Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Quick Hits

Here are a few notes about some young players on our big league club:
  • Many of you may have seen Kyle Blanks hit majestic home runs to leftfield in Cincinnati and again the other night in Petco, but going out to the beach in right-center like he did last night? Not many right-handed hitters have done that (Manny Ramirez is one). As one person gleefully said last night, "This is like having a brand new toy!" As a starter, Kyle is hitting .250/.375/.525 with 10 extra base hits and 13 walks in 96 plate appearances.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Will Venable is hitting .312/.354/.506, which includes a handful of appearances as a pinch hitter.
  • Knock on wood... Mat Latos and Tim Stauffer have combined for a 2.62 ERA over 44.2 innings with a WHIP under 1.00. Furthermore, in their seven full starts (Tim had a 1-inning start in Washington that ended with a rain delay) neither one has yielded more than two runs in an outing.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Joe Thatcher has faced 27 hitters and has struck out 13 of them. Thirteen. Meanwhile, just five have reached base. On the year he is holding left-handed hitters to a .212/.289/.333 line.
  • In the last month (since July 5) Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit .309/.324/.557, banging out 16 extra base hits in 105 plate appearances. Furthermore, his OPS by month so far this season is: .603 in April, .652 in May, .737 in June, .795 in July, and .833 in August (ok, so it's only three games, but it fits the trend so I couldn't resist).
Tomorrow I'll provide similar notes on some of our minor leaguers, but I have one just for zino since he doesn't like any of our bats. :-) All of our minor league teams combined had the following rankings against the other 29 organizations as of late July, despite not playing in any ballparks that are particularly friendly to hitters:
  • Batting Average: 3rd
  • On-Base: 1st
  • Slugging: 5th
  • OPS: 2nd
  • Runs/Game: 4th
There are other categories, but as you can see, our organization is in the top five in all of the major ones. Just in case anybody thinks we have a bunch of slow-pitch softball players, we're also 1st in strikeout-to-walk ratio. Our system has accomplished this while many of the high performers were moved to more difficult levels mid-season and guys like Blanks and Venable were promoted out of the ranks.

As I wrote last time, this is going to be fun to watch.

31 comments:

Schlom said...

Paul,

Can you try to explain exactly what happened with Matt Antonelli and why you think he failed? And looking at how terrible Allan Dykstra has been, is it safe to say you will never spend a 1st round pick on someone from Wake Forest again?

Paul DePodesta said...

Schlom,

What a downer! I give you all these great notes, and then...wham!

Of course, I'm kidding, and it's a fair question.

Antonelli's situation is quite bizarre when deconstructing the whole into a handful of parts. Here's one example: Anto's batting average on balls in play was .377 in A+ and .364 in AA - pretty steady. It then dropped to a surprisingly low .266 in 2008 and now an insanely low .220 in 2009. Here's another similar one: his singles percentage went from 22% in A+ to 19% in AA to 15% in AAA in 2008 to 10% this year! Part of the reason for this is luck, as he's hitting just .563 on his line drives and .179 on his groundballs - both well below the normal levels.

Then there's this: when Matt first moved to AAA his strikeout rate and walk rate basically remained the same, while his power diminished, which isn't unusual or at all alarming. This year, though, while his ball-in-play average has dropped and his singles percentage has almost disappeared (which may lead you to suspect that he's not hitting the ball with any authority), his strikeout rate is down AND his isolated power is up 50%!!!

This year the knee injury took a toll early, and I'm sure the struggles have weighed on him mentally. That said, it's really difficult to pinpoint what exactly is wrong (other than the fact that not enough of his contact is translating into hits). The good news is that he's played very well defensively at 2B and the foundation for offensive success is still there.

As for Dykstra, we figured this would be a transitional year for him, and we're encouraged that he's fighting through it and still leading all of minor league baseball (I believe) in walks. His power is undeniable, so I suspect the frequency will rise dramatically.

Lastly, one of my best friends in high school went to Wake, so if all else fails, let's blame him. Who's with me?

field39 said...

