Jedd Gyorko returned from the Paternity List yesterday the proud father of twin boys. He was just in time to catch the rubber-game of an early NL West showdown with the 1st place San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, the Giants took the game 3-2, and with it the series. But Jedd Gyorko was back. No, Jedd Gyorko is back.
The West Virginian, in going 1 for 3 with zero K’s, reminded us that things can get better at the keystone position. Gyorko’s recent contract extension has given us hope that second base will become a position of stability. It hasn’t always been that way. The last six seasons have seen the Padres treat second base like membership to the U.S. House of Representatives, a two year term and then re-election time.The incumbents never did too well. Gyorko’s contract extension should put an end to that ignominious streak of 1-termers.
Even prior to 2009 and the Congressional style of filling out the position, the Padres had used a succession of 1-year players to little effect.
Second base has been a painful spot on the diamond for the Padres. Let’s take a look at the position over the years beginning with Jedd Gyorko’s slow start in 2014.
For the purposes of this exercise I looked at the first 26 games played by a Padres second baseman to begin a season. That number of games represents Jedd Gyorko’s starts in 2014 prior to last night’s return from the bliss of initiation into parenthood. I also included the player’s last season with the Padres in the case of the two-year-term representatives at 2B (Orlando Hudson and David Eckstein).
When I think of Jedd’s 2013 season I’m always in awe of this: He didn’t hit his first HR until May 1st, managed to miss a stretch of 30 games on the disabled list, and still finished with 23 HRs. Through 26 games in 2013 however, the numbers weren’t too impressive either.
So what’s going on in 2014? Maybe the distraction of impending fatherhood derailed the young slugger. Perhaps the burden of the contract extension has forced him to press. Or maybe Jedd’s just a slow starter. You know what Jedd Gyorko is not? Jedd Gyorko is not Orlando Hudson.
There is no player who better personifies the Moorad Era than the O-Dawg. Brought in to play second base under the guise of being a fun-loving, table-setting, team-guy, Hudson turned out to be nothing more than a way for Jeff Moorad to help out a former client. The Moorad Era: My buddies gettin’ paid and you fans gettin’ screwed. Would have been a great t-shirt.
Orlando Hudson did this in the first 26 games of 2012 before he received his walking papers a couple months into the season:
Hudson’s act had already worn thin by the end of 2011 after he had spent his inaugural season in Padre Blue laughing about chucking balls into the stands as well as telling fans they could cut his grass via Twitter. The fans were already against him and then the start to 2012 happened. Just brutal. Orlando Hudson’s tenure as a Padre contains value in that the Mow My Lawn meme provided levity while watching games in the terrible stretch of 2011 and 2012 when he was employed . Other than that, Orlando Hudson was a miserable place holder for . . .
David Eckstein represented the Padres at second base for 1 term (2009 and 2010) and provided fans with hustle and the thought that anything is possible in life. No seriously. David Eckstein playing professional baseball is proof that you can be a doctor one day. DOC-TOR. Go for it kids.
David Eckstein, in his final year as a Padre and in professional baseball, got off to a great start in his first 26 games of 2010:
Well it was a great start by Padres standards at second base. I mean look at that! David Eckstein walks more than he strikes out! That brings viewing pleasure on some level doesn’t it? I’m thinking you just answered my rhetorical question with a, “No!”.
Well if you’re gonna play the game that way then let me ask you this, “Wasn’t David Eckstein an absolute hoot to watch play second base in 2009 and 2010, compared to the guy who started the first 26 games there in 2008?”
Ha! I gotchya! You answered, “Yes! But only because Edgar Gonzalez was so terrible!”
But that is not the correct answer. You should have answered, “Yes! But only because Tadahito Iguchi was so terrible! Wait. Tadahito Iguchi? He played . . . what the f*ck?! Totally forgot about that. I’m numb and dead inside and that is why I forgot about Tadahito Iguchi.”
See. You need to be careful when answering my rhetorical questions. Doing so only brings harm. Like the harm that occurred during the first 26 games of 2008 when Tadahito Iguchi arrived to take over for Marcus Giles:
What’s with Padres second baseman hitting exactly 1 HR in the first month of the season?
Tadahito Iguchi arrived in San Diego and was sold to fans as a viable replacement for Marcus Giles as the Padres came off of the devastation of game 163 in 2007. Iguchi was terrible. After being terrible he went on the disabled list and missed most of June and July before returning and being terrible again. The Padres released Iguchi on September 1st, 2008 whereupon the Japanese infielder signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. He played 4 games in September and then 3 games in the 2008 playoffs. So, yeah, Tad Iguchi got a World Series ring in 2008. Of course he did. Tadahito Iguchi never played in the Major Leagues again.
We could keep going with this exercise but it’s so painful I’ll try to spare you the details and give you the short of it.
Marcus Giles got off to a nice start in 2007 but then went in the toilet and was finished as a big leaguer.
Josh Barfield had a nice season in 2006 but was deemed expendable and traded to Cleveland for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown. It turns out that Josh Barfield was nothing but fool’s gold, his career ending in 2009 before he had even accrued 162 games as an Indian.
To truly experience any level of comfort at second base Padres fans must go back to Mark Loretta.
Ahhh, Mark Loretta. It feels good saying it, doesn’t it? That was a rhetorical question and I told you about rhetorical questions: Answering them only brings pain. Mark Loretta was traded a couple years too early, for Doug Mirabelli nonetheless. Doug. Freaking. Mirabelli.
Feels good, doesn’t it? Watch yourself, reader. Watch yourself.
History lessons always bring us back to the present for somber reflection. We’ve had a rough go of it at the keystone position but things are different now. It’s 2014 and Jedd Gyorko is the Padres’ second baseman for the long term. He’s young, the father of newborn twin boys, and he’s never told us to go mow his lawn.
There’s hope for us yet.
I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired by yellow, mushy, replacement ligaments. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com