Showing posts with label San Diego Padres. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Diego Padres. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

White Sox win two of three games vs. Padres in clash of rebuilding teams

Todd Frazier
There are some White Sox fans out there who have their hearts set on losing as many games as possible this season, in hopes of getting the No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB draft.

I hate to tell those folks this, but it's going to be real hard for the Sox or any other team to be worse than the San Diego Padres this year.

The Sox (17-18) took two out of three from the Padres (14-25) at Guaranteed Rate Field over the weekend, and I saw San Diego do some terrible things that I've never seen a major league team do in all the years that I've following the great sport of baseball.

Let's get to some thoughts on the weekend that was:

Friday, May 12
Padres 6, White Sox 3: Even a brutal team such as San Diego is going to win 55 to 60 games, and this was one of those games for the Padres.

They hit three home runs, including two off Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez, who continued his inevitable regression to the mean by allowing five earned runs in five innings. San Diego had a 3-0 lead by the third inning, and offense was scarce for the South Siders.

Five of the nine Sox starters took 0-fers, and the team wasted a multiple homer game by Leury Garcia, who had had three hits. Garcia's two homers accounted for all three Sox runs.

Saturday, May 13
White Sox 5, Padres 4: The Sox trailed, 2-1, going to the bottom of the fourth inning when Jose Abreu reached on an error by San Diego third baseman Ryan Schimpf. Abreu then advanced to second base on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill. Abreu then advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill. Abreu then scored the tying run on a wild pitch by Trevor Cahill.

The Padres gave up a run on an E-5 and three wild pitches. I've seen such incompetence before in my days as a high school sports reporter, but I've never seen such buffoonery by a big league club.

The Sox ended up collecting their first walk-off win of the season. With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, San Diego reliever Brad Hand committed a cardinal sin by walking the Sox's No. 9 hitter, Tyler Saladino, to start the inning.

Garcia bunted Saladino into scoring position. Hand jumped ahead of the next hitter, Yolmer Sanchez, 0-2. But, Hand had fallen into a pattern of throwing his breaking ball every time he got into a two-strike count. He got a pair of strikeouts on the curve in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Sanchez appeared to be sitting on it in that situation.

The second baseman smacked one back up the middle for a single, and Saladino scored the winning run on a bang-bang play at the plate.

Sunday, May 14
White Sox 9, Padres 3: For seven innings, this was an aggravating game for Sox fans to watch. The offense was limited to only one run over six innings against the corpse of Jered Weaver, who has an ERA of 6.05 even after baffling Sox hitters throughout the afternoon.

Weaver hasn't won a game all season, and I had heard reports that he would be a candidate for release if he did not pitch well in Chicago. The Sox had a chance to perhaps literally end his career in the bottom of the first inning. Bases loaded, no outs. Alas, Weaver was out of the inning with only one run allowed two pitches later, after Avisail Garcia hit into a run-scoring double play and Todd Frazier grounded out.

No matter, San Diego imploded in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Padres had a 3-1 lead, but they walked five hitters, plunked a batter and committed two errors in that inning. The Sox sprinkled in four hits and parlayed all that into an eight-run outburst that gave them the 9-3 victory.

Melky Cabrera provided the big hit, a two-run single with the bases loaded that put the Sox ahead to stay at 4-3.

Moments later, the Sox had first and third with one out when Saladino popped up a bunt to first baseman Wil Myers. Frazier tagged and scored from third on a ball that traveled about 50 feet in the air to make it 5-3.

Yes, you read that right.

Myers had his back to the play after making the catch, and he casually flipped the ball back to pitcher Brandon Maurer. While the Padres were acting like a bunch of aloof idiots, Frazier tore down the third-base line to score a run. By the time Maurer realized what was happening, he made an errant toss to the plate that allowed Cabrera to advance to second.

The Sox tacked on with an RBI single by Willy Garcia, a two-run double by Leury Garcia and a RBI single by Sanchez.

