Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2012 Frick Award Fan Ballot

The Ford Frick Award is presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  This year, for the ninth consecutive year, fans have a chance to determine 3 of the 10 names that will be on the final ballot.

I did not know the fans had a voice in the nominee selection process for the Ford Frick Award.  I suspect neither did you.

From the press release:

The process will allow fans to cast votes at the Hall of Fame's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/baseballhall . . . Voting runs from September 1 through September 30, and fans can cast votes once per day through September for their favorite broadcaster.
A note on eligibility - Eligible candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous major league broadcast service with a ball club, network, or a combination of the two.

Results will be announced October 5 when the final ballot is also published.  Committee to determine the awardee includes all the living Frick Award winners, plus Bob Costas, Barry Horn (Dallas Morning News), Stan Isaacs (formerly of New York Newsday), Ted Patterson, and Curt Smith (historians).  The winner will be announced December 6 during the winter meetings.

So who's on the ballot?  Every team has 2 nominees.  The three SOCAL teams are represented by:
  • San Diego - Ted Leitner, Eduardo Ortega
  • LAA of Anaheim - Dick Enberg, Jose Mota
  • LA Dodgers - Rick Monday, Ross Porter
I've not had occasion to listen to Mr. Ortega, as he does the Spanish language broadcast of Padres games, so I'll have to defer to those who have heard him call a game.  Does Ted Leitner deserve your support?  Absolutely.  Ted's been an integral part of summer baseball in San Diego for over 30 years, but that's not why we should vote for him.  We should vote for him because he does a superb job calling a game and we enjoy listening to him.  You don't stay in one town for 30 years without connecting with your audience on a deep personal level.

If I'm allowed more than one vote per day, I'm picking Ross Porter, who called Dodger games when I was a kid.

I'll leave the Dick Enberg discussion to Avenging Jack Murphy.

The rest of the names on the ballot:
  • AZ - Greg Schulte, Daron Sutton
  • ATL - Skip Caray, Pete Van Wieren (both great choices, BTW)
  • BAL - Joe Angel, Jim Hunter
  • BOS - Joe Castiglione, Jerry Remy
  • CHN - Pat Hughes, Ron Santo (Santo is sure to get a lot of votes)
  • CHA - Ed Farmer, Ken Harrelson
  • CIN - Waite Hoyt, Joe Nuxhall
  • CLE - Mike Hegan, Herb Score
  • COL - Jack Corrigan, Wayne Hagin
  • DET - George Kell, Jim Price
  • FLA - Tommy Hutton, Rick Waltz
  • HOU - Bill Brown, Larry Dierker
  • KC - Ryan Lefebrve, Paul Splittorff
  • MIL - Merle Harmon, Bill Schroeder
  • MIN - Dick Bremer, John Gordon
  • NYM - Gary Cohen, Ralph Kiner (big fan of Kinerisms back in his WWOR days)
  • NYA - Michael Kay, John Sterling
  • OAK - Ray Fosse, Bill King
  • PHI - Richie Ashburn, Chris Wheeler
  • PIT - Steve Blass, Lanny Frattare
  • SF - Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper
  • SEA - Ron Fairly, Rick Rizzs
  • STL - Al Hrabosky, Mike Shannon (Shannon's another favorite of mine)
  • TB - Todd Kalas, Dewayne Staats
  • TEX - Mark Holtz, Eric Nadel
  • TOR - Tom Cheek, Jerry Howarth
  • WAS - Bob Carpenter, Charlie Slowes
  • AT-LARGE - Thom Brennaman, Joe Buck, Ken Coleman, Jacques Doucet, Ernie Johnson Sr, Ned Martin, Buck Martinez, Tim McCarver, Al Michaels, Joe Morgan, Amaury Pi-Gonzalez, Phil Rizzuto, John Rooney, Steve Stone, Gary Thorne
Voting starts 0700 our time 1 Sept and concludes 1400 our time 30 Sept.  Vote Early, Vote Often, VOTE FOR TED!

Press Release data forwarded courtesy San Diego Padres media relations department

Indian Summer

Last Wednesday the Padres were 10 games under .500, on their longest winning streak of the season, and making a push to get into third place. No really - we were.  Five games later the Padres have fallen back into the cellar and scored only 4 runs total.

What happened?  Looks like an Indian Summer to me.  After sending Ryan Ludwick to Pittsburgh, the Padres ripped off wins in 14 of their next 22 games, averaging 5.8 runs per game.  Yes that average is padded somewhat by 3 games in which they scored 13+ runs.  However, it was a marked upswing in offensive prowess from the season's first half, and its 15 shutouts, and its 30 other games scoring 2 runs or less.  IUn 41% of their games played through 31 July, they didn't score 3 runs.

