Here’s some stuff I read this week that you might enjoy:

  • Contact Quality: Excessive Ground-Ball Pullers, 2014 NL (FanGraphs) – This one from Tony Blengino is a little old, but Matt Kemp shows up on the list, which probably helps explain why Kemp, Yangervis Solarte, and Cory Spangenberg all have nearly identical batting lines. Speaking of Blengino, he recently discussed the “most authoritative hitters” of all-time. One such hitter, not surprisingly, is San Diego’s own Ted Williams.
  • The Ironic Jersey Omnibus Lives (Hardball Times) – Patrick Dubuque’s long-running NotGraphs series has found a new home. This installment includes the Padres (yay!) and Giants (boo!). Dubuque was kind enough to ask for my input, which I gladly provided. Nate Colbert makes an appearance, as do Enzo Hernandez and eight other players. Fun stuff.
  • Anatomy of a Murder: The Federal League and the Courts (Our Game) – In the department of super-long reads, this is the first part of an article written by Gary Hailey in the mid-’80s for SABR and reproduced now by John Thorn. To blatantly name drop, Hailey and I played in a Scoresheet league together for many years. He’s an interesting guy and an excellent writer, and you should read this. See also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
  • On Derek Norris’ Surprising Strength (Padres Public) – Dustin observes that the Padres catcher is much harder to run on than he used to be. Note that this does not hold true when the Tyson Ross Track Meet™ is in effect.
  • Inside a Beanball War: How One Play Turned into Three Days of Royals, A’s Rage (Bleacher Report) – Scott Miller does some nice investigative reporting on a series of brawls that took place earlier this season. Miller digs into the psychology behind such incidents and highlights some famous wars of the past, including the Carlos Quentin/Zack Greinke affair of 2013 and the Padres/Braves ugliness of 1984.

Just when I thought it was safe to settle in for a little Sunday Night Baseball action, A.J. Preller struck again, pulling off the sort of Opening Day/Night blockbuster far more likely to show up in your fantasy league than the majors.

This time Preller and the Padres sent OF Cameron Maybin, “OF” Carlos Quentin, RHP Matt Wisler, OF Jordan Paroubeck, and the 41st pick in the 2015 draft to the Braves for RHP Craig Kimbrel and OF Melvin Upton Jr. Here are some thoughts on this fascinating head-scratcher/headache-inducer.

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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?

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Crowdsourcing is the latest fad in seemingly every endeavor.  From Kickstarter to Storify, it seems gathering money or ideas from others and using it for your own benefit has become commonplace.

I’m not immune.  Occasionally I use it to figure out topics to write about that you people would like to read.  This is one of those occasions.  That I chose something to write about, not necessarily that you would like to read.

In Episode 13 of the Padres And Pints podcast, Rick revealed he was drinking not the standard beer, but rather Cran-Grape juice.  This caused a certain degree of ridicule from me some.  So, of course, when I decided to take suggestions for topics, Rick decided to get back at me us a little bit.

Here’s the thing:  I have little to no shame.  And I’m a little desperate to write about something Padres-related.  Challenge accepted.

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There are two things you can do when you write a silly bold predictions piece, like the one I did just prior to the 2014 season: (1) try to forget about it and hope others do the same or (2) revisit it after the season and examine just how crazy you are. I’ve chosen option No. 2.

The Padres will win 77 games and finish tied for third-place in the NL West (with the Diamondbacks)

Oh, hey, that’s a surprisingly nice start. This prediction wasn’t so much bold in the traditional sense; any reasonable win total projection for the Padres in the offseason likely fell somewhere between 75 and 85 wins. (And, heck, they had won 76 games two years running). It was only bold in the specificity, and if you ignore the little part about tying the D’backs for third-place in the division, we nailed it right on the number.

Things I missed:

  • The collapses of Jedd Gyorko (more on him later), Everth Cabrera (him too), and Cameron Maybin at the plate. In fairness, this was pretty tough to catch, but perhaps the inconsistency of Cabrera, the fragility of Maybin, and the likely regression of Gyorko should have been clues that there were major flaws with this “intriguing collection of up-the-middle talent.” There’s still plenty of intrigue here, but Cabrera and Maybin are pushing the limits with which they can be relied upon to contribute positively to next year’s team.
  • Tyson Ross‘ breakout. I pegged Andrew Cashner as the Padres pitcher with the greatest chance of turning into a staff ace (and that still might be true … if he can ever stay healthy), but it was Ross who emerged in 2014 as something more than mid-rotation filler. Ross does almost everything well as a pitcher, racking up strikeouts, keeping the walks in check, and getting a healthy dose of ground balls (which, subsequently, limits his home runs allowed). Big things might be on the horizon for the young(ish) right hander if the late-season shutdown wasn’t anything more than a precautionary measure.
  • Seth Smith‘s breakout. Smith had only cracked an .800 OPS twice in five seasons in Colorado, and he did it in 2014, despite moving from the league’s hitter-friendliest park to its most pitcher-friendly dwelling. His 133 wRC+ ranked 26th in all of baseball and he also destroyed his previous career best in walk-to-strikeout ratio and pitched in with adequate defensive numbers in the outfield. Smith’s second-half .243/.340/.346 line might suggest a more pedestrian 2015 season is oncoming — and I wasn’t a big fan of his mid-season extension, anyway —  but two years and $13 million could still prove a bargain.

