Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Antonelli and LeBlanc

I thought I'd let this one be a surprise for everyone either watching the game last night or reading the box score this morning. By now you probably know that we've purchased the contracts of both Matt Antonelli and Wade LeBlanc.

Matt started last night for the Padres at 2B and notched his first big league hit, against Greg Maddux no less. Matt's struggles this year at AAA have been well-chronicled. After spending a good part of the season with a batting average on the interstate, Anto had an Antonelli-like August which pushed his final season numbers at AAA to .215/.335/.322. That certainly wasn't what anyone was expecting this season. However, Matt's line in August of .290/.391/.473 was precisely what we were hoping for at some point during this season. The encouraging thing throughout the year was that Matt never lost his plate discipline despite his overall batting line, which is a testament to his strong mental makeup. The fact is that we pushed Matt aggressively through the system, his most recent promotion to the big leagues being no exception. Remember, the Padres drafted Anto just barely more than two years ago.

The 2B position has been a tough spot for the Padres over the past four seasons. Starting with 2005, we've ranked 15th, 10th, 15th, and 15th in the National League at 2B in terms of OPS. That isn't the end-all, be-all stat, but it does indicate that we haven't been competitive with the rest of the league at 2B even after considering park factors. Certainly, Edgar Gonzalez's bat has helped, but we thought this was as good a time as any, probably the best time actually, to get Antonelli some Major League experience, because we believe he will eventually make a difference at that position for us.

Wade LeBlanc is joining the Major League rotation with his first start coming tomorrow night (Wednesday) against the Dodgers. Like Antonelli, LeBlanc was a 2006 draft by the Padres and has moved rapidly through the system. We knew we were pushing him by putting him in AAA at the beginning of the season, and his performance reflected that: a 9.27 ERA in April and a 6.56 ERA in May. However, Wade surged in June and over the final three months went 93 innings with 80 hits, 20 walks, and 103 strikeouts.

The most significant part of these two callups and what separates them from your typical September callup is the fact that neither player needed to be protected on the 40-man roster this winter. I know it may not seem like it, but that is a big deal. Bringing these two players now is a loud statement for the Padres. I'll expand on that thought in a later post.

Quick Update: Both AA San Antonio and High-A Lake Elsinore have pulled through and qualified for the playoffs! Additionally, short-A Eugene is still alive - one game back with two to play. Playoffs in AA and High-A begin on Wednesday.

22 comments:

Alex said...

I wonder how much Antonelli is competing for a 2B spot next year. Unless he absolutely had a torrid September, my bet would be he starts 2009 in AAA.

I still have a feeling Mark Ellis will be playing 2B in San Diego next year, and by feeling I mean total guess

Padman42 said...

I am ecstatic, by the team purchasing the contracts of both players. Yes, Matt has struggled but when you consider that he was the youngest player on the team, and that 2 years ago (entering the season) he was at Wake Forest, its a big jump and his struggles were understandable. Its hard for me to look at his numbers last year .307/.404/.491/.894 21 HR, 28 SB, 123 RS, 78 RBI (A and AA), and not think the kid will be something special. Im glad the organization is showing a commitment to playing the kids.
Also Leblanc was almost unhitable this past month in AAA, his post all star numbers of 4-2, 2.86 are fantastic, but if you consider that 8 of the 14 ER hes allowed since the all star break came in 1 start, that meant he averaged 1 ER a start the remainder of the games. FANTASTIC.
Regarding the 40 man roster. I heard Matt Bush has to be added to the 40 man by the time the Rule V draft comes along. Do the Padres plan on placing him on the 40 man, or are they about ready to wipe their hands of him

Alex said...

To take my stab at the Matt Bush question, I'm pretty sure the Pads don't have to worry about protecting Matt Bush. For another team to select Bush in the rule V, they would have to have him on their 25-man roster the entire year or they would have to send him back to the Pads with $50,000. Or the Pads would pay 25k to get him back. Something along those lines

To my knowledge, Bush hasn't even played in 2008, so I think he's about as safe as you can get for a potential rule V draft pick.

There is a minor league part to the rule V draft though, but I am not that familiar with how that works

hector said...

I think that Bush still has a lot of potential, and I am a big minority here. The kid has been nothing short of a disappointment and an embarrassment to the organization, but when he pitched last year, the arm was electric.

Just like when the team lost Soria, someone like the Nationals will take a risk with him.

I say, get rid of some of the ceilingless suspects like Hayhurst, Reinecke, Kazmar and specially Myrow, and protect this guy.

The club already made the mistake of drafting him, it would be an ever worse mistake to let him go and see him flourish with another team.

For one, thanks to Bush, the Padres have been able to build the farm system. Due to that signing, the Padres had to bring in Grady Fuson and his staff.

So thank you Bush, you are already paying dividends!

mweldon said...

