At the Pub, you might sit down and be unable to decide on a pint to drink, or want to try a variety of beers without committing to any of them. You’ll order a sampler, 4 beers served in smaller portions. This is that, in blog form.

Leave The Dong, Take The Cannoli

The San Diego Padres are bad, as expected, and currently hold the worst record in all of Major League Baseball. The Padres have a bad offense, as could have also been expected due to a lineup filled with mostly young players and castoffs, and currently rank 28th in wRC+, 28th in wOBA, and 30th in offensive fWAR, at -0.2, meaning the Padres offense, as a whole, is below replacement level. The Padres, however, are decidedly un-bad at one thing: mashing taters.

The Padres rank tied for 5th in MLB at crushing dongs, having hit 51 home runs through 39 games. That’s 1.3 per game. They are currently on pace for over 200 big flies this season, which would smash the previous team record of 172, set all the way back in 1970, the team’s 2nd year in the league. Wil Myers has 10 blasts. Ryan Schimpf has 9 dingers. Austin Hedges, surprisingly, has 8 very handsome round-trippers. Erick Aybar, the new Alexi Amarista, has 4, and rule 5 hanger-on Allen Cordoba (more on him later) has 3, which must have been particularly soul-crushing for the opposing pitchers. Among those listed, only Myers, the star, and Cordoba, in very limited exposure, have been above-average offensive players.

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Hey, here’s the thing: Nobody really knows nothin’ about these kids.

I don’t mean that literally, of course. There are really, really smart people at places like Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB (et. cetera) who know a ton about these guys—they know home-to-first times and statistics and what the scouts are saying and how many pets each player has had. What they don’t know—and, really, what they can’t know—is how these players are going to develop. Are they going to stay healthy? Are they going to find that third pitch or that perfect swing? Are they going to be the low-ceiling pitcher who turns into Jake Arrieta or the fringy bat who becomes Paul Goldschmidt? Are they going to get sidetracked with fame and money?

Go back to the 2009 draft (or any draft). The Nationals took Stephen Strasburg first overall that year, which was, at the time, a super-obvious pick. And what a pick it was! Strasburg’s been worth 17 WAR, he’s currently one of the best pitchers in the game, and he recently signed a relatively team-friendly contract extension. Whew . . . great pick!

Except it was a terrible pick, because a player named Mike Trout was available. In fact, Trout was available when the Padres took Donavan Tate third overall and when the Orioles took Matt Hobgood fifth overall and when the A’s took Grant Green 13th overall and when the Diamondbacks took Bobby Borchering 16th overall and . . . [insert any team and any pick before No. 25 here]. That year Baseball America’s scouting report compared Trout to Aaron Rowand while mentioning that his bat was “not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power.” Mike Trout was once just another guy.

