2015 First Half Review: Padres, Angels and Dodgers

Posted: July 9, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

San Diego makes all the right off-season moves, and the result is nothing of note in the first half, less firing Bud Black.

Catching:  Norris provides power (11/45), but a notoriously poor obp (.288).

First:  Alonso needs to stay healthy if the Pads make a wild card run (I’m choosing to assume finishing first is out of the question).  His .302/.391 is impressive and sorely needed in the Pads line-up.

Second:  Gyorko demoted will hopefully lead to Gyorko productive.  Spangenberg’s injury gives Jed another shot.  In 29 fewer at-bats, Gyorko (.292/.338) is much more the hitter than Spangenberg (.254/.304).

Third:  If Middlebrooks ever becomes a .250 hitter, rejoice.  But, I doubt the possibility.  9 dingers and 28 rbi in 240 ab is not what the Padres had in mind.  This position remains a weak point that needs to be addressed if the Padres want to make a strong finish.

Short:  Amarista is as weak as Middlebrooks.  Very little offense to offer.  While solid defensively, his offense (.212/.281) may not be worth the glove.

Left:  Justin Upton has been as advertised.  14/46 in 310 ab bodes well for the entire year.  More Padres should join him.

Center:  Venable by default due to Myers’ injury is part of the first half disappointment.  Venable is a fourth outfielder, not a starter.  Another weak point that needs to be addressed by the end of July.

Right:  Kemp is not a leadoff guy (simple advice to Mr. Murphy).  44 rbi is an impressive first half stat, but the 6 home runs are a tad to the short side.

Starting Pitching:  Shields, much like Justin Upton, is as advertised.  Worth the money.  Ross, Cashner, Despaigne and Kennedy offer enough talent, but, less Ross, the era has to head south (4.06, 4.75 and 4.84) respectively.

Bullpen:  Kimbrel, Maurer and Benoit have been good to awesome.  Maurer with a sub-two era and sub-one whip is fantastic.  Benoit (2.25/0.81) is no less impressive.  Kelly is developing well and should offer some relief (no pun intended) regarding Thayer’s trip to the d.l.  Many baseball mavens criticize the Padres bullpen, but I disagree.  These guys are a quality group.

Second Half Prediction:  Acquire a third baseman who can hit and centerfielder.  Another starting pitcher to follow Ross would be swell.  That may be enough to make take the wild card.

******************************************************************************************************************

Arte’s boys continue to disappoint.  DiPoto exits.  On one hand, who can blame him?  But, I do lose patience with the overemphasis on saber metrics.  Strangely, Aaron, Mays, Van Slyke (Andy, not Scott), Robinson (both of them), Trammel and Whitaker all did fine defensively by paying attention to detail without the benefit of statistical reports as to where the ball might land if the pitcher hits his spot and does not shake off the catcher.

Catcher: Between Iannetta and Perez, not much offense.  They combined for 8 doubles, 6 home runs and 30 rbi as of 7/7/15.  Anemic.  Though, they both call a good game.  If offensive weakness must reside, find that weakness at catcher or shortstop.

First.  Pujols is back with a vengeance.  26/56 is overdue.  Better late than never.

Second:  Giavotella is inconsistent at the plate, but give him the ab.  32 rbi in 271 ab is enough to notice.

Third:  Freese took forever to get started, but 10/36 given that horrible start hopefully carries into the second half.

Short:  If Aybar hits above .270 and raises his obp to .320 by the end of the year, Angel fans rejoice.

Left:  I will group the disappointing Matt Joyce (how much longer until he is released or demoted?  C’mon, people.  He’s a bust), Navarro and Robertson.  The latter two splitting time is much more attractive than Joyce taking away another 217 ab for no apparent reason.  Help wanted at the seven spot.

Center:  Lord Trout remains the best baseball player on the planet.

Right:  Calhoun registering 9/46 is necessary or else all the Angels consistently register on offense is Trout and Pujols.

DH:  Cron needs to play on Sunday’s only.

Starting Pitching:  Weaver, though currently on the d.l., is amazing.  How he has four wins is beyond understanding.  A whip of 1.24 is testimony to a pitcher who can think his way through a lineup regardless of diminishing ability.  Santiago (2.40/1.09) is this year’s Shoemaker.  Wilson and Richards must continue first half success into the Dog Days or else the Angels finish third or worse.  If Heaney realizes his substantial talent, the Angels have much less concern.

Bullpen:  Street (2.34/0.89), Smith (2.80/1.08), Ramos (1.88/1.25) and Gott (1.80/0.80) allow Scioscia to sleep at night and might allow him to keep his job. Alvarez and Salas, while posting higher era than their ‘pen mates, have just as impressive whip numbers (1.07 and 1.15 respectively).

Second Half Prediction:  A lot to solve on the offensive side.  DH, left and catching need significant upgrades.  But, Arte owes most people and their brothers a lot of salary until 2035 or thereabout (a fellow living in Texas comes to mind).  Scioscia finally loses his job at season’s end and moves to Philly.  Sorry, Anaheim.

*****************************************************************************************************************

Why do the Dodgers keep winning?  Six of eight hitters with the most at-bats have obp ranging from .348 to .390.  These guys get on base and score runs.  Also, having Greinke and Kershaw is certainly helpful.

Catcher:  Grandal is more than adequate.  Anybody who keeps Ellis on the bench is doing a fine job.

First:  As Gonzalez gets older, he gets downright cranky, but can he hit.

Second:  Kendrick’s first half power numbers of 7/37 is a distant dream for most second basemen.

Third:  Turner hitting 11 home runs, driving in 38 and hitting an amazing .314/.384 is why we watch baseball.

Short:  The only true bust is Rollins.  Better off with another player at this spot.

Left:  Van Slyke pieced together an acceptable showing of 8 doubles, 4 homers and 18 rbi in 110 ab.

Center:  Pederson is the solo home run king.  His batting average has sunk to .230, but his bop is .368.  20/39 for rookie power numbers is eye-catching.

Right:  Ethier plays and Ethier does not make the L.A. Times bitch and moan section.

Special Mention:  Puig may be trade bait come late-July.  Given Guerrero’s solid bench play (10/30 was not expected) and the return of Crawford, the Dodgers are deep in the outfield.  Dangling Puig to the right team could result in a significant return.  We shall see.

Starting Pitching:  As mentioned above, Greinke (who should have a dozen wins, if he received any run support) and Kershaw are a superb one-two.  However, Anderson (5-5, 3.12/1.31) and Bolsinger (4-3, 3.09/1.28) deserve praise.  Without these two, the Dodgers are a third place team in a weak division.

Bullpen:  Jansen, Gracia, Howell (especially) and Liberatore are fantastic, yet do not receive enough recognition regarding the Dodgers’ success.  Nicasio and Baez aren’t bad either.

Second Half Prediction:  The Dodgers do not sit still.  Deals will be made.  Look for a new shortstop and a couple of starters as of 7/31, if not sooner.

 

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