It is pretty standard fare for a baseball blog to recap their teams’ first half during the All Star break, and despite not being recognized by Sports Illustrated along with the #cliqueblogs in this week’s Padres article, Padres Jagoff is soldiering on. So here we are. 13 games under .500, one of the worst hitting performance team-wide maybe in history, wasting great pitching effort after great pitching effort, firing our at the very least adequate GM, firing our longtime PA announcer for a hokey and little understood publicity stunt, etc. It is maybe the worst Padres season EVAR. But to be objective, let’s go to the tape and look at every team category:
3B: I’ve long been in favor of trading Chase Headley. I’ve put that on the record. Josh Byrnes’ biggest folly was not trading him after the 2012 season, and failure to do so will set this team back substantially. At this point, I don’t think we’re even in qualifying offer territory with him for fear of him accepting. In short, he’s sucked. He had a little bit of a “hot” streak, relatively speaking, at the end of the 1st half, but he is sitting on a putrid OPS+ of 87. I think, best case, we are looking at a B level prospect for him at the trade deadline.
SS: Everth Cabrera, what happened to our 2013 All-Star? His fielding sucks, his hitting sucks, he’s not stealing bases like last season. I’ve found it to be very selfish of him to go off the ‘roids when the team needs him on them more than ever. I think we can no longer count on him as SS of the future and need to figure out something long term. Chris Gomez lives down the street from me, I’ll try and ask him if he wants to come back.
2B: So I think Wayne Partello and Mike Dee did some market surveys and saw that San Diego fans grew frustrated never having any continuity with our “star” players. They saw a glimmer of possibility that Jedd Gyorko would fill that role and thought, hey marketing win and baseball win to sign him long term. The thing is, there was no reason to. 2B don’t drastically escalate their salaries in arbitration, and they didn’t get that huge a discount anyways. At this point, after his OPS+ of 39, he is looking at one of the worst offensive seasons in history. Sure, he had plantar fascitis. Great. That’s the thing with this team, every under-performance gets blamed on a lingering injury and never declining skills. Chase Headley swooned at the plate last year – knee injury that he “heroically” played through. Carlos Quentin – bad knee, not geriatric skills, etc. We have no choice but to just keep hoping Jedd plays through it and improves. I believe he will. With Byrnes gone, the team, if needed can send him to AAA to work on his swing. I don’t think Byrnes could have done that politically after signing him to that extension. Also we have no other options at 2B. Like none.
1B: I know everyone wants to point at Yonder Alonso’s 2013 and say, look! 105 OPS+! Above average! But he has totally blown this year. I don’t think there’s much debate that Yonder is going to be a no hit, decent fielder. Maybe Casey Kotchman if everything works out. For me, that doesn’t cut it, and 1B needs to be an area of improvement. I was a big fan of signing Mike Morse last season but think he will be overpriced this offseason, so I’m not really sure what our options are.
C: I think if there’s one thing to be happy about, it’s been the catcher position. Grandal and Rivera have been great pitch framers. Rivera is hitting better than we could have ever expected, and Grandal isn’t hitting great but is at least flashing decent power. It almost makes me think Austin Hedges is totally expendable while his value is high. I swoon for Hedges’ defense, but his hitting is not that great. I heard a comp for Hedges saying he was a Brad Ausmus in the making. That’s great, but that’s not a franchise player. Fangraphs just did their Top 50 Trade Value and the Padres had no one on it. We have no one to trade to get real value in the majors, meaning to get upgrades in other places, we need to think seriously about trading a guy like Hedges. I worry that his average at best offensive skills will take its toll on his prospect rankings and sink his trade value by next Spring Training.