I noticed Jaff Decker was helping out with the Emeralds' playoff push. I guess nobody told him that he's not supposed to be that good at such a young age.

thepadfather said...

I see that the Emeralds are one game back with one to play, what is the tie breaker system for SS?

Ace2110 said...

Paul,

I know you recently said that you hadn't been given a budget for next year yet.....BUT Olney has a report over at ESPN that it is going to be 50M....YIKES. If you pick up Giles option that's 5 guys making 34M.....not including Hoffman-it's hard to see how a competitive team can get put together at 50M.

LynchMob said...

The Emeralds were eliminated last night ...

Is there any regret in the Padres' FO on the promotion of Sawyer Carroll from the Ems? That move seemed to take a bit of wind out of their sails at a time when they were streaking to the top of the division ...

Cpt Top Off said...

I doubt I am the only one who was unimpressed with LeBlanc last night. I know, I know, it was his debut and all; but that doesn't change the fact that he's a thumber, and will obviously have to survive with impeccable control as he has little to no margin for error. Throwing those 87 mph bullets, I can't see how he'll be anything more than a #4/5 for his career. What bothers me a little is these are the guys we target in the draft. 2nd round picks on Ramos and LeBlanc, 3rd rounder on Geer, the list goes on and on. I'm sorry but I feel strongly that high picks should be used on high upside arms. Other than getting lucky on Peavy in the 15th round what impact arm has the system produced in the last 10-15 years? There is no one. I do like the kinds of hitters we target, but we shoot WAY to low when it comes to pitching. Sorry for the rant.

LynchMob said...

re: Jaff Decker @ Eugene ... I saw him last night and it looked like he hurt his hand or a finger pretty bad in his final AB ... any word on the status of that injury?

re: tie-breaker ... in the NWL, the tie-breaker was head-to-head vs 3rd place team ... and the Ems lost that tie-breaker ...

hector said...

I have to agree with cpt top off.

One big complaint I have is when the team goes for a strike thrower and pitchability instead of an electric arm with upside.

Look at Latos, that kid has the tools to be #1 or #2.

Ramos and Geer look to me like a Justin Germano type, I did not see Leblanc, so I will not comment on him.

I hope that with all the depth there is on the farm system, the club starts swinging for the fences when it comes to drafting electric arms and teaching them to be pitchers.

Didi said...

What's the plan with Cesar Carillo?
He's been pitching better of late and I'm just wondering what the team's opinion on his progress and whether he'll be promoted soon.

Thanks, Paul for the information on the Padres' minor league players.

Ryn023 said...

Paul, A general baseball question. Is there a benefit for either the player or team not to put an injured player on the DL? When injuries happen in September many times the players are not put on the DL. Thanks for your insights.

You Know Me! said...

paul,

Can you give us an update on bush, schmidt, and cumberland?

Paul DePodesta said...

didi,

Cesar's velocity and command continue to come back. In fact, when I last saw him he really struggled with the feel for his curveball; however, our recent reports indicate that he's been using it effectively. At this point we're happy to see him back on the mound competing. My guess is that we'll see a different guy come March.

Paul DePodesta said...

ryn023,

There are a number of different scenarios, and the expanded roster allows the Club more flexibility in dealing with those.

For instance, if a player has any chance to be back within 15 days, then the Club won't use the DL (player out for a required 15 days). However, if the player is going to be out for longer, the Club will put him on the DL, and then they'll be able to use that spot for someone else on a playoff roster.

Paul DePodesta said...

ryn023,

The other thing that happens is that a player may be useful in a particular way even if he's not fully healthy. For example, a guy may have an injury to his shoulder, but he can still pinch run or he may have an injury to his hamstring, but he can still pinch hit.

field39 said...

Not looking to sound snarky here, but what is it about Antonelli that you guys like? I know it has only been 20 plate appearances, but if this is a demo of how hard he hits a baseball, I don't get it.

zimqb11 said...

Sort of off topic, Paul, but any chance of a late call-up this year for 3B Peter Ciofrone?

He's had an outstanding season this year at the plate.

If not, do you see him figuring into the plans for the future if he stays productive?

Thanks for your insights throughout the year.

- Jon

You Know Me! said...

paul,

still would looking forward to an update on bush, cumberland, and schmidt's recovery????? is there any chance the padres would groom carillo to be the closer of the future?

Paul DePodesta said...

you know me,

Everything seems to be going well. Schmidt and Bush haven't had any setbacks with their throwing, and Cumberland is on schedule. We expect all three to be 100% in spring training next year. Both Schmidt and Bush will be around 18 months removed from surgery, so we're hopeful they can hit the ground running.

Ken said...

Different subject, but nice move by Padres picking up Charlie Haeger off waivers. Knuckleball pitchers are fun to watch and can be effective seemingly forever.