Me, Elsewhere: Looking Toward the Season’s Second Half

Refreshed from the All-Star Break and ready for more (let the floggings continue!), I’ve got a few things going on here and there.

First up, I contributed some thoughts on the Padres to the SweetSpot’s NL second-half team previews. From the article:

Several young players bear watching, the most scrutinized of which will be first baseman [Anthony] Rizzo. Part of this past winter’s Adrian Gonzalez trade, the 21-year-old accelerated his timetable after destroying Triple-A pitching but has been inconsistent with the big club. The Padres must hope that he makes the necessary adjustments and improves his ability to make contact at this level. Rizzo has plenty of talent; the next step is putting it to use on a regular basis.

I’ve cautioned against placing unreasonable expectations on this young man (we are seeing right now a perfect storm of such expectations, extreme youth, and the difference between facing Triple-A pitching in a bandbox versus big-league pitching in a far less forgiving environment). Rizzo will be fine, but to expand on something I tossed out on Twitter the other day, compare his first 30 games with the Padres to Brad Hawpe’s:

Player AB R  H 2B 3B HR RBI BB  K   BA  OBP  SLG
Rizzo  90 8 14  7  1  1   6 14 34 .156 .296 .289
Hawpe  96 6 19  6  0  1   6  6 32 .198 .250 .292

This isn’t a fair comparison, of course. Rizzo is young and promising; he has a good approach at the plate and can play first base. Hawpe is the opposite of all that. Still, as Rizzo reminds us, big-league pitchers are pretty good…

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Next on the docket, Will Brinson asked me a few questions for a Q&A at The Cove to preview the current Padres/Giants series. Some of the questions were rendered moot almost immediately after I’d answered them. For example, we touched on the possibility of a Padres sweep (stop laughing, it could have happened in an alternate universe):

A sweep of the Giants could have a negative impact on the Padres if it raises false hope and keeps the front office from making moves for the future. For as weak as the division is, the Padres lack the firepower to make a serious run.

Heath Bell’s 0-2 curve ball to Aubrey Huff on Thursday night and the continued general incompetence of Padres hitters have solved that problem. Clarity is good.

* * *

Finally, Craig Elsten and I had a nice chat on Friday’s 619Sports Padres Podcast. I professed my admiration for the skills of Cameron Maybin, made a horrible analogy involving steaks and hamburgers (it sounded better in my head), and waffled on various other issues (I’m a philosopher, not a politician; plus waffles are delicious).

One of the things we discussed was the disturbing phenomenon of having Petco Park overrun by fans of visiting teams. I mentioned my displeasure at the crowd’s reaction when Huff hit his game-tying homer, and both of us came up empty in trying to figure out how to fix the problem of being a stranger in one’s own home.

I do have one idea, but it’s deeply cynical, and it doesn’t fix the problem so much as reframe it. Disband the Padres and have nine large-market teams with established fan bases play nine games each at Petco Park every year.

Eliminate the pesky overhead of player salaries. Market to people whose teams have a rich baseball tradition. Between the expats who refuse to yield their old allegiances and folks who would jump at the chance to visit San Diego, the place will be packed every night. Everyone wins.

Except the Padres, of course. But what else is new…

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16 Responses »

  1. hey, the Padres can market the stars on the other teams a la Clippers of old trying to sell tickets in LA by highlighting the visiting teams…great time in that francise history.

  2. I’m glad I went to the opened in SF, because since game 3 of that series, we have been beyond terrible on offense. Oh, and i’m sure it’ll get better once we trade away Ludwick and anyone else of any value. I think I should just give up on the big league squad this year and go enjoy watching some hitting at the bandbox in Tucson

  3. I’m concerned about the effect of that bandbox in Tucson on player development/expectations. The Escondido park would supposedly have Petco dimensions, but what of the rest of the PCL? I’m beginning to wonder if a second Padres team could be installed in the Texas league – call it high AA – and move the Tucson team there. The team would get a better read on its players, and the players wouldn’t suffer the downer that Rizzo is experiencing. Moving the PCL fences back wouldn’t work since so many teams are in desert areas where the ball flies, and some are at altitude. Would humidors work?

  4. One of the things we discussed was the disturbing phenomenon of having Petco Park overrun by fans of visiting teams. I mentioned my displeasure at the crowd’s reaction when Huff hit his game-tying homer, and both of us came up empty in trying to figure out how to fix the problem of being a stranger in one’s own home.

    Sounds like the SDP and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team have a common problem. Good luck trying to fix it.

  5. @ Larry

    I agree with the idea of changes needing to be made with how players are evaluated in the PCL. I live in Tucson and have been to Kino Sports Park many times from the Sidewinders days to the T-Padres. It’s like evaluating a player who played in the old Coors Field environment and expecting that same contribution at Petco.