OF: For the past couple years, I have repeatedly heard the phrase “Carlos Quentin is a beast when healthy”. For whatever reason, this is taken as gospel. That if we just get lucky with his health, Quentin will be great again. Here is a chart of Carlos Quentin’s health:
As you can see in this scientific diagram, “when healthy” is a status for Quentin that needs to be taken with a grain of salt. A healthy Quentin is roughly equivalent to the health of a leper. At this point, the Padres can’t even trade him. His OPS+ is 77 and he is a risk to literally have a leg fall off at any time, all while making big bucks (for the Padres). I’d be fine with the Padres DFA’ing him and running Rymer Liriano or Reymond Fuentes out there next season. As for the rest of the outfield, I have nothing to say about them. They are that vanilla. The only real plus is that Amarista has had to play infield to fill in for injuries, meaning he hasn’t been in CF much at all.
Starting Pitching: The true bright spot for this team. Son of Troy Ian Kennedy has rediscovered how to strike people out. Tyson Ross has learned how not to walk 6 people a game. Odrisamer Despaigne has made himself Padres Jagoff’s new favorite pitcher with his arsenal of tenacious junk pitches. Jesse Hahn has a curveball I’d like to get pregnant. Oddly enough, the only disappointment is Andrew Cashner, who as usual, can’t stay healthy. I know this is an unpopular opinion (like my Austin Hedges opinion), but I’d trade Cashner this offseason if you can get a good package for him. We’ve got Luebke, Erlin, Wieland, Kelly all coming back from surgery. You’ve got Wisler in AAA also. He’s sucking, but Despaigne had an ERA over 7 there and now he’s basically Randy Jones in 1976. Eric Stults is still breathing, so he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.
Relief Pitching: Another bright spot. Huston Street did well enough to net 4 good prospects from the Angels. Joaquin Benoit is doing well enough to hopefully garner a handful of other prospects. Blaine Boyer and Alex Torres have been decent out of the pen. Basically, in the grand scheme of all of the Padres suckitude, the bullpen has not contributed to the sucking. Grand words for a team this bad.
Manager: I’m of the belief that manager doesn’t do that much. Bud Black changes the lineups and all, and I guess I get annoyed when I see Amarista in CF, but it seems like he’s doing the best he can with the sack of crap that got handed to him. The players seem to like playing for him and I think that’s really all you can ask. I’ve got even money odds that he stays here next season, regardless of GM hire.
Front Office: I’ve made it no secret that I’m not a fan of this front office. I will never understand the logic that went into setting up an organizational structure where the head of baseball operations, Josh Byrnes, is reporting directly to Mike Dee, a marketing executive who was completely out of baseball for four years prior. Organizationally, a marketing guy had the last word on player personnel decisions. We saw this play out with the drafting of Manziel, which clearly, was not Josh Byrnes’ idea. Dee, being a marketing guy, is slick with his public statements, to the point where you need to really read between the lines. He’s like an attorney, carefully crafting his words to be technically truthful, but deceiving to the untrained ear. This played out with the Street statements he made to the fans on Padres Social Hour/season ticketholder telecon. Ballpark operations did a great job improving the stadium experience, at least at the start of the season. Beer was improved, food was improved, people were talking positively about the changes. And then they totally blew it with #beergate, hiking the prices of beer months ago by changing the craft beer quantity, charging the same price, and not updating the signs until a couple weeks ago. Most people, including the legal community, would consider this outright fraud. The Padres just write it off as an “honest mistake” [that netted them and their contractor DNC roughly 20% more in revenue for months of beer sales through the stealth price hike]. The elimination of free Western Metal Supply porch standing room only in favor of $40 stools was an abortion of a move from the fan’s standpoint. Wayne Partello, for a guy that was a mobile DJ only 4 years ago, has had a real upward career trajectory. Unfortunately, the initiative to fire a perfectly good PA announcer for a three ring circus of a PA internet voting promotion landed with a thud. The “cross-promotion” with FSSD pushing the thousands of dollar on-deck suite was patronizing and annoying to their fans. The National University eyesore in LF is hated by pretty much every fan. I get that they’re trying to maximize revenue generation, but at least be tasteful about it.
So that’s that. Things really can’t get any worse this season. I’m in favor of blowing 2015 up as well, running youth out there, and maybe getting a spark from high effort youthful play. We’ll see if the new GM will be allowed to do that. For now, we’ll always have beer and pals to get us through the rest of this season.