Time For Pads To Shake Things Up?

Baseball 23 May 2011

Give Buddy Black some credit.  If patience is a virtue, he should be under consideration for canonization.  He has dutifully stayed publicly protective while watching his Padres post the second worst record in the National league.  But even saints have their breaking points, and after listlessly being swept by the visiting Mariners, lowering their MLB worst home record to 8-18, the skipper had a closed door meeting with his club.

By most reports, in typical Buddy fashion, it was not a spit flying, eye ball popping, food table tossing, out of control rant, but rather a no-nonsense, “Strong toned”, directive to start playing with a chip on your shoulder, and start beating somebody regardless of the opponent or the venue.  Knowing Buddy, it was a pointed address without being condescending.  Last year’s NL Manager Of The Year understands how easily a skipper can lose a team, especially when things are going South.

He’ll continue to try to keep guys positive and focused on what they need to get done, while juggling his lineup each night in an effort to put his players in the best possible situations to find some success.

Meanwhile, the chess pieces he has to strategize with need to change.  It’s been almost two months now, and more than a fair amount of time has been given to this collection of players to prove whether they can win at this level or not.  In some cases the extended window of opportunity has proven to have paid off.  Brad Hawpe has emerged from his early season coma and has raised his average from .098 on April 24th up to .233 by batting .323 during May.  Ryan Ludwick has also started to produce the way the Pads expected when they acquired him for the playoff run last year, hitting .300 with 4 HRs and a team leading 17 RBI since April ended.  Chris Denorfia has  made the most of his playing time this month as well, batting a team leading .370.  Some nice personal stories, but the bottom line is this is MLB and it’s about winning. This team has been losing games, and looking bad doing it. Changes likely will be coming soon.

So the question becomes what changes, and for what purpose?  Is there reason to try to salvage the remaining two-thirds of the 2011 campaign that lies ahead?  As painful as it may be for Padres fans at this relatively early juncture of the season, history says probably not.  Since 1966 when a team has a losing record as of June 1, only 9% of those teams have gone on to win 90 games, the number generally recognized as being needed to see post season play.  That’s not to say it is impossible, and we are not at June 1 yet, but usually who you are as a team after 50 games is not going to change dramatically for the better if you get off to a slow start.  If that is the case, then the changes the Pads make from here on will likely be with an eye towards 2012 and beyond.

The obvious name that jumps to the forefront for any padres fan is Anthony Rizzo, the highly touted left hand hitting first baseman acquired from Boston in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez.  He continues to tear up the PCL batting .377 with 14 HRs and 56 RBI.  The looming questions have been when will the front office feel he’s ready to step in to the Padres lineup prepared to handle MLB pitching, and the expectations being disproportionately placed on his shoulders, as well as when will he be safe from falling into the costly Super Two arbitration status?

As for his baseball readiness, there doesn’t appear to be much left for him to prove against AAA arms at this point (although I have not been privy to any manager’s reports that may reveal weaknesses still needing some work that are exploitable at the MLB level), but there is never a guarantee that a player is ready for MLB competition, and will immediately and permanently stick.

As for the service time issue, which can not be ignored for a most teams, unless a playoff run is at stake, that can also be a roll of the dice.  A great example of this that is fresh in the Padres mind (and pocket book) is Chase Headley.  This past off season Chase qualified as a Super Two arbitration eligible player (top 17% of players with service time more than 2 years, but less than 3 years) by one day, probably costing the Padres close to $2M.  In 2010 the cut off date was 2 yrs/139 days, last year it was 2/122 (Chase had 123), and for 2012 it is guesstimated to be at about 2/146, so the magic line is floating every year.  Given Chase was called up in 2007 on June 15th (season opener was April 3rd), it may be a safe bet to say the Padres will do whatever they can not to fall a costly one day short again on starting the service clock for young Rizzo, which could mean a mid to late June call up for him if all continues on the current path.

However, that does not mean that other young players may not be called up earlier.  Yes their service clocks will start as well, and in some cases roster spots may need to be cleared, but it may give the Pads a chance to learn about these youngsters and make some determinations on their MLB future.  It also may send a message to the big league club (kick it in because changes are being made), as well as your minor league players (keep pushing, you could be next), and the fan base (stick with us, better days are ahead), while showcasing them to other clubs with the trade season on the horizon.  They can always be optioned back to AAA to stop their service clock if necessary, but if they play their way into the starting lineup it’s a nice problem to have.

I doubt there are any “untouchables” on the current roster, and veterans and arbitration eligible players will certainly be shopped over the next two months.

Jed Hoyer has been more than fair and patient with this collection of players pulled together during the off season.  The time for change may be close at hand.

Scan

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325 Comments

  1. Kevin
    May 23, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Is it a good idea to bring up younger players into the wasteland of a lineup the Padres currently have?


  2. Mickey Koke via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Modify The Fences.


  3. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Brandon – In general I am against platoons for younger players who are supposed to be impact guys. Let them hit, if they can hit. If they prove over time that they can not hit a certain side, then you platoon them and they are no longer an everyday guy, but why limit them early on? Platoon with those two would also make your bench less versatile. I prefer to let young studs how what they can do against all pitching.


