Padres Take Series at Fenway, and I’m Not Even Kidding

You may be wondering how the sad, sad Padres took a series from the big, bad Red Sox in their house. It’s simple, let me explain: I have no clue.

Boston’s starting pitchers played a critical role. They couldn’t throw strikes, which is handy because strikes tie up Padres hitters, who are better at working counts and getting on base.

Red Sox ace Josh Beckett picked a great time to get sick. We all owe him a debt of gratitude. Gift cards are nice…

Not that San Diego’s moundsmen were great (far from it), but at least they mostly found the plate and kept the ball in the park. Here are how both teams’ starters fared during the series:

Team   IP  H  R ER HR BB  K HBP WP Pit Str Str%
SD   13.2 25  8  8  0  8 11   0  0 300 187 62.3
Bos  14.0 15 12 12  2 13 14   3  1 270 158 58.5

Boston’s big problem was stringing together a bunch of hits and not converting them into runs. I’m sure Adrian Gonzalez would appreciate the irony.

Gonzalez, as terrific players will do, had a terrific series. He went 4-for-4 in Wednesday afternoon’s contest and drove in his team’s lone run… or as he likes to call it, “just like the good ol’ days.” If only ownership would pony up and surround him with some hitters…

Amusingly, Gonzalez had a chance to drive in that run because Clayton Richard walked the previous two batters to get to him. This isn’t a strategy I would recommend, but it worked.

Meanwhile, in the completely unfair but obligatory comparisons department, here is how Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo (little-known fact: Rizzo used to play in the Red Sox organization) did over the three games:

Player AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K
Gonzo  14 3 8  1  0  0   5  0 3
Rizzo  11 2 2  2  0  0   1  1 3

Rizzo is now hitting .158/.347/.368 after 13 games. Small sample, but it’s becoming clear that folks who assured us he absolutely, positively belonged in the big leagues yesterday on the basis of 2 1/2 strong months in the PCL weren’t paying close enough attention.

Hello, adjustment period.

I actually don’t mind seeing Rizzo here, warts and all, because this team is headed nowhere and the decision makers might as well start evaluating potential long-term solutions in real time. But the way some people were talking about Rizzo… the idea that he would come up and dominate right away never made sense.

Enjoy the kid for what he is (a raw work-in-progress), look forward to what he might become (Adam LaRoche or maybe a little better), and remember that it takes time to get from Point A to Point B. Dude is 21 years old and being pushed hard in a situation where expectations are high.

But I repeat myself.

Next up, three in with Atlanta at Petco Park [h/t reader Pat for the geography assistance] over the weekend against a team that plays in the same league as the Padres. I will miss the DH… mostly when it is Alberto Gonzalez’s turn to bat…

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42 Responses »

  1. Padres win! Wettest day ever at Fenway. Sat thru 4 delays and some sloppy field conditions but it was a great time. At the end got to lurk by the Padres bullpen and get an up close view of the men themselves…as well as Yoda! I got a lot of pictures and will share in a few days after I have time to organize them.

  2. KT should send a thank you card to Josh Byrnes for the trades of starting pitchers. He’s still great at getting bullpen helps which was what the Dbax needs.

    Looking forward to seeing Luebke starts.

  3. Rizzo played for the Boston club? I’m shocked! He’s not reproducing his AAA Tucson numbers at the big league level? I’m stunned! In other amazing news, San Diego is experiencing June Gloom conditions this year! ;-)

    BTW, I hope the games are not in Atlanta this weekend because I’m supposed to be at the game Friday night and I have no plane ticket nor hotel reservation! :-)

    Guess I have nothing productive or constructive to add to the conversation today so I’ll give humor a try. Luebke!!!

  4. @GY – I think you missed the point of some Padre fans or they failed to express it properly. I don’t think too many Padre fans expected him to replicate his AAA numbers. Fans like myself just felt there is not more to do at AAA and that he needed some MLB seasoning. No surprise that there have been some struggles so far, but he needs to go through them now in order to be better in the future. I actually believe too much success for too long in AAA has the potential to be counter productive. Not good if a hitter gets too comfortable and doesn’t work on his weaknesses because he doesnt know or think he has a weakness.
    No one replicates their PCL numbers in the big league. Rizzo is hitting low in the order which partially explains the low batting average. His approach at the plate is advanced and it is clear he has power. I am not at all concerned with Rizzo this year and I won’t really start to care about his numbers until next year. I say let the kid see his struggles and successes this year and hope his approach at the plate aid him in growing into a stellar MLB player at some point.