Then, three weeks of offensive gluttony.  I briefly entertained hope they would claw their way back to .500 by the end of the season.  Heck, going into the Tim Lincecum start last Wednesday they were within 8 games of second place.

So much for that.

In hindsight I guess we should have seen this coming.  The Padres can't beat Lincecum (8-4 lifetime vs San Diego), they can't beat Clayton Kershaw (6-3 lifetime), and they don't win in Arizona (80-37 all time vs Padres in the desert).

Today Tim Stauffer, recently bitten hard by the HR bug, will take on Hiroki Kuroda.  The Padres have had success against Kuroda in LA, so perhaps their bats will awaken tonight.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Luebke 2011 vs Latos 2010

In a 2010 season full of Padres feel-good stories, the biggest was the emergence of Mat Latos.  Latos got tons of national notoriety as the face of those over-achieving Padres, and with good reason - he was flat-out filthy over the summer.

2011 has been nowhere as much fun for the Padres, but there have been feel-good stories anyway.  Jesus Guzman's resurrection.  Aaron Harang's comeback.  Cameron Maybin's maturation.  And another young arm has emerged  in the Padre rotation - Cory Luebke.  Luebke has not gotten the media attention Latos did last year, but he's been pretty darn good too.

I took a look at Luebke's starts in 2011 and compared them to what I consider as Latos' best stretch in 2010, 22 June to 27 August.  Each comprises 11 starts and 1090 pitches (actually Luebke has thrown 1092 pitches in his 11 2011 starts).  As you might expect, Latos' numbers are better, but look at how well Luebke measures up.

Latos:    70.2 IP, 79K, 21BB, 1.27 ERA, .188/.249/.270, 0.9829 WHIP, .254 BABIP
Luebke: 66.1 IP, 69K, 14BB, 2.71 ERA, .201/.248/.335, 0.9682 WHIP, .251 BABIP

So why no hosannahs for Luebke?  Likely because the Padres are currently 11 games under .500 at the moment, and Luebke spent most of the first 3 months of 2011 coming out of the bullpen.  Also, I suspect that in spite of the inroads advanced statistical metrics have made in recent years, people were/are still seduced by won/loss record.  Latos entered last September 14-5 and a dark horse Cy Young candidate.  Luebke is currently 5-6, 4-4 as a starter, and no one is talking about him as a Cy Young candidate.

He is going to be, however.

Looking for an answer to Lincecum and Cain?  You've found it in Latos and Luebke.  The Padres have two potential aces in their rotation right now, and neither is 27 yet.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Waiver Process Explained (related - Heath Bell not going anywhere)

Tuesday it was reported Heath Bell had been placed on waivers by the Padres.  Yesterday it was leaked the Giants had claimed him.  This has led to all sorts of consternation in Padre-land about why San Diego would allow Bell to join the hated Giants.  It's a tempest in a teapot.  Allow me to try and explain the waiver process post-trade deadline for you, gentle reader.

First, the trade deadline is a misnomer.  The only thing 31 July represents is the last day a team can trade a player away without having to subject him to the waiver process.  Teams do still make trades after 31 July.  It is harder to do, but it happens.  So to expect no more trades in a baseball season starting 1 August is kind of silly.

Second, it is standard practice for clubs to put their players on waivers.  In many years, WHOLE TEAMS are placed on waivers.  Does this mean a fire sale is in the offing?  No, it means the GM is keeping his options open.  He can't trade someone away unless he clears waivers.  It also gives him some intel on who is interested in guys on his roster (a tactically savvy move, in my opinion).

So Heath Bell being placed on waivers is not at all unusual.  I'll bet he was not the only Padre placed on waivers; he's perhaps the most interesting because most folks in the industry expected him to be traded away before the deadline.

Now he's on waivers.  What's that mean?  A couple of things.  Any team can put a claim in for him, but the priority of who gets the claim is in reverse order of record.  So the Houston Astros would have the highest priority if they wanted Bell, then Baltimore, then the Royals, and so on.  Only one team will be awarded the waiver claim, and if there's no deal struck, the next team in the list does not get a second chance to pick the player up.

In Bell's case, the Giants were the worst record team to make a claim on him, which is why reports have stated the Giants claimed Heath Bell on waivers.

Once a team is awarded a claim, three two things can happen.  The two teams have 48 hours to negotiate a trade.  It should be noted, if the claiming team offers a player on their 40-man roster in exchange for the claimed player THAT player has to clear waivers too (I did not know this until Jed Hoyer's interview with Darren Smith yesterday afternoon).  The team placing the player on waivers can tell the claiming team, 'He's yours.  Enjoy.'  Think Randy Myers in 1998.  Last, the team placing the player on waivers can pull him back and say, 'Nah, we've changed our mind.' Ed note:  This last course of action is no longer possible.  All players claimed on waivers remain there until the 48 hour window has closed.