I've never seen a team at any level give up a run on a pop-up bunt to first base before. Give the Padres credit; they seem hellbent on being the worst team in baseball.

Monday, April 24, 2017

My April 20 visit to Petco Park in San Diego

Petco Park in San Diego
While on vacation in Southern California, I had the opportunity to take in a game between the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park.

The Padres won, 4-1, behind a solid performance from former White Sox left-hander Clayton Richard, but that's not all that important. I went because I wanted to check out a ballpark I had never visited before, and I must say I came away impressed.

When I visit other parks around the country, I inevitably think to myself, "Man, the Sox could learn a thing or two from how they do things here."

The Padres, much like the Sox, are not contenders this year. They are rebuilding and everybody knows it. The announced crowd was 17,000-and-some people. That attendance figure for a Thursday night is similar to Chicago. There wasn't a lot of interest in the game despite the beautiful weather because, well, there are other things to do in San Diego, and people know the Padres are bad.

But there were several things that were not similar to Chicago that I found refreshing. For example:
  • There is ample street parking around the ballpark, and I think I paid 20 cents to park. That's right: 20 cents, not 20 dollars. The meters are not enforced after 6 p.m., and this particular game started at 6:10. We had a meter with some time remaining on it, and it didn't take much to get across the 6 p.m. threshold.
  • The ushers were friendly and knowledgeable. This is something common at places not named Guaranteed Rate Field, where the ballpark staff grunts at you, can't answer any questions and seems to get off on telling fans what they *can't* do. Petco Park ushers are mostly retired folks working a part-time job, and they were kind and helpful to us as out-of-towners who were not familiar with the ballpark.
  • Petco Park has a hockey-style "wait for the whistle" rule. That means, if you get up to use the restroom or to visit the concession stand, you have to stay on the concourse until there is a break in play, instead of being allowed to walk in front of everyone while the game is going on. Fans are allowed to come and go in between batters or in between innings. That works for me. As a grumpy curmudgeon who just wants to watch the damn game, I love it.
    Me, standing next to Tony Gwynn's retired No. 19
  • The Padres have a Hall of Fame area that is awesome. They have replica plaques for everyone who played for the Padres and is in the baseball Hall of Fame. They have an interactive area with videos and pictures of some of the best moments in Padres history, and they have a film that plays on loop highlighting the great career of Tony Gwynn. The Padres have a very modest  history, but they aren't shy about showing off some of the individual and team accomplishments they've had through the years. On the wall in there, they have a chart showing the top five players in franchise history in various categories. Gwynn is San Diego's leader in every offensive category except home runs (Nate Colbert is first in home runs), and he is the Padres' all-time hits leader by more than 2,000 hits. (Garry Templeton is a distant second.)
  • If you need to exit the ballpark during the game, you can re-enter. How awesome is that? I've always thought the Sox should allow that, especially since we get our share of rain delays in Chicago. (That's something they don't worry about much in San Diego). But as we've discussed before, the Sox have been known to make up rules as they go, and they have all kinds of bizarre rules in the name of "fan safety." Frankly, I've never felt as if I'm in danger at any ballpark in America, other than in Milwaukee, where the fans have an inferiority complex about anyone and anything that comes from Chicago. 
If you're ever in San Diego at the same time as the Padres, I'd recommend taking in a game at Petco. The sight lines are great, even if the team isn't, and the people are friendly and happy to have you there. The locals say Petco is "America's No. 1 ballpark," and it's hard for me to say that, because I haven't seen every ballpark in America, but they are correct that they have a nice place to watch a game.

Friday, October 7, 2016

James Shields trade didn't turn out great for San Diego, either

Erik Johnson
This probably won't comfort White Sox fans who have watched James Shields get rocked start after start over the past four months, but the guy the Sox traded for Shields -- Erik Johnson -- is sidelined after Tommy John surgery.

