Filed under: News, Random Crap | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Headley, Eagles Rugby, Petco Park, San Diego Padres, Tony Clark, USA Sevens
A friend of mine scored some tickets to day 2 of the USA Sevens rugby tournament down at Petco last Sunday. I was all excited to go, except for one problem: I woke up at 7 AM Sunday with the most raging hangover of my life. A ballpark with 20,000 people flying around probably isn’t the best place to recover from that, but I sucked it up and went anyway…it was actually really cool. Watching the games, it’s abundantly clear that the game was the precursor of American football, but there are some major differences: continuous clock, 7 players, no pads, scores are worth 5 points & conversions are worth 2, etc. The game moves really fast as long as they are actually playing; there are weird pauses in the action sometimes for setting up kicks and throw-ins which break up the action and mainly serve to confuse those of us who don’t understand the sport well.
The USA even played a couple of matches, and both ended in dramatic fashion; they beat France on a try and conversion as time expired, and they lost to Wales in the consolation final when a player shanked the conversion kick after scoring a try with no time left to pull the team within 2. The crowd was pretty docile all day unless the US was playing; they actually got pretty loud for the local boys, which was cool to see. All in all, it was a cool event, and we’ll definitely make a point to get back down for it next year.
You know what the best part of the tournament was, though? Being able to spend a day at the ballpark! It was my first time in the park since the 4th-to-last home game last year, and it got me all pumped up to get back down there and watch the Pads. I can’t even express how ready I am for baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report Thursday (I think), and the first spring games can’t get here soon enough.
With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the Pads’ latest acquisition: 1B/DH/pinch hitter extraordinaire Tony Clark. On the surface, he doesn’t really look like he’ll get a lot of playing time, since Adrian is so entrenched at first base; I really don’t see Clark getting more than 10 starts at first this year. So, this means he’s going to pinch hit. A lot. Clark is a .232/.308/.442 pinch hitter for his career. Though not impressive on the surface, one must remember that pinch-hitters usually succeed far less than the average hitter simply due to the inherent difficulty in coming in cold to face major league pitching. For reference, Padres pinch hitters last year hit .188/.293/.284. Assuming that Clark will get most of his work off the bench, I’d expect his line to end up closer to his career PH numbers than his .249/.310/.511 performance in Arizona last year. Still, a .450 SLG from your primary pinch hitter can’t be a bad thing; having a threat like that off the bench will be a valuable weapon in the Padres always important bench arsenal. My only concern is that this could take away a roster spot for a guy like Headley if it comes down to it, although I think Headley will do well enough in March to force the Pads to make room. Especially given the cost, this seems like a pretty decent move for the Friars.
Filed under: News, Stats & Analysis | Tags: Adam Jones, Bill Hall, David Wells, Jeremy Reed, Jim Edmonds, Joe Thatcher, Johnny Damon, Los Angeles Dodgers, Melky Cabrera, Randy Wolf, Reggie Willits, Ryan Church, San Diego Padres, Scott Linebrink, Tony Gwynn Jr., Trevor Hoffman
Now coming down the pipe: Randy Wolf will sign a 1-year deal with the Pads. I like this move; I got to watch Wolf pitch a little bit this year (again, I live in Dodgers’ TV territory) and he’s got underrated stuff. Not a terribly hard thrower (88-90 on the fastball), but he has a sharp, slow (~68 MPH) curveball and will get his share of strikeouts. Plus, he’s a lefty, and he’s not named David Wells. Without getting into the numbers of the deal, my gut says this is a good deal for the Friars.
As promised, here’s the remainder of the trade candidates for center field.
Reed came up full-time in 2005, starting for the Mariners in center for most of the year. Over 144 games, he hit .254/.322/.352. However, in 2006, he dipped to .217 before an injury ended his season; in 2007, he fell off the radar, playing just 13 games in the bigs and being passed in the organization by Adam Jones. Reed did hit .298/.349/.451 in Tacoma last year, showing considerably more power than he did with the club in 2005 (although the hitter-friendly PCL probably had something to do with that). For me, he’s probably about a .260 hitter at best, although I’ve heard he’s a pretty good defensive player; he’d probably be very cheap, since he has little value to the mariners at this point in time. Might be another name to throw in the hat…
Edmonds makes his second home on the disabled list, so he’s definitely an injury risk. He battled groin issues last year and underwent two surgeries after the 2006 season. His OPS has declined each of the last 4 years, starting at 1.061 before falling all the way to .727 last year. Some of the drop in power could be attributed to his injuries, so if he’s healthy, he might show a little more pop in 2008; however, the more likely scenario is that age is finally taking its toll on Edmonds. Looking at range factor, he still shows slightly above-average range in center, although he clearly is not the player he once was. He is also a little expensive, as he is due to make $8M in 2008. He might be able to recapture a little of the old magic, but the chances of that happening are slim. Bringing Edmonds in would be a needless risk, in my opinion.
Tony Gwynn Jr.