Assuming the Padres would want a player on the Giants 40-man roster, that guy would either have to have already cleared waivers, or have been put on waivers at roughly the same time as Bell in order to make a trade work.  Or, the Padres would have to accept a lesser player, a low minor-leaguer, a guy not protected on the 40-man roster - and the chances of them trading Heath Bell for a low level prospect are virtually nil.

Everybody got that?  No?  Let's sum up:

- Placing players on waivers post-trade deadline is standard operating procedure in baseball;
- Claiming a player placed on waivers is no guarantee that player will join the claiming team;
- Heath Bell is not going anywhere.

Comments welcome.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thoughts on Trevor Time - Epilogue

I said Sunday night?  I guess I should have said Wednesday morning.  This is the life I lead.

Anticipating a sellout, I decided to get to Petco Park real early on Sunday.  I ended up pulling into a parking spot around 1115.  The streets were full of fans at a level I normally see 30 minutes before game time, so there's that; but I was surprised to learn later the game was not a sellout (fairly obvious from looking around during the ceremony, confirmed with the announced crowd of 40,065).

I know it's late August, and I know the Padres are 10 games under (after winning last night), and the Chargers had a pre-season game Sunday night at Dallas.  If Trevor Hoffman is really the second-most beloved Padre ever as Gaslamp Ball asserts (and I believe), one would think the game would have been a sellout.  Philosophically that fact speaks volumes about the amount of work this organization still has to do to connect with a metropolitan area of 3 million.

The ceremony started with Beautiful Day by U2.  Great choice.  Love that song, and the weather Sunday was Chamber-of-Commerce good (71 and mostly sunny).  Ted Leitner strode to the microphone as the emcee, and there was no better choice to run this ceremony.  None.  Leitner has his faults, but he is very, VERY good as a public speaker and did an outstanding job on this afternoon.

There was discussion during the game (mostly led by Leitner) about why Hoffman is 'the greatest closer in the history of major league baseball'.  It centered on the saves record.  Hoffman is the only man with 600 saves, finishing at 601.  The problem with counting statistics is they will eventually be broken. On this very day, Mariano Rivera recorded save #592, meaning he will break Hoffman's record before this season is over.  I'd rather use this one - Hoffman is the only man to save 40 games or more 9 times in his career (Rivera has done it seven times).  As opposed to a longevity stat, it's a sustained superior performance one.

The proximity of Rivera to breaking Hoffman's record likely drove doing the ceremony now vice 5 years from now when Hoffman (hopefully) is a first ballot HoF.  Don't underestimate the power of having a public ceremony where the phrase 'best of all time' can be used without argument.  Hoffman deserved to have his number retired period - the 'worlds greatest closer' is just a bonus - but there was no reason to rush to do this ceremony.  I'm certainly not saying the Padres shouldn't have retired his number this year, but I do think they wanted to honor him while he was still top dog in terms of total saves, which will not be true after the 2011 season.

Twice now this season Trevor Hoffman has come out of the bullpen to Hell's Bells - Opening Day, and Sunday.  I've gotten goosebumps watching it each time.  The stadium exploded in cheering as the music started and Trevor walked onto the field.  The Padres etched 'TREVOR TIME' on the warning track in dead center during the lead-up to this ceremony, Hoffman came out with his entire family holding hands.  Cool moment.

If Greg Hoffman says Trevor wore 51 because he couldn't have 15 (Bruce Bochy had it) when he became a Padre I believe him.  That said, Kurt Stilwell wore #15 when Trevor was traded to San Diego.  Stillwell was sent to the California Angels on 26 July.  Now Bruce Bochy was on that staff, so it may be Bochy took 15 as soon as Stillwell left the team. Here's something interesting - Baseball Reference indicates Hoffman wore 51 as a Marlin.  I wonder if Hoffy reversed his number because he shifted from shortstop to the mound.

21 August 11 will forever be known as Trevor Hoffman Day.  Wouldn't it be cool to have a day named after you?

I did hear a small 'boo' when Jeff Moorad's name was read by Leitner (thanking him for honoring Hoffman).  Understandable, but not needed on this day.  There are plenty of other forums to express dismay at the Padres $40 million dollar roster cap.

I did not know Hoffman played college ball with JT Snow.

Jerry Coleman got one of the 3 biggest ovations during the 'parade of well-wishers'.  And the Colonel can still run!  I hope I'm that agile when I'm in my 80s.  Heck I hope I'm still vertical when I'm 80.

