Facts of No Particular Consequence

I am a furious note taker. I scribble quotes, reflections, and factoids with reckless indiscrimination, so that “An island is a ship without sails” (from page 209 of Deborah Tall’s The Island of the White Cow) immediately follows a chart showing Chris Denorfia’s sudden decline:

Months   PA   BA  OBP  SLG
Mar-Jun 208 .301 .359 .446
Jul-Aug  81 .155 .259 .169

Denorfia carried the offense earlier in the season but had become a serious drag before landing on the disabled list last week. Now, his overall numbers look a lot like those of Will Venable, who was so bad at one point that he got sent back to the minors:

Player    PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+
Denorfia 289 .261 .331 .370 100
Venable  281 .259 .332 .362  98

Denorfia has been a useful contributor to the Padres, hitting .266/.333/.408 (108 OPS+) in a season’s worth of plate appearances, but he turned 31 last month and shares the same skill set as Aaron Cunningham, a man 6 years his junior. Denorfia’s career resurrection in San Diego makes for a great story, much as Jody Gerut’s did before him, but his time here is likely drawing to a close.

There are too many other internal options, and Denorfia doesn’t do any one thing well enough to stave off the younger competition. Still, he has demonstrated that he belongs in the big leagues and should be able to keep his career going (maybe even with the Padres, but I don’t see it). I’ve enjoyed watching him play, and I’ll never forget his ground ball inside-the-park home run.

Denorfia is Eric Owens with less eye black and more baseball skill. I will miss him when he leaves, as I miss nearly everyone when they leave.

* * *

One benefit of these East Coast games is that I don’t get home from the day gig until after the final out has been recorded. This means that I don’t have to watch Chad Qualls pitch. Qualls has served as catalyst for Padres late-inning giveaways in New York the past two nights and has been brutal in his past 10 appearances dating back to the July 23 implosion at Philadelphia:

Dates       IP   ERA   BA  OBP  SLG  BF HR
3/31-7/21 48.1  2.61 .250 .297 .300 197  1
7/23-8/9   7.2 12.91 .412 .432 .971  37  5

Was it Ron Davis (father of injured Mets first baseman Ike Davis) that used to be called the Human Torch? Whatever the case, Qualls has been awful. Our solace is that wins and losses don’t matter a lot at this point.

Meanwhile, Mike Adams has been brilliant (aside from allowing a game-winning homer to the second batter he faced) for his new team. Maybe the Padres win those two games with Adams working the eighth instead of Qualls. Maybe now they’re only 11 games back of first-place San Francisco with 45 games remaining.

So what. I’d rather have Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland than two meaningless wins.

* * *

Ryan Ludwick leads the team with 11 homers and 64 RBI. He now plays in Pittsburgh, and nobody on the current Padres roster is likely to catch him in either category. Chase Headley has the next highest RBI total, 43, and is on the disabled list. Cameron Maybin has six home runs, making him the currently active leader in that category.

The currently active RBI leader on the Padres is Jason Bartlett. Go back and read that last sentence again (then proceed; don’t want to get stuck in an infinite loop).

There’s an excellent chance that Ludwick will end up leading the Padres in home runs and RBI. If he does, the Padres will have set new marks for lowest totals by a leader in those categories in a non-strike-shortened season. As it now stands, those are held by Dave Winfield (13 HR in 1976) and Nate Colbert (66 RBI in 1969), respectively.

The lowest totals ever come from the 1981 season, in which the Padres played a mere 110 games. That year, Joe Lefebvre led the club with eight homers, while Gene Richards led with 42 RBI. This happened to be Richards’ age 27 campaign, which looks suspiciously like Headley’s (I’ve thrown in some traditional stats at the end of this one because, well you’ll see):

Player   Year  PA   BA  OBP  SLG OPS+ HR RBI SB
Richards 1981 453 .288 .373 .407 129   3  42 20
Headley  2011 422 .292 .380 .407 126   4  43 13

Yeah, they are 30 years apart and played different positions, but that is a little freaky…

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14 Responses »

  1. Guzman is 35 RBI away with 45 games left to play. If he keeps up his current pace, he’ll come three RBI short, so hopefully he picks up the pace.

  2. Headley is Gene Richards. Didn’t see that coming. But knowing that, I like Headley’s game so much better all of a sudden. If Headley starts choking up halfway up the barrel of the bat, he will replace Tim Stauffer as my current favorite Padre.

  3. The guys that we got from Texas sound good, and get the trade, but I get a little annoyed with the “relievers are all fungible” line of thinking. Not all starters >> all relievers. And some bullpens can destroy a team’s chances, so wonder if it is always that easy to find bullpen talent, why are there so many bad bullpens? My fear, which hopefully is unfounded, is that Towers had a rare ability to find good bullpen arms for cheap, accumulating a lot. Hoyer has been dealing down that strength under the assumption that he can replenish it. But his most noteworthy bullpen pick ups, Neshek and Qualls have not been very good, at least not as good as the inherited components. Yes this season is almost certainly dead, but those two wins would have created six wins in a row. We’ll see.