Johnson made just four starts for the San Diego Padres in 2016, going 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA. He allowed a Shields-like 20 earned runs on 32 hits -- including nine home runs -- and five walks in 19.2 innings. He didn't pitch a single game after July 1.

According to a report in Thursday's San Diego Union-Tribune, Johnson will miss the entire 2017 season after the elbow surgery.

The Padres can at least say they got some salary relief from the deal. They paid Johnson the league minimum to sit on the DL, which is not ideal, but it's probably preferable to paying Shields $21 million to go 6-19 with a 5.85 ERA.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

James Shields booed off the field in White Sox debut

James Shields
I was skeptical last week when the White Sox acquired right-handed pitcher James Shields from the San Diego Padres in exchange for pitcher Erik Johnson and shortstop prospect Fernando Tatis Jr.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not concerned about losing Johnson, who is a marginal pitcher at best. And the 17-year-old Tatis Jr. is years away from potentially making an impact at the major-league level.

Rather, I just don't believe in Shields. This is a 34-year-old pitcher with a high-mileage arm and declining velocity, and he's making the transition from a pitcher-friendly NL park in San Diego to a hitter-friendly AL park in U.S. Cellular Field.

Heh, heh, what could go wrong?

Well, plenty, unfortunately.

Shields absorbed a severe beating in his Sox debut Wednesday night, an 11-4 loss to the Washington Nationals. The NL East leaders roughed up Shields for seven runs on eight hits over two-plus innings. Shields struck out two and walked two -- and gave up three home runs.

By the time the Nationals completed their first trip through the batting order, they had hit three homers and scored six runs. Shields needed 79 pitches to complete two innings. He was removed to a chorus of boos after giving up a leadoff hit in the top of the third inning.

Gack.

If Erik Johnson had pitched this game, he likely also would have given up three home runs, but he probably would have had the courtesy to space them out over five innings. Not so with Shields. He got the struggling Sox blown out of the game before they even had a chance to bat.

This game got so bad that outfielder J.B. Shuck pitched the ninth inning for the Sox. He was more effective than Shields, allowing one run on one hit during his inning of work.

I'm not sure what that says, but dating back to his last start in San Diego, Shields has allowed 17 runs over his last 4.2 innings. And, if he does not exercise an out clause in his contract after this season, the Sox are stuck with him through the 2018 season.

Oh, boy. This is the sort of trade that could get Rick Hahn fired if Shields doesn't turn it around.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Alexei Ramirez signs one-year deal with San Diego Padres

Alexei Ramirez
After eight seasons on the South Side of Chicago, Alexei Ramirez is moving on.

The longtime White Sox shortstop agreed to a one-year contract with the San Diego Padres on Thursday. He leaves the Sox after 1,226 games; 4,999 plate appearances; 109 home runs; 542 RBIs; 135 stolen bases; and two Silver Slugger awards.

Those are respectable numbers, but it was time for Ramirez, 34, and the Sox to part ways, and I think both sides knew that when the team declined Ramirez's club option for $10 million late last year.

Ramirez is just two years removed from one of his finest seasons. In 2014, he posted a .273/.305/.408 slash line with 15 home runs and 74 RBIs. That production earned him the second of his Silver Slugger awards.

However, he regressed in 2015, finishing at .249/.285/.357 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs. He slumped badly early in the season, contributing to a Sox swoon that caused the team to be buried with a 28-38 record by mid-June.

Here are the split stats for Ramirez from last season:

First half: .224/.249/.292, 2 HRs, 27 RBIs
Second half: .277/.325/.432, 8 HRs, 35 RBIs

Almost all the damage done by Ramirez came in the second half with the team out of the race. It smelled like a contract drive to me. No doubt, Ramirez wanted that $10 million option picked up. But the reality is, he isn't worth that money any longer, and the Sox were not wrong to head in a different direction.

That's not to say the Padres are stupid for signing Ramirez. Far from it. San Diego used four different shortstops last year, and I think it's fair to say Ramirez is an upgrade over the two players who got most of the starts at shortstop in San Diego last year -- Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes.