Second of three big ovations for Steve Finley.  Finley should run a class on how to leave an organization.  I still remember the full-page ad he took out in the SDUT thanking the fans for their support when he left for Arizona following the 1998 season.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that he was one heck of a CF while here (2 Gold Gloves and an All Star appearance; he also finished in the Top 10 of 1996 MVP voting, something else I'd forgotten).  I had season tickets in 1997* and can still see him chasing fly balls down in my mind's eye.

*yeah I know - Division Champs in 1996, NL Champs in 1998, I had season tix in 1997.  My timing always sucks.

Other big cheers came in for Ryan Klesko, Rickey Henderson (and his ridiculous suit that only Rickey could pull off), and Rollie Fingers.

Love that Caminiti's wife was included, as were Mike Darr's widow and Rob Beck's widow.  One of several wet eye moments for me.

Jake Peavy on the big screen brought a surprised cheer, as did Bruce Bochy's comments, and Brian Johnson of AC/DC's tribute was all kinds of awesome.

The four already honored players (Steve Garvey, Randy Jones, Dave Winfield, and Tony Gwynn, who got the last big ovation) came in through the CF fence to the strains of music from Field of Dreams.  It got me thinking - what other franchise can say all those honored with a retired number are still alive?  Obviously I'm not including Jackie Robinson  because he never played for the Padres.  Turns out, there are several - Arizona, Milwaukee Brewers, and Montreal/Washington in the National League; and Baltimore and Toronto in the American League.

More U2 when Hoffman's #51 was unveiled, this time Pride.

Words cannot express how great that 1958 Cadillac looked in the mid-afternoon sun on Sunday.  What a beautiful car.

It's interesting how connected Hoffman and current Padres closer Heath Bell are beyond sharing the same role on the ballclub.  Bell reprises the Hell's Bells by having a bell toll at the beginning of his entrance music (which leads into a quote from the movie 300).  Both are sons of USMC veterans, Hoffman's father having fought at Iwo Jima and Bell's father having served 3 years in the Corps.

And like many others said, having a video clip of Trevor's father Ed Hoffman singing the national anthem was a fantastic personal touch.  The man could sing, too.

I attended Randy Jones' number retirement ceremony back in 1997, and Tony Gwynn's in 2001.  Of those three, this one stands out.  The San Diego Padres went out of their way to make Sunday special, and succeeded.  It was a pleasure to attend and share in the festivities with the Hoffman family.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Game Reflections - #129 vs Marlins

What a wild ending. Some thoughts while waiting for the parking lot to clear out, and the Hoffman's take pictures on the field:

- Will Venable has now hit more leadoff HR's than his dad did (3-2). It was also the first Padre leadoff HR since the last time he did it - against the Marlins.

- After Blanks' double made it 3-0 it looked like another rout was on. Except the Padres got only 3 hits over the next 7 1/3 innings. In the meantime the Marlins clawed back into it.

- Mike Stanton is the best young OF hitter in the NL East. You can keep Jason Heyward. Stanton was a half-inch lower on the barrell and a broken bat away from home runs in his first 3 at bats. His broken bat shot with one on and 2 out in the sixth drove Blanks to the wall.

- Luebke has a perfect game going until Stanton's shot in the fourth.

- Gaby Sanchez is lucky he didn't get run in the fifth. He thought the 3-1 pitch was ball four (called strike two) and took his time getting back in. Then he though the next pitch was ball four (called strike three) and left the bat where he dropped it. Some verbal jawing with Dan Bellino ensued. Lucky.

- Qualls threw an effective seventh. Gregerson's two wild pitches led to a cheap run for Florida in the eighth. No one in the building expected Cameron to turn a Heath Bell pitch around for a long HR to tie it.

- Nick Hundley. Triples machine. He missed winning it with a HR by about 3 feet. Assisting him to third was a favorable carom off the fence and away from Cameron c

- Jack McKeon's strategy after the triple was questionable at best. I understand why he did it, but consider. He walked a .227 hitter who was 0-3 (Forsythe) and a guy in Gonzalez who hadn't hit yet today, to get to Venable, wh is hot and had already homered in the game. And his best reliever (Nunez) never entered the game. Just bad strategy, and not only because Venable hit the second Mike Dunn pitch over Stanton in right to win the game.

I'm sure the Marlins won't miss San Diego. That's a season sweep and nine straight the Padres have taken from Florida.

I attended Trevor Hoffman's retirement ceremony, and will have more on that later tonight.

Padres head north to play the slumping Giants Tuesday.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Game Reflections - #127 vs Marlins

See? CLEARLY safe. (Kent C. Horner/Getty Images)
Managed to get out of the parking lot before the fireworks ended.  Victory.  Some thoughts on tonights game, composed while Larry Vannover reviews the tape and tries to justify calling LeBlanc out at home...

