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: 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, 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: Scouting | Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chris Young, Daniel Cabrera, Derek Lowe, Doug Brocail, Greg Maddux, Heath Bell, Jake Peavy, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Clement, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Tim Stauffer
Matt Clement supposedly wants to return to the Padres, according to the Union Tribune. Clement broke in with the Pads in 1998, throwing in four games down the stretch for the National League Champions.
Looking at Clement’s year-by-year lines, the strongest constant has to be his high walk rate. In his rookie year, Clement walked 125 batters over 205 innings; his rate has declined since that point except for a blip in 2004. Matt’s hit rates have never been extremely high; thus, Matt’s WHIP and ERA have correlated pretty closely over his career. In Matt’s last 4 fully healthy seasons, he has posted an ERA right around the league average; for his career, Matt’s ERA is .17 higher than the league’s. Additionally, Matt is not particularly homer prone, with a career high of 23 in 2004. That would seem to bode well for him in Petco if recent history is any indication.
Stuff-wise, Clement isn’t going to blow anybody away, but he has a decent arsenal at his disposal. I watched a couple of his 2006 starts on MLB.TV to get a feel for his approach. His four-seam fastball clocks in around 90 MPH, and is quite straight; he does not seem to throw it that often. The sinker is probably his best pitch; it is consistently 83-85 MPH with good downward bite, a lot like Derek Lowe without the velocity. He also throws a change in the low 80′s as well as a slurve in the mid 70′s that he will use as an out pitch. The latter pitch looks somewhat like Chris Young‘s slider, although with a little flatter break. To me, it looks like Clement throws at least 60% sinkers; the trick for him is to locate it on the corners to induce swings. When Clement falls behind, he often tries too hard to get the ball in the zone, which often ends up burning him. When he can throw the sinker for strikes early in the count, Clement is able to dictate the at-bat and usually can induce a grounder or popout to get himself out of trouble. With Matt’s stuff and delivery, it doesn’t look like there’s a lot to be fixed; Clement is already a pretty polished pitcher in that regard.
As far as statistical tendencies, Clement seems to struggle mightily when he falls behind a hitter. When Clement goes 1-0 to a hitter, his WHIP jumps from his 1.40 career rate to 1.94, a jump of .54; additionally, his K/BB ratio falls below 1:1. Now, most pitchers struggle when they get behind a hitter, but Clement seems to do so even worse than some of his contemporaries. Super-stingy Greg Maddux‘s line goes from 1.14 to 1.51, .37 above his normal rate. Jake Peavy goes from 1.19 to 1.48, a .29 lift. Clement’s numbers are more in line with walkaholic Oriole Daniel Cabrera, whose WHIP jumps from 1.53 to 2.09, a .56 difference. Unfortunately, I do not have access to leaguewide numbers for these situations; anybody know where I can find that info?
Clement also has trouble early in games, much like our own Tim Stauffer. His ERA over his first 15 pitches of an appearance is 6.10, 1.63 above his career line of 4.47. No current Padre starter has a disparity that large, the closest being Young at 1.48. The aforementioned Mr. Stauffer is the only other Padre starter with a difference greater than 1, at 1.22.
In any case, those numbers could easily improve in Petco, where he can pitch more aggressively in the zone due to the big outfield swallowing many potential extra-base hits. That should knock down both his hit and walk rates, as we’ve seen with recent imports Young (WHIP dropped .12 from 2005 with Texas), Heath Bell (down .71) and Doug Brocail (down .46). As those numbers dip, so should his ERA.
One wild card is Clement’s health. Clement had surgery on his rotator cuff and labrum in September of 2006 and has not thrown in a game since June of that year. He threw a simulated game in mid-September at Fenway, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. If he’s healthy, he should put up solid, middle-of-the-rotation numbers with Petco and a solid defense behind him. If he’s not healthy, all bets are off. Thus, the Pads will need to be careful when judging how much money to throw at Clement; given the market, I would not be surprised to see the price hit $4M or $5M, depending on how many teams get involved. I think 1 year at $2M-$3M would be a reasonable risk for the Friars; anything more than that would be asking for trouble given the health risk involved.