Sometimes it’s fun to revisit places we’ve been. It’s good to see how the world has changed, how we have changed. Every so often here at Son of a Duck, we’ll grab an old Ducksnorts article out of the vault and mark it up with red pen. Enjoy!

[Original article posted 11/14/02]

Back from Vegas. Almost bailed out on my excursion to Big Bear due to rain, but figured since it was pouring all over SoCal it didn’t really matter which way I went. So I took a drive through the mountains, and I’m glad I did. Saw one of the more spectacular rainbows I’ve seen outside of Hawaii, and generally had a blast enjoying the relative space that steering clear of the interstates affords. Listened to some great tunes, too. Couple guitarists worth investigating, if you’re into that sort of thing:

Brilliant players, both. Check ‘em out.

I’d forgotten about that route to Vegas. Stupid way to go, but different. The wind on the back side of that mountain is ridiculous. I stopped up there for some reason and could barely open my car door. Beautiful country, though, and that drive down into Lucerne Valley is kind of cool if you’re into desolate landscapes, as I am.

My current preferred route runs through Yucca Valley (mandatory lunch stop at Papa’s Smokehouse), Kelso, Nipton, and Searchlight. The trip takes forever but beats I-15 every day of the week.

Also, you should listen to Kaphan and Hedges.

As for me, I’m spending way too much time with my new 4-track (yeah, I bought one; it was nice knowing the wife, LOL). But I’m also starting to think about things baseball again, which is a good sign (I’m just not capable of taking that much time off). Caught a little of the rebroadcast of the April 3 Padres/Diamondbacks game the other night. Fun to watch Brian Lawrence serve up all those worm-beaters.

I was writing a lot of songs at the time. Some weren’t horrible, though my favorite recording was an industrial version of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” that ends with the neighbors’ dogs barking.

I was also watching Padres games. Barely remember what that was like. From the description, it sounds like I enjoyed the experience.

I miss B-Law. Last time I saw him pitch was for the Salt Lake Bees at Tucson in 2011. He and Paul McAnulty were giving it one last go. It was ugly. Lawrence made one more start, at Sacramento, and then called it a career.

Meantime, over at Fanstop we’ve been discussing, among many other topics, the troublesome catching and middle infield situations for the Padres. To give you an idea of how desperate Padre fans are, there are a bunch of us hoping to land the likes of Miguel Olivo, Dan Schneider, or Javier Valentin. Not good.

This was after a year of Tom Lampkin, Wiki Gonzalez, Wil Nieves, and Javier Cardona. And although Olivo eventually came to San Diego (and fared quite well), the Padres actually managed to find worse catchers in 2003, led by Gary Bennett. Dark times, man.

As for the middle infield, at least there are some long-term options. Really the only big problem here is that some within the organization consider Deivi Cruz to be an answer to anything. But behind Cruz there are a couple of very promising former first-rounders in Khalil Greene and Jake Gautreau. There has been talk that Greene might be up with the big club by the All-Star break (which in my opinion would be a mistake; what’s the hurry?).

I miss Khalil. There was a great article on him a while back that you need to read. Rob Rains tried to track him down and couldn’t. Adam Wainwright’s quote is devastating: “He told me, ‘When I get done with baseball, you will probably never see me or hear of me again.’”

Deivi? I don’t miss him so much.

With regard to Gautreau, as those of you who have been following this site for a while know, I’m always looking to find statistical comps between prospects and current big-leaguers at a similar stage of development. Although statistical comps are by no means a panacea, they can be useful in looking at possible directions a particular player’s path might take. That said, here are some comps for Gautreau; stat lines represent how each player did in High-A ball:

Brad Fullmer 21 380 303 367 424 35 32 43
Jake Gautreau 22 371 286 358 426 31 42 86
Corey Koskie 23 338 260 338 420 32 40 76
Warren Morris 23 494 306 390 470 48 62 100

If Gautreau can develop into a Brad Fullmer or Corey Koskie type offensive player at second base, I think the Padres will be happy. Whether he does, and whether he can play the position at the highest level, remains to be seen. The downside is someone like Warren Morris or Todd Betts (a hitting machine who never quite made it; just rediscovered him the other day while going through Sickels’ 1996 book).

