Archive for the ‘San Diego Padres’ category

Manny Machado’s One-Game Suspension Seems About Right

June 19, 2019

I saw that the MLB Umpires Association is pissing and moaning about the fact that Manny Machado only got a one-game suspension after his tantrum on Saturday, so I actually bothered to watch the video of the incident just now.  Seems mostly like a big nothing-burger.

Machado contested a third strike call on a close pitch, turning to face and tell off the umpire, and the umpire properly rung him up.  Machado then vented, which is to be expected.  There appeared to have been contact, but it didn’t look intention or significant, what they call “incidental contact” as Machado was venting his spleen.

Perhaps Machado could have received a two-game suspension for making contact and throwing his equipment around like a spoiled brat, but that seems like the limit given the circumstances.  As I see it, the umpire should have turned and walked away five or ten feet before turning back to face Machado in order to de-escalate the situation, but some commentary I heard on espn.com to the effect that Manny should not have been ejected because he’s such a big star is full B.S.  Everybody who has watched baseball with any regularity over the last forty years knows that the player gets ejected when he turns and faces to the umpire to contest balls and strikes.

I hadn’t watched the video until this evening, because the initial reports made it sound like a run-of-the-mill player gets heated about a close call that goes against him and gets ejected for arguing balls and strikes.  In watching the video that was just about all it amounted to.  I want my five minutes back.

Advertisements

San Francisco Giants Acquire Yet Another 4-A Outfielder

June 11, 2019

The Giants today traded for 29 year old outfielder Alex Dickerson from the Padres for 23 year old RHP Franklin Van Gurp, as new Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi seems determined to try to corner the market on not quite major league outfielders.

In theory the Giants have room for another 4-A outfielder now that Mac Williamson is no longer with the organization.  However, I’d rather see Austin Slater or Mike Gerber, both of whom are hitting great at AAA Sacramento and are three years younger, get major league chances before the new warm body Dickerson does.

Dickerson hit well for the Padres as a rookie in 2016, but then he missed all of the next two seasons due to back problems and a torn elbow tendon.  He missed most of the 2014 season to injuries as well.  He hit well in 26 games at AAA El Paso (1.075 OPS), but only 3-for-19 in San Diego.  Who does that sound like?  Basically, every AAA outfielder the Giants have called up this season, claimed in the Rule 5 Draft, claimed off waivers, etc.

Van Gurp is a former 25th round draft pick out of college who has a very live arm.  He’s struck out 174 batters in 128.2 minor league innings pitched, mostly in the low minors.  It remains to be seen if he can find enough command to amount to something, but he’s got the kind of arm the Padres should be happy to get for a player they had designated for assignment before making the trade.

It definitely feels like the Giants are going to continue to cycle through outfielders to see if any can get hot for more than a week or two in San Francisco.  Mike Yastrzemski, after a successful first week of major league games, is already beginning to look like another won’t-ever-be-ready-for-prime-time hitter.  At least he’s building up a resume to get a shot at major league money in Japan or South Korea next year.

The belief is growing stronger and stronger in my heart that Zaidi is secretly committed to the team continuing to tank in 2019 and 2020, in order to get the high draft picks necessary to rebuild a new competitor starting around 2021.  At this point, I don’t much care just how badly the 2019 team plays so long as the team works on developing a new core group of young players as quickly as possible.

What Will Cody Bellinger End Up Batting in 2019?

May 18, 2019

After today’s game in Cincinnati, Cody Bellinger is batting a lusty .404 46 games into the 2019 Dodgers’ season.  What might he end up hitting when the year is out?

I’ll go out on a limb and say that Bellinger won’t hit .380 this season, let alone .400.  The last player to hit .380 in a season was Tony Gwynn in 1994 when Gwynn batted .394, the closest any player has come to .400 since Ted Williams last did it in 1941.  Since 1941, only three other players have batted .380 in a season: Ted Williams batted .388 in 1957, Rod Carew batted .388 in 1977 and George Brett batted .390 in 1980.

By my calculation, Bellinger would have to bat .372 for the rest of the season (assuming that Bellinger stays healthy) in order to hit .380 for the season.  Seems unlikely.

