Friday, July 31, 2009

Winning Streaks, Trade Rumors, Hitting Coaches, and Trevor Time

Why, what's this? A winning streak? Our beloved Padres actually looked like a major league team in Cincinnati this week.

Some corners of the Padre sphere think the 2009 version will set a new club record for futility in a month. That might still happen - they have to win tonight to avoid it - but since most of us thought there was no way they'd win the final 4 games this month, taking 3 from Cincinnati is a nice mid-summer present.

Also since Dusty Baker is one of baseball's biggest asses, the winning streak couldn't come against a better team. Thank you, sir, for continuing to rip the hearts out of fanbases in the NL Central.


Rumors persist Heath Bell and Adrian will find new places to store their cleats today. Here's two thoughts:

- Closers aren't important. They aren't. This whole myth about teams needing a shut-down closer is exactly that: a myth. It has never made sense to me when managers keep their best reliever housed in the bull pen for 9th inning duty, and lose the game because they ran Joe Thornton out there in a tough spot in the 7th. If some other team thinks getting Heath Bell will advance them to the post season, and are willing to give up players at one of the Padres 'need positions' (which is everywhere on the diamond right now except first, short, and center), then trade him.

- Marquee names are important. A recent SI article about Adrian pointed out the marketing difficulties the Padres face; to paraphrase, they are forced to expand south, what with the Pacific, the Mojave, and Angel/Dodger dominance ringing them in. People in TJ (specifically) and Baja (in general) who follow baseball identify with Gonzo, marking him as 'one of their own'. Trade him, and Moorad might as well move the franchise to Montreal. Those few hardy souls going to the ball park do so to watch Gonzo hit. What will they watch when he leaves?

Can't anyone Play this game?

Padres fired their hitting coach Jim Lefebvre today. He's replaced by former Major Leaguer Randy Ready, a career .260 hitter with 5 teams over parts of 13 seasons (1983-1995). As Chris Jenkins pointed out, this is the 5th hitting coach since 2006. Clearly the hitting coaches are the problem:

2006: .263 Batting Average (tied for 8th worst in MLB, with Pittsburgh)
2007: .251 (third worst in MLB)
2008: .250 (thrd worst)
2009: .232 (worst, by A LOT; the Reds are the '27 Yankees in comparison (.244)).

Oh, you don't like batting average as a metric? Here's a little weighted On Base Average, SABR-heads:

2006: .326 wOBA (20th)
2007: .319 (25th)
2008: .311 (26th)

Hey Padre Management: maybe, Just MAYBE, Dave Magadan, Merv Rettemund, Wally Joyner, and Lefebvre weren't the problem? Maybe the free-swinging Friars are. All these guys can do is dispense advise; they can't go to the plate and take the at bats for the Chase Headley's of the world. The 'Think Method' doesn't work when trying to hit at the Major League level.

Trevor Time Returns

Milwaukee comes to town for a weekend set, bringing a host of former Padres, but most notably Trevor Hoffman. There's been some chatter (I'll call Scott and BR talking about it this morning as chatter) on whether or not the Padres should play 'Hell's Bells' if Hoffman enters a game this weekend.

Let me be emphatic: HELL NO.

We don't follow the San Diego Hoffmans, we follow the Padres. Trevor was a great player for us for years. A perfect scenario would be the Brewers get swept and he doesn't get into a game. But if he does, on his first appearance this weekend, as he heads to the mound he should get a lengthy, loud, heartfelt ovation.

And that's it. No soundtrack. No bells.

I'm not rooting for him to beat the Padres.

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