Moreover, Ramirez provides an everyday reliability at a key position. He has played 154 games or more at shortstop in each of the past six seasons. Ramirez is the kind of guy who expects himself to play every day, and that's not a bad thing for a San Diego club that is looking for some short-term stability at shortstop.

The Padres recently acquired a good shortstop prospect from the Boston Red Sox in Javier Guerra. They see him as their future at that position, but he's only 20 years old and at least a year or two away. Ramirez is a good stopgap solution on a short-term deal.

As for the Sox, Tyler Saladino appears to be the heir apparent at shortstop. There is every reason to believe Saladino has a good enough glove to play the position. The bat is a question mark, and that's why the Sox could still use another offensive upgrade at corner outfield or designated hitter. Saladino is OK as a No. 9 hitter and starting shortstop, as long as there aren't glaring holes in other spots in the lineup. I think the Sox are still a move short of being able to say that at this stage.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Can Chase Headley jump-start the Yankees in the AL East race?

The New York Yankees have a mediocre 51-48 record and a minus-30 run differential, and 80 percent of their projected starting rotation is on the disabled list.

Nevertheless, the Yankees still believe they have a shot to win this year, and they signaled as much on Tuesday when they acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres in exchange for infielder Yangervis Solarte and minor-league pitcher Rafael De Paula.

You can't blame the Yankees for believing they have a chance. The AL East is no longer the strongest division in baseball. Despite its uneven play, New York sits just four games back of first-place Baltimore entering Wednesday's action.

But can Headley make an impact? The numbers suggest he will not. He has experienced a steady decline since his career year in 2012.

2012: .286/.376/.498, 31 HRs, 115 RBIs
2013: .250/.347/.400, 13 HRs, 50 RBIs
2014: .230/..296/.353, 7 HRs, 33 RBIs

There's nothing about Headley that suggests he will ever repeat his numbers from two years ago. That was a career outlier. His career slash is .266/.346/.409. He's perhaps a better hitter than he's shown this year, but it's folly to think he'll ever slug close to .500 again.

Headley has been floundering on some awful San Diego teams. He has no help in that lineup whatsoever, so there is some chance he will be resurgent in New York where he will no longer be counted upon to carry an offense. Some have noted Headley's numbers might be hurt by the pitcher-friendly confines at Petco Park. Yankee Stadium, of course, is a hitter-friendly ballpark.

However, an analysis of Headley's splits this year shows no difference in his slugging percentage home and away:

Home: .250/.301/.354, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs
Road: .209/.290/.353, 5 HRs, 14 RBIs

Headley has been a slightly better offensive player at home, in fact. I'm skeptical he'll be the game-changer the Yankees are looking for.

What New York really needs to do is add a front-line starting pitcher. The Yankees have had horrible luck this year with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda all on the disabled list. The latter three are on the 60-day DL. Brandon McCarthy has made two good starts since coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the Yankees are at least one arm, if not two, short in the starting rotation.

There are rumors the Yankees are interested in White Sox left-hander John Danks. I would think, though, that New York needs a top-of-the-rotation starter, like Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels. Danks is nothing more than a mid-rotation guy pitching with a surgically repaired shoulder at this point.

Even with Headley, I don't think New York is going to win the AL East as presently constructed. I think the Yankees need that guy to lead their pitching stuff, or else they'll be lucky to stay in the hunt for the wild card in a mediocre American League.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Chris Sale's strong outing alleviates bogus 'concerns'

I had to laugh Monday when I read news stories about the White Sox naming Chris Sale their starting pitcher for Opening Day. As if there were another pitcher on the roster under consideration.

That decision might be the easiest one Sox manager Robin Ventura has to make all season. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Sale made his third start of the spring Monday against the Milwaukee Brewers and turned in 4.1 dominant innings. He retired 13 of the 15 hitters he faced and allowed just a pair of two-out singles. He struck out three and walked none.