Ah, the hometown favorite. Gwynn raised his profile by beating Trevor Hoffman for a game-tying triple on the final weekend of the season with the Pads one pitch away from clinching a playoff berth. He’s currently blocked by Bill Hall in Milwaukee, so he would likely be available for the right price. In fact, Towers tried to get Gwynn in the deal that brought Joe Thatcher over for Scott Linebrink. Gwynn served mostly off the bench for the Brewers in 2007, hitting .260 over 123 at-bats; he’s a career .272 minor league hitter. As far as a major league comparison, I’d say Gwynn looks like a poor man’s Reggie Willits; pretty good average & OBP, no power, good speed, good defense, lousy arm. Good enough for the Pads? Only as a fallback if nothing else pans out.
The Yankees seem desperate to pawn off Damon on anyone who will pay a part of his substantial 2008 salary. Melky Cabrera has supplanted Damon in center field for the Yanks, and they do not have room for him in the outfield anymore. For all the whining out of New York, Damon still had a pretty decent 2007; he hit .270/.351/.396 in 141 games. For his career, he’s a .288/.353/.433 hitter with an OPS+ of 102. Those are pretty good numbers for a center fielder, especially in the power department; his numbers dipped last year, at least partly due to an abdominal problem that dogged him in the second half. The perception in the media is that Damon does not have legs to play center anymore; however, his range factor has been above league average each of the last five years, and he still shows good speed on the basepaths (27 SB in 2007). If he’s healthy and still fast enough to play center, he’d probably be a very good fit here; rangy, nice OBP, shows a little gap power. He’s still under contract through 2009 at a problematic $13M per, though, so that could be an issue in trade talks.
Oops. Looks like we’re a little late on this one. He was traded to New York on Friday.
Filed under: News | Tags: Cy Young Award, Jake Peavy, Randy Johnson, San Diego Padres
Great news: Jake Peavy is the National League Cy Young Award winner for 2007, and deservedly so. Jake was better than pretty much anyone all year, even taking into account the 2 eggs he laid at Arizona and at Colorado. He’s the first unanimous Cy winner since Randy Johnson and the first Padre to win the award unanimously.
You may recall that I spoke about Jake’s dominance in an earlier post. Maybe I’ll elaborate on the significance of this for Jake a little more tonight. I have a presentation in 2 hours, so it might help if I started preparing for that…
Filed under: News, Stats & Analysis | Tags: Chicago Cubs, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Derek Lowe, Greg Maddux, Joe Nathan, John Maine, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres
Off the cuff, I like this move. The dude just will not die; he’s been as consistent as anybody in the league for about 20 years now and didn’t seem to show many signs of age last year. Let’s dive into the numbers and see if they support that.
By most standards, Maddux was pretty successful in his first year as a Friar, posting a 14-11 record and a 4.14 ERA over 198 innings. That ERA figure is actually down a tick from his 2006 number (4.20). However, there were some signs that could be interpreted as decline. Maddux’s hit rate jumped from 9.4 in 2006 to 11.0 in 2007; this can be attributed either to a loss of control due to age or merely luck (his BABIP was a little high at .315). Predictably, his homer rate dropped from .85 to .63 due to Petco’s pitcher-friendly alleys.
Park-adjusted numbers are a mixed bag. ERA+ has him at only 98, or below the league average; however, his 35.7 VORP places him 45th in the league, ahead of such notables as Curt Schilling, John Maine, Joe Nathan and Derek Lowe. Maddux’s VORP is also up from his 32.7 last year between the Cubs and Dodgers. Finally, Maddux tied with Daisuke Matsuzaka for 27th in the league in expected wins with 13.4.
Maddux has always thrown a lot of first pitch strikes (64% career, vs 57% league average). This year, that number jumped even higher, to 68%. That might have accounted for a little bit of that jump in his hit rate; more specifically, it looks like Maddux pitched in the zone a little more last year, thinking the ballpark would back him up.
I heard many folks complain that Maddux stunk when he got deep into games this year; looking at the numbers, he was not nearly as bad as others thought him to be. From pitch 76 onward, Maddux’s ERA was 4.07 in 17.2 innings; that’s actually below his season average. Maddux had far more problems early in games; over his first 30 pitches, Mad Dog’s ERA was a painful 7.29. That would lead me to believe that Maddux has a harder time finding a rhythm now than he did five years ago.
ZIPS sees Maddux posting similar numbers in 2008; they have him at 14-11 with a 3.91 ERA over 200 innings. Sound familiar? Maddux has owned that line for the last five years. It would not surprise me at all to see him duplicate his 2007 numbers, or perhaps be a little better now that he’s learned how to pitch to the ballpark. His August numbers pointed in that direction (3-1, 2.37), but his September numbers were his worst all season (4-2, 6.14).
All things considered, Maddux looks like he’s at worst a league average starter; in this day and age, that can be hard to find, so $10M might not be overpaying for him. Beyond his performance on the mound, he appeared to help Peavy out tremendously this year concerning his approach and efficiency. Given all that he brings, this looks like a solid signing for the Pads. See the future Hall of Famer while you still can.
Filed under: News
Hi, and welcome to my Padres blog. Here I’ll talk about the Friars as well as other topics in baseball. This is very much a work in progress so please bear with me as I start up.