Friday, March 05, 2010

Jusssst a bit outside: the San Diego Padres preview

Duty calls to preview the MLB season. In the spirit of that, we'll have 30 bits of notes and errata very tangentially related to each team, in reverse order of PECOTA projection. At bat: the San Diego Padres.
  1. Call when you trade Adrian Gonzalez: The Padres better not drag this out longer than The Office did with Pam's pregnancy.

    Just send Gonzo and his redonk park-adjusted OPS from the hitters' graveyard that is Petco Park to some bandbox in the AL. The only reason to keep him in San Diego an entire season is to see if he can draw 162 bases on balls.

  2. What bandbox would that be? Padres GM Jed Hoyer is used to work under with Boston's Theo Epstein. Just sayin'.

  3. He is San Diego's answer to Dany Heatley, or Vince Carter: At least former Cy Young-winning ace, Jake Peavy, is playing in another league. Padres diehards are less than impressed Peavy is apparently pushing his new team, the Chicago White Sox, to trade for his former club's best player.

  4. They'll be bad for a while: A thin farm system, an ownership change and a dried-up free-agent market will do that to a franchise. They're basically the Blue Jays with a real ballpark and year-round beach weather.

  5. Ridiculous spring training optimism, thy name is: Tony Gwynn Jr., the Ben Mulroney of leadoff men (he's gone a long way on a surname and taken that as evidence of actual talent), says, "A .400 on-base percentage is my target."

    His famous father might have a better shot at doing that this season. Gwynn Jr.'s lifetime on-base is .331.

  6. Simile time: Kevin Correia being a team's best starter is like having Kevin Corrigan be the lead in a movie. Both are good in a secondary role, but can't carry the whole show.

    Correia was a nice redemption story last season after being cut adrift by San Fran.

  7. Come on, Stairsy: Canada's own Matt Stairs, still swinging at 42 years old, would be the first position player in modern baseball history to play for 12 teams if he can make San Diego's Opening Day roster.

  8. Not exactly the Miracle speech: The Wall Street Journal had an article on author David Shenk and the idea, "the new science tells us that it's equally foolish to think that mediocrity is built into most of us, or that any of us can know our true limits before we've applied enormous resources and invested vast amounts of time. Our abilities are not set in genetic stone."

    That's too complicated to work as a motivational slogan for the talent-deprived Padres. However, the article references Red Sox Hall of Famers Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams, who played for the original minor-league incarnation of the Padres.

  9. They're kind of under the radar: L.A. Lakers forward Ron Artest did a radio interview last year wearing a Padres hat. When it was pointed out, he said he didn't know there was a baseball team in San Diego.

  10. Some dead spots in the lineup, like six of them: They hit only 141 home runs last season, and 40 came from one guy. Their second-leading four-ply swatter, Kevin Kouzmanoff, was traded to Oakland.

  11. The house the Mantle rookie card built: A former Padres equipment manager named Clyde Bone is offering to trade his baseball card collection (valued at 500 grand) for a house.

  12. If you believe in luck: Rookie outfielder Aaron Cunningham (.382 on-base, .493 slugging in the minors) turns 24 on April 24, so it's his lucky year.

  13. Good thing Petco is a pitchers' park: Their starting rotation had a 4.78 ERA last season. That's like 6.00 in another park.

  14. Not up for discussion! Tony Gwynn was marginally better than Tim Raines, but got elected to the Hall of Fame with almost 98% support and the latter has needed three years just to crack the mythical 30% barrier in BBWAA balloting.

    Gwynn, the quote-unquote best hitter since Ted Williams, usually batted third, where his career OPS was. 860. Tim Raines' career OPS hitting third? .856. Almost exactly the same.

  15. Root for this guy! SD has a 20-year-old outfield prospect named Jaff Decker who on-based .442 last season in Single-A ball. His body type is described as resembling John Kruk and Matt Stairs, so there's a visual.

  16. Perish the thought: Remember the sad story of Matt Bush, the former No. 1 overall pick who bombed out spectacularly? Yeah, the Padres took him ahead of Justin Verlander, last season's AL Cy Young Award winner.

    The No. 1 pick rotated between leagues then. Verlander's Detroit Tigers should not have been picking second in 2004 after losing a league-record 119 games the previous summer. What happened might have been just, plus the Padres went for the signable guy who didn't have Darth Vader for an agent.

  17. Now it's just sad: Infielder David Eckstein was the 2006 World Series MVP just days before the Republicans got hammered in the U.S. midterm elections. Both have had similar fortunes since.

  18. Third base to outfield conversions? When will people learn? Chase Headley, one of the team's few league-average hitters, is back at his regular fielding position.

  19. Discuss: Shortstop Everth Cabrera is entertaining, if you like shortstops who call to mind the days when teams lived with erratic fielding, low stolen-base success rates and utter lack of plate discipline.

  20. One simple request: Will Ferrell's Anchorman sequel should include some reference to the Padres' 1984 pennant.

  21. Record watch: Stairs is one pinch-hit home run from tying former Jay Cliff Johnson's record of 20.

  22. Drawing a Blanc to come up with 30 things about a struggling small-market team: Left-hander Wade LeBlanc shares a birthday with Sidney Crosby, Aug. 7.

  23. Smart guy: You might have heard Dick Enberg is calling Padres games on TV. He even hired an aide to help him communicate with the Latino players. How many broadcasters do that?

  24. Only saying this once: It is officially passe for sportswriters to refer to a coach or GM who is under 40 as "Doogie Howser." That show was cancelled 15 years ago and some would say it's in use among sportswriters who have hangups about answering to someone who's younger than them.

    Hoyer, the Padres' 36-year-old GM, has the Doogie tag. It gets dragged out with the 40-year-old Ottawa Senators coach Cory Clouston.

    Granted, the latter is allowable. Cory Clouston bears more than a passing resemblance to Neil Patrick Harris, and as a hockey coach, probably has a special room just for his suits.

  25. Fun fact: Leftfielder Kyle Blanks, who is 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, is the heaviest player to ever hit an inside-the-park home run. There's no truth to the rumour the Chargers are signing him as a blocking tight end.

  26. Fun coincidence: The Jays have Buck Martinez, who once went from the broadcast booth to managing the team, back as their TV guy. Coleman did the same thing in 1980. He lasted one season.

  27. Now you know the rest of the story: Why does San Diego's NFL team consistently underwhelm in the playoffs, while its baseball team disappoints. Blame the desperation that inspired the San Diego Sockers of indoor soccer fame to make a very 1980s music video:

    Do you need a winning team for a winning town? Did they rent Edmonton's inferiority complex?

  28. Plus we all know he'll end up in Boston: It's a violation of the "renovating the restaurant you don't own, or spending the 200 million dollars you don't have" rule to suggest a trade destination for Gonzalez.

  29. PECOTA says: 73-89, fifth NL West, 654 runs scored, 738 runs allowed.

  30. In English, please: San Diego's lucky it has hot women.

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