I was relieved to hear Sale pitched well, not because I was worried about him, but because it was obnoxious to hear the bogus "concerns" other people had when Sale got knocked around in his second outing against the San Diego Padres last week.

In that game, Sale allowed six earned runs over 2.2 innings and struggled to get command of his breaking ball. Sale hadn't thrown his slider at all in his first outing of the spring, so it stands to reason he had difficulty with that pitch the first time he threw it in game situations this year.

It was yet another example of spring training being about getting ready for the season, as opposed to being about achieving optimal results. Established guys who already know they are coming north with the team don't need to concern themselves with statistics. A pitcher can work on a specific pitch during a given outing, and if he happens to get shelled, then so be it. It's a means to an end in terms of refining that pitch so it will be effective when the results begin to matter in three weeks.

A pitcher who will not be missed

Even as pitcher Zach Stewart languished through a miserable 6-14 season last year at Triple-A Charlotte, I was always somewhat (irrationally) fearful the White Sox would recall him and and give him a few starts at the big league level at the end of the season.

That fear is gone now after the Sox on Monday traded Stewart to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations. Thank goodness that guy is gone -- hopefully for good.

Stewart went 3-7 with a 6.14 ERA in 28 appearances (9 starts) with the Sox over a two-year period. He was last seen in a White Sox uniform on June 18, 2012, when he gave up six runs, nine hits and four home runs in a 12-3 loss to a Cubs team that would go on to lose 101 games.

Six days later, Stewart and Brent Lillibridge were traded to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman Kevin Youkilis. Naturally, Stewart did nothing to impress in Boston. He was traded to Pittsburgh in November 2012, placed on waivers and later picked up by the Sox once more in January of 2013.

Ugh. I guess somebody had to pitch at Charlotte last year. At least Stewart never got back to the bigs in Chicago. This is one pitcher I hope we never see in the Sox organization again.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Remembering Jerry Coleman: a man of many malaprops

 The city of San Diego and baseball as a whole lost a one-of-kind broadcaster when Jerry Coleman passed away Sunday. Coleman, who was the voice of the Padres for more than four decades and briefly managed the team in 1980, was 89.

The self-deprecating Coleman was known for his signature calls of "Oh, Doctor!" and "You can hang a star on that!" However, I'll probably remember him most for his legendary misstatements. The man was unintentionally humorous on numerous occasions.

Here are my five favorite "Coleman-isms":

5. "Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen."

4. "Larry Lintz steals second standing up -- he slid, but he didn't have to."

3. "And Kansas City is at Chicago tonight, or is it Chicago at Kansas City? Well, no matter as Kansas City leads in the eighth, 4-4."

2. "There's a hard shot to (Johnnie) LeMaster, and he throws (Bill) Madlock into the dugout!"

And, of course, the all-time best:

1.  (Dave) Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base! This is a terrible thing for the Padres."

Not to mention a terrible thing for Winfield. His head was the one rolling back toward the infield. OK, Coleman meant the ball, but how can you not love hilarity like that?

There aren't too many announcers like Coleman left anymore. The game is worse for it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Headley not worth Quintana for White Sox

Most rumors that pop up around baseball's Winter Meetings aren't worth paying too much attention. Especially this one that Dan Hayes at CSN Chicago reports: The White Sox are interested in Chase Headley, but not for Jose Quintana.

Hayes does a good job of shooting this one down almost immediately after he presents it, pointing out Headley is a free agent after next season, while Quintana won't be a free agent until after 2018.

It's worth remembering for a minute how good Quintana is. The left-hander just tossed 200 innings with a 3.51 ERA. He did that during a sophomore season where he saw in increased workload (only 136 1/3 innings as a rookie), improved his K-rate (5.3 to 7.4 K/9), his walk rate (2.8 to 2.5 BB/9) and kept his home runs allowed in check (0.9 HR/9 in 2012, 1.0 HR/9 allowed last year).

