Friday, April 17, 2009

Three Questions

I left San Diego on Wednesday night for a quick amateur scouting trip, so I haven't been in the office, but there have been a few excellent questions that deserve some attention. I'll respond relatively quickly here (I have to get to another three games today), but I'll try to follow up early next week. All questions are paraphrased.

Question 1 from seemingly everybody: Why on earth are you carrying 13 pitchers?

13 pitchers is a lot, no doubt, and we're not viewing it as a long-term solution. Until we start pinch-hitting pitchers for pitchers, however, it's fine. There are three principle reasons for carrying 13 pitchers for the time being: 1) we have a whole host of new relievers that we didn't have during much of spring training, so we're trying to learn as much about each of them as possible, 2) some of these relievers don't have roster flexibility (in other words "out of options"), and 3) we have some starters from whom we're not going to expect six innings every time out there so we must expect to fill in some innings. As a cherry on top, the schedule calls for us to play 16 games in the first 17 days on the season, which is rigorous coming right out of spring training. It's an unusual roster construction, but it works for now. Building on question #1...

Question 2 from Friarworks: Why has Frankie DeLaCruz only pitched one inning in ten games and isn't that bad for his development?

Bud has had a tough balancing act to start the season. Not only are we carrying a number of new pitchers as mentioned above, but also seven of our first ten games have been decided by three runs or fewer. Of the three that were decided by four or five runs, one of them was a one-run game until the 7th after which Perdomo got the opportunity to pitch the 8th (the final inning), and the other was 4-2 until the bottom of the 8th when we scored three to go up 7-2 and Moreno got the 9th. The fact is that Bud is trying to break in DeLaCruz, Gregerson, Moreno, Perdomo, and even Mujica to some degree, and DeLaCruz so far has gotten the short end of the stick. Actually, even Cla Meredith only had two appearances before yesterday's game.

Therefore, it's the job of our pitching coach and bullpen coach to make sure that each guy continues to stay fresh while also maintaining their availability. Bud is certainly aware of the days off in between appearances, and I'm sure he's been trying to find a good spot to get DeLaCruz in there. To have a guy get one inning in ten games is certainly not ideal, but I'd rather that than have too many opportunities where we're behind in games or our starters are getting knocked out in the 2nd.

Question 3 from WebSoulSurfer: Why would you designate Travis Denker for assignment? Weren't there other, better candidates than a 23-year old infielder with hitting skills?

This is a great question, because there isn't a science behind a lot of roster moves. In general we'll have a debate among a group of our Major League scouts as well as front office personnel to decide on the move when we have to make an irrevocable decision like this one.

We agree with WebSoulSurfer that Travis is a very good prospect. We were happy to claim him on waivers from the Giants during the winter, and we're disappointed to lose him. I expect that he'll be a good big leaguer either as a 2B/3B bat or even as an everyday player. In this particular case, though, Travis had a couple of things working against him: 1) the most value he can bring would be at 2B and both Matt Antonelli and Eric Sogard are excellent prospects in their own right playing that position in AAA and AA respectively, and 2) as stated in both previous answers, our pitching is unsettled. Basically, we've wanted to keep as much pitching depth as possible until we have a better sense for the look and shape of our ML pitching staff (remember, too, that this decision had to be made a week ago after just four games).

I mention all of that, but as the group discusses the merits of each player under considerition, the decision often comes down to one thing: which player does the group believe has the best chance of making it through waivers? In this case, the group determined it was Travis, and unfortunately we lost him.

19 comments:

jeffreylw said...

Did you guys stack Ft Wayne because of the new stadium? There are 2 or 3 players there that probably should be at Lake Elsinore.

I see the oldest player in FW is 22. How much of a factor is age when 2 prospects are close in talent? Also, where is Decker going to end up when he returns?

Peter said...

Paul,

Off topic: how quickly will Latos, Decker, Kulbacki, and Antonelli join their respective minor league teams?

WebSoulSurfer said...

Paul,

Thank you for answering my question.

Still doesn't make sense that Denker had less value or would have had a better chance of making it through waivers than Thatcher or one of the other pitchers.

I would find it amazing of anyone would have taken Thatcher with all the decent pitchers on the wire, but I guess that is why you get paid to make those decisions.

mweldon said...

Since you mentioned Eric Sogard, I have a question. What is up with Eric Sogard!? Is this guy the real deal or what? That's a hypothetical question. Seems like the guy hits everything he sees. Maybe it's the glasses.

Here's a real question. Looks like Drew Cumberland is doing a second year in FTW and he seems to be doing every bit as well as last year. If he continues at his current pace, will we see him in LE sooner rather than later?

You Know Me! said...

Who's pitching for Silva in the rotation?

Itay said...