  5. Who says the Padres are going nowhere? I was looking at another site and saw something mentioned that I hadn’t realized: the Padres division play is extremely backloaded this year. The best way for the Padres to get close to the division leaders is to play them, and 50 of the Padres 72 divisional games are yet to be played, 29 against the top two teams.

    Until we see how the team does against divisional rivals, it’s too soon to write off the season. It was pointed out at that other site that 30 divisional games are scheduled AFTER the trading deadline. That has to give Jed pause. He’ll have to watch those 20 divisional games in July closely, and have to wait until pretty close to the deadline to decide whether to pull the trigger on trades.

  6. @Larry – although I am leaning towards selling some pieces, I agree that the Padres are not out of it yet… I was going to wait until the end of june and evaluate. That said, even if the Padres are still not technically out of it they could trade Ludwick and call up Blanks…. they could still trade Bell and have a very good bullpen. They could trade Harang and leave Luebke as the starter. I don’t think any of these moves would necessarily ruin the Padres chances the rest of the year. Obviously, the closer the Padres are to contention the more they will ask for in return for each of these players… thus a selling of some players will all depend on where the Padres are and what other teams will be willing to pay. If the Cardinals offer up Carlos martinez for Bell, they should consider it regardless of standings.

  7. @PF – I agree on Bell. There are teams who are going to be desperate for a closer pretty soon; I think we’re getting close to the time when we need to pull the trigger on Heath. In return, we need to keep acquiring solid building blocks for the future, rather than any “quick fixes” for a season that is basically over.

    The Nationals are showing how it’s done. That organization has been VERY patient over the last several years, and it’s looking like it might start paying off soon. They traded their very solid closer (Matt Capps) last year for a stud young catcher prospect, and that kid is really coming into his own. We need to do the same with Heath.

    I never see any chatter about working a trade involving any of our many very promising 3rd Basemen. Anyone think that Darnell could bring us some good value at another position where we have some needs for the future (SS, LF, etc.)

  8. @USMC

    Agree on Bell. I’d consider sending him to the Angels for Hank Conger (among lots of other possibilities).

    You don’t see many prospect-for-young-player trades, which makes it hard to move Darnell for a future building block. Not unheard of, but uncommon. It would more likely be Darnell for a pitcher in years 3-5 of arbitration who could put up pretty Petco numbers and then be flipped for younger players. Challenge trades typically occur with prospects who’ve lost value, not guys who are hitting like JD is.

    If the Padres think Darnell isn’t a 3b, there may not be anybody else who thinks he is, either. He’s less attractive as a LF. Not ugly, by any means, just not as hot.

  9. @USMC – The nationals are slowly but surely building. They havnt been afraid to go high upside with their draft approach. If Strasburg returns to form and they add another solid front line pitcher this could be a team to be afraid of.

    I hope Bell returns us an “impact” player. I don’t think the Padres will be looking for “fixes” for this season. They will require a near ready useful player or 2 for Bell, said players will be under club control for a while. I just that player or 2 can be a legit impact player and not just a replacement for average parts we already have.

    The Padres have something of a dilemma on their hands, although a good one IMO. They have Headley, Gyorko, Rizzo, Blanks, Darnell and only 3 positions between them. All 5 are already ML ready or will be very soon. Not to mention Rincon’s bat which could be ready soon(glove not being considered). Looks like Rizzo will be given a full chance at 1B this year and next. Darnell is being tried at LF since his 3B glove is less than stellar. Blanks is getting time at 1B and LF as he has before. Gyorko has an advanced bat and his glove is better than Darnell. My guess is the Padres keep Headley next year and continue to advance Gyorko and then force a decision in 2013. Headley could be trade bait next year since Gyorko could be ready soon. This leaves left field. Why not keep Darnell and Blanks. They can platoon in left and Darnell could spell Chase or Jedd at 3B occasionally and Blanks can spell Rizzo at first occasionally. The other option is to trade Blanks and/or Darnell for a more “Petco” caliber left fielder. Either way, I haven’t seen this much offensive upside in the farm system since I can remember.

    Belnome is looking good at 2b and is at AA, Spangenberg could move fast if he is what the Padres claim he is. The Padres future – pun intended – looks bright!

  10. @Tom – Conger would be a good consideration if he is available. Darnell, Blanks, and Rincon could all be DH bait for the AL – would have no problem returning middle of the rotation starters and upside relievers to flip or cash in on later.