Among left-handed starters in the American League, only teammate Chris Sale (3.07), the Rays' David Price (3.33) and the Rangers' Derek Holland (3.42) sported better ERAs. If you measure by a statistic like ERA+ that tries to account for Quintana's offense-friendly home ballpark, his adjusted figure of 122 is still way behind Sale (140), but surpasses Price (114) and Holland (120).

Or by a stat that tries to measure pitcher success independent of fielding like FIP, Quintana (3.86) still finishes near Holland (3.44), and a bit farther from Price (3.03) and Sale (3.17), if you can believe any White Sox pitcher was aided to a better ERA by the team's awful defense last year.

Basically in Quintana, the Sox have one of the better left-handed starters in the AL. That's easy to forget because in Sale, the Sox have the best left-handed starter in the league. And Quintana did seemingly come out of nowhere with the Sox acquiring him as a minor league free agent after he washed out of the Mets and Yankees organizations.

Quintana having never thrown more than just over 100 innings during any season in the minors might have been a cause for concern. At this point, I don't think it is -- not after throwing more than 380 combined innings the last two years.

And lets not forget that the last 336 1/3 of those frames all came in the big leagues, where Quintana has shown the last two seasons that he can make adjustments and thrive.

Given that, it's hard not to think Quintana would garner more in trade than a free agent third baseman going into his walk year.

In fact, given the five years of cheap team control remaining on Quintana's contract, the Sox should be aiming for something similar to what the Rays will seek for Price this winter while their lefty has only two years of team control before free agency.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cubs name Rick Renteria manager

The painstaking five-week search is over. The Cubs have named former San Diego Padres bench coach Rick Renteria manager.

Renteria, 51, reportedly agreed to a three-year contract with club options for 2017 and 2018. Terms have not been disclosed.

Did the Cubs get their man?

Well, to hear Sun-Times reporter Gordon Wittenmyer tell it, Renteria was "by all accounts" the Cubs' first choice all along. Hmm.

Who is making these accounts? Wittenmyer? Cubs front office people who are trying to frame this hire in the best possible way? Steve Rosenbloom from the Tribune had a little different take on the whole thing, and I'd probably fall more in line with his opinion than Wittenmyer's.

About a month ago, Wittenmyer and everybody else who covers the Cubs reported that the team was talking with New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi "through back channels," and that Cubs brass was "poised to make an offer." That leads me to believe Girardi was the first choice, as well he should have been. The Cubs went for the home run hire and missed. It happens. But it doesn't make any sense to backtrack now and say Renteria is the guy they wanted all along. If that were the case, the Cubs could have made this hire a couple days after they fired Dale Sveum or at any other time over the last month.

Instead, they pursued Girardi. That didn't work out. The Cubs also interviewed Brad Ausmus, who ended up taking the Detroit job amid local speculation that the Tigers wanted to move quickly to prevent Ausmus from going to the Cubs. There's also strong evidence the Cubs waited until the World Series was over in hopes of interviewing Boston Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo. That request was denied by the Red Sox front office, which is still unhappy about the way Cubs president Theo Epstein left the Boston organization.

So, at best, Renteria was the Cubs' second choice. He might have been no higher than their fourth choice. All that said, this doesn't mean he is incapable of doing the job. I think experience is overrated when it comes to managers. Sure, you'd like to have a manager with experience, but it's not necessarily mandatory for success. Other guys who have never managed before have had success in their first job. Just look at St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, who has guided the Cardinals to two playoff appearances and one National League pennant in his first two years on the job.

Of course, Matheny has a number of good players on his roster. Renteria, in contrast, takes over a team with a losing clubhouse culture, with few established major league players, and with no real hope of contending in 2014. And that's really the issue at hand. It doesn't matter whether Renteria was the Cubs' first choice or their 10th choice. It doesn't matter how much experience he has, or what his reputation in the game is. Players win and lose games, and the Cubs simply have too few good players for anyone to reasonably expect Renteria to thrive in his new position.

Like Sveum before him, Renteria appears set up to fail.