5 Catchers. 5 Outfielders. 7 infielders. I like that the Padres addressed the catching need in their system.

  11. The 20th round Padres select RHP Chris Haney Dallas Baptist U …

    Hey, a reason to watch the Super Regional this weekend!

    Haney got a save in Game 1 of the Regional … and Game 2 … and their championship game (1.2 IPs, 3 Ks)!

    You can get to links of the box scores from here …