Today’s question is a fun one:
Thanks for the question, Richie. With the caveats that a) the Padres have played only 11 games so far and b) I haven’t seen any of them, I’ll take a stab.
Myers isn’t a traditional leadoff hitter by any stretch of the imagination. He owns a career .326 OBP and hasn’t drawn a walk this year in 46 plate appearances. He did show some patience in the minors, drawing 85 walks in 2010, which is also when he stole a career-high 12 bases (in 18 attempts; again, not numbers normally associated with a leadoff hitter). Myers also owns a career .522 SLG in the minors and hit 37 homers at two levels in 2012, suggesting more of a middle-of-the-order profile.
All that being said, the early returns are promising and the Padres are winning. It will be interesting to see if pitchers eventually exploit Myers’ free-swinging ways. If they do, then maybe dropping him to a lower spot in the order makes sense. If not, his game will play anywhere in the lineup. Good hitting is good hitting.
Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- 2015 Lake Elsinore Pre-Season Preview (MadFriars) – I missed this last week on account of being lame, but you’ll want to read John Conniff’s look at the Padres’ High-A affiliate, as well as his previews of the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low-A), San Antonio Missions (Double-A), and El Paso Chihuahuas (Triple-A). Then get out there and watch some games if you can, because Minor League Baseball is the best. You can see some of the brightest prospects before they become stars, and if you’re real lucky, you can see a manager completely lose it.
- Examining Potential MLB Expansion Cities, Part 1 (Hardball Times) – Chris Mitchell wonders where MLB might expand next should it choose to do so. Part 1 sets up the framework for his discussion, while Part 2 has names of actual cities. Many of the usual suspects appear (including Portland, one of my favorite non-San Diego places in the world), although some curiosities also make the list (Riverside?). Good food for thought here.
- A Story About Baseball and a Father and Son I’ve Never Met (Baseball Prospectus) – As someone who recently lost his estranged father, I was touched by Sam Miller’s anecdote. The book inscription mentioned contains perhaps the most accurate description of baseball I have ever seen: “It is something which enraptures even as it saddens. It is something which uplifts even as it frustrates.”
- Trevor Hoffman makes dramatic speech addressed to fans to start Padres season (Gaslamp Ball) – Having a Padres legend pump up a home crowd that has been revivified thanks to A.J. Preller’s build from outside the organization approach is a savvy marketing move. Sure, it’s cheesy as hell, but who cares? Also from GLB comes news that Dick Enberg has joined Twitter. Not everyone is a fan of Enberg or of Twitter, but when he posts things like photos of his scorebook, maybe it’s time to rethink that stance.
- Nieves’ heroics key Padres’ victory (San Diego Union-Tribune) – This might end up being one 2015’s coolest stories. At age 37, some 13 years after first reaching the big leagues, Padres backup catcher Wil Nieves launched a grand slam against Jake Peavy at Petco Park. It was the first grand slam of Nieves’ career, and it came off the guy he caught in his debut just down the road at Qualcomm Stadium (Peavy notched the win in that one, with Hoffman getting the save). Not bad for a former 47th-round pick taken 1,284 slots after the more heralded Ben Davis in a miserable 1995 draft.
Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:
- Baseball teams use in-depth data to win (Democrat and Chronicle) – Sean Lahman, of Lahman’s Baseball Database fame, pens a thoughtful piece on the current state of analytics in MLB and where it is headed next. As Houston Astros front-office staffer Sig Mejdal notes, “Sabermetrics used to give teams a competitive advantage. Now it’s just table stakes.” Of particular interest is how the Pittsburgh Pirates have used statistical analysis to inform their defensive positioning, pitch selection, and more. This is a fascinating read, as Travis Sawchik’s Big Data Baseball–referenced in the article and due out in May–also promises to be.
- Pre-Season Predictions (Baseball Prospectus) – The Washington Nationals are the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series, though Jeff Long casts a vote for the Padres. Justin Upton and Matt Kemp receive minimal MVP support, while James Shields gets one third-place tally for the Cy Young award. FanGraphs has predictions as well, which you should also read.
- Most Extreme Ballparks In The Minors (Baseball America) – Two California League locales make Matt Eddy’s list. The first is High Desert, home of professional baseball’s most extreme environment. I once asked a guy who had played in the league (he posted a sub-600 OPS over parts of two seasons) what his favorite ballpark was. He said this one, because he could hit a pop fly to shortstop and it would leave the yard. The other to make Eddy’s list is Sam Lynn Ballpark in Bakersfield, which serves as an excellent example of how not to build a stadium.
- Ho-Hum, Another Preller Blockbuster (Padres Public) – Dustin gives his take on the last-minute deal that brought stud closer Craig Kimbrel to San Diego. As Dustin notes, A.J. Preller loves hard-throwing right-handed relievers. Kimbrel fits the bill and might be the best in baseball. The downside is Melvin “Kimbrel Tax” Upton Jr., who hit .198/.279/.314 over the last two seasons and is owed $46.35 million over the next three. Dustin also slings this sobering thought: “The future payroll commitments are getting a bit scary — $75 million is already locked up in the 2017 payroll, and almost all of it goes to three over-30 players and a flame-throwing closer.” Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs also weighs in on the deal, as do Baseball Prospectus ($) and Baseball America. Oh, and now the Padres have another pair of brothers.