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There’s about a month and a half remaining in the 2014 Padres’ season.  Barring a miracle of biblical proportions, the Friars will not be playing in the postseason.  Sorry, folks.  It has to be said.  But I think you all know that.  Well, most of you do anyway.

New GM A.J. Preller has some interesting decisions to make on players in the offseason.  Do the Padres stand pat and keep them or does Preller clean house and start anew?  Will ownership give him the resources (money) to go out and replace players on the roster with better ones?  Or do the Padres have replacements waiting in the wings already?

I came up with a short list of position players I think the Padres should just show the door and go in a different direction.  I think you’ll agree with me on most of them.  As far as replacements, I have to just assume the Padres are going with in-house candidates, as the upcoming free agent market is looking rather sparse.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after spending an evening in the pub.  So here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were drinking.

The Padres (41-52) defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers (52-43) 6-3 last night at Dodger Stadium.  Jesse Hahn (5-2, 2.21) and his curveball confused and confounded the Dodgers batters.  Over six innings, Hahn gave up just one run on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts.  The Dodgers’ Dan Haren (8-6, 4.23) surrendered four runs on six hits and two walk with five strikeouts in just four innings.

Alexi Amarista opened up the Padres scoring with a two-run home run in the second.  Chase Headley added a run with an RBI double in the fifth to score Seth Smith, followed up by another RBI double from Carlos Quentin to score Headley.  Quentin added two more RBI in the sixth inning with a bases loaded single to score Will Venable and Smith.

Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 24th save on the season.

Tonight at Dodger Stadium the Friars send Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.71) to the mound to face the dreaded TBD* at 7:10 pm PDT.

*It’s going to be Paul Maholm (1-4, 5.18.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after spending an an evening in the pub.  So here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were drinking.

The Padres (40-49) took the first game of their three-game series from the Colorado Rockies (37-53) in Coors Field last night by a score of 6-1.  Ian Kennedy (7-9, 3.71) earned the win, pitching seven innings while only surrendering the one Rockies’ run on four hits — one of which was a solo home run by Drew Stubbs for Colorado’s only run — and two walks with nine strikeouts.  Colorado starter Tyler Matzek (1-3, 4.79) got dinged with the loss after giving up five earned runs in his six innings on eight hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

Tommy Medica, Rene Rivera, and Cameron Maybin all hit a double in the sixth inning to score two runs.  And Chase Headley hit a two-RBI triple off of the right field wall in the seventh to score Kennedy and Chris Denorfia.  Carlos Quentin then scored Headley with a sac fly to finish up the Padres scoring.

The game was delayed after the seventh inning for 56 minutes thanks to a thunder storm that brought hail, rain, and lightning to the Denver area.

Tonight in Denver the Padres take on the Rockies in the second game of the three-game series at Coors Field.  The Friars’ 2014 All-Star representative (or not) Tyson Ross (7-8, 2.93) takes on Franklin Morales (4-4, 5.51) at 5:40 pm PDT.

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Sometimes things get a little fuzzy after spending an evening in the pub.  So here’s a friendly reminder of what you might have missed while you were drinking.

The Padres (37-47) pummeled the Cincinnati Reds (43-40) by a score of 8-2 last night.  Carlos Quentin made up for a baserunning gaffe in the first inning by crushing his fourth homer in the seventh inning.

Ian Kennedy (6-9, 3.87) pitched six innings for the win, giving up just one run on seven hits and a walk with five strikeouts.  Reds’ starter Mike Leake (6-7, 3.47) took the loss after surrendering three runs in 5 2/3 innings on eleven hits and no walks with four strikeouts.

On top of Quentin’s 2-run blast to left field, the Padres’ Seth Smith led off the game with a solo home run to right field and was a triple short of the cycle, drawing a walk in his final plate appearance in the eighth inning.  Kennedy, Chase Headley, and Cameron Maybin all added RBI to the final score.

The game ended on a replay challenge, of all things.  With bases loaded, Headley threw to Irving Falu at second base to get the force out of Todd Frazier.  After Frazier was initially called safe, the replay official reversed the call, ending the game.  So, that happened.

This afternoon the Padres wrap up the series with the Reds.  Tyson Ross (6-8, 3.18) takes the mound versus Johnny Cueto (8-5, 1.88) at 12:40 pm PDT.

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