This is a good illustration of why “always looking to find statistical comps between prospects and current big-leaguers at a similar stage of development” isn’t the best idea. Aside from my odd obsession with comparing everyone to Fullmer, there is the simple problem that we’re all individuals, we’re all different–except for that one guy.

One other point about Gautreau’s 2002 season that bears mentioning is that he was learning to play a new (more demanding) position and he battled a severe stomach ailment toward the end of the year. Here are his splits before and after illness (thanks to Hank at Padre Prospects Report for this gem):

Before 271 83 18 1 9 27 63 .306 .368 .480
After 100 23 2 0 1 15 23 .230 .333 .280

It’s a good bet that Gautreau’s drop in power was due at least in part to his physical ailment. We’ll need to see him healthy for a full season to get a better read. How he does at Mobile will tell us a lot about him as a prospect.

That’s not a huge sample, but Gautreau’s physical ailments proved to be his undoing. The Padres traded him to Cleveland in 2005 for another first-round bust, Corey Smith. As I said at the time, “Probably much ado about nothing, but you never know.” Well, now we know.

As an aside, I confess to having a soft spot for Gautreau because he was the focus of my first blog post at Ducksnorts. Yeah, the site had been around since 1997, but the word “blog” didn’t exist back then. We had fire, possibly the wheel. Hard to remember.

Anyway, Smith hit .254/.317/.424 at Mobile in 2006 and was last seen playing for the Mexican League’s Acereros del Norte in 2012. Maybe the Indians should have taken Wainwright with the 26th pick in 2000 instead of Smith. (And maybe, just maybe, the Diamondbacks shouldn’t have forfeited the pick Atlanta actually used on Wainwright to sign Russ Springer.)

Oh look, I’ve digressed from the digression. We were talking about Gautreau. Like Smith, he never reached the big leagues, finishing his career in 2008 with the Indy league Fort Worth Cats.

But here’s a cool twist. Gautreau has been back at Tulane as a coach since 2009. He served as interim head coach last season. As a Padres fan, I wish he’d made it as a second baseman, but it’s good to see him enjoying success.

One other possibility that’s been kicked around at Fanstop is a Brett Tomko for Marcus Giles deal. With presumably one of Tom Glavine or Greg Maddux not returning to Atlanta, they’ll need another starter until some of the kids (Matt Belisle, Macay McBride, Bubba Nelson, Adam Wainwright, etc.) are ready. And the Braves don’t seem to know what to do with Giles. If they’re not going to use the guy, why not trade him for somebody they will use? FREE MARCUS GILES!!!

Tomko for Giles? I’m trying to see what was in it for the Braves. Then again, Giles was useless after age 27 (I’ve already whined about that), while Tomko kicked around the big leagues until he was 38.

Sorry, I seem to have been possessed by a member of the Roberto Petagine Fan Club there for a moment. Anyway, I’ll part by saying that although the BBWAA did a decent job this year, what the heck do those guys have against A-Rod? This is at least the second time he’s been robbed of the AL MVP. Nothing against Miguel Tejada, who is a fine ballplayer. But if he’s more deserving than A-Rod of the award, then I’m a better guitarist than Joe Satriani.

Wow, I’ve really lost my way here. We were talking about Gautreau. Then Giles. Then Petagine. And now it’s A-Rod, Tejada, and Satriani. I have no clue.

I won’t bother rehashing the stats and the arguments. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that when the BBWAA makes the right choice (or even a reasonable choice) in doling out post-season awards, it’s almost strictly a matter of coincidence. But then, I’m of the thought that if you’re going to bother giving out awards, they ought to mean something.

I dunno. Maybe it’s me…

Yeah, pretty sure it was just me. Apparently this stuff used to piss me off quite a bit. Then I decided that awards weren’t my thing and I stopped caring. That made life much easier.

This post, though. Talk about lack of focus. Sadly, I haven’t improved much since then. Oh well, maybe in another 12 years I’ll have figured it out. Or stopped caring. Either way is cool.

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