    As a fan of baseball in Tucson, I’d like to argue for the Padres AAA club to stay here, but Tucson can’t support baseball anyway. If the team can utilize a different league, like you said, with less hitter-friendly parks, the learning curve once players hit Petco would be greatly reduced.

  6. PETCO is the problem… along with the washed out players the FO always signs. No matter how much the Padres’ ownership is willing to spend, it will never be enough. To solve the issue, make PETCO play like other AVG parks in the NL, i.e., move in the fences, sign better players.

  7. Wow, how about just a win, never mind a sweep. If you just finished vomiting after watching that charade of a “game” on Sunday, it reminds us just how far the Padres have to go. The Giants 6 for 6 in stolen bases? A double play 3rd to 1st with none on and Brian Wilson just begging us to take the game? A double play on a bunt?!? A suicide squeeze?!?! Black using his best pinch hitter in a meaningless situation, none on and 2 out?!?!?! What the #*?!#%&*!!!!
    I know we are rebuilding, but the main question is do the Padres even know how to play the game of baseball? The lack of fundamentals, especially on the offensive side of the diamond is, well, offensive. I am not calling for the hitting coach to be fired, we tried that multiple times already. The Padres have a clear lack in the entire organization for finding players who are competent on the offensive side of the game.

  8. @Brian – I feel your frustration. Difficult to watch offensively. Although some here would argue the Padres have not been bad offensively in recent years. This year has been particularly bad any way you look at it. This is why I have kicked around the possibility to trading a guy like Latos for offensive impact players. Why not ask the Yankees if they will send a package around Gardner and Montero for Latos? (Just an example) Cleary, a Latos trade package would have to impact the Padres for it to happen.

    The good news is the farm system is kickin. I know a lot of cynics will say “yeah but we have heard this before”. I for one, have not seen this much talent all at once in the minors on the Padres in 10 years. We have had isolated “promise” like Burroughs and Headley. But never 3-5 guys all at once that have that kind of promise… making it more likely that 1 or 2 of them live up to the potential.

  9. hey, the Red Sox walked the bases loaded no outs in the 11th and didn’t score. wow. the Padres are trendsetters.

  10. @PadresFuture

    Some would argue “correctly” that the offense hasn’t been bad in recent years. Average isn’t bad. This year is a different story, instead of being middle of the pack among NL teams as we have been over the last few seasons, we’re dead last, and by a sizable margin.

    The farm system of 2001-2002 looked like it had an entire rotation of #3 or better pitchers (Tankersley, Peavy, Perez, Howard, Phillips, Cyr), plus 3 future potential all-stars in Burroughs, Nady, and Gautreau. 7 Padre farmhands ranked in BA’s top 100, and the pitching depth dwarfed what we have now.

    Even in 2003, when several players had been promoted or lost their luster, you could easily make the case that Nady = Darnell, Bozied = Blanks, Gautreau = Forsythe, and Greene = Far better than any current Padre minor league shortstop. We’re in better condition now than we were from 04-06, but prospects will break your heart.

  11. The Padres model of sign players who used to be good and are no longer in their prime and hope they have bounce back seasons is getting a little old. We do know they are going with the youth movement now, but that takes time and in reality fans aren’t patient and without a competing team Petco will sell out due to the visiting teams fans buying the tickets.

  12. @Tom – Hence the reason I said 10 years. I would hardly agree bozied = blanks.

  13. @PadresFuture: 2011 – 2002 = 9 years. 2002 was our peak.

    The question isn’t what Bozied turned into. It’s what Bozied looked like before he destroyed his knee. His first pro experience was at High A, where he posted an 923 OPS with 15 HR in 71 games. He was crushing the ball in AAA before the plate-jumping incident.

    Through his first 548 minor league games, before he became a non-prospect, he had an 832 OPS and 94 HR. Blanks is at 904 and 88 in 538 games, but he spent a lot more time in the lower levels. Bozied skipped low A entirely. Tagg never got to hit anywhere close to Tucson.

    Blanks may very well be a much better ballplayer than Bozied was. But Tagg was a well-regarded prospect in his day.

  14. @Tom – seems like a nit pick on the 10 years versus 9 thing. Besides, there are several very underrated prospects like Galvez and Domoromo.

  15. @PadresFuture

    Being careful with words is a sign of discipline. And an easy tweak, especially seeing as you replied with “Hence the reason I said 10 years.” If you want to be loose with dates, fine, but you can’t first claim to have been precise with your phrasing and then claim that accuracy = nit picking. You can, obviously, but it invites being poked with a sharpened internet stick.

    There were underrated prospects in the past group, too — Barfield, Guzman, Javier Martinez, Cory Stewart, etc. I fervently hope that the current crop pans out better, but I don’t see them as more talented (there were four guys with #1 starter stuff nine years back) or deeper. Luckier would be good.