These Are Just Random Observations

This Offense Might Stink

I try very hard not to get too swayed by early season results, and getting shutout by Clayton Kershaw, like what happened on Opening Day, is just a thing that’s supposed to happen in life. But the Padres have now been blanked four times in nine games, and they scored just once last night and five times over a three-game set with the projected cellar-dwelling Phillies—and two of those three games were started by Charlie Morton, who I proudly picked on my HACKING MASS team, and Jerad Eickhoff, who is quickly monopolizing the Google search term “Jerad.”

Of course, in between the shutouts the Padres exploded for 29 runs in two games against the Rockies, and you can’t completely discount that kind of hitting performance even though it happened in Colorado. It’s a sign, at least, that this team won’t get shutout at a 44.4 percent clip all season, which is what happened last year (I think). The bigger concern is that they haven’t scored more than four runs in any of the other seven games, and this isn’t an offense we were expecting a ton out of going into the season. Crap.

Obligatory Andy Green Complaints

It’s certainly possible that we all got a little carried away with Jabari Blash. Fun name, power potential, cool story, nice fella—it’s easy to get carried away with that kind of profile. But I really believe this dude might be somethingHe ranks second in the entire Padres organization in PECOTA-projected TAv, which I’m sure I’ve referenced in this space before.

Player Projected TAv
Matt Kemp .290
Jabari Blash .282
Wil Myers .271
Derek Norris .268
Jose Pirela .262

Thing is, you’ve got to play him to see what he can actually offer. And if the Padres thought he was good enough to take up space on the 25-man roster, it seems logical to bet that they think he’s good enough to play. So why isn’t he playing? In short, because Andy Green has shown a preference toward Jon Jay and Melvin Upton. Here’s a startling bit of information: the Padres have faced three left-handed starters this season and Blash hasn’t started against a single one of them. That’s somewhat incomprehensible.

*channeling my inner-MGL* JON JAY SHOULD NEVER START VS. LEFTIES

Seriously, though, there’s no reason why Blash shouldn’t start against pretty much any left-handed pitcher save 1998 Randy Johnson. Jay’s hit .278/.345/.350 against left handers during his career, a time period which includes all those years when he was younger and a decent hitter. I get that the Padres want to see what they have in Jay, too, and, perhaps more importantly, they want to boost his value for a deadline flip. But the best way to do that is by sitting him against lefties, and it doubles as a maneuver that would benefit the younger Blash.

Green had a weird response to the whole ordeal:

Green said rookie outfielder Jabari Blash likely wouldn’t be getting a start in Philadelphia because Blash is a right-handed hitter and the Phillies are starting four right-handed pitchers with good splits against right-handed hitters.

“I’m not quite sure on Jabari,” said Green. “His day will certainly come, but I’m not sure when. If anyone knows what it feels like to sit on the bench for a month straight it is me. Don’t get upset or read too much into Blash’s situation here.

“It kind of runs into where we are right now. Strong split right-handers in first three right-handed starters. “You don’t get to design other people’s rotations. There is a stronger desire to get your bench guys in there when they have the best chance to succeed. You have to take opportunities when they present themselves.”

I sat for (what seemed like) a month too once, back when I used to play a little—division III junior college—baseball, and I came right out in my first game off the pine with a warning-path double (against a lefty, no less). I followed that up by promptly going one for my next 10. Back to the real story.

Padres Jagoff noted in a series of tweets that Blash has actually posted solid numbers in the past against same-sided pitching. Look, if I had it my way, he’d play most every day regardless of the pitcher’s throwing hand. If you get to mid-June and he’s striking out 40 percent of the time and not hitting for much power, sure, change it up then.

In the end, it’s the acquisition of Jay that doesn’t really fit here. He’s not a guy who needs to be racking up significant plate appearances on a third- or fourth- (of fifth-) place ball club, especially when intriguing alternatives exist. There’s like a 5 or 10 percent chance Blash is Nelson Cruz—let’s scratch off the ticket.

I had a few other Green complaints*, but we’ll save them for later. This guy could be a great manager, no doubt, but there are some troubling early patterns to at least keep an eye on.

*For reference, these include playing a hitter because he had good numbers vs. a pitcher and lineup construction.

Still Diggin’ the Craig Kimbrel Trade

I watched Craig Kimbrel pitch last night for the Red Sox, and boy was he good. Same guy we saw last year—shoot, maybe even better. Craig Kimbrel At His Best, you might say, if you were writing a blog post about it. The Padres would love to have Kimbrel, just like 29 other major-league teams. Thing is, they don’t need Kimbrel.

Do you know how many save situations the Padres have had this season? That’s right, one (thought I was going to say zero, didn’t you?). They haven’t even had many high-leverage situations yet. That doesn’t mean those situations won’t materialize going forward, but either way the Padres aren’t likely a team that needs a shutdown closer. Build a good core first, add dominant reliever(s) later. You know the story.

Instead of hording Kimbrel, Preller waited . . . and waited . . . and waited, and then pulled off a great haul for his services, sending him to Boston for Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, and Carlos Asuaje. That’s a great trade, even if Kimbrel goes on to put up five straight sub-two ERA seasons—and he probably will, ya know.

Everyone loves Margot, seemingly, and Baseball Prospectus recently ranked him the 14th-best prospect in all of baseball. Then he went on to impress in spring training, and he’s currently . . . well, he’s not hitting great at El Paso, but who cares. It’s 17 plate appearances.

Even though BP scout/writer Wilson Karaman threw some cold water on him earlier this week, some like Guerra even better, and he’s the rare shortstop who’s projected to stick at the position with the glove and offer power potential with the bat. Others—like FanGraphs’ Dan Farnsworth—really like the young lefty Allen, and then there’s Asuaje, a 24-year-old with a career .808 minor-league OPS. That’s a great return for an aging (still great, though) closer on a pretty big contract, and it’s possible the payoff eventually washes away most of Preller’s early miscues.

Anything is possible, really, because it’s still only April 14th.

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  • Sac Bunt Chris

    I didn’t realize he was doing it; setting lineups based on batter/pitcher matchup numbers drives me nuts. There’s no reason to see any meaning in such the small number of plate appearances in batter/pitcher history.

    The whole point of the modernization of baseball isn’t something so simple as “Use more numbers.” Rather, it should be “Use the numbers that matter.” And batter/pitcher matchups don’t matter.

    • Is there more evidence he’s doing it by match-ups consistently? The only thing I remember is something about him not giving Norris a rest day because he loved the match-up against a certain pitcher, and Norris was like 6-10 against that guy.

      I don’t always catch the game stories, so I could be missing more Green quotes . . . either way, I hope it’s not the case!