One Day, They Will Be Less Young and Less Awful

It is difficult to watch the Padres right now. Between Cory Luebke’s Monday night clinic on how not to field the pitcher position, Rob Johnson’s excellent Gary Bennett impersonation (hey, there’s a 2-0 slider; I’ll bet if I swing, I can pop it up to shortstop), and the team’s general offensive incompetence, there just isn’t much reason to cheer.

Did I say incompetence? This year’s Padres have been shut out 16 times through 111 games, or 14 percent of the time. Only once in 43 seasons have they been blanked more often at the same point in the season. That would be the inaugural 1969 club, which was shut out 18 times. So yeah, thank goodness Jesus Guzman cranked a solo homer with two out in the ninth against Joe Saunders last week. Continue reading ›

Me, Elsewhere: Baseball as a Three-Act Play

My latest at Baseball Prospectus ($) breaks down NL West teams’ run scoring and prevention tendencies in three-inning increments. Surprisingly, the Padres are easily the best (+18 run differential through July 31) from the seventh inning onward — this despite being outscored by 13 runs in extra frames.

Of course, when you are getting obliterated in the early and middle innings, end game performance doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. The Padres particularly struggle in the sixth, when they have been outscored, 60-35, this year.

That -25 differential represents the exact opposite of what the teams pacing the division are doing. Arizona has outscored the opposition, 72-47 (+25), in the sixth, while San Francisco is at 62-36 (+26). Funny what a difference an inning can make…

Bell’s Tell

One scenario we examined yesterday in discussing how Heath Bell’s situation might play out is that he could accept arbitration and remain in San Diego another year rather than pursue long-term options elsewhere. The notion that a professional ballplayer would take less money to stay in a place he considers home may seem curious to folks raised on the stereotype of greedy athletes, but apparently that’s what Bell intends to do.

Bell seems to be serious about continuing his career as a member of the Padres:

I’d like to get a three-year contract with the Padres. But I think I’m in position to come back no matter what… If they offered me three years at $27 million, we’d talk. If they offered me three years at $30 million, I would really have to consider it.

Very serious:

Arbitration at one year might be worth $12 million… The next step then is arbitration. And right now, my position is I’m not going to say no if they offer it to me.

Fan reaction to Bell’s loyalty to team and city has been fascinating. Mostly it has consisted of, “Jed Hoyer screwed up by not trading Bell.” So yeah, big guy, we’re glad you’re still here. Continue reading ›

Adams and Ludwick Go, Bell Stays, Godzilla Threatens to Destroy Village

You know how all those people in the Godzilla movies are running around like crazy all the time on account of the giant lizard thing that keeps chasing them? Twitter at baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline is like that, only without the lizard.

Jed Hoyer isn’t doing anything. Why isn’t he doing anything? Oh crap, he finally did something and it sucks, we’re all gonna die — hey, is that Godzilla?

If you pay close attention, you’ll learn a lot. Mainly you’ll learn not to pay close attention.

Anyway, Hoyer traded a reliever and an outfielder on Sunday. The reliever was Mike Adams, not Heath Bell. The Padres sent Adams to Texas for a couple of minor-league starting pitchers, 20-year-old left-hander Robbie Erlin and 21-year-old right-hander Joe Wieland, both of whom were at Double-A Frisco. Continue reading ›

Irabu and Me

Former Padres right-hander Hideki Irabu was found dead on Wednesday in a home in Rancho Palos Verdes, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb. His death is being called an “apparent suicide.”

Irabu never pitched for the Padres, of course, and that is why this blog exists today. When the Padres secured his rights from NPB’s Chiba Lotte Marines, he and his agent, Don Nomura, refused to sign with San Diego, comparing the city to a “prison camp.” I took great offense and fired off a little rant that launched Ducksnorts.

That was September 1997. Derrek Lee still played for the Padres. Continue reading ›

Wednesday Links (27 Jul 11)

I’m still recovering from the Chicago trip and preparing for a couple of gigs this weekend with my band, so no time to watch games, let alone write something that doesn’t suck about them (not that a 6-1 drubbing at home doesn’t deserve an article that sucks). Ergo, a bevy o’ links… Continue reading ›

Me, Elsewhere: Bruce Bochy and One-Run Games

My latest at Baseball Prospectus (free) examines San Francisco’s outstanding record (27-13 at time of publication) in one-run games this year. Bruce Bochy’s Giants aren’t historically great in that regard (current winning percentage of .675 would place them in a tie for 35th place all-time), but they’re pretty darned good.

Bochy, in fact, has enjoyed remarkable success in one-run games throughout his career with the Padres and the Giants. In about 800 one-run games, his teams own a .546 winning percentage. In nearly 1,900 other games, that number is .478.

Could be luck, could be something else. Either way, it’s impressive…

Maybin Haunts Former Team, Chicago Supports Current Team, Blanks and Rizzo Switch Places

I paid a visit to Chicago last week for three reasons:

  1. To escape the lack of extreme heat and humidity prevalent in San Diego this time of year; it was becoming downright comfortable back home
  2. To avoid hearing any mention whatsoever of the Padres, who are actually a figment of San Diegans’ collective imagination; I’ve been thinking the team should change its name to Snuffleupagi
  3. To watch the Cubs and Astros play at Wrigley Field, one of baseball’s great temples, and to be reminded that there are at least two teams even worse than the Padres; there is nothing quite so liberating as witnessing awful baseball while not caring one bit about the outcome

Speaking of which, while I was away, the Padres traveled to Miami and swept the Marlins. The Padres, who generally have trouble scoring runs, broke out in a big way. They outscored the Fish, 23-6, during the three-game series. Continue reading ›

Wednesday Links (20 Jul 11)

In honor of his latest opus, we’ll kick off today’s links with a look at Padres ace Tim Stauffer, work our way through a long-forgotten pitcher from the turn of last century, and finish up with a brilliant quote from one of the Padres’ reserve infielders. Good times… Continue reading ›

Me, Elsewhere: Kids in the NL West

My latest at Baseball Prospectus ($) explores the success of young hitters in Arizona and lack of same in Los Angeles. It also touches on the resurgence of old guys in Colorado, namely Jason Giambi and former Padres draft pick Todd Helton.

Ah, Helton. I sometimes wonder what might have been had Tom Werner spent money to sign him and/or Troy Glaus… or had Werner done anything to help the franchise, but that is water under the proverbial bridge…