    @all – I wonder if the Padres will consider giving Chase a long term contract something like 4 years $48 mil and move Gyorko to LF? The alternative seems to eventually trade Headley and put someone else like Jaff Decker, Blanks, Darnell, or Tekotte in LF.

  11. TW and PF – Thanks for your thoughts.

    I’m really psyched that I found this blog. I have a great wife and 10-month old son, but neither of them knows a damn thing about baseball, so I’m glad to finally have some people I can converse with about the Padres.

    What thoughts do you guys have about our future at catcher and SS? Do you think Jed and McCloud see Bartlett and Hundley as holding those positions long term? Any thoughts on Beamer Weems?

  12. @USMC

    If Jed Hoyer is a religious man, he goes to bed every night with a prayer that Jason Hagerty keeps hitting and can receive well enough to be a starting catcher in 2013. Hundley has some skills and should be entering his peak years, but it would be great to have two solid Cs on the team.

    We need to see Weems hit for an extended time, but it’s been a great season for him so far. With that glove he doesn’t have to hit much, and it doesn’t seem like Hoyer would want to keep giving Bartlett 5M+ a year. That 2 year deal looked like “stopgap” to me.

    @PadresFuture

    4/48! Hold the phone!

    Headley’s a valuable, vastly underrated player, but part of running a good business is using leverage, and his lack of counting stats will work against him in arbitration. You have to figure he has little interest in signing beyond his arbitration years because of what Petco does to hitters, but something like 3/16 might tempt him, structured 4/5/6.

  13. @USMC – Bartlett seems like a good fit for this team, decent OB skills and can steal a base once in a while. I am not impressed with him defensively but after Kahlil Green and Cabrera maybe I am just a little biased. I think Bartlett could be around again next year but Cabrera could be given consideration. The Padres have a good SS prospect in Drew Cumberland, but he has been injury prone and currently suffers from vertigo. The Padres just drafted Jace Peterson in the supplemental round and I think he could be a steal. He is likely 2-3 years away. Weems will end up in a utility role, IMO. Good glove but this is the first season he has put up any kind of offensive numbers. I could see him getting some time next year with the big club.

    Catching is a little more bleak. The only legit catching prospect, currently in the system, is the switch hitting Jason Hagerty. Hagerty’s bat looks like it should be fine more a catcher in the ML’s. He looks more advanced at this point hitting than Hundley did at that time. There are questions on Hagerty’s ability to defend the position and call games. If these questions get answered he could be a good platoon with Hundley. I expect the Padres to keep Hundley another 2 years or so. The Padres did draft 2 good young catching prospects out of highschool, but both could be trouble signing.

  14. @tom – fan graphs has Headley at 4.9 WAR in 2010 and on pace for 4.1 WAR this season. Baseball reference has him at 3.6 last year and on pace for 3.5 this year. Even if we look at the lower of the two he is worth $15m/season. If he gets 3 more years of Arb we are looking at paying him $5/$8/$11 type numbers(assuming he plays at similar levels as last year and this), thats about $24 million. If the Padres want to buy him out of a year of FA they could offer him a 4 year $32 million. The 4/$48 figure I was thinking he only had 2 arb years left. Even if Headley puts up only 3 WAR/year for the next 4 years that represents $22 million in surplus value, again by conservative WAR estimates. Subtract out the approx $18 million in arb year overpayment and that is still $1 million in savings per year if Headley only puts up 3 WAR numbers. Chase hits doubles, can run, plays solid defense, good OB…. basically everything but power…. could be wise to lock him up. But, then what to do about Gyorko?

  15. @PadresFuture

    I don’t disagree that Headley could be worth that much and that he’s playing terrific ball this year — but arbitration decisions often don’t rest on advanced metrics. It would be no fun trying to convince an arbitrator that a 3b with 7 homeruns and 60 RBI deserves to double his salary. That’s one way to take advantage of Petco. There does seem to be an incentive for both sides to work out a deal that covers his arbitration years, if not all of them then at least the next two. I don’t see him having any interest in delaying free agency, but maybe he likes SD enough to live with what the park does to his numbers.

    No need to worry about Gyorko yet. Love what he’s doing, but he’s a college player in the Cal League. Lots of players have flamed out between there and the majors. Get him most of a season in AA, then figure out the succession plan.

  16. Oh my; 67 comments on the Symbols Of A Lost Season post. If anyone responded to a comment of mine there, I apologize for not replying, because I can’t find it.

    For the sake of convenience, I forfeit the debate!

    Granted, we faced some emergency pitchers at Fenway this week,…. but the series win is is a nice big bright red ball in an otherwise dreadful season.