- It wasn't a bobblehead give away - the Padres were selling Tony Hawk dolls for $10.  Unexpected this was, and unfortunate.

- Marlins changed their lineup last minute, taking Mike Stanton out and juggling pretty much everyone else.  Apparently Stanton jammed his left big toe running into the RF scoreboard during last night's game (he was chasing a fly ball).  He went through all the pre-game stuff before being scratched.

- The Padres played 'Fight for Your Right (To Party)' by the Beastie Boys while waiting for San Diego to take the field.  They played a version that removes the 'living at home is such a drag/now your mom took away your best porno mag' lyric.  Uh, fellas?  That song is 25 years old.  EVERYONE in the ballpark has heard it by now.  Who's sensitive ears are you going to protect?

- LeBlanc was safe.

- Looked like Maybin might have been safe on his stolen base attempt in the first inning.   Florida pitched out, but it appeared he got his hand in while SS Emilio Bonifacio tagged him on the chest.  Most of the time, if the ball beats you you're out.  On that play at least 2B umpire Dan Bellino can be excused since Maybin's own body blocked him from judging when the tag was applied relative to when Maybin hit the bag.

- Kyle Blanks HR probably traveled 700' in the air.  From my vantage point it sure looked like the ball's apex was above the 'PETCO PARK' sign on top of the LF scoreboard.  What a moon shot.  393' was the official distance.  No way, man, no way.  That swing completely changed the game.

- Two times through the Marlin lineup, and Bonifacio had not swung at a pitch (seen 9, called out on strikes and walked on 4 pitches).  Alfredo Amezaga, however, the emergency LF starter due to Stanton's scratch, had swung at all 6 pitches he'd seen (4 foul, fly to CF, pop to 2B).  I thought that was quite funny.

- Pitcher Chris Volstad ripped his double up the LF/CF gap.  Mike Cameron, who's bat did indeed look slow, can still run (in fact I was surprised with how short a lead he took after singling in the fourth).  He scored without a play.

- LeBlanc is still safe.  What a ridiculous call.  He looked safe at normal speed, and was CLEARLY safe on the replay.  How can you blow that call?  It's your only job, Larry Vannover - to get the call right.  Take your time, we'll wait.  At least we now know how to wake up the Padre crowd.  They let Vannover have it the rest of that inning, and only quit really riding him after the sixth inning ended.

- Bonifacio made O-Dog dive into the dirt while completing a double play to end the sixth.  Threw it low.  In repsonse, Hudson practically undressed Home Run Ed in the eighth with a hard shot up the middle.  Yes I realize neither of these were intentional.

- The seventh inning saw something you rarely see - a pitching change in the middle of an at bat.  Jack McKeon pulled Chris Hatcher and replaced him with Ryan Webb while the count was 2-0 on Alberto Gonzalez.  In case you are wondering (and I was), had Webb walked Gonzalez that walk would have been charged to Hatcher.  Any other result was to be charged to Webb.  Gonzo reached on a FC.

- In the eighth, McKeon burned two pinch hitters on the same at bat, when Brett Hayes was announced then replaced by Dwayne Wise after Black pulled Spence in favor of Gregerson.  Hayes is the back-up catcher.  I have no idea what the Marlins would have done had John Buck then gotten hurt (the speculation was Gaby Sanchez would have caught).  It also explains why Buck was left in to run in the ninth after his leadoff walk - there was no way they could run for him.

- Blanks made a nice running catch of Sanchez' line drive leading off the fifth, and al-MOST caught Lopez's liner with two out in the seventh.  As Black said during the post-game interview, Blanks has quick feet, great hands, and is getting good jumps on balls hit his way.  All that hard work is paying off.

- Josh Spence's last 4 outings:  4 walks, 1 HBP, 1 K, 1 HR.  All of a sudden he's having trouble finding the plate.  With Joe Thatcher back on the big club, how much longer does Spence stay in San Diego?

Padres have won all 6 games against Florida this season. Nice to see us dominate someone.  I'll be at Sunday's game for the Retirement Ceremony, and am looking forward to it. I've never attended a number retiring ceremony, so I hope this lives up to expectations.

Oh, and LeBlanc is STILL safe!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hundley's Historic Day

The Padres won last night 6-1 to square the current series, and the season series, with the Mets.  By far the most interesting thing that happened during the game (other than the CH-4 audio going out for close to 2 innings) was Nick Hundley's two triples.

I mean no personal insult to the Channel 4 broadcasters.  I happen to like Mark Grant, and Dick Enberg is a legend I enjoy listening to when covering other sports.  I do think they aren't well-suited as a team to broadcast baseball.

