We Need to Talk About Jedd

In 2010 the Padres utilized a second round pick on a shortstop out of West Virginia by the name of Jedd Gyorko. He was viewed by most throughout MLB prior to that draft to be a bit of a defensive liability at shortstop and the thought was that he’d move positions (his arm being strong enough to play anywhere on the diamond). Gyorko in 2010? He didn’t care. 

Where I play [on defense] isn’t a big concern for me. I’m just ready for this chance to live a dream and it will all work out.

As is well known to most (if not all) who are reading this right now, Gyorko shot through the minor league system, ending the 2012 season as Baseball America’s best third baseman in AAA. In 2013, in part due to injuries and necessity, Gyorko made the San Diego Padres out of Spring Training as a second baseman. It’s a position he’s yet to relinquish and was in fact rewarded with a 5 year extension early this year. If (when?) the Padres jettison Chase Headley, Gyorko will be the lone position player who can legitimately be called a homegrown (until the next homegrown player arrives). And he’s here to stay.

And he is struggling. Mightily.

At roughly a third of the way through the season, Gyorko is well below his 2013 offensive output. A slash line of .173/.218/.288 is dismal by any barometer unless you’re a pitcher. To be fair, while Gyorko had a good 2013 rookie campaign, it was still only a slash line of .249/.301/.444. However, Gyorko was propped up by leading the team in HRs and RBI despite playing in 125 games. Considering he did so as a rookie, the prevailing thought was (and continues to be) that Gyorko would only get better.

I suppose now is a good time to stop and interject some editorializing. I still think Gyorko is an excellent player and will be better than the 2013 version and far better than the present version. But the present struggles cannot be ignored.

Gyorko has had 6 multi-hit games all season while striking out on average more than once a game (53 Ks in 52 Gs).

Obviously, Gyorko is far from the only player on this team that’s struggled to hit. And there have been signs of Gyorko pulling out of his early season funk. Of those 6 multi-hit games, 3 have come in the past 9 days. His average has risen 20 points in the month of May, though still is nearly 30 points behind the Mendoza line. And this hasn’t been a case of pitchers figuring him out as they are pitching him nearly identical to how they did a season ago (per Fangraphs).

Some of this is bad luck. Gyorko has a microscopic .206 BABIP. Some of it is the contact he’s making, as his line drives are down 5% but his ground balls are up 6%. Likely not ideal for someone of his speed and probably explains the BABIP.

So what can be done? What should be done? Darren Smith earlier this week posed the question to Josh Byrnes about whether or not he’d consider sending Gyorko down.

Sometimes you do it, and you do it because a player isn’t playing as well as he can.  Sometimes it’s a mental break…I wouldn’t say no.

You’d of course need someone to replace Gyorko should that be the decision. Amarista? He’s the only player to play second this season in Gyorko’s absence. Jace Peterson has infield experience down in El Paso and could spell Gyorko. But more importantly, is sending Gyorko down really best for him and/or the Padres?

I don’t know the answer to that question. On the one hand, you don’t want to break Gyorko’s psyche if he continues to struggle at the MLB level. Then again, a demotion may be a more crushing blow to his confidence than an 0-for-4 day in San Diego.

Jedd Gyorko is still new to us in San Diego, and as such a young player it’s difficult for anyone to guess how he will respond to adversity. Then again, prior to the 2010 draft, Jerry Mahoney, Gyorko’s baseball instructor since 5 and a staff member at WVU, was not concerned about how Jedd would  handle adversity.

His ability to handle things when they aren’t going well, or things that are out of his control, is probably better than any player I have seen coming up, even back to when he was really little,” Mahoney said. “A lot of kids get discouraged if they get out, or something doesn’t work out for them. With Jedd, he just always never let it bother him and used it as motivation to get better. That’s what he’s always been about.

Gyorko has been a good hitter his entire career. It’s what made him an attractive prospect out of West Virginia. It’s what got him to Spring Training camp 3 years later. It’s what keeps him at second base in Petco Park. For Gyorko in 2014, very little has changed except the result. But that result is likely to course-correct. For now, Gyorko should stay right where he is. Let him keep swinging, the hits will come.

 

 

 

Should he stay or should he go? What would you do with Gyorko? Or do you think he’s coming out of it after this past week? Comment below or Tweet me @LeftCoastBias.

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  • Billy Lybarger

    I think going to El Paso would be good for Jedd Gyorko and the Padres. He can work out his issues, gain some confidence, and move back to 3B. Jace Peterson has been on a tear (sss alert) there and can move right into Jedd’s old spot. Of course, that move is predicating on Bud Black actually playing Jace 5 out 6 games, but I digress.
    Chase Headley will be moved soon. Jedd can go down and work on his defense at third, and tear up the PCL at the plate to return as the 3B of the future. Jace will have an opportunity to stick at second, and then the only major problem with the Padres will be first base.

