Posts Tagged ‘Padres’

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.

 

Advertisements

First the Padres.

Ramble:  Quality off-season.  Completely unexpected.  The Padres spending money is as rare as bad beer in San Diego.  Look for club records in home runs and rbi this year.  Padres fans actually have legitimate hope entering the 2015 season.  Buy tickets!

Outfield:  Justin Upton, Will Myers and Matt Kemp make for an average defense, but offense is the attraction.  A substantial challenge for opposing pitching.  Carlos Quentin should be traded to an A.L. team (Carlos in the outfield is similar to a guy on crutches attempting to run.  Well intentioned, but without reason).  Will Venable returns to the bench . . . where he belongs.

Infield:  Yonder Alonso and Tommy Medica share the bag at first.  Both these two will benefit mightily from the presence of Kemp, Upton and Myers in the lineup.  Is Cory Spangenberg ready for the Bigs?  He skipped AAA ball when called up to the Padres last year.  Not a good move.  Jed Gyorko is developing nicely.  If Jed could become a leadoff hitter with a better than .375 obp, that would be swell.  Will Middlebrooks is looking at last chance saloon this year.  He either hits major league pitching or he bounces around AAA from one organization to another.  Yangervis Solarte is a better  choice at the moment.  Is Alexi Amarista a long term solution to the shortstop position?  No.  But, Diego Goris will arrive in 2016/17.

Catching:  Rock solid with Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz.

Starting Pitching.  Signing James Shields was as exciting for Padres fans as the Kemp moment.  Shields will do for starting pitching what Kemp will do for the offense.  Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy have a heavy load lifted from their shoulders via Shields, but deliver they must.

Bullpen:  Always a San Diego strength.  Dale Thayer, Nick Vincent, Kevin Quackenbush (though his ip/bb ratio is a concern), Alex Torres, Frank Garces and Joaquin Benoit will give Bud Black few worries in 2015.

AAA/AA Help:  Cory Spangenberg (2b), Casey McElroy (2b.  Watch out, Cory), Alex Dickerson (of), Rymer Lirano (of), Jake Goebbert (of), Matt Wisler (starting), Joe Ross (starting) and Jerry Sullivan (relief).

Prediction:  The N.L. West will be a dogfight from Opening Day until the last day of the season.  The Padres finish second, make the playoffs as a Wild Card, win the first round, lose the second.

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

The Angels

Ramble:  The Josh Hamilton development is the last place to start a new season.  Good luck to him.  By and large, while acknowledging his personal challenge, Josh was not money well spent.  Alas, baseball owners, even Arte Moreno, rarely learn.  Speaking of rarely learning, on behalf of Angel fans, may C.J. Wilson win more than he loses.  Not a given by any stretch.  Howie Kendrick is gone.  Or simply a freeway or two to the north.  Drive by and say “Hi.”

Outfield:  Acquiring Matt Joyce was smart (though, my inner conspiracist says DiPoto knew that Josh had, in one sense or another, fallen from the wagon of sobriety).  And, honestly, when you have the best player in not only the game today, but one of the greatest ever, in Mike Trout, how much do you worry about the other two spots?  Yes, that was a rhetorical question.   Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill will, just as last year, serve well.  Those two are dirt dogs.  They play hard and want to play more.  Amen.

Infield:  Pujols (backed by a very capable Efren Navarro looking for at bats.  An interesting July 31 acquisition, if you ask me), the mystery man at second (I’m guessing Grant Green sticks), David Freese and Erick Aybar form a serviceable infield. Somewhere between “wow” and “meh”.

Catching:  While a fan of Mike Scioscia’s managing, I feel the pain of any and all system catchers finally making the big club.  Scioscia is demanding and maddening as far as rookie catchers are concerned.  Log two or three years with him, then the biting lessens, but remains sadly plentiful and painful.  Thus, look for Hank Conger to prosper in Houston.  As for Chris Ianetta, he has the experience to keep managerial critique to a minimum.  After Ianetta, the spot is thin, thus weak, especially in the Dog Days.