  4. Brandon Cline via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Heh. Just think if the NL had the DH rule, we could have our cake and eat it too. Both could hit! Not endorsing DH for NL. Never ever will. Scan, Rizzo and Blanks absolutely cannot play another position than 1B? Well Kyle can do OF but you said that it would wear him down a lot. What about a platoon setup? I don’t have L/R splits for both of them, yet to see if that would be a feasible option.


  5. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

    What about as a DH for June?


  6. Bob Scanlan
    May 23, 2011 at 11:21 am

    PLEASE don’t change the fences!!!!!!!!


  7. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 11:16 am

    WHen Kyle’s elbow is deemed ready to play full time, and he’s hitting the way organization wants to see him hit, they may call him back up, but i doubt he will be blocking Rizzo at first. Maybe trade piece, if they don’t think his body can handle outfield play? Just seems a shame for him to go elsewhere if he can be a right handed power hitter that PETCO plays better to.


  8. mickeykoke
    May 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Modify The Fences


  9. Toby Todd via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Nicely put Scan!!


  10. Andy Man via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Then I say they make that Roster move and bring him up (Guzman) & wow I didn’t know Blanks was doing that good in double AA & he has MLB experience might as well call him up he can’t do any worst then what the boys are doing. I love my Padres Win or Lose till the end I told my wife when I die burry my ass with my Padre jersey! But right now there the ones that are playing like there dead! I’m with SAL it’s Heart Breaking for fans like us to watch this, BUT I will continue to watch & keep the FAITH! Cuz I’m a Padre FAN ALL day everyday!


  11. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I want the 8 train back! I just hope he learned to stop swinging at sliders like Khalil Greene.


  12. Salvador Barajas via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Scan I know they don’t enjoy it, but not Moorad, Garfinkel, or the Jedi grew up a Padres fan or had their first MLB game be a Padres game at Jack Murphy Stadium so yeah I am sure they don’t enjoy it but our hearts break in a much different way. I didn’t come from Boston or Arizona, I have no other team to support but the one that wears SD on their caps


  13. Brandon Cline via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:14 am

    We do have this Kyle Blanks who is hitting a good .904 OPS in 140 PA in AA San Antonio and if I’m not mistaken he is on the 40-man roster AND he has had MLB time. Or have Padres fans quickly forgotten him in August 2009 where he was hitting a .914 OPS for PADRES (not A, AA, AAA)?


  14. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Salvador – Trust me , the brass doe not enjoy watching that either.


  15. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Jesus Guzman is no kid. He is 27, 4th year in AAA. Cup of coffee with Giants in 2009. Playing mostly 3B for Tucson, but has played almost every infield position at some time during his minor league career, hitting .329, 4 HR, 39 RBI. I think he made a good impression on coaching staff in spring. Not on 40 man roster, so roster move would have to be made to call him up.


  16. Salvador Barajas via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 10:00 am

    @Joe: This is the first year where I actually go into the game thinking are we gonna get no-hit and then exuberantly celebrating when we get our first (and many times only) hit. That hurts like no one in the brass would ever believe!


  17. Andy Man via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Haha, at Joe, Scan does have pretty Cool Haircut! I always thought he looked like Woody from Toy Story:)


  18. Chuck Forrest via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

    What is your Opinion on trading Bell? I know its a rumor floating around and what kind of player would you see getting for him?


  19. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

    LeBron James has my attention for now. After that I am only watching Chan 4 for Scan’s awesome haircut and for the possible no-hitters to be tossed against our beloved Padres.


  20. William Bibaeff via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Hard enough to watch an offense that routinely KO’s more than it hits, and scores a miserly 6 runs in 6 games, but adding what seems like a below average defense really puts the challenge to wanting to watch this team. Thank goodness Padres games are often up against “reality tv” shows so there’s not much else to flip a channel to.


  21. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Not sure. Depends on the move. If it’s a short DL situation usually you call up guy who you don;t mind if he sits. Blanks needs to play. This bleeding probably needs more than one minor league call up. SInce roster spot needs to be opened up, I am wondering who will be DA…if this kid can play MLB CF, that might be indicative of pending move.


  22. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:37 am

    But why not Kyle or Aaron? I think both can help stop the bleeding. Are we that far gone that it is time to bring in unproven players that in doing so might hurt their development?


  23. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Joe – That rumor of his call up started last night. Not sure if Will’s finger still isn’r right, Maybin knee needs more rest, other roster move…we’ll just have to wait and see.


  24. Bob Scanlan via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Salomino – Adrian was not going to stay in SD for multiple reasons. Need to give up that fantasy and move on.


  25. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Scan – thoughts on Tekotte call up? Why not Cunningham or Blanks if they need to sit Maybin or Venable for injury.


  26. Joe Heersema via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Can’t blame Petco for striking out 13 times. No excuses guys! See ball hit ball.


  27. Salomino Rosas via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I realize we can’t change the past but management should have figured out a way to keep Adrian and last years team because that was a good “team.” We should have built a team around Adrian instead of letting him walk. This is what pisses me off about San Diego management. If Tony Gwynn can play his whole career in San Diego, why couldn’t we do the same for Adrian? With that said, if Black is seeing guys not playing with a chip on their shoulders, then those guys need to leave this team. If the Padres can’t play with passion, they will not win. Yes, it’s time to shake things up!


  28. Michelle Marie Claydon via Facebook
    May 23, 2011 at 9:02 am

    AGREED!!!!


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