According to multiple reports the Chargers will announce today they are bolting (sorry) for Los Angeles.  Dean Spanos will meet with his staff shortly, ostensibly to inform them of this decision.

It’s probably too late to start a petition to keep the team name and colors here (al la what Cleveland did when the first Browns left).  I’d absolutely support that initiative, by the way.

Dean Spanos leaving town will have a profound impact on the Padres.  I wonder how they will react today.  I hope they have thought it through and have an actionable plan in place.  They’ve had two years to prepare.  Their world is different starting at 8am this morning.

The Padres have been the second banana in San Diego for as long as Major League Baseball has been played here.  Even during their brief forays into baseball respectability, and the occasional playoff appearance, the Chargers dominated the narrative.  Now, I know using local sports talk-radio as a barometer isn’t the best idea, but for the last two years those who listen have been treated to incessant conversations about the stadium issue, new developments, theories, recriminations, speculation, and so on.  It didn’t matter how well or poorly the Padres were playing, or what stupid thing the Padres did, San Diego Charger stadium discussions dominated.  Only when a story became national news (like the medical file flapex) did some lip service get paid to the Padres and what they were doing; it was then rapidly swamped by more stadium discussion.

The Padres had the perfect cover.  Now that cover is gone.

Although the Chargers are moving barely 150 miles up the road I can’t imagine news about that football team will continue to be the top story for the local media.  All eyes should shift to the one Major-League franchise left. The Gulls will get some additional coverage, sure, but hockey is a niche sport (which is too bad, because it’s awesome).  The Padres have sucked for the past six years and only the diehard fans really complained and discussed it.  Now the casual sports fan will be paying more attention because there’s really nothing else to talk about.

Get ready, Padres.  You’re front and center on the San Diego Sports Stage.  If we ever needed our baseball team to both play well and have a realistic chance for a playoff appearance, it’s right now.

Looking for something to do next weekend? Sad we are still 3 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting? Come on down to Petco Park and talk a little baseball.

The San Diego SABR Chapter will hold their Winter Meeting this Saturday, 30 Jan 16, in the Petco Park Auditorium. The meeting will start at 0915 and run until 1 pm or so. There will be signs directing you to the appropriate entrance; anticipate it will be on the Park Avenue side of the stadium. Doors open at 0900 and will close at 0930. Admission is free for both SABR and non-SABR members.

Parking is also free if you use the Lexus Premier Lot (any non-marked stall). The Chapter has five presentations on Saturday’s agenda.

  • Norman Macht will give a short talk about Connie Mack, then take questions. Mr. Macht has written a 3-volume book on the life of the legendary A’s manager. If you own a copy of his masterwork, feel free to bring it with you for the author to sign. From a Philadelphia Inquirer review of his work: “For three decades, Macht immersed himself in the man who managed and owned the Philadelphia Athletics for a half-century. He traveled everywhere Mack had been. He found people who had played for him, worked for him, lived with him. He uncovered minutes of long-forgotten meetings and pored over team records that were discovered, a half-century after Mack’s 1965 death, in an Oakland trash bin.”
  • Carlos Bauer will give a presentation on the Bill Weiss Collection entitled, “How Good Are Minor League Statistics?” Mr. Weiss is widely acknowledged as having assembled one of the best collections of Minor League statistical archives ever, however his influence does not just extend to researchers. Mr. Bauer will discuss how Mr. Weiss changed the rigor with which statistics were compiled in both the major and minor leagues once he became a league statistician.
  • San Diego Padres Assistant General Manager Josh Stein will give a short presentation, followed by a question and answer period. Mr. Stein last met with the Chapter in 2011, and the discussion that day was quite lively and interesting.
  • Andy McCue will highlight some alternate ways of looking at Bill Veeck. Mr. Veeck at various times owned the Cleveland Indians, St Louis Browns, and Chicago White Sox. He also is credited with developing many unique marketing schemes to promote his clubs. Some didn’t work out so well (see: Disco Night at Comiskey Stadium).
  • Andy Strasberg will brief the membership on Chapter plans during All-Star Game Weekend.

Download a parking pass here.

Should you find yourself running late, please reach out via @SDSABR to let us know so we can make arrangements.

Hope to see you this Saturday.

This will have nothing to do with baseball.

A close friend of my family died Tuesday of breast cancer. She was 49. This hits home because she was my friend; she was about my age; and her youngest daughter is the same age as my oldest son. They were classmates once upon a time.

She suffered a lot the last few months, and there is a feeling of relief now because that pain is over. However, for me, there is also frustration at how the last two years went. After she was diagnosed, I learned she had been in pain for a while but just put up with it. Not days; not weeks; but months (and possibly a year or longer). Never went to the doctor to try and figure out what was going on.

