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

  • The Commissioner Speaks: Imagining a Redefined Strike Zone (Hardball Times) – Jon Roegele takes a closer look at balls and strikes. This is a long read, with many fascinating tidbits, including the fact that the strike zone is now larger and lower than it was 5 years ago. In a bizarre coincidence, strikeouts are up and scoring is down. Another finding that will disappoint those who would embrace our robot ump overlords is that plate umpires have improved their accuracy over that same period. There’s lots more in here; it’s well worth your time.
  • Jumpsteady (Wax Pack) – Brad Balukjian has started his road trip that will end with a book being written about the experience. The linked article focuses on San Marcos resident and recent Padres Hall of Fame inductee Garry Templeton. The Tempy experience continues here. Former Padres Gary Pettis and Randy Ready also make appearances. (Click the names, this is the Internet.)
  • Cody Decker of the El Paso Chihuahuas is an all-star on and off the field (El Paso Times) – Chihuahuas’ General Manager Brad Taylor has high praise for the young man, who is arguably a better option than Matt Kemp at this point: “I’ve never seen, in my 21 years in Minor League Baseball, a player connect to the community and the community connect to the player — two-way street — like Cody has to El Paso and El Paso has to Cody.” [h/t Keith Olbermann, via Steve Kaplowitz]
  • GM Preller expects better baseball ahead (Padres.com) – Bully for him. Failing that, he can try moving some guys, although maybe we’re not there yet. The difference between last year’s team and this year’s is that now the players are much more expensive. Good luck finding someone to take Kemp or the lousy Upton. This is why my vision of the future is bleak. And while it’s nice to hear that Ron Fowler and the Padres remain “committed to winning,” right now their level of commitment is less of a concern than their level of competence. Could the “spend money, hope something good happens” approach work? Sure, but that doesn’t make it the optimal strategy or even a smart idea.
  • The Most Productive Low-Authority Hitters of All Time (FanGraphs) – Building on previous work, Tony Blengino identifies the ten hitters who were most productive despite not hitting the ball particularly hard. Former Padres players (and current staffers) Mark Kotsay and Mark Loretta crack the top five. Max Bishop, a personal favorite I wrote about in Best of Baseball Prospectus: 1996-2011, Vol. 1, appears farther down the list. Sorry kids, no Alexi Amarista.

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

The Padres (38-43) scored more runs than the St Louis Cardinals (51-27) yesterday, 5-3 in eleven innings at Busch Stadium. Will Venable hit a two-run home run in the eleventh inning to break a 3-3 tie. Craig Kimbrel pitched the bottom of the eleventh for his 20th save.

Tyson Ross (5-7, 3.63) pitched six innings, allowing three runs on four hits and five walks with six strikeouts. Ross loaded the bases in the first inning with one out and Yadier Molina ground out to the pitcher for the second out, allowing Matt Carpenter to score. In the fifth inning, Carpenter hit a one out line drive to center field to score Tim Cooney. After Jhonny Peralta struck out, Jason Heyward hit a two-out double to score Carpenter.

Cooney (0-0, 5.40), making only his second Major League start, almost matched Ross’ stat line exactly, pitching six innings while surrendering three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Yangervis Solarte hit a solo home run in the second inning with one out to break the Padres’ streak of scoreless innings at 22. Solarte was ejected in the sixth inning for voicing his displeasure with some rather shoddy work by the umpires during the game.  In the fourth, a two-out Austin Hedges single scored Justin Upton, but Hedges was then thrown out at second base to end the inning. Ross hit his first Major League home run with a solo shot in the fifth inning.

Tonight, Andrew Cashner (3-9, 4.22) takes the mound against Michael Wacha (10-3, 2.77) at 5:15pm PDT.

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Somethings things can get a little fuzzy after a night on the town.  Here’s a friendly reminder of what you may have missed while you were drinking.

If you thought you might be hallucinating during the eighth and ninth innings, sadly, you weren’t. San Diego dropped a tough one to the St Louis Bob Davidson’s 4-3 in front of 45,000+ red, white, and light blue clad fans.  The loss snapped the Padres (57-63) modest 5-game winning streak.  St Louis (64-56) jumped over Pittsburgh and back into second place in the NL Central.

Lost in the end game kerfuffle was another strong outing by Eric Stults.  Eric surrendered a second-inning 2-run HR to Jhonny Peralta but otherwise kept the Cardinals in check.  Stults worked seven allowing just the two runs.  Counterpart John Lackey was tougher early, holding the Padres scoreless through five.  San Diego tied the game in the sixth, however, while only hitting one ball safely out of the infield:  walk, double (there it is!), walk, RBI ground out, infield fly, infield single, fly out.  Not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, that, but hell it got the team even.

The game stayed tied until Bob Davidson took a hand.  The Home Plate umpire appeared to get talked into changing a strike 3 call on Tony Cruz, to a foul ball, by Tony Cruz.  Replays pretty clearly showed Cruz swung over the pitch.  Of course he then immediately singled because, that’s baseball.  The Cardinals loaded the bases with no one out off Alex Torres and then plated two as Jon Jay hit an RBI double/fly ball over a drawn in Will Venable.  St Louis loaded the bases again with one out but Nick Vincent (Ramona) was able to work out of it.

In the ninth, a suddenly mortal Trevor Rosenthal could not find the plate consistently; when he did, the pitch was up and out over the middle of the dish.  San Diego loaded the bases with one out, when pinch hitter Jake Goebbert singled sharply to right, scoring Yasmani GrandalAlexi Amarista eluded catcher AJ Pierzynski’s tag, but Davidson called him out anyway.  Replay was, unbelievably, inconclusive.

How Bud Black didn’t completely lose his mind at that point is beyond me, but he apparently lost it enough to get ejected from the game (although to be fair, arguing a play that has been reviewed is an automatic ejection).  Rosenthal eventually struck out an overmatched Tommy Medica to end it.

Tyson Ross squares off against Lance Lynn tomorrow.

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In case you weren’t paying attention…

Always enjoy responsibly. Don’t read and drive.

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