Hundley's feat has been done only 14 other times in Padres history, the last time by Dave Roberts way back in 2005.  Nick is also the second catcher to do it.  Fred Kendall did it in 1973, getting both triples in Philadelphia off Steve Carlton of all people.  It's the first time a San Diego player has hit two triples at home since moving to Petco, and the first time it's been done in San Diego since current hitting coach Randy Ready pulled it off in August 1987, against Houston Astro Bob Knepper.  John Kruk hit cleanup for the Padres that afternoon.

The complete list is here.

Padres go for the series win this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Game Reflections - #123 vs Mets

First, thanks to all who attended Saturday's SABR meeting.  Geoff from Ducksnorts has a recap which I encourage you to read for two reasons. One, I had to leave before Jane Mitchell started her remarks due to a family committment.  Second, I cannot put a better recap together than Geoff did. 

Anyway, to tonight's game.  A marathon of a game.  Three hours and 38 minutes, 10 innings.

- There were over 200 World War II veterans in attendance tonight.  When mentioned, they got a prolonged, warm standing ovation from the 30,000 in attendance.  Opportunities to speak with the men that fought that war are rapidly becoming harder and harder to find.  Soon they will all be gone.  It was awesome to see so many of them assembled together.  I only wish I could have spent some time down there in conversation.

- Harang fought through 5+ innings but didn't really have it tonight.  Lucas Duda hit a mammoth HR to right leading off the second (435').  It was the first of 3 hit to RF during the game (Josh Thole and Will Venable hit the others).  I believe that's the first time I've seen multiple HR hit to RF in the same game at Petco.

- Pagan was probably safe on his caught stealing in the third.  Replay angles appeared to show Blanks missing the tag by a whisker.  The Padres caught another break in the seventh when Duda's clean single hit second base umpire Todd Tichenor.  There were 2 out; David Wright probably scores on the play otherwise. It's a dead ball when it hits the ump.  Duda got first; Wright stayed at second.  Willie Harris then grounded out to short to end the inning.

- Speaking of being hit, two Padres and one Met were hit by pitches tonight.  Venable was hit leading off the game on a 1-2 pitch.  Not intentional.  Forsythe was hit in the second.  Isn't there a requirement for the hitter to at least TRY to get out of the way? Looked like Forsythe stuck his elbow out and took a knuckleball off his upper arm.  Umpires very rarely do not award the base on a HBP, but I thought they should have considered it in that instance.  Later in the game Wright got plunked by Erik Hamren.

- Venable made one of the most athletic plays I've seen in a while on Wright's double in the fifth. Wright's ball sliced into the RF corner, and Venable dove but was too far away.  The ball one-hopped the wall in that corner, and Venable popped up, took one look to judge where the carom would go, and turned towards the infield.  The ball went over his head and bounced in front of him. Then, because of the spin on that ball, it kicked towards the line.  Venable barehanded it and fired it to the cutoff man, holding Justin Turner at third.  The play saved a run.  Awesome.

- Who hits after Cameron Maybin on this night?  The other team! (cheap shot, I know).  Maybin made the last out of the inning four times (first, fifth, seventh, ninth), although the line drive he hit to third to end the fifth almost took Wright with it into left field, that's how hard he hit it.

- Josh Spence walked 3 hitters last Friday and got the loss.  He walked the only two hitters he faced tonight and got the loss.  Spence has been a nice story this year, so hopefully this is a temporary hiccup for him.

- Great play by Bartlett Alberto Gonzalez to stop Scott Hairston's grounder in the tenth, but he couldn't do any more with it than he did.  Retiring Thole in the rundown was the best result based on where that ball was hit. He had no play on Pridie even if he had gotten to his feet or knees.

- On a night of milestones, Jason Isringhausen recorded his 300th career save.  Congratulations Jason.  It was nice (although bittersweet) to see him fire that great curveball of his again.  The best one he threw was to Alberto Gonzalez with the count 0-1.  As a longtime Cardinal fan, I'm glad he was able to resurrect his career for one more swan song (Izzy has a degenerative condition in his right hip).

Bud Black ran through his bullpen tonight, so Cory Luebke will be asked to pitch deep into tomorrow's game.  He can do it, let's hope he's up to it.

Finally congratulations to Jim Thome on his 600th career HR.  It did lead to one of the more moronic Tweets I've seen.  Paraphrased, it was 'Thome is the first man to hit his 599th and 600th HR in consecutive at bats!'  Really?  How shocking since only 8 of the 17000+ men to play major league baseball have ever hit 600 career HR.  Talk about meaningless trivia.

Padres look to square the series tomorrow night.  They also signed a bunch of high draft picks today (it was the deadline to do so), but you can probably read more insightful commentary on that in Tuesday's U-T.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer San Diego SABR Meeting TOMORROW

Hey Gang -

Tomorrow the San Diego SABR Chapter will be holding it's Summer meeting at the Mission Valley Branch of the San Diego Public Library.  The Library opens at 0930 and we'll start shortly after that.