By the time she did finally relent and go see someone, the cancer was Stage 4.

I truly wish things had played out differently.

For me – and I suspect, for most of you – going to the Doctor isn’t one of life’s pleasures. But it’s absolutely necessary, especially as you get older. No one is handing out medals for how long you go between Doctor’s visits, or how much pain you can tolerate. That nagging pain you can’t explain? Find out what’s causing it. We pick apart transactions and starting lineups, things we have no ability at all to influence. Turn that intellectual curiosity to yourself, and find out what’s going on with your body.

I implore you – GET YOURSELF CHECKED. Forty-nine is far, far too young to move into the next phase of life; especially thanks to breast or prostate cancer, when early diagnosis brings with it a very high survival rate.

Now there’s an empty hole where my friend should be, and in the lives of her family and her friends.

GET YOURSELF CHECKED. Watch your kids graduate from High School. Walk your daughter down the aisle.

Don’t find out you have cancer too late and spend your remaining days living with regret. Who needs that?

This post also appears at CardsConclave.

This will be brief, because I have a short attention span and there’s a blue car driving down the street.  During last night’s game the Padres provided an example suitable for framing on when not to shift.

Scenario:  Top third, 1-0 Padres, Chris Owings at second, AJ Pollock at first.  Two outs.  Tyson Ross delivers ball three to David Peralta, running the count full.  As you know, when the next pitch is delivered the runners will be going.  San Diego knows this too and plays more behind the runners than usual.  So much so, they don’t see a difference between playing BEHIND the runners, and shifting their infield defense like the BASES are EMPTY.

So Clint Barmes (SS) moves to the first base side of second, and Will Middlebrooks (3B) moves to the normal shortstop position.  And there is third base.  Just sitting there, like a box of Thin Mints – unguarded and inviting.

Owings quickly realizes he can beat Middlebrooks to third, so with Ross LOOKING at him, he takes off.  Tyson steps off the rubber and fakes a throw, which is good because the only person in position to catch it and make a play is D-Backs 3B Coach Andy Green.  Pretty sure he would not have applied a tag on Owings.

Moving your defenders around to maximize the odds of recording an out is a strategy I support and endorse.  Shifting your defense, then hanging a big neon sign over third base saying ‘Take Me! I’m Free!!’ is, shall we say, not optimal.

We need a little more situational awareness there, Padres On-Field Brain Trust.

(Sadly, no photos or video exist of this play; at least, accessible to me in a post-able format.)

It’s been tough to watch the Padres this week.  They blew a 2-0 lead against the Dodgers Sunday and lost 4-2 in extras.  Oakland pretty much ran roughshod over them.  Buddy Black was fired, Dave Roberts lost his only game as manager, Pat Murphy started 0-2.

Why is a combination of factors; not enough timely hitting (or hitting in general).  Sloppy defense.  Inconsistent starting pitching.  And an incendiary bullpen.  It seems the only reliable arm we have down there is Brandon Maurer.  At least we now know Alexi Amarista can pitch; gotta maximize roster flexibility.

The bullpen has been awful, and the most painful visual is seeing Cory Mazzoni get obliterated.  I attended the 9-1 drubbing on Monday and it was uncomfortable watching him struggle.  He couldn’t get the third out.  Wednesday he didn’t have anything, but with San Diego already down 9-2 he absorbed another beating. I’m sure this week is one he’d rather forget.

Before we give up on him entirely, it’s worth remembering he was a second round draft pick of the Mets in 2011.  The Padres got him in the Alex Torres trade.  He jumped four levels in the Mets minor league system last year.  I’m no expert by any stretch on player development, but I can’t believe there have been many players who start the season in Rookie ball and end it at Triple-A.  This year he’s been good at El Paso, posting a 1.99 ERA, allowing less than a runner an inning, and striking out 11.9 hitters per 9.

He can have a successful career at the Major League level.  It’s obvious, however, he isn’t ready for the Majors yet.

Because the bullpen has struggled, the team is swinging wild trying to find another effective reliever.  Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush, Mazzoni, and others have ridden the iron bird between El Paso and San Diego as the club tries to figure this out.  Rather than keep sending Mazzoni out there to get torched, let’s leave him in El Paso the rest of this year.  I’d rather watch Quackenbush or Vincent – guys who’ve at least proven in the past they can consistently get hitters out at this level – fight their way through an outing than witness Cory trying to figure it out at the ML level with little success.

End the madness.  Let the kid develop.  Send Mazzoni down.

Sorry – not writing auf Deutsch today.

 

I believe it’s been mentioned on Twitter that the former site of Lane Field is being redeveloped.  Lankford and Associates are leading the effort, which should culminate in 800+ additional hotel rooms downtown.  You can read more about the effort here.

