Gotta Know When To Fold ‘Em

Earlier today, Corey Brock posted a piece over at Padres.com highlighting some players who may benefit from a late surge in 2014. While Tommy Medica seems destined to maintain at least a bench role, and Everth Cabrera might well see himself given another shot beyond 2014, it’s probably time to give Yonder Alonso a thank you, hand shake, and a pen set as a parting gift.

yonderbubble

Over the last three seasons (including his oft-referenced 2012 season), there have been few first baseman worse with the bat than Yonder Alonso. Whether it’s OPS (.704), OPS+ (101), wRC+ (98), wOBA (.307), Alonso finds himself keeping company with the likes of Justin Smoak and Ryan Howard at the bottom of the list amongst qualified first basemen. Living in Seattle now, I see the glimmer of hope Smoak provides fans – 15, 19, 20 home runs over each of the last three seasons are hard to ignore, even when a player is otherwise an offensive black hole. There aren’t those numbers to keep pulling you back in with Alonso. They don’t seem to be enough for Smoak advocates anymore, either.

Fair is fair, and you have to look at Alonso’s injuries as having affected his offensive output. Looking at that 2012 season, you still have a player who ranked 18th in OPS+, 18th in wRC+, 20th in wOBA, and 15th in fWAR in what has been regarded as his bellwether season. The Padres should be aiming higher than hovering between slightly below-average to slightly above-average at a position where offensive output is arguably emphasized more than any position outside of designated hitter. One also needs to consider his seeming inability to stay healthy over the past few seasons. Staying healthy is a skill, and like current/former teammates Carlos Quentin, Andrew Cashner, Chase Headley, and Cameron Maybin, it’s looking like it’s not a skill he possesses.

He’s obviously worked hard (look at how his physique has changed), and it’s okay to appreciate that. He also is a great guy with fans, by all accounts. Unless we see an historic run through August and September, however, the next Padres GM would likely do well to thank Yonder for his service and move on. And without the attachment Byrnes had to making it work, we may very well see that happen.

 

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  • USMC53

    Agree.
    Yonder slugged .393 in his “breakout” year (2012), and now he’s sitting on a .609 OPS (.349 SLG!).
    When we traded Rizzo, I think all Padre fans thought, “This trade could look really bad at some point. Rizzo could develop into a star.” I don’t think anyone will think that if we let go of Alonso. He’s just never going to turn into a great major league first baseman.
    Let’s move on. Give the job to Medica and give him consistent, every day ABs.
    Looking at FanGraphs, Medica’s numbers are comparable to Brandon Moss’s numbers. The same Brandon Moss who is helping lead the A’s to the playoffs… again.

    • VM David

      I saw Medica at Lake Elsinore, and I would like to say he stood out to me…but he didn’t when I was there. His numbers were very good, though. That’s continued to be a trend throughout his professional career. Where he DID impress me was at Spring Training last season. More than anyone in his group on the back fields, he looked like his bat was pretty close to being ready for MLB. Great bat control, power to all fields. The “knock” was that he lacked a position, and the uncertainty with his shoulder. His glove’s been decent enough at 1B.

      While I’m not necessarily ready to say he should be playing every day at 1B in 2015, I feel he’s earned the job for the rest of 2014. And he’s not a bad back-up plan at 1B if they can’t find a definitive upgrade in the offseason.

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  • ballybunion

    Well, you can say Alonso doesn’t have the power you expect from a first baseman, but I think it’s a stretch to say he’s always hurt. Last year he had his hand broken by a pitch on May 31. The two months up to that point, he was hitting .284/.335/.416 with six homers, an 18 homer pace. He missed seven weeks, including three weeks when his broken hand was being treated as a bruise by the trainers before they gave him an x-ray!

    He didn’t hit another homer but ended the year at the end of August still hitting .281/.341/.368 when his hand, which never had a cast, started hurting again. He’s missed games this year with tendinitis in the same hand that was mis-diagnosed and maybe improperly treated. You could make the case that he never got a fair shot last year and this one, due to one HBP followed by questionable medical treatment.

    All I’ve got to go on is Tony Gwynn’s admiration for Yonder’s swing, but he may never hit for the power you expect, and he’s strictly a station to station base runner (but doesn’t know it). First base is a likely spot for a power upgrade over the best Alonso can theoretically produce, maybe from somebody already in the system (Grandal? Medica? Hagerty?). But since had only the rookie year, it’s unkind to say Alonso has had 3 years to prove himself, or imply that he’s injury prone.

    • VM David

      With the Reds, he broke the hamate bone in that same hand while swinging the bat and making contact. Shit happens, but shit keeps happening to that same hand. Obviously, the HBP was bad luck, but the resulting injury is what is part of the pattern.

      As far as the diagnosis goes, I’m somewhat skeptical of the staff in SD…but I’ve actually had the exact same thing happen to me. After the swelling subsided, the injury initially believed to be just a deep bruise was revealed as a fracture after a scan. But maybe a doctor would tell me I received bad care, too.