I used to do this Twitter Q&A thing a few years back, so with nothing to write about last night, I decided to reboot the series. Twitter came through.
How does the 2nd/3rd base situation play out? Do we try to trade aybar? If so who would replace him?
— Kent Weaver (@weavdaddy93) July 21, 2017
With Yangervis Solarte currently out with a strained oblique, this question gets a little more complicated. Still, I have a feeling the Padres will end up sticking with Solarte even if he comes back before the deadline (the guys at Gwynntelligence felt the same way on their podcast yesterday). There are some soft factors that make a lot sense there, plus the Tigers didn’t get back a whole bunch for J.D. Martinez in a recent trade. It seems like most teams just aren’t looking to add position players at the deadline, as everyone scrambles for more arms. The Red Sox could make sense for a fit if they want to be patient with their top prospect, third baseman Rafael Devers.
If Solarte stays in San Diego, that means he’ll be getting regular reps at second. That leaves Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje to duke it out over at third, with both of them likely getting time at second and in the outfield. Ryan Schimpf lurks in El Paso as an obvious candidate for a late-season recall, but it’s not clear that the Padres are too high on him.
I’m not sure if any team would actually trade for Erick Aybar, and I write that with all due respect to the lad. He works as a fine placeholder with the Padres, but I wouldn’t mind them getting “crazy” and putting either Spangenberg or Asuaje there (they could try both, although that’d leave nobody manning third). Sometimes a guy ends up playing better there than you’d think, plus it give you an extra opportunity to get another interesting position player on the field every day. Jose Rondon could also get a look at some point, although he’s currently on the DL at Triple-A El Paso. Aybar’s 33 years old and a replacement level player; I’d like to see the Padres use the second half to audition a few other players at short.
Also, which in house replacements can we expect to see in our bullpen/rotation?
— Kent Weaver (@weavdaddy93) July 21, 2017
Thanks for the questions, Kent.
It depends, in part, on how many dudes the Padres end up dealing. There are a number of options to choose from, though. In the mildly exciting category is Michael Kelly, a 24-year-old, 6-foot-4 righty. He’s improved his strikeout percentage for three years running, and Oscar recently wrote about him in a What’s Brewing On The Farm. He might not be all that good, but he’d be interesting to watch in the big-league rotation down the stretch. Kyle Lloyd is something of option of some intrigue, too. He’s been old for his leagues since birth, but he’s striking out a batter an inning so far this year, and he recently got the call-up to El Paso. Walker Lockett (that’s Swedish for sixth starter), a potential call-up, is currently injured. Other options, for starters, include a number of up-and-down guys like Christian Friedrich and Dillon Overton, guys who don’t have much chance of being good but could soak up innings better than your average dish sponge.
There are always a bunch of relievers just hanging out, bumming cigs off each other, waiting for a chance. Carter Capps is the obvious first choice, if he can make it back to the majors healthy and with some command. Jose Valdez, who was up in San Diego earlier in the year, is another logical choice. Brad Wieck, 25, is a 6-foot-9 lefty, and he struck out 45 in 26 2/3 innings in San Antone this year. He’s struggled big time in limited action at Triple-A, but if he gets his control ironed out, he’ll be a guy to watch down this summer.
By the way, he pronounces his name Brad “Wick.” I know because I went down the Brad Wieck Youtube rabbit hole one day, and I heard the man himself say it aloud.
Wouldn't mind you discussing prospect evaluation since that was a hot topic of debate on twitter today. Ceiling vs. proximity, etc.
— Patrick Brewer (@patrickbrewer93) July 21, 2017
Marcus wrote about it really well yesterday, much of which I agree with.
Personally, I try to look at each prospect individually, and not get too caught up in the big picture questions like “upside vs. proximity” or its cousin “floor vs. ceiling.” That stuff gets subconsciously parsed, probably, as I think about a prospect. I like Joey Lucchesi, for instance, because he’s performed ridiculously well. There are caveats, of course, like his age and maybe that his stuff isn’t out-of-this-world good (it’s good, though,). So maybe Lucchesi has a lower ceiling because of those last two factors, but also a higher floor because he’s relatively polished, with some deception and an idea of what he’s doing out there.
Then again, maybe he’s a stud, or maybe he doesn’t make it out of Double-A. We probably know less about these guys than we let on, really, and I’m not talking about just us, in Padres twitter, but everyone in or on the fringes of the prospect industry. It’s just hard to predict baseball, and that’s not just a funny cliche. We can’t always say, hey, “we have no idea what we’re talking about here,” but it’s important to at least keep the sentiment in mind.
Fernando Tatis Jr., by the way, checks off all the boxes for me. He’s not a pitcher, he’s young and projectable, he’s performed well at a full-season level, he has a decent-to-good grasp on every tool, and he just looks the part. I’m confident he’ll be a good big leaguer, but to my point above, there’s also a real chance he’ll fall short. Following prospects is a lot of fun, but much of it is probably about learning to manage our expectations while also not getting too pessimistic.