But we’re baseball fans first, not members of the Chamber of Commerce, and Lane Field holds some nostalgic magic.  It’s where the PCL Padres played for 22 years, and where Ted Williams started his professional career.  Because of that, in 2003 the local SABR chapter had a marker placed commemorating the ballpark at the corner of Pacific Highway and Broadway.

With the redevelopment there was concern that the marker would be removed, lost, or buried in a location it could not be seen by the public.  Thankfully that will not the case.  After the jump, some photos of the new Lane Field memorial.

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The San Diego SABR (Ted Williams) Chapter will hold it’s Winter/Spring meeting next Saturday, 24 Jan, at the San Diego Central Library.  The discussion will start at approximately 1pm, and probably run until 4 or so.

As with all our meetings, attendance is free, and not limited to members of the Chapter.  If you are interested in attending, please come on down.  Parking at the library is pretty convenient, either underneath the building (2 hours are free with validation) or across the street in one of the public lots.

Why should you go?  Take a look at the agenda:

  • Padres Baseball Operations staff members Brian McBurney (software developer) and Wells Oliver (baseball systems architect) will talk about their position and responsibilities within the organization, as well as up-to-the-minute happenings with the team.  Given how active AJ Preller has been this off-season, theirs has not been a slow winter.
  • Padres Social Media Host and broadcaster Jesse Agler.  Jesse will cover a wide range of subjects, which should include the use of social media in baseball and significant changes to PETCO Park in advance of this season.
  • SD-UT reporter Kirk Kenney.  Kirk will talk about growing up a Padres fan, graduating from SDSU, and his career as a newspaper reporter.  His writing career began with Tony Gwynn’s last season at SDSU, and resulted in a long-term friendship.

As has become custom, we will meet in the Baseball Research Center, located on the 8th floor of the library.  Thanks for reading, and I/we hope to see you then.

Wait – he still writes here?

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBBA) was founded in 2009 with the purpose of encouraging collaboration and communication among bloggers from across baseball.  The Alliance also votes on various awards at different times in the year, including end of season awards.  

The Manager of the Year award is subjective.  Well, OK, all awards are subjective, but Manager of the Year is more so than the rest.  To determine the best pitcher in the league, look at the numbers.  Best hitter? Look at the numbers.  Best Manager?  Can’t really look at the numbers.  How much impact does the Manager have on his team’s performance?  Much more difficult to quantify.  It’s the fuzziest of the awards.

Manager of the Year tends to go to the skipper who’s team over-achieved.  Over-achieved based on what?  Usually, it’s based on the preseason expectations of the media.  No baseball team enters the season expecting to lose 100 games.  Teams do recognize if they have fewer talented players on the roster than, say, the Dodgers or Yankees, but everyone thinks starts April thinking this is THEIR YEAR.  Based on that, how does one fairly select the Manager of the Year?

You do the best you can with the experience you’ve gained.  You can’t avoid being subjective.

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As announced last week, and discussed here, the Padres are going to create a Padres Hall of Fame on the grounds of Petco Park. Aside from the lockers moving from the Western Metal Supply building down, and relocating the plaques of Hall of Fame players who spent some time in San Diego from below the batters eye, nothing has been revealed about what will be in the Padres HOF.

Naturally I have a couple of suggestions.  These are in no particular order.

Suggestion #1 – Include a chronological display of Padres history.

Start in 1969 and take it through the present.  For each season, give a brief summary of the season.  For some years it might be really short.  Maybe 1969 gets only a paragraph. In 1969 the Padres played their first season in the National League.  Dick Selma won the first ML game played in San Diego, beating Houston 2-1 on April 8, 1969.  Preston Gomez managed the team to a 52-110 record.  Chris Cannizzaro was the team’s All-Star representative. Other years, like 1978, 1984, etc, would require a substantially longer discussion to accurately record everything that happened.  But it would be a one-stop shop, if you will, of the team’s legacy that fans could take in during an afternoon visit.  And, it would be educational for the young fan trying to learn about his/her hometown team.

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As Scott accurately summarized, last night the Padres were blown out by Milwaukee 10-1.  The Padres had only one good look at that game, loading the bases in the second inning with two out and the score tied.  Sadly Will Venable reprised his first-half role instead of the Good August Venable, swinging and missing at 3 high fastballs to end the inning.

Two batters earlier, the Padres attempted to score Alexi Amarista from third on a bunt play by Eric Stults.  Amarista was ruled out during the run of play, but how the play unfolded prompted Buddy Black to discuss it with home plate umpire Paul Schrieber.  Schrieber agreed to review it.  The home manager is challenging the tag play at the plate, right?  No; it was announced as a crew chief review of rule 7.13.  I’m not an old man with an onion tied to my belt who frequently opines about how things used to better, but … things used to be better.

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