    Mixed emotions with Adrian’s success. Found myself rooting for him at all the wrong times. I guess I have been in Connecticut too long.

  17. If Headley were about to hit free agency, then maybe 4/48m is a realistic figure for him. With the next three years being arb years, I agree it would be much closer to the 3/16m figure. If he’s not willing to delay his free agency (as way of option(s)) then I wouldn’t bother making a long-term committment to him. He either has a very good year in ’12 and the team has to pay him more (or go with Gyorko) or he regresses and the team is thankful he’s not guaranteed money for two more years, especially if Gyorko continues to torch the minors.

    His hard stats, no doubt due largly to the park, are going to hinder his arbitration earning ability. Put him in Colorado and he’s hitting .335/.432/.450 this year and .294/.370/.425 the previous two years. The petco affect is never-ending. When it comes to our young positional talent they’re destined to be underpaid.

    Going year-to-year, 4.25/5.5/6.75 would be my early guesses. No 20hr/100rbi years will keep him relatively cheap. The above extension really only makes sense if an option year or two is included. If that weren’t the case, the three year total would be closer to PF annual salary, or atleast split the difference.

    I hope they extend him for PadresFuture sake. It’d be like the team “finding” 30-35m – enough money to buy you a Aroldis CHapman.

  18. @Chase – the Padres could really go in so many directions with Headley, especially with 3B being flush with minor league talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a long term extension, 3 consecutive arb filled years, or a trade… just wondering what would be best.

  19. In response to Larry Faria,

    We are going nowhere. We need to sell now! For the Padres to get to 90 wins we would have to go 54-32. That’s just not going to happen. I can’t believe people in the organization (according to Bill Center, think we are still in it). What evidence have the Padres shown that somehow someway they can win 60% of games for the rest of the year? SELL NOW!!!

  20. @Ford

    Negotiating 101: Don’t let anybody know how desperate you are. What the front office tells Bill Center for publication and what they really think are two different things.

  21. Regarding the SS and C questions, does anyone know the story on Ali Solis? He’s 23 and hitting well in AA. Until the Padres sign Hedges next month (!), he looks to be the current #2 C prospect in the system behind Hagerty. Has anyone seen him play? Does he look like a legit backstop?

    As for SS, has anyone seen Andy Parrino play? He doesn’t profile as an everyday major leaguer, but he’s hitting well this season and the Padres keep promoting him. He has 26 starts at SS for Tucson this year, which makes me think that his glove is at least passable.

  22. So much to comment on!
    @Didi- KT should be appreciated for what he did in San Diego, and those talents will serve Arizona well. But his style had run its course, and Jed’s vision is what the Padres need at this stage.
    @Larry- I hope people considering buying tickets share in your optimism! But contending in 2012 is much more realistic and will be even more probable with some wise moves in the coming weeks (Bell, Ludwick).
    Re: 3B- The only 3B in the organization with any trade value right now is Chase Headley (for reasons outlined by Tom), and he’s more valuable to the Padres making the progress that he’s making. Though we know by now that the desired 3B-power isn’t likely to come.
    Re: C- I don’t think we’re critical enough of Nick Hundley. He is almost to the age where you say “he is what he is.” And that’s an injury-prone, inconsistent hitter. His defensive game has made fantastic strides in his time in the majors, but every time it seems like he’s ready to put together more than 6 weeks of good hitting, he goes back into a slump or gets hurt!

    I commented in a previous thread that LF and RF are likely the only spots in the lineup that can be upgraded for next year. What’s the thinking on that?

  23. Anthony Bass only pitched 2.0 innings last night in his start for San Antonio. The San Antonio paper says that he was pulled due to an innings restriction. Anyone know anything about why they’re restricting his innings?

  24. @Laowai – I agree that the mostlikely upgrades next year could be corner outfield.

    @USMC53 – Innings restrictions are common in the minors. Its possible the Padres view him as pitching depth at the ML level and don’t want him burning up too many innings incase they need him later in the season. I would think they want to see Bass pitch about 150-160 innings this year and he already has half of that.

  25. From ESPN.com:

    “More buzz from scouts covering the minor leagues: The Padres appear to be gearing up to jump the market by being the first on their block to sell attractive pieces like Heath Bell and Ryan Ludwick. Scouts say they’ve seen Padres scouts actively checking out the farm systems of contenders (such as Texas and Philadelphia) that they believe they could match up with in one of those deals.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=stark_jayson&page=rumblings110624