- Matt Vasgersian talks MLB Network, Padres, and chili fries with GLB (Gaslamp Ball) – I miss Matty V.: “2004 was fun because it was the first year at Petco, but 2006 was a blast. Having veterans like Mike Piazza, Boomer Wells and Woody Williams made the team feel legit… Chris Young had an amazing year, Mike Cameron was amazing to watch, that team was a lot of fun.”
When dinosaurs ruled the Earth, I used to publish “Friday Links” at Ducksnorts. The name pretty well describes the feature, and I’ve decided to resurrect it here for the 2015 season. It’ll still run on Fridays, but there will only be five links, hence the new moniker.
That was a tedious explanation of something that shouldn’t need one. Here are more interesting things to read, in no particular order:
Prellercated (adj.) exhausted from A.J. Preller’s activity – “That Middlebrooks trade has me Prellercated. Pass the Sculpin.”
Padres GM A.J. Preller has been a busy fellow. While the Internet analyzes his trades to death (let that sink in for a moment: the baseball world is talking about the Padres), he continues to reshape this team in ways that hardly seemed possible even a few weeks ago.
The home team remained quiet throughout the Winter Meetings, and fans assumed more status quo. Then, on December 18 and 19, this happened:
|RHP R.J. Alvarez
||LHP Jose Castillo
|1B Jake Bauers
||C Tim Federowicz
|RHP Zach Eflin
||RF Matt Kemp
|LHP Max Fried
||3B Will Middlebrooks
|C/1B Yasmani Grandal
||CF Wil Myers
|RHP Jesse Hahn
||C Derek Norris
|3B Dustin Peterson
||RHP Aaron Northcraft
|UT Jace Peterson
||RHP Gerardo Reyes
|C Rene Rivera
||RHP Seth Streich
|RHP Joe Ross
||LF Justin Upton
|RHP Burch Smith
||International Bonus Slot 117
|CF Mallex Smith
|SS Trea Turner
|RHP Joe Wieland
Preller moved both of his catchers, his no. 4 starter, and a boatload of farmhands for two new catchers, three new outfielders, a third baseman, four young arms, and money from a division rival. Paradigms have shifted.
The Padres have made an uncharacteristically loud splash this holiday season. As fans complained about inactivity at the Winter Meetings here in San Diego, the team tuned out the noise and dealt Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and $31 million.
With a laughably incompetent offense and a disillusioned fan base, the Padres have decided to commit large amounts of money to name players. There’s a new GM, a new hitting coach, and a relatively new ownership group. They want to make a positive mark on the franchise and the city.
Before the trade, the Padres had been linked to many marquee hitters this offseason. They missed on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomás. Other names included Jay Bruce, Adam Jones, and Justin Upton. Some still think Upton might yet happen.
Ron Fowler, Mike Dee, and A.J. Preller had a budget and were going to use it. When Sandoval and Tomás landed elsewhere, they turned to Kemp. But was it worth the cost?
The Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual included a section called “Overlooked ex-Padres.” I’d wanted to call attention to four players–Ollie Brown, Mike Ivie, Ruppert Jones, and Bip Roberts–that maybe didn’t get their due in San Diego. The idea was noble, but the execution could have been better.
Since I’ve spent much of the offseason writing player comments for Baseball Prospectus 2015 (#ShamelessPlug), I’m in the mind-set of condensing a man’s contributions to his team into a short paragraph with snappy phrases. In that vein, I thought it might be fun to revisit those players from DS2008 and write capsules for each of their seasons with the Padres.
We’ve already covered Ollie Brown and Mike Ivie. Next up: Ruppert Jones.
Bill James summed it up best when he said that Jones “led the league in doubles while having an otherwise undistinguished year.” Longer version: Jones, acquired at the end of spring training with three others from the Yankees for Jerry Mumphrey and John Pacella, started slowly in his National League debut. The former All-Star didn’t knock his first home run until May 8 and was hitting .182/.271/.282 through his first 30 games. Then he raised his OPS by 120 points over the next month before the bright minds that run the sport decided to stop working for a while. After everyone made nice and started playing baseball again, Jones hit .286/.345/.468 for the next month before fading over the season’s final three weeks. He showed no power against southpaws (.298 SLG) and lost 70 points of batting average away from Jack Murphy Stadium. Jones is in his prime, so with a year of facing NL pitching under his belt, expect improvement.
In 1998, Greg Vaughn became the only Padres player to hit 50 home runs in a season. Six years earlier, Fred McGriff became the only one to lead the National League in homers, with 35.
The last Padres player to lead a league in home runs before McGriff? That would be Deron Johnson, who knocked 33 dingers in 1963 to pace the PCL. It was a great season for the Poway native and graduate of San Diego High School, which later produced Graig Nettles and Jacque Jones.
It was also Johnson’s only season playing for his hometown team. The next year, he hit 21 homers for the Cincinnati Reds. A year later, he led the NL with 130 RBI. He won a World Championship with the A’s in 1973 and finished his career with 245 homers. Johnson, who remained in baseball as a coach after his playing days were over, died far too soon, succumbing to lung cancer in 1992 at age 53.
Before Johnson, you have to go back to 1949, when PCL Hall of Famer Max West launched 48 bombs. West also led the PCL in 1947. And when he graduated to the NL’s Pittsburgh Pirates a year later, fellow lefty slugger Jack Graham filled the void, leading the PCL with 48 in ’48 and being named the circuit’s MVP. He would’ve hit even more if not for a horrific beaning (they didn’t wear helmets) that cost him 46 games.