DH:  C.J. Cron needs to offer the team a big year if the post-season awaits.  If Pujols falls to injury again, he is the dh while first base becomes Navarro’s.

Starting Pitching:  Jared Weaver has become the Pedro Martinez of his generation.  Jared is a pleasure to watch.  He thinks as much as pitches to his benefit.  C.J. Wilson was plain old bad in 2014.  A repeat makes the playoffs very difficult for the Angels.   However, if Matt Shoemaker and Tyler Skaggs (this kid could be awesome) win at least forty-five games as a duo, coupled with the healthy return of Garrett Richards, then C.J. can have a lousy year.  As for the much ballyhooed Andrew Heaney, we shall see.

Bullpen:  Houston Street is a stud, yet the Angels hem and haw about a contract.  Dumb.  Joe Smith is a top 5 eighth inning guy.  Mike Morin was as much a surprise to the ‘pen as Shoemaker was to the starters.  Fernando Salas, Nick Tropeano, Cory Rasmus, Cam Bedrosian and Cesar Ramos are the most likely to experience Opening Day in a big league park.

AAA/AA Help:  As a side note, the Angels’ development system is awful (tied for 10th in the A.L. per me).  Jeff Bandy (c), Brian Hernandez (1b, especially if Navarro is traded 7/31), Vance Albitz (2b), Ryan Wheeler (3b), Shawn O’Malley (ss), Jairo Diaz (relief).

Prediction:  Third in the A.L. West.

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

The Dodgers

Ramble:  The lack of a television broadcast deal is pathetic.  Really bad.  Shame on both TWC and the Dodgers.  However, you make Arte Moreno a happy man.  Trading Kemp was, um, I will be impolite, ballsy.  He will beat the living snot out the Dodgers’ pitching staff this year.  I thought Ethier was the most likely to be traded.  Alas, given the current cast, he may be.

Outfield:  Amazingly, post-Kemp, not enough room.  The Joc Pedersen assumptions are unwise.  Hit major league pitching, then talk about starting.  Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are the likely starting three.  I continue to await Puig severely injuring Ethier in pursuit of a gap fly ball.  Scott Van Slyke, while nothing like the old man, at least determined he could hit in the bigs last year.  Frankly, Scott in the A.L. as a dh is the true Scott.

Infield:  Jimmy Rollins at short and Howie Kendrick at second firm the middle as compared to last year.  Dodger pitchers should be quite pleased.  Adrian Gonzalez is a nice guy who plays an exceptional first base.  Oh yeah, he can hit as well.  Juan Uribe is a tribute to bad diet and lack of exercise (Pablo Sandoval is a disciple).  How he continues to play effectively is beyond me.  Justin Turner and Alex Guerrero provide quality depth.  Darwin Barney is bound for elsewhere.

Catching:  A.J. Ellis is the ultimate lunch-bucket-hard-hat-working-man catcher in MLB.   Yasmani Grandal will hopefully learn a lot.

Starting Pitching:  Clayton Kershaw is to starting pitching as Mike Trout is to the offensive side of the ball.  Mark Greinke is weird, but a quality #2 starter (#1 on most teams).  Hyun-Jin Ryu eats innings.  His value shines in August and September.  As for the last two spots, I’m guessing Joe Wieland (healthy, at last) and Zach Lee.  Just a guess.

Bullpen:  Kenley Jansen must be healthy or this is a weak point on exponents (sorry for the math reference).  Joel Peralta, Brandon League (most likely closer in waiting), J.P. Howell and Brett Anderson form a shallow bullpen waiting for a call from the dugout.

AAA/AA Help:  Chris O’Brien (c), O’Koyea Dickson (1b), Ryan Adams (2b), Miguel Rojas (ss), Erisbel Arruebarrena (ss) and Corey Seager (ss, and given Miguel and Erisbel, his ascension is anything but guaranteed).  What?  No pitching!  Indeed.  If you want to scout, draft, sign and not develop either starting or relief pitching, the Dodgers are your squad.

Prediction:  First in the N.L. West.  A stunning playoff loss to a team not from St. Louis.  Mattingly is fired.