    • USMC53

      Medica might prove to be the solution to the 1B problem (another sss alert).
      And I agree on Jedd. Send him down and let him sort things out in AAA.
      Mickey Mantle got sent down, figured it out, and the rest is history…

  • VM David

    As I pointed out on Twitter a few days ago, Gyorko’s making just north of 500K this season. Not that you brought it up, but his contract comes up as a knee-jerk “excuse” for why the Padres haven’t demoted him. Obviously, at 500K it shouldn’t be a deterrent.

    It seems like they’re giving him every opportunity to come out of it in SD. At this point, I think it’s time to try something different in hopes of helping him out. It’s been two months.

    • Geoff Hancock

      Completely agree, the contract should have nothing to do with it. Naive to say it doesn’t I suppose, but the best 9 players should be on the field. Not the 9 highest paid players. Though to your point, $500k is hardly a reason to not demote him.

      • VM David

        Exactly. If the Padres are worried about demoting him over $500k or his future contract value, we have much bigger problems than Jedd Gyorko.

  • Geoff Hancock

    My only concern really with sending Jedd down is that potentially could do more damage to him from a confidence level than having him work through it up here. Then again, how long can the team wait for him to pull out of it. I’m hopeful the past week+ is a sign of good things to come. It’s impossible to tell how much signing these extensions weigh on a player but considering his contact is similar to last year and pitchers are pitching him similiarly, this has to be more mental than anything.

    • If someone could be mentally broken by a demotion to the minors it’s just a matter of time before something else breaks him. I’d give Jedd another week to see if he can emerge from the funk – if not, give him a breather in El Paso.

      • And I know “a week” sounds arbitrary but I was thinking that would get him to June 1st. Then I looked at the calendar – holy crap, 6/1 is on Sunday!

      • Billy Lybarger

        He’s had 1/3 of the season. It pretty much is what it’s going to be.

      • I think back to Kouz and how horrible he was in April and May of 2007. I thought, why is Bud Black sticking with this guy?! And then Kouz turned it around come June.

        I’m a dreamer.

      • Geoff Hancock

        He’s also had 125 games in 2013. I’m more likely to believe that’s more the real Jedd and this is a (ever growing) blip.

    • I don’t think Jedd would mope if sent down. I would expect the Padres to explain to him exactly what’s going on before he flew to El Paso. Your quote talks about his mental toughness as well, so I don’t see this as an issue.

      Many years ago the Braves sent Ron Gant to AA when he was their hot rookie and struggling at the ML level. Worked out OK.

      Good post, I like the different take from what I wrote earlier his week.

  • Patience is a what again?

    From what I’ve seen of Gyorko this season his plate discipline has been atrocious. If you throw him a first pitch strike, many more times than not, he’s gonna swing and he’s going to tap a weak grounder or get under it for a high fly out, especially in pressure situations. That explains the awful BABIP, he’s not working the count or putting any pressure on the opposing pitchers. Send him down, take some pressure off and let him start seeing the ball and looking for his pitch, instead of trying to make up 100 points of BA every plate appearance.

  • giovanni bellini

    Here is the problem from my perspective as a former Big Ten secondbaseman: Gyorko has HORRIBLE range factor, makes a ton of errors and low fielding percentage and he plays next to Alonzo who handles all the balls he gets but also has a horrible range factor. So the right side of the infield is a disaster on a team that cannot score runs and therefore defense should be at an uber premium re how it is valued. Offensively, his numbers not only speak themselves but they are bordering on horrific–ie he may be a nice kid but he is a massive liability defensively and an rally killer on O. His ONLY hope to salvage his career would be a jettison of Chase to the dump and move JG to 3rd where his range won’t kill you and hope he resurrects his minor league offensive numbers. And go out and try and steal a backup 2b in a trade asap, ie Nick Franklin Seattle or just wing it and bring up Jace Peterson and put him at 2b

  • Nathan Veale

    I think we have to consider why he might be struggling. He and his wife had twins (premature) just over a month ago, and I’m not a dad but I know just having one healthy infant is incredibly draining, let alone two who may require even more constant care. While many companies now offer several weeks of paternity leave at full pay and the FMLA allows for 12 weeks at partial pay, MLB players get 3 days, and that includes the day of the birth. While I’m sure some players can put that aside and play like it isn’t happening, surely many others would struggle in the same situation.

    I’m not sure what the answer to whether or not to send him down is. Peterson is a good prospect, but there’s a decent chance he doesn’t hit much better than Gyorko, and does the team want to keep bringing him up and sending him back down? As a prospect, does he deserve better than that? Replacing Gyorko with Amarista isn’t much of an upgrade either. If the goal is strictly to get Jedd right, then there are arguments either way. If the goal is to win games now, it probably doesn’t matter whether you keep him up or bring him down.