On the docket for tomorrow's meeting are:

- Jane Mitchell, author of the book One on One - My Journey with Hall of Famers, Fan Favorites and Rising Stars.  Jane hosts the local television show 'One on One' which can normally be viewed on Channel 4.

- Jack Murray, official scorer for the San Diego Padres.  Jack has been scoring Padres games in an official capacity for most of the past 30 years.  Ever wanted to ask the scorer how he arrived at a particular decision on a play?  Here's your chance.

- Luke Yoder, Director of Field and Landscape Maintenance for the Padres.  No one comments when the field looks great, but everyone notices when the field has a blemsish.  Luke ensures there are no blemishes.

- John Green, who will discuss former NL pitcher Joe Oeschger.  John is a SABR member who is heavily involved in the SABR Bio Project.

The Mission Valley Library is located at 2123 Fenton Parkway.  Hope you have a chance to stop in and say hello.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Somedays Peanuts, Somedays Shells

Reason #3457 why I like baseball - it's exactly like life.  The Padres could not have looked more dominant than during their weekend dismantling of Pittsburgh, which they followed by losing 2 gut-punch games at the hands of the Mets.  You're up, then you're down.

You may have heard the stats Andy Masur put out last night in the first inning of the broadcast.  It had been 186 games since the Padres blew a 2-run lead in the ninth inning, all the way back to 2004 (I believe).  It had been 195 games since the Mets came back from a 2-run deficit in the ninth inning to win.

San Diego tried to bounce back last night, taking a 4-2 lead into the eighth, but surrendered 3 runs and lost 5-4. 

In the last 2 games they've given up 8 runs after the eighth inning started.  For the season they've allowed 61 runs total in the 8th and 9th innings.  That's 13% of the total in 2 games.  Some more numbers to chew on:

- Chad Qualls has now been charged with 11 runs in the eighth.  Five of those scored this week (45%).  Current ERA in the eighth:  7.07.  ERA in the eighth before Monday:  3.46.

- Heath Bell had allowed 11 ER in the ninth going into Monday.  His total surrendered jumped 21% with the loss.  It had been almost 2 years since he gave up 3 runs in an inning (9/11/09 vs Colorado)

- Josh Spence had walked 6 hitters total (not counting intentional walks) in 20 innings before last night.  I wonder if Bill Welke has an unusually small strike zone?  I didn't get to see Spence's inning.

Not much to do besides get up, dust off, and try to win one for Harang tonight.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday Links

Ducksnorts and Gaslamp Ball do a great job of posting links to articles.  Normally I don't do the same, but I've got two you might enjoy reading.

First Chris Jaffe has a new article on the career of Matt Stairs.  He gives highlights from Stairs' each stop along the way.  Worth the skim, especially to remember fondly last season.

Then there's this article Howard Bryant posted on ESPN discussing the recent trade deadline activity.  It's a good one as far as opinion pieces to.  He attacks the Padres, but not solely for either the Adams or Ludwick trades; he goes after the Gonzalez trade last fall.

A couple of money quotes:
"Prospects" has become baseball's euphemism for the white flag.
So as the Red Sox win, the Padres sold their fans a future that is at best cloudy and at worst illusory. Each day the Red Sox benefit from [Adrian] Gonzalez while the Padres wait for [Casey] Kelly and [Reymond] Fuentes to reach the big leagues underscores the need for San Diego's front office to have acquired big league talent that, at least, would have sent the message to fans that every year is next year.
Pretty harsh.

Jed Hoyer has been the GM here for less than two seasons, and in my opinion continues to deserve the benefit of the doubt.  He trained under Theo Epstein, one of the more successful GMs in the last decade, and assuredly has a plan to improve the franchise.  That said, it has been very difficult to watch this Padres team, a fact exacerbated by their near miss for a playoff berth last year.  Most of the veteran leadership (Jerry Hairston Jr, David Eckstein, Yorvit Torrealba, etc) was allowed to leave via free agency.  Gonzalez was traded.  A team once 9 innings away from a playoff berth was gutted.

In its place was built a team that's been shut-out 16 times, nine at home.  The pitching has been solid (starters ERA third best in the league, Relievers ERA the best) but they absolutely cannot hit.  With the season obviously lost, they traded their cleanup hitter to Pittsburgh for a PTBNL OR cash considerations, and arguably their best bullpen arm for more pitching.  The offense has gotten worse.  Since Ryan Ludwick left the team they've scored 13 runs in 4 games, with 6 of those coming in a bizarre eighth inning Sunday.