General questions regarding the situation of players like Travis Denker – how does moving between several clubs affect your development? Does it affect the player's value for the long run?

hector said...

Paul,

How does the order of selection for the waiver wire get established?
Is it based on 2008's standings before the season starts, and then it changes daily with the standings?

Humber was designated for assingment, would it make sense for the Padres to give him an audition since Baek and Silva are out of

Steve Adler said...

Paul,

How come the FO didn't put feelers out for a trade involving Denker? It appeared that he had some value, we could use some arms and more depth at SS.

Matthew Robertson said...

Paul,

Any chance of trying Scott Hairston at 2B to get his bat in the lineup full-time? I know the Royals have decided to use Mark Teahen at 2B to get his bat in the lineup and it proved successful until Gordon/Guillen went down and he had to change positions again to fill holes. Still, moving Hairston, who has experience at 2B, might be a great offensive boost for the team. It would let Giles, Gerut, and Headley play OF full-time with Eckstein moving over to SS and Hairston at 2B. Can't hurt to try.

Thanks,

Matt

seabisquick said...

Hi Paul,

As Jeffreylw mentioned there seem to be players at Ft Wayne that perhaps might be too advanced for that level. I'm noticing in particular James Darnell that has displayed an advanced approach at the plate in his short time in the minors with the solid bb/so ratio. What is the chance that some prospects from that team or Lake Elsinore might get fasttracked up to the AA level? It seems a bit crowded at the A-/A+ levels with a lot of the organization's top prospects playing the same positions.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Paul,

Did you guys consider picking up Dan Giese when the Yankees waived him? Despite a poor spring, he was pretty effective last year, and given that the 3-5 starters can probably be expected to have some low-inning starts, I thought Giese might've been an attractive long relief/spot starter guy.

Also, do you think Paul McAnulty will ever get another shot at a big league roster spot, or has that ship sailed (I realize he's no longer w/ the club, just wondering in general)?

Finally, can we get a Tim Stauffer update? Any chance we'll see him in the majors this year?

Avenger-In-Chief said...

We have a modest proposal for attacking a modest symbol of the East Coast Bias we've witnessed this week but it requires you, good fans of San Diego, to get proactive:
We have proposed something called, "The Heath Bell Effect"...

http://hatethepatriots.blogspot.com/

...an extension of the effect is for you to open your mouths (your e-mail actually) and to bombard one of Scott and BR's regular guests: Radio personality Sid Rosenberg (...a NY Met Fan).

At the above blog post address there is a comprehensive list of Heath Bell's media interactions this week along with a cut-and-paste-e-mail (or you can get creative)....oh yea...Sid Rosenberg's email is there too (for those who haven't heard him on Scott and BR: think Bleacher Bum Jordan, except Rosenberg is actually well respected). We should take advantage of the information age and say hello....

Aren't you tired of the dismissal of your fanhood because you live out West? This email won't change things..but at least they'll know we're not sleeping.

Your choice Brothers and Sisters.

Paul DePodesta said...

jeffreylw,

The roster at Ft Wayne has more to do with Elsinore than anything else. At this stage we're probably more concerned with guys getting everyday at-bats than we are about where they're getting them.

As far as Decker, he's been playing in extended spring games and will be headed to Ft Wayne soon.

Paul DePodesta said...

Peter,

Decker is close. Latos currently has no restrictions, so it's a matter of building him back up. Kulbacki is doing defensive drills, but we're taking it slow on his hitting. Antonelli has had a tough time getting the soreness out of his leg, so he's going to take the next few days off entirely.

Paul DePodesta said...

mweldon,

Drew is off to a great start. He missed significant time last year with injuries, and he's still just 20 years old so there's no real rush to move him along. That said, we like it when guys force our hand...

Paul DePodesta said...

Itay,

That's a great question, and I don't have an equally great answer. This is totally subjective and anecdotal, but I think it hampers development. Typically, players will try to "prove" themselves whenever they go into a new situation, and that is never a good idea.

Paul DePodesta said...

Anonymous,

Tim Stauffer is currently pitching in extended spring training games, building up his arm strength and stamina. Everything looks good so far, so hopefully he'll be able to join a full-season club sometime relatively soon.

voidoid said...

Paul,

Just curious, but what was the thought process behind not having any lefties on the major league pitching staff? Was this not considered a need, or were the 13 pitchers currently on the roster of higher enough quality that it outweighed the positive that our left-handed prospects could provide?

Just seems unorthodox to carry zero lefties out of 13 pitchers on the 25-man.

Robert J Dickey said...

Recognizing the Eck signed on the condition of being the 2B, wouldn't he agree to play one day per week at SS? Then you don't go trawling for a SS and let E.Gonz hit at 2B. Of course, if a great SS option becomes available... SD Rob living in S.Korea.