Friday, July 22, 2011

So...Who's On First?

Rizzo is gone and Blanks is up.  Jesus Guzman is killing the ball at the moment, and somewhere Brad Hawpe continues to heal.  Bud Black potentially has 3 guys on the roster to play one spot - First Base.  So who gets the call?

Well the answer, as always, is 'it depends'.  Should Hawpe return to the roster, which is not a certainity given his left elbow ligament injury is not one known to heal quickly, they could platoon Hawpe and the two right-handed bats.  However, would you platoon two hitters when one is hitting
  • .231/.301/.344, and the other
  • .322/.344/.559? 
Me neither.  It's more likely that, when Hawpe returns from the DL, he becomes the left-handed bat off the bench.

Which brings us to Blanks and Guzman.  I'm not sure what we can reasonably expect from Blanks.  He was hitting AAA pitching pretty well (to the tune of .351/.421/.716), which looks suspiciously like Rizzo's line before he got called up (.365/.444/.715).  Granted, Blanks has Major League experience that Rizzo lacked, and also has sustained success at the ML level in his history.  I don't think he'll be as lost at the plate as Rizzo became, but I don't think he'll tear the cover off the ball like Guzman is right now.

Jed Hoyer stated yesterday during his interview with Darren Smith that Blanks will get a lot of playing time now that he's up.  If and when Ryan Ludwick gets traded away, it is entirely possible Blanks will man left and leave first to Guzman.  However, Blanks has been playing mostly first base during his rehab in the minor leagues, so it would seem reasonable he'd get most of that playing time in the infield.

Maybe the best way to look at it is this way.  San Diego has struggled offensively all year.  Jesus Guzman is one of the few Padres hitting the ball right now, and even given his limited plate appearances, by OPS+ he's the best bat on the roster.  He's earned the right to play every day.  Bud Black would be justified in riding the hot hand for a while, since he's had very few hot hands to ride this season.  Blanks will get the occasional start in both LF and at 1B for the next week, and once the trade deadline passes we'll see where we are.

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