How do the Padres get better than the Dodgers given that they've done the Padres exact intl strategy except with more money?
— Padres Jagoff (@PadresJagoff) July 21, 2017
The cop out, of course, is that they don’t have to be. The Dodgers can steamroll through the division most years, as long as the Padres can snag a wild card spot. I know that’s not necessarily what anyone wants to hear, but with the playoffs as something of a glorified crapshoot, it might work.
Overall, though, and more to the spirit of the question, here’s the plan.
1. Be better at finding good, young players. It’s probably close, but I’d guess the Padres have a better farm system right now. Baseball Prospectus had the Padres at no. 4 coming into the year and the Dodgers at no. 7, although Baseball America had Los Angeles higher. Different strokes, Jagoff. That’s with LA having a clear advantage in dollars and resources, although it must also be considered that the Dodgers are in win-now mode whereas the Padres have been rolling with the rebuild for a good year or two now.
Still, I put it at like a 50-50 chance that A.J. Preller will be revealed as a scouting genius within the next half decade, plus the Padres have Logan White, a couple of other former Dodgers staffers, and a strong baseball group overall. It might be difficult for the Padres to pull away here, but they’ll get the advantage of a couple more rebuild years during which the Dodgers will hopefully sacrifice many prospects to patch short-term holes.
2. Spend money. We think prospects, prospects, prospects, but I’m also looking forward to the next Padres all-in push, which hopefully comes sometime around the end of this decade. I’ve already written about Manny Machado or Bryce Harper and, sure, that’s probably a little out there. But the greater point stands: If the Padres want to really compete again, they’re eventually going to have to shell out for free agents and/or deal prospects for pricier veterans once more. The hope this time, as opposed to in 2014-2015, is that they pick the right players, and that there’s a better support system in place around them.
3. Get lucky. Clayton Kershaw has been mostly indestructible, but he’ll be 31 or 32 by the time the Padres get serious, and he’ll have a boatload of innings on his left arm. The Dodgers are still loaded with young position player talent, sure, but the pitching staff is full of older veterans, many of whom likely won’t be effective by 2019. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers won’t have prospect (or free agent) replacements lined up, but sometimes stuff goes wrong. If the Padres get good enough on their own, regardless of what the Dodgers do, there’s certainly a chance that enough things will go wrong in LA for a season or two to open up the division for the taking.
How do you think they’ll do vs. the Twins? Thinking the two games here in a couple of weeks might be interesting.
— Louise Strecker (@batpoet) July 21, 2017
It’s a long way off, so who knows, but I just checked the probable starters for the series, and guess who’s scheduled to be on the hill for the series opener? That’s right, good ol’ Bartolo Colon. Colon, now 44 years and 59 days young, posted a better than league average ERA for the first four years of his 40s, but he’s finally shown some vulnerability this year. He posted an 8.14 ERA in 63 innings for Atlanta before getting released and picked up by Minnesota three days later. His fastball speed hasn’t really dropped from 87-88, so it’ll be entertaining to see if he can revitalize his career one last time. Colon heroics are no stranger to Petco, of course.
Anyway, overall, the Twins are a fun team. Byron Buxton is currently on the DL, but he should be back in time for that series. Despite consistent struggles at the plate this year, he’s one of the best defensive center fielders in the game, and also a tremendous base runner. The bat could still come around. Miguel Sano has slowed down some after a scorching start, but he’s a hulking slugger with 23 home runs already. It’s a solid group of position players, and the pitching staff, short on depth, is anchored by Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, who looks good after a rough debut in 2016. It should be a good little series, so far as these things go, with the Twins still involved in the AL Central and wild card races. I’ll say the Padres take one of two.
Why do I hate the Padres?
— padres haiku (@padreshaiku) July 21, 2017
Why do you hate the Padres?
— Ghost of Ray Kroc (@GhostofRAK) July 21, 2017
I took like a pair of psychology classes back in college, so I’m going to safely assume that, for all of us, it involves the id seeking (and failing to find) pleasure.
How much vertical movement does an extra revolution and a half of spin on a fastball create?
— Chad (@TheChamner) July 21, 2017
Alright, Chad, I really wanted to answer this, but I saved it for last and realized that I didn’t have the steam left to give it the old college try. If you’re not familiar—though you probably are—I’d recommend checking out Alan Nathan’s website for just about anything to do with the physics of baseball. And this older article from FanGraphs has a graph that shows average vertical movement plotted against spin rate. For a four-seam fastball, it’s pretty much linear, with higher spin heaters getting more vertical movement (or, really, less drop). Finally, this article from BP’s Jeff Long shows, among other things, how many extra full rotations a high-spin fastball gets over an average spin one.
None of that fully answers your question, but I’ll file it away for the future.