The last player to bat .370 or better in a season was Ichiro when he hit .372 in 2004.  While a great season and a great hitter, Barry Bonds had hit .370 in 2002 and both Nomar Garciaparra and Todd Helton had batted .372 in 2000.

To hit .370 for the season, Bellinger would need to hit about .356 the rest of the way.  Certainly doable, but I’d think certainly less likely than not.

The last player to bat .360 or better in a season was Joe Mauer when he batted .365 in 2009.  As with Ichiro’s 2004, Mauer’s 2009 was not wildly better than other batting leaders of the previous few seasons:  Chipper Jones had batted .364 in 2008, and Magglio Ordonez had batted .363 in 2007.

To bat .360 on the season, Bellinger would need to hit .344 the rest of the way.  That certainly seems doable, given Bellinger’s talent level and the facts that he is a left-handed hitter who runs extremely well.

The last player to bat .350 in a season was Josh Hamilton, who batted .359 in 2010.  To hit .350 for the season, Bellinger would only need to hit .328 the rest of the way.  I’d be willing to bet even money on Bellinger hitting at least .350 this season if he can stay healthy.

Tim Lincecum’s and Jake Peavy’s Hall of Fame Chances

May 5, 2019

Jake Peavy officially retired today although he hadn’t actually pitched professionally since 2016.  Peavy and Tim Lincecum had very similar major league careers, and it got me thinking about their respective Hall of Fame chances.  After Lincecum’s failed comeback in the Rangers’ organization last year, it’s pretty clear Timmy’s professional career is over too.

I don’t think either has a good shot at making the Hall of Fame.  Both pitchers were the National League’s best for roughly four or five years, but were basically back-of-the-rotation starters for the second halves of their respective careers when injuries wore them down.  Peavy lasted long enough to finish with a career record of 152-126, while Lincecum finished a modest 110-89.

Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards to Peavy’s one, Lincecum pitched for three World Series winners to Peavy’s two, and Lincecum pitched two no-hitters while Peavy threw none.  But, as noted above, Peavy won 42 more games.

In my mind, pitchers with career highs of a Jake Peavy or Tim Lincecum still need to win at least 190 games in today’s MLB to be realistic Hall of Fame contenders.  Another similar, if even better short-time ace, Johan Santana (career 139-78 record), hasn’t received much love from Hall of Fame voters.  In his first and only year of HOF eligibility, Santana received so few votes (10 or 2.4%) that he was dropped from the HOF ballot the next year 2019.

Given where the game is going, I think that Santana will get more love from future Veterans’ Committees and could eventually make the HOF.  I don’t think either Lincecum or Peavy will, however.  At least both Lincecum and Peavy won a lot of awards, multiple World Series rings, and made a boatload of money.  They’ll never forget Lincecum in San Francisco or Peavy in San Diego, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them.

Hot Pitchers

May 4, 2019

23 year old Zac Gallen is ready for his major league promotion.  He’s leading the AAA Pacific Coast League with an 0.81 ERA, his 38Ks is tied for 1st, and the Marlins suck.  Gallen could pitch in relief to start with or one of the Marlins’ currently not very effective young starters could be moved to the bullpen to make way for Gallen.

It’s worth noting, though, that New Orleans with its below sea level air appears to be one of the PCL’s best pitchers’ parks — three of the circuit’s top five ERA leaders play for the Baby Cakes.

Rico Garcia (1.82 ERA, 35 Ks in 24.2 IP) deserves a promotion to AAA.  Devin Smeltzer has already received a promotion to AAA Rochester after recording an 0.60 ERA and 33 Ks in 30 IP at AA Pensacola.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that top two-way prospect Brendan McKay is going to be mainly a pitcher at the major league level.  In 14 AA games, he has a .481 OPS as a hitter, but on the mound he currently has a 2.41 ERA with 33 Ks in 18.2 IP.  If he ever catches up with the bat, he’ll already be a major league starter that no one’s going to want to f@#$ around with.

Great namers MacKenzie Gore and Ljay Newsom are dominating the Class A+ California League.  Their respective 1.32 and 1.47 ERAs are the only ones under 2.00.  Gore has stuck out 38 batters in 26.1 IP, and Newsom has struck out 54 batters in 36.2 IP.  Each has allowed exactly four walks so far.  Gore is the better prospect, because at age 20, he’s two years younger.