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

  • Removing the Fangs From Ty Cobb’s Notoriety (New York Times) – There’s a new book out about Cobb, and what author Charles Leerhsen discovered after four years of researching his subject surprised even him: “I thought I’d find new examples of monstrous monstrosity. Instead, I found a very different person than the myth. I was a little disappointed at first. He’s more normal than I thought.” Sounds like a great read, as is Cobb’s SABR biography.
  • The Braves are Salvaging a Salary Dump (FanGraphs) – As Jeff Sullivan notes, former Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin has stopped hitting so many groundballs in Atlanta. That and health are turning him into the player folks once envisioned him becoming. For now, anyway. [h/t reader Didi]
  • Attendance Update and the Angels’ Latest PR Mess (FanGraphs) – Through June 4, the Padres ranked 12th out of 30, just ahead of the Rangers and behind last year’s American League champion Royals. The Pads also have had the third largest gain from 2014, behind those same Royals and the hated Mariners (go figure). On the downside, literally, the Pads’ attendance slipped from April to May more than all but three teams. Hosting teams outside the division is a little different from hosting the Giants and Dodgers, who knew? That the Padres haven’t lived up to preseason hype probably doesn’t help either. Hey, at least they aren’t the Phillies.
  • Padres Pics #1 (The 5.5 Hole) – This new blog promises to be fun. Anything that starts with Kurt Bevacqua dressed as Dick Williams being harassed by umpires has to be good, right? Speaking of Padres from the ’80s, Wax Pack is a book due out in 2017 (plan ahead!) that author Brad Balukjian calls “the story of a single pack of 1986 Topps baseball cards and the attempt to track down each of the players inside nearly 30 years after they were bundled together with a stick of chalky bubblegum.” Balukjian will be interviewing the players in this single pack, including Garry Templeton. Pretty cool. Others in the pack with Padres ties are Gary Pettis, Randy Ready, and Rick Sutcliffe.
  • Padres draft RHP Austin Smith at No. 51 (San Diego Union-Tribune) – A.J. Preller likes his team’s first pick in the 2015 draft: “It’s a big body, good frame, big, strong and durable. Clean arm action, good delivery, and he shows three pitches.” MLB.com adds: “He works at 90-92 mph and tops out at 96 while looking like he’s just playing catch. He could sit in the mid-90s once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame and gets more consistent.” Learn more about the Padres draft class (including third rounder Jacob Nix, who has an interesting backstory) at Draft Tracker 2015 and from our own Dustin.

Hey, here’s a scary table:

Team 2015 Draft Budget (MLB rank)
Rockies $13,989,800 (2)
Diamondbacks $12,816,100 (3)
Dodgers $7,781,700 (7)
Giants $7,515,500 (10)
Padres $3,671,200 (29)

Source: Baseball America

Wait, that’s really scary. Not only do the Padres have to deal with a super tight budget in this year’s amateur draft, the rest of the organizations that call the NL West home all have draft pools that reside in the league’s top 10, and the Rockies and D’backs have the second and third highest spending pools in MLB, respectively.

There are a number of reasons why the Padres, ahead of only the Mets, have the second-lowest draft budget in the league:

  • They traded Chase Headley last summer, electing to take Yangervis Solarte and Rafael De Paula over the likely compensation of an additional 2015 draft pick.
  • They played well in the second half last season, going 36-31 — a good thing, for sure, but with a negative side effect. With the second half surge the Padres played themselves out of one of the 10 worst records in the game, surrendering first-round protection in this year’s draft.
  • Then they signed qualified free agent James Shields in the offseason, a surprising maneuver that triggered the surrender of their first-round (13th overall) selection in the ’15 draft, along with the near $3 million in pool money that accompanied it.
  • Then they traded the 41st overall selection (worth $1,506,400), a competitive balance round pick, to the Braves as part of the package for Craig Kimbrel.

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

  • Home Run Trajectories and Pitchers (Beyond the Box Score) – John Choiniere wonders whether a pitcher could, in theory, snare a line drive that otherwise would end up a home run. This might be the most fun you’ll ever have with physics. [h/t Baseball Prospectus]
  • In Iowa, good luck trying to watch the Twins (or five other MLB teams) (Star Tribune) – Michael Rand points out, as others have before, the stupidity of MLB’s blackout rules. I am prevented from legally watching the Padres without cable TV despite living fewer than 10 miles from Petco Park. Annoying? Sure, but folks in Iowa are kept from watching six different teams (and their opponents) despite being nowhere near a big-league ballpark. That is probably not the best way to engender fan loyalty. [h/t SABR]
  • Sunday Notes: Featherston, Bass, Knucklers & Eddy R (FanGraphs) – David Laurila’s column is one of my weekly must-reads, a reminder that good questions beget good answers. This installment includes thoughts from former Padres right-hander Anthony Bass, who discusses adjustments he’s made in his delivery over the years to improve command. Now with the Rangers, Bass is filling the role that Tim Stauffer once filled in San Diego. Good to see him doing well. Alas, the same cannot be said of Stauffer in Minnesota.
  • Conner: First draft a ‘fun challenge’ (San Diego Union-Tribune) – Is there a draft in here, or is that just Padres Scouting Director Mark Conner talking about the future? [h/t madfriars] San Diego doesn’t pick until 51st overall, but draftniks might like to know what various sources see in their crystal balls. And MLB’s Draft Central is the place to be on June 8 (yes, that’s Monday).
  • The Future of Baseball Technology, Part One: The Internet of Things (Hardball Times) – The opener of Jesse Wolfersberger’s two-part series examines swing trackers (think radar guns for bat speed) and “sleeves” that track a pitcher’s motion and “provide data which can be used to help improve the pitcher’s delivery, measure fatigue, prevent injuries, and rehab after injuries.” Part two delves further into wearables, as well as future possible uses of virtual reality, augmented reality, brain measurement, and improved health technology to advance the game. Who knows how much of this stuff will actually come to pass, but it’s fascinating to consider.

