Opening Night is here. The Padres host the Dodgers at 5 p.m. PT. A few items of potential interest:

  • Andrew Cashner completed six innings in 21 of his 26 starts last year. The Padres won 13 of those 21 games. They lost all five in which he failed to go six.
  • Andre Ethier and Adrián González have had the most success against Cashner, although both have done so in fewer than 15 plate appearances, so take that with large buckets of salt.
  • Dodgers starter Hyun-jin Ryu had a reverse platoon split last year (633 OPS against righties, 738 against lefties), so sitting lefties might not be the best strategy.
  • Exceptions are Seth Smith, who owns a 582 OPS in more than 400 career plate appearances against southpaws, and Alexi Amarista, who is not a big-league hitter.
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Forgive the extended absence. Between writing the Padres chapter for Baseball Prospectus 2014 and editing BP’s Futures Guide 2014, I’ve been busy.

That didn’t stop me from watching a few spring training games. I saw two in person and three or four on MLB.tv, depending on whether you count the parts where I fell asleep.

I also saw some backfield practice sessions, although not as many as I’d have liked. If you ever go to spring training, be sure to hit those and watch the prospects do drill after drill as they hone their craft. For me, the practices are better than the games.

Anyway, I took notes:

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Bigger Than the Game

By Dirk Hayhurst

Citadel, 320 pp., $14.95 paperback

The Padres drafted Dirk Hayhurst in the eighth round of the 2003 draft. He had a cup of coffee with the big club in 2008, and it didn’t go so well. The next year he fared a little better with Toronto, but that was his final stint in the big leagues.

At the ripe old age of 28, he was done. Welcome to the world of professional baseball.

Fortunately for all of us, Hayhurst had already embarked on a promising career as a writer, first penning his Non-Prospect Diary for Baseball America while he pitched at Lake Elsinore and San Antonio in the Padres system. His authenticity endeared himself to fans, even if it alienated some teammates in the process, and eventually his tales of the road turned into a book.

One book begat another. And another. And now a fourth, Bigger Than the Game (sample chapters), chronicles the year he spent rehabbing from injury with the Blue Jays in one last effort to chase his dream and find the success that had thus far eluded him. Read More…

Jedd Gyorko led the 2013 Padres with 63 RBI. That’s a sad number, and this is a sad table:

Year Player RBI
2013 Jedd Gyorko 63
2011 Ryan Ludwick 64
1969 Nate Colbert 66
1988 Tony Gwynn 70
2003 Mark Loretta 72

Excluding the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, these are the lowest totals by single-season RBI leaders in Padres history. The numbers are almost as sad as being reminded of Ludwick.

You know what else is sad? Last year, Elvis Andrus hit .271/.328/.331 (81 OPS+) for the Rangers and had 67 RBI.

You know what’s sadder? Since 2000, Julio Lugo, Deivi Cruz, Neifi Perez, Rod Barajas, Juan Uribe, Yuniesky Betancourt (three times!), Joe Randa, and both Alex Gonzalezes have had more RBI in a season than Gyorko had last year. Read More…

While I spent the off-season drinking beer in North Park, Padres GM Josh Byrnes was aggressively reshaping his team’s roster. Thanks to a depth not seen in these parts for some time, he engineered several small trades that increased the club’s talent level.

In separate deals with the Orioles, Pirates, A’s, Astros (twice), and Rays, Byrnes did this:

Out In
Matt Andriese, RHP Alex Dickerson, 1B
Anthony Bass, RHP Jesse Hahn, RHP
Brad Boxberger, RHP Ryan Jackson, SS
Brad Brach, RHP Devin Jones, RHP
Jaff Decker, OF Patrick Schuster, LHP
Logan Forsythe, 2B/3B Seth Smith, OF
Luke Gregerson, RHP Alex Torres, LHP
Jesús Guzmán, 1B
Matt Lollis, RHP
Miles Mikolas, RHP
Maxx Tissenbaum, 2B

Byrnes also signed right-handers Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit. He was a busy guy. Read More…

From the morning’s SABR meeting, Mrs. Ducksnorts and I walked a few blocks to The Mission (coincidentally the name of a favorite San Diego restaurant). Our server recommended the street tacos, and they did not disappoint. Mrs. D’s pork shoulder tacos were smoky, 55+. My skirt steak tacos were an easy 70.