  4. @Jay – I understand your concern on the bullpen. Luckily, the Padres are loaded with young bullpen talent like Gregerson, Thatcher, Frieri, and Spence. They have plenty of strong bullpen help in the minors with Deduno, Brach, Vincent, and Mikolas. They will be fine. The bigger concern for me is why some ML managers feel the need to designate 7th and 8th inning guys, especially when they do so just because a certain pitcher has more experience. Put the hot pitcher or the most talented in those spots. I still don’t understand why the Padres did not trade Qualls…. I can’t imagine them picking up a $6m option.

  5. What puzzles me is why Gregerson wasn’t moved into the 8th inning slot. If Bell, not Adams had been moved at the deadline, would Black have started using Qualls as the closer? Hell no, he would have shifted Adams there. OK, why not shift Gregerson to 8th inning too?

    Granted the rest of the season is going to be a kind of latter day spring training, when the object is to see what you’ve got rather than to try and win games — still, I fail to understand why pitchers who have NOT proved they can hold down a specific role should be handed a more important role that those who have.

  6. coz…Qualls used to close…thus, he must be good…NOT!
    I see no reason to use Qualls any differently than prior to the trade of Adams. He’s old, not getting any better. Why not put the younger arms, even ones destined to start in the role of set-up relievers, get them experiences a la Luebke and see what they can do. I already know Qualls not going to get better. I want to see what Frieri can do to improve his controls, how’s Spence going to keep fooling hitters with his sub-90 mph fastballs, how Gregerson is going to adjust now that he’s exposed to more hitters.

    Win or lose, I don’t mind, but I mind very much when nothing is learned from the losing/winning.

    interesting read here:

    I wonder if the Padres are going to hand out some longer term contracts.

    I sure hope Guzman will top Ludwick in the RBI column this season. It’d be depressing to have the RBI leader be somebody who failed to help the team into the playoff last year.

  7. I sure hope the Padres are only going to offer Bell arbitration instead of a longer contract. Heck, why can’t Evan Scribner close? See, let’s find out now. Let Qualls be the HVC or the mop up guy, or trade him to another team, whatever.

  8. http://baseballmusings.com/?p=72674

    yup, that many runs with 4 more games (3 in Cincinnati) to play on the road. I wonder if the Padres will keep the scoring this high. Is this going to be the most runs scored in 10 games stretch this season? I hope it’ll be the record.

    In 6 games, 56 RS, while the other 112 games, merely 388 RS.
    On the road, 271 RS in 59 games for the season. Prior to this road trip, 215 RS in 53 games, for an average of 4.057 R/G. Wow, who are these Padres?
    Keep it going!

  9. “Win or lose, I don’t mind, but I mind very much when nothing is learned from the losing/winning.”

    This is an excellent point!

  10. A better question would be why Qualls is on the roster at all? Any inning or at bat this season used up by a veteran with no future with the team is wasted. Any inning or at bat given to a young player is an opportunity. Even from an entertainment value perspective wouldn’t most fans prefer to see the “players of the future” that we are all supposed to be holding out hope for?

    The last 1/3 of the 2009 season was entertaining to follow. The current team being on a 7 game winning streak, particularly while scoring lots of runs, would have been similarly entertaining to follow. Watching the meaningless Qualls pitch batting practice is not entertaining.

  11. It’s been my understanding from the day we signed him that there has been hope that he’d be able to get back to being a closer … and it seemed for a long time that the data was supporting that possibility …

    I’ve always been a Qualls fan … was glad when we signed him … was glad when he was getting good results …

    Is he worse now than Trevor was during some of his dark periods? Well, I know that’s not fair … but …

    I’m just saying that I can see some point / value to seeing what happens if/when Qualls is put into the fire. In other words, I think the Padres are learning something valuable … just not what was hoped for.

  12. @BAPF – I have no problem with the Qualls signing…. what I can’t figure out is why he was not traded when the Padres determined they were out of the race.

  13. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the Qualls signing at the beginning of the year. His downside risk was limited – inexpensive, non crucial middle reliever on a team with loads of bullpen depth – and his upside potential was nice if he reverted to his previous form as a closer. And, until recently, he was having a nice year. My point is only that, in a lost season like this one, his value (along with any other veteran not expected to be back next year) has diminished to that of not worthy of a roster spot. If there is some opportunity for compensation in the event he leaves in the off season, as there is for Bell, then I stand corrected. I similarly stand corrected if they indeed plan to bring him back next season.

    GY effectively makes a similar point about Denorfia. It’s hard not to like the guy but Cunningham fills the same role and is much younger. I’d rather see Cunningham get at bats now than Denorfia.