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.
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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…