22 year old Dominican Cristian Javier is impressing in the Class A+ Carolina League with an 0.73 ERA and 32 Ks in 24.2 IP.

Former No. 1 overall draft pick and recent no-hit throwing Case Mize is not the best pitcher in the pitcher-friendly Class A+ Florida State League.  While Mize has recorded an 0.35 ERA with 25 Ks in 26 IP, Bailey Ober has a perfect 0 ERA (and run average) with 26 Ks in 24 IP.  Meanwhile Damon Jones has an 0.77 ERA with 36 Ks in 23.1 IP.

Jay Jackson Makes It Back to the Show

April 29, 2019

The Milwaukee Brewers today called up 31 year old right-hander Jay Jackson from AAA.  It will be Jackson’s first MLB major league experience since he pitched briefly and ineffectively for the Padres in 2015.

In between Jackson spent three years pitching in Japan’s NPB, where he was really good in 2016 and 2017.  At AAA San Antonio this year, he hadn’t been scored upon in 8.2 innings, allowing only four hits and two walks, while striking out 14.

There are surely no guarantees that Jackson will be able to pitch like that at the game’s highest level, but he sure deserved a shot with that kind of dominance at AAA.

According to mlbtraderumors.com, Jackson wanted to return to MLB after the 2017 season, but couldn’t get an offer.  After 2018, when he hadn’t pitched as well in Japan, all he could get was a minor league offer from Brewers, a team for whom he had pitched briefly in the minors in 2014.

Perhaps Jackson will be the latest in a run of pitchers to find MLB success after returning from a few year long stint in Japan.  If so, he will be one more reason for MLB teams to look to foreign pitchers pitching successfully in NPB as desirable additions.

An Off-Season of Contract Extensions

March 26, 2019

As we approach the start of the 2019 season, it was a notable off-season for the way in which big money contract extensions eclipsed all but the top three free agent signings.  As Spring Training started, it seemed like every single team was determined to lock in their best players for many years at big money, bigger money it sure seems than the free agents got at least in grand total.

A couple of things seem to be in play here.  First, it seems like the owners have finally figured out what Charlie Finley had realized around 1975, which is essentially that only the superstars are worth the really big contracts and that more average players and aging stars are fungible enough that teams shouldn’t go around overpaying them.

When the players won the Andy Messersmith free agency arbitration, Finley suggested that all players should be allowed to be free agents every year.  That way, the biggest stars would get huge salaries, but all the other players would be competing with each other for contracts, which would drive their prices down.

However, the other owners thought Finley was a kook and wanted to hold on to their best players as long as they could.  Thus, the owners negotiated a six-year service requirement for free agency, which meant that there would always be more demand for free agents than there were actual players who satisfied the six year service requirement and were still playing well.  As a result, for a very long time, free agents received enormous contracts, and the players’ association used those contract amounts to get higher contracts for younger players through the salary arbitration process they had successfully negotiated for a few years earlier.

The pendulum back towards a freer market began when teams began to non-tender an increasingly large share of their arbitration eligible players as arbitration salaries also got enormous.  More available players each off-season meant more competition for second-tier free agents, and the non-tendered players were and are more likely to sign one-year contracts for less money just to guarantee themselves major league jobs.  That surely drove down the market for second-tier free agents.

Also, teams may be realizing that their own superstars are worth more to them than anyone else.  While it is certainly exciting to bring in a high profile free agent like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, there is probably just as much good will to be gained from the fan base when a Mike Trout or Nolan Arenado is locked into play all or nearly all of his professional career for the team that developed him into a superstar.

Given how much more generous the recent spate of extensions feels compared to the free agent signings this winter, I would if teams aren’t acting collusively to send a message to players: sign with the team that developed you for big money, or test an increasingly uncertain free agent market.

Of course, if more superstars sign long-term extensions covering their prime and declining years, the superstars who do elect to become free agents will find even less competition for their services.  In short, the Bryce Harpers of the baseball world who elect free agency will continue to set contract records.  Instead, it’s the second-tier free agents who will be feeling greater pressure to accept any extension offers their current teams are willing to offer them.