After a brief rest, I bid farewell to Mrs. D and piled with my fellow conference attendees into a bus to Surprise for the Fall Stars Game. We sat just to the first-base side behind home plate. I spent the evening with my usual companions, Brian and Drew, as well as BaseballHQ writer Jock Thompson in front of me and the parents of Austin Hedges to my left. Read More…

By Lance Richardson

I was three months old when Dick Selma pitched the San Diego Padres to their first National League victory on April 8, 1969. Jerry Coleman would not join the Padre broadcasting team for another three years, and I would not become an ardent fan of baseball, and of the San Diego Padres, until four years after that.

In the ensuing decades, I conservatively estimate that I have attended, watched, or listened to four thousand major-league baseball games. The bulk of those have been Padre radio and television broadcasts involving Jerry Coleman. So I figure I’ve shared about three thousand afternoons and evenings with him.

For six months each year, for as long as I can remember, Coleman narrated spring and summer. He’d have been the voice of each fall, too, if only he and I had the fortune of attaching ourselves to a ballclub that was worth a damn.  Now that he’s gone, it’s little wonder that his passing devastates me. Read More…

The Hall of Fame faces a credibility problem. Despite an abundance of worthy candidates, voters failed to induct anyone in 2012. After welcoming players with questionable credentials (e.g., Jim Rice over several similar players; Bruce Sutter, who wasn’t that much better than John Wetteland) in recent years, they denied entry to the game’s brightest superstars, thus diminishing the impact and relevance of an institution that serves to celebrate baseball’s rich history.

Steroids played a role. Or, the writers’ response to steroids played a role. Either way, their failure to act created a backlog of players who deserve to be honored in Cooperstown. With many more added to the ballot in 2013 and a limit of 10 selections per voter, some will be denied again. Others, who merit a longer look, risk failing to reach the minimum number of votes required to stay on future ballots.

There is an irony in writers who covered baseball during the so-called Steroid Era now denying entry to stars of that era. It’s as though the cloud of suspicion that hangs over those stars never existed while they were playing. As though nobody (aside from the occasional Steve Wilstein) thought to inquire into steroid usage until well after the chemically enhanced home-run delirium that helped baseball recover from a costly mid-’90s work stoppage had subsided. Read More…

One hazard of writing for a living is that people sometimes compliment (or criticize) articles you’d forgotten you ever wrote. Once you file something, it’s onto the next project. Always looking forward, never back.

This came up at Don and Charlie’s on the first night of the SABR Arizona Fall League conference, but it also applies to baseball. The second day brought with it two games, one back at HoHoKam and another at Salt River.

Teams rested their best players in preparation for the following evening’s All-Star Game, recently rebranded as the Fall Stars Game. That’s not what I would call it (seems better to catch a rising star than a falling star), but nobody asked me. The games were uneventful, allowing me to reconnect with industry friends that I see once or twice a year if I’m lucky. Read More…

Last month I made my annual trek to the Arizona Fall League for a much-needed dose of good baseball and good friends. Each year, SABR’s Flame Delhi Chapter hosts a conference that has become a must for me.

Baseball Prospectus subscribers can read about my experience at the 2012 conference here and here. For everyone else, a quick summary: It was awesome.

This year’s event? Same story. Organizer Rodney Johnson, the Diamondbacks’ official scorer, puts on a great show. He knows everyone in town and gets many of them to participate.

Guests included legendary baseball executive and AFL founder Roland Hemond; retired big-leaguers Ron Davis, Lou Klimchock, and Ken Phelps; former Padres first-round pick Dave Hilton; and former Padres Cy Young Award winner Mark Davis.

Beyond famous people, the conference was filled with folks who can watch and talk baseball all day. It’s my kind of place.

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