Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Frustrations

Baseball is a trying game.

I've been ridiculously lucky on multiple fronts during the course of my career: 1) to be working in baseball at all, 2) to be associated with some great organizations and people, and 3) to have had the opportunity to go to the playoffs a bunch of times. In short, I'm spoiled.

That said, despite multiple 100-win seasons, and a bunch of Division titles, I have never had a season go smoothly from beginning to end. It's always been a rollercoaster. Of course, that is part of the fun, but it's not so much fun when you're in the trough section. People have often said things to me like, "You have the greatest job in the world" or "I would do anything to have your job." I jokingly say, "That's exactly what I thought before I got it." The reality is that these jobs are incredibly painful when you've lost seven out of eight.

At this point I'm not sure what is more frustrating: the fact that we're not playing the way we know we can or the fact that despite our disappointing play we're still just 8 games out of first. Don't get me wrong, we're incredibly fortunate to be that close given our performance, so we should be thankful, but it compounds the frustration because we should be in a better position.

I know our fans share our frustration. The last good stretch when we won seven out of eight was during our last homestand, so hopefully we'll be able to pull off a similar run during this homestand and get back to the fun part of the job.

20 comments:

Chris said...

Don't give up the faith. You can do it!

Steve Adler said...

Paul,

2 Questions.

1. At what point does a FO decided that it's time to sell?? I realize that the little run we had gave us hope; however, it would see to me that after this homestand we should know where we stand.

2. Can we get a catcher?? I'm not picky, either one that can play great D OR can hit. Not only can they not put a scare into the guys on base, when they come up to hit, they are not helping the team get those runs back. The Catching positon has been driving me crazy all year.

2A. What's the scouting report on Hundley??

Thanks,
Steve

Gavin said...

Paul,

Agreed, this is extremely frustrating. Has the club had serious discussion concerning when the right time might be to "cut the cord" and start putting players on the trade block? Although the NL West has proven to be a division ripe for the picking, I think its fairly clear that the current Padres team (even if it were to somehow win the division) is not built to succeed in the playoffs. As a true fan I am more concerned with the team's future well-being than the current season, for the reason mentioned. The team seems to have fallen behind the D'Backs, Rockies and Dodgers, not only in the standings, but also in terms of overall impact talent - this might be an opportunity to invest in subsequent seasons. I know you can't comment on specific players, but at least 3 come to mind who would have high value on the market. I realize that you also have to weigh the value of possible compensation picks if they leave after the season as free agents.

Are these decisions based on some magic number (i.e. 10 games back on July 15) or more based on feel?

Andrew Stebbins said...

Paul,
When do teams figure out if they are buying or selling, and who makes the final call? Thanks a bunch...keep up the great work.

Andy said...

and maybe teach someone what a productive out is? Last night was brutal not being able to get the bunt down, and then an infield pop up and a ground out. Though, that is better then our usual 3 k's

Paul DePodesta said...

There seems to be a theme in these comments...

There is no magic formula to decide whether or not you're a buyer or a seller. Teams go through the analysis every year based on historical data, the current state of your club, are you getting players back from injury (or are key players on the verge of breaking down), the state of the clubs surrounding you, the potential deals you could make, etc.

As you can imagine, given the competitive nature of the people in this industry, nobody likes to sell, so the gray area usually leans toward doing nothing or buying. Also, teams don't like to "throw up the white flag" to their players or their fans.

hector said...

Paul,

If we look at it long term, it is in the team's best interests to become sellers. If Maddux waives his no-trade clause, and if the team trades Giles, Wolf, etc. The team in the long run will be much better.

Win the Stephen Strasburg lottery in next year's draft. Bring up Venable, and the other kids.

The model of sucking and drafting well has given the Marlins 2 championships, the model of being competitive has produced zero championships.

Alex said...

Well, as bad as the offense has been, they have been very unlucky in terms of Runs Scored vs expected Runs scored off their component stats.

In fact, as you undoubtedly know, the Padres offense is one of the most unlucky offenses in baseball as a result of this current difference. The Padres currently have 290 runs scored, but based on their component stats it should be somewhere closer to 310. That is still bad, but nonetheless 20 runs at this point in the season is the difference of about 4 wins, which is obviously huge.

On the flip side, the Padres pitching has probably been even unluckier.

Let's take a look at 4 teams pitching staffs:

Team A: teams hit team A at .259/.328/.387 clip. 7.49 K/9, 0.82 HR/9, 3.38 BB/9
Team B: .257/.317/.400, 6.12 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9
Team C: .246/.320/.398, 7.34 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, 0.97 HR/9
Team D: .257/.320/.398, 6.81 K/9, 3.16 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9

They all look fairly equal, correct?

Now let's just look at runs allowed

Team A (Dodgers): 325 RA in 672 IP
Team B (Angels): 316 RA in 699 IP
Team C (Cubs): 313 RA in 699 IP
Team D (Pads): 359 RA in 718 IP

Seems like the Pads component stats have been getting the short end of the stick on both sides of the ball this year. This should even out by years end, however even with evening out the Padres would still look like a barely sub .500 team at best if they kept up their current stats.

For the Pads to have a legitimate shot at the division, they need Greene to bounce back in a big way, Young and Bard to come back healthy and productive, and Chase Headley to really come on strong as a rookie. If all that happens and things even out, the Pads could win the division, but it's never an easy task to leap over 3 teams, especially when those 3 teams (LA, AZ, COL) have also had their share of bad luck that should even out

Cpt Top Off said...

