Now that school is out for the summer, I can focus on important things like baseball. Unfortunately, with the way the year has started for the Padres, that suddenly sounds a lot less palatable than it did in April. The Pads’ 16-28 record gives them the dubious distinction of being the worst team in baseball. Were it September, I’d be a lot more disappointed. However, it is only May 18, which means there’s still a chance to dig out of this hole. Right?
Before the season, KT, DePo and the front office group figured that this team should win 90 games this year. At this point, to hit that number, the padres would have to play .627 ball the rest of the way (74-44). Is it doable? Not if the club stays on their current track. But if these guys start hitting a little, the ship could turn very quickly.
I started thinking about the Padres’ predicament in a historical context and wondered whether any team had come back to make the playoffs after such a lousy start. Looking back at the last 25 years, there have been 62 teams that have had a winning percentage of .364 or below on May 18; I understand that some teams have played more or less games than our club at this date, but this was the easiest way for me to calculate everything, and I reserve my right as a blogger to cherrypick stats for the purposes of furthering my argument.
Of the 62 teams that were as bad as the Padres, 58 finished with a record under .500 and 25 finished with a record under .400. That means that based on data from the last 25 years, the Padres have a 6.4% chance of hitting .500 by the end of the season. This is a very arbitrary way of looking at things, but I’m not looking for an accurate estimation of this team’s chances; I’m just trying to cheer myself up by looking at what past teams have done. It isn’t working.
Finally, and more to the point, has any team started as poorly as the Friars in 2008 and still made the playoffs? Yes. The 1989 Toronto Blue Jays stumbled out of the gate to a 14-25 start (.359); that team, led by 17-game winner Dave Stieb and not-yet-former Padre Fred McGriff, finished at 89-73, two games better than the second-place Orioles.
It’s happened before. These Padres don’t make me confident it can be done again. But it can be done.
I had to work and go to class this morning, so I missed the Clemens-McNamee showdown. Instead of watching this, I got to sleep through 2 hours of meetings, sleep through a class and waste an hour driving home. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like Clemens made an ass of himself, but McNamee didn’t make things all shiny and clear either. It sounds like this is going to get really ugly; we’re going to see an investigation, and someone’s getting tried for perjury. My money says it’s Clemens; he has a lot to lose by telling the truth and he’s showing a lot of the same signs of shadiness that we saw from Bonds years ago.
It’s really a shame, what with spring training starting tomorrow and everything; it’s a shame that the eyes of this sport are focused on a guy who seemingly did things the wrong way and is now getting burned for it. One of the greatest right-handers in the history of the game should have been lauded on his way out the door, but he got selfish. He couldn’t be satisfied with being great; he needed to be immortal. Now, in all likelihood, his legacy is gone, and many of the other things he holds dear (namely, his family and money) could be soon to follow. I really hope people take a lesson from this, but I doubt it; people will always look for a way to get ahead, regardless of the ethical repercussions. It’s a sad fact of human nature, and it’s why we see people like Clemens go down in a fiery tailspin.
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.
Finally, that’s all done and over with. Surprising finish, but the first 45 minutes put me to sleep. I’m bitter that Eli basically was right about not being able to win in San Diego, but that’s all of little consequence now.
Why is that? Well, it lets us focus on the most important stuff. Like the fact that pitchers and catchers report in 11 days.
Filed under: Random Crap | Tags: Baseball Reference, Gaylord Perry, Los Angeles Dodgers, Randomness, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants
Wow, it’s like I died and went to work or something.
Winter break got really crazy; I spent a lot of time working and a lot of time doing absolutely nothing. Nonetheless, I am back with more worthless commentary on the Friars.
Let’s begin 2008 with another gem from Baseball Reference’s Play Index. This tool is unbelievable if you like to fiddle around with obscure stats as I do; definitely worth $5 to try it for a month. Anywho, I was watching highlights from the Pads’ 1-0 win over LA back on June 5, not realizing that we won that game with 2 hits. I remembered at least one other game that we won with 2 hits this year, so I got to wondering: what team in the last 50 years had the most 2-hit wins in one season?
The 2007 Padres are one of three teams that have won 3 games with only 2 hits in the same season, joining the 1971 Giants and the 1965 world champion L.A. Dodgers. Kind of cool that no team outside of the NL West has ever turned the trick.
Only 24 teams over that period have won 2 games in the same season with just 2 hits. One of those teams was the 1978 edition of the Pads, led by Cy Young winner Gaylord Perry.
Not that it means anything, but I thought it was cool to think about. Good to be back.
Filed under: Random Crap | Tags: Bill Conlin, Doug Brocail, Ed Wade, Finals Week, Geoff Blum, Houston Astros, Kevin Towers, Khalil Greene, Marcus Giles, Milton Bradley, San Diego Padres
Ah, the end of the semester. The time when college students all across the country contemplate the meaning of life while destroying themselves trying to finish the race. Good times. I hereby invoke the preceding as an excuse for my lack of decent content from now to the end of the semester. So there.
Geoff Blum is out; he signed with Houston. Quick look at his numbers shows he’s not a “new-guard” kind of guy (low OBP, etc.). He stepped up big replacing Marcus Giles down the stretch and also filled the hole Khalil Greene left after his injury in 2006. That underscores what many see as a major problem with Blum: if he’s not getting a lot of at-bats, his performance tends to suffer. Bochy got him into a ton of games; Black did not, and we saw a commensurate drop in performance until he became the regular 2B. Again, this is not the most scientific analysis in the world, but I can see the line of thinking here. Not surprised to see him out, although he was one of my favorites during his time with the club. I’ll miss the person, but not necessarily the player.
Also heard today that the Broken One himself, Doug Brocail, is headed to Houston. He was one of KT’s scrap heap finds, coming back from an angioplasty and having himself a stellar 2007. Problem is, he’s pretty unlikely to repeat the performance in 2008 given his age, and even less likely playing 81 games in the Juice Box. For my $2.5M, I think there are better options, but in his 2 years here he was a great bargain find out of the pen.
On that note, what’s with Ed Wade all of a sudden scooping up all the ex-Friars? Next thing we know, Milton Bradley will be headed for Houston. Maybe this is also part of why the Pads let him go so easily; he doesn’t completely buy into the KT & DePo’s “new-guard” philosophy. Not like he was the crux of the department or something, but still…
I’m still working on the center field trade candidates, and I hope to have that up tomorrow…
Finally, an interesting conversation between a blogger and longtime Philadelphia columnist Bill Conlin regarding the NL MVP race (hat tip Friar Forecast); just goes to show the divide between the sportswriters and the bloggers is as wide as ever. As a former journalism student, I can understand it to a point, but the fact remains that a lot of bloggers have valid points and interesting insights that sportswriters do not offer. Of course, we could argue this for weeks, and no one will change anybody’s mind on it; you’re either with the bloggers or against them. Here’s hoping you’re with me on this.