Two weeks ago, we discussed some of the hard-to-sign players the Padres selected in this year’s amateur draft. Those names included Peter Soloman, Logan Sowers, Brendan McKay, Cobi Johnson, and Bryce Carter, a quintet of late-round high school picks that have strong college commitments and fell in the draft primarily due to signability concerns. While the Padres have signed (at least) 26 of their 40 draft picks — and 16 out of their first 20 — they haven’t locked up any of those five.

The signing deadline isn’t until July 18th, so the Padres have plenty of time to make additional signings. The big question, though: will they have enough money left to go after any of the pricey late-rounders?

The table below shows San Diego’s picks through the first 10 rounds, along with the slot bonus accompanying each pick and each player’s actual bonus received (if he has signed):

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If there’s anything disconcerting about the San Diego Padres early selections from last week’s amateur draft – namely first-round shortstop Trea Turner and second-round outfielder Michael Gettys – it isn’t their talent.

The Padres took Turner 13th overall and he’s ranked 9th on Baseball America’s top 500. He’s a slick fielding shortstop with out-of-this-world speed and a solid offensive track-record at North Carolina State. Gettys, taken 51st overall and ranked 40th on BA’s big board, has a skill-set you can dream on. The Georgia prep outfielder has a big arm and, according to Baseball America’s scouting report, “plus raw power and 70 speed in the 60-yard dash.”

If everything works out – a common phrase when talking about untested draft picks – both Turner and Gettys, like many early-round selections, have a chance to be stars. Everything doesn’t often work out, however, and if there’s one negative both players have in common, it’s the big question mark surrounding their respective hit-tool.

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It’s a great time of year. The MLB season is well underway and the draft is this Thursday. While just a few of the top players selected will ever be significant contributors on the senior circuit, the hope that Thursday brings to organizations is unmatched.

For the second year in a row the Padres possess the 13th overall pick ($2,723,300 bonus allotment), and once again appear primed to select the top player that unexpectedly slides out of the top 10 selections. But who exactly that pick will be still seems to be up in the air based off a lack of expert consensus:

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In case you weren’t paying attention…

Always enjoy responsibly. Don’t read and drive.

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After grabbing Hunter Renfroe in the first round, the Padres continued their assumed strategy of aggressively pursuing hitting talent in the 2013 MLB Draft.

Dustin Peterson:

With their second pick of Day 1, the Padres selected Dustin Peterson – brother of 12th overall pick DJ Peterson – a high school shortstop out of Gilbert, Arizona. Peterson features a well-rounded skillset that projects him to have at least average physical tools across the board. He was always a known commodity but seemed to have carved his way into elite status later into his high school season.

Peterson’s simple swing should translate very well to professional ball as he features an extremely quiet lower half that lets his strong wrists whip the bat through the zone at an incredible rate. While Peterson has struggled with off-speed stuff to this point – like most players his age – his tools suggest a quick learning curve. Read More…