Bryant makes the argument the Padres could have kept Gonzalez for this season and at least attempted to contend.  One wonders how many of those veterans would have departed for other teams had it not been so obvious the club was going to trade their All-Star first baseman away during the off-season.  One also wonders if the 3 prospects they got back in the trade will turn out better than the two draft picks they could have gotten in next year's amateur draft if Gonzo was allowed to leave as a free agent (Gonzalez would definitely been Type A).  Time will tell I guess.

I doubt the Padres will end up in the two decade wasteland of suck the Pittsburgh Pirates are only now crawling out of.  The inescapable fact is, however, this franchise has traded away its stars far more frequently than it's acquired major-league talent to fill out its roster.  That fact transcends ownership and front office personnel.  I didn't intend this post to be all pessimistic, but if San Diego wonders why it's stadium is constantly overrun with fans from opposing teams, it's because the club has no identity, no players that fans can latch onto.

Well the club did, but those guys ended up playing in Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Toronto, Atlanta, St Louis ... or have long since retired.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Game Reflections - #112 vs Dodgers

Padres went 3-6 on this homestand.  I managed to watch two of the wins in person, and had tickets to the third win.  Now before you start thinking "Of course!  All we need to turn the season around is for Mike to attend every game!  They never lose at home when he's there!", I also had tickets for Saturday's loss but couldn't make it.

Anyway, some random thoughts about last night's game.

- Through 2 innings Tim Stauffer had thrown 20 pitches, 18 strikes/2 balls.  I can't remember seeing a guy pound the plate like that.  It wasn't a function of the strike zone, in other words, he wasn't getting generous corners or the low pitch from home plate umpire Chris Conroy.  He was on.  Stauffer didn't have a 2-ball count until Aaron Miles' at bat with two outs in the third.  He had only three 3-ball counts all night (not counting the intentional walk to Matt Kemp in the sixth); two of those were during his 7th inning jam.

Stauffer is currently the best starter on this team.  Aaron Harang's record is better, and mat Latos may have more upside, but if I need to win one game this year I'm giving Stauffer the ball.

- Cameron Maybin's went 0-for-4 last night.  His first 3 at-bats:  A slicing line drive to deep center that Kemp ran down; a line shot to third that almost took Miles' glove into left field with it, and a ball to the track in right that Andre Ethier ran down.  Jed Hoyer said recently that he watches every game because you can't tell how well a guy is hitting from the box score.  Maybin is stinging the ball right now, even if he came up empty last night.

- When did hitters start prepping the batter's box like they're lining up a 15 foot putt?  Twice hitters reached down and threw debris out of the box while setting up for their at bat (dirt clods I think).  No wonder games take so long to play now-a-days.

- Luis Martinez tripled to right last night.  That's not a misprint.  He hit the ball to the base of the wall down the RF line, and it caromed away from Ethier into the Dodger bullpen.  I initially thought Ethier played it badly, but there's no way he gets over there to cut it off.

- Orlando Hudson fell asleep at second in the seventh and it almost cost San Diego.  Tony Gwynn Jr dropped a drag bunt up first, and Hudson forgot to cover the bag.  Bartlett was also late getting to second, but with the jump Dioner Navarro got there wasn't a play there anyway.  Luckily Josh Spence shut the Dodgers down (Don Norcross has an excellent article on his outing).  Hudson then couldn't get a bunt down in the eighth.  Not a game to remember for the O-dawg.

- Bud Black played this one like it was a playoff game.  He intentionally walked Kemp in the sixth with the go-ahead run at second.  He intentionally walked Casey Blake in the seventh to load the bases.  Both gambles paid off.

- Speaking of the seventh, I cannot believe Aaron Miles didn't get run after being called out on strikes to end the inning.  It was a borderline strike, a high strike, and Spence got the call.  Miles slammed his helmet and fired the bat from 1/3 up the first base line to the on-deck circle outside the Dodger dugout.  A different umpire would have tossed him for that display.

- The home eighth ended on the unusual strike out/picked off at third double play. Navarro caught Jesus Guzman straying too far off the bag.

The Padres are off today and start a 3-game series with the suddenly slumping Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow.  Two more notes:

- Blake Tekotte was sent down to AA immediately after last night's game.  Joe Thatcher was called up and will make his 2011 debut this weekend.

- There won't be a Padres Trail Podcast tonight.  I've decided to suspend the Podcast for a while, likely through the end of the season. There are a couple of reasons for this.  The most pressing is my schedule has become even more hectic than ever, and I find myself unable to do any prep work before the show - and the show suffers as a result.  Secondary to that, I want to re-evaluate what I'm trying to do with the show and how I can improve it, and I'll need a little time to do that.

Thanks for your patience, and I expect to have a better show for you when it resumes.