Count me in as one fan who would gladly sacrifice the rest of 2008 for the betterment of future seasons. What's going to happen if we sell, will we sink to last place? I think it would be disastrous to "fake it" the rest of the season, only to miss out on an opportunity to reload for 09'.

Alex said...

To reply to the more emotional side of your post, I think it's hard for many of us to understand how hard losing can be for people in the front office, dugout, etc.

Losing is tough on fans, as a Giants fans I certainly know this fact, but I can't imagine the strain it can put on someone directly involved with the team. The people behind the scenes put in their blood, sweat, and tears into the team and have so much invested in that team's success. On top of that, many of these people's careers and livelihood can be threatened with continual losing.

I absolutely believe you when you talk about how hard the job is. However, you are good at what you do and its good to think of your earlier post about process and outcomes. Just keep doing the process well and the good outcomes will come. The beauty of baseball is that it generally evens out at the end of the season and it should for the Pads.

Plus you guys have 10 games left vs the Giants!

Cpt Top Off said...

Paul,

Has the club given any thought to having Kouz and Headley trade positions in the offseason? Headley appears to be the superior defender at 3B - obviously a much more demanding position. Personally, I get nervous any time a ball is hit Kouzmanoff's way, despite the team's efforts to downplay his defensive troubles. I guess the question boils down to, why employ a below-average defender at 2 positions instead of just 1?

Andrew Stebbins said...

Off topic, but what do people think of Michel Inoa, the 16 y/o Dominican pitcher who apparently could command $4 million? I guess the A's are on him with the Yankees and Braves. Gammons said he would be a Top 10 pick in the draft if he was domestic.

Alex said...

For a 16 year old amateur to command 4 million dollars, he must be pretty special. For the A's to be willing to offer 4 million (reportedly 1 million higher than any other team to that point) he must be something %&$#&@' special. For contrast, the no. 6 pick in the draft, Kyle Skipworth, signed today for 2.3 million. Inoa, assuming he's not lying about his age, is two years younger than Skipworth so he must really have some amazing stuff.

Personally, I think if the talent level is truly that elite it's easily worth the investment. 4 million dollars is essentially the equivalent of one season from Alan Embree and Emil Brown. Those players are fine players and all (well, Embree at least), but aren't exactly difference makers in the grand scheme of a season.

For that same money you could have a guy in Inoa who could emerge into a top 10 mlb starter (or so I imagine from reports) under control for at least 6 years. Not having Embree and Brown for 1 season might be the difference of 1 win over the course of the year. It might not even be that much of a difference the way Brown's been playing.

Whereas for that same money, you could have a guy like Inoa who could add 24-30 wins by himself to the A's over the course of 6 years. Sure Inoa's cost ends up being more than 4 million once he reaches the bigs, but clearly at a price ANYONE in baseball would pay at that point

Nicholas said...

Paul,

Sticking with the frustration theme, I caught Sandy Alderson on 1090 today and have to wonder why he bothers to go on only to have his answers and statements consistantly distorted and misrepresented by the hosts and callers?

It seems to me that no amount of discussion will be able to reach those members of the fanbase who reject statistical analysis or whatever else they lump together under the often derogatory label "Moneyball".

Eric said...

what's the update on bard? how is he coming along?

i was sifting through my fantasy league FA's and saw him and thought to myself "there's a guy who would be having a nice season if he didnt get hurt."

Max said...

Paul,

Take pride and strength in the fact that you know you can do something to help the team. You have something invested, and that's important. As I'm sure you know, when you work at the minor league level (like me), there's nothing on the line as long as the seats are filled. But the team's success and failure have little to do with the front office for that minor league affiliate. So while it's rarely painful because a team is losing and there is no consequence, it's almost more frustrating to have so little invested in the product on the field.

Do you ever look back to an earlier part of your career when less was on the line for you personally, or are you prouder to be a bigger part of the team's success? I'd wager you, like me or anyone who works to be a part of baseball operations and player development, would prefer to have something on the line. It matters more.

Keep building. The wins will come.

Gavin said...

Paul,

Regarding the International Signing Day of July 2, can you shed some light on how active the team will be this year and which individual players the club is targeting? I have read/heard reports that the team may sign as many as 3 players who will command 7-figure bonuses. Is this possible? Combined with the opening of the new Dominican facility, the timing seems right to make a splash. Any insight you could give would be greatly appreciated.

Also, any update you can give us on last year's signings: Rincon, Galvez, etc.?

bullpeners said...

Paul,
I think the level of frustration you see in the fan base now is reflective of the disappointment we all feel because our expectations are higher now than they have ever been. That is what three years of success will get you!
I don't remember ever hearing this much booing in San Diego before. Not even during the really bad years in the 70's and early 80's. When the FO tell us that the Pads plan to be successful and in contention every season we expect the same.
Hopefully things will improve over the next month, folks are getting pretty angry. The good news is that at least we care. The apathy hasn't set in like it did back then. A typical crowd was between 10,000 to 20,000 all season long!

Paul DePodesta said...

bullpeners,

I couldn't agree more, and it's great that people care so much. And you're right, too, that it is partly (or largely) due to expectations. I don't think we'd have it any other way. We place those expectations on ourselves, and our players do on themselves, so it's completely reasonable for the fans to share those expectations. We need to be realistic, of course, but if you don't expect to win, you never will.

LynchMob said...

That's a great point/question, Nicholas, I'm interested in an answer to that also!

I find some thoughts about why SA keeps trying to communicate complex topics via the sports talk radio channels in his recent interview with Geoff Young ...

http://ducksnorts.com/blog/2008/06/chatting-with-sandy-alderson-part-3.html