Paul,

One more Antonelli question:
Accoring to your rundown it sounds like you haven't given up, but he hasn't played much lately. What is the point of having him sit on the bench in AAA?

Paul DePodesta said...

field39,

You're right - we absolutely haven't given up on him. He's been sick, along with a few other players on the club, so he hasn't played in a while. He should be back in there shortly.

David said...

Paul,
While you point out Kooz's encouraging trend, the fact remains that in his best month long period, he still sports a .324 OBP. One assumes with that kind of impatience, his "good" months are likely to be the exception rather than the rule.

SLO Envy said...

I know I posted something similar yesterday, but I'm excited about this young team. Thanks for the run down on the team. I realize some will just think this is fertilizer and there probably isn't much you can say to turn that around... but the minor league rankings seem to be encouraging.

I hope Antoneli figures it out. Besides... what does ESPN really know about the Pads... :)

Schlom said...

Is Dykstra still coming back from his injury? Is it still his hip or is it something else? Or is the hitting coach at Fort Wayne reworking his swing?

Another disappointment has been Kulbacki, has he not really healed from his wrist injury?

Finally, I read somewhere (I think Baseball Prospectus) that the Front Office is thinking of moving either Darnell or Forsyte (can't remember which one) to catcher. Any truth to that?

Linus Pauling said...

Paul;
quick follow-up - how much influence does the Padres organization have on the lineups of their minor league affiliates? Can you "force" (or friendly push) Portland to play Antonelli or Fort Wayne to start Dykstra regardless of how well they are doing?
Thanks!

hector said...

What would you do with Antonelli?
Send him to AA (or even A ball) to get his confidence back? or promote him in September and have him absorb as much as he can from Eckstein?

What if he changes bats or batting stance? In baseball sometimes thinking outside the stats could be the spark... Is he loading this swing?

From what I read Tate will not sign, so lets get Sano instead and the team would still get a top 5 pick in 2010. How does it project? 2010 vs 2009 draft talent?

Congrats on the bats!!!

Should the team focus more on Sampson than Williams because they can get a supplemental pick on Williams and nothing on Sampson?

sdsuaztec4 said...

Hey Paul,

Don't mind Zino, as someone who follows our MiLB teams daily I know what kind of bats we have below Portland. I also know that the Tincaps lead all of professional baseball in wins! After getting some salary relief and pitching depth in the Peavy trade, I'm really excited for the future. Not to mention some of the stars in Eugene and in the Arizona league that most Padre fans don't know about yet.

Paul DePodesta said...

Schlom,

Dykstra made a number of mechanical changes in spring training.

Kulbacki hurt his hamstring, but he's now in Arizona and starting to ramp up his activity.

Part of the appeal of both Darnell and Forsythe in the draft was their potential defensive versatility. How that will play out, I don't think we know just yet. If both keep raking the way they are, we're confident we'll have places for them to play.

Paul DePodesta said...

Linus Paulding,

We actually control the baseball portion of all of our affiliates. All of the managers, coaches, etc are Padres player development staff, so we dictate who plays and how much they play.

Paul DePodesta said...

hector,

Don't believe everything you read!

Let's all reserve judgment on the currently unsigned players until Aug 18.

zino said...

I feel like a minor celebrity being mentioned in your blog by name, lol... Obviously first and formeost I am a Padres fan, so I am frustrated by the anemic hitting of the major league ball club this year and last. Your blog is an absolute gem, it affords fans that have found it, incredible access to a Padres executive, that's unprecedented as far as I know. So thank you for putting up with my wining and keep up the good work. You are truly blazing new trails.
A few points
- Chase Headley does not seem like a natural hitter. Not sure he will ever be what he was hyped to be.
- I love going to the ball park with my kids and chanting Kooooz everytime he comes to bat. Not much else I can say about him....
- Cherry picking statistics is a nono, lol... But good try.
- I can't wait for the bats from the minors to come up. We'll keep the light on for them.
best,

zino

Peter said...

We just made a trade for Aaron Poreda (and others) and despite the Padres' reputation for having a weak orginazation, Jim Callis ranked the Padres top 5 at my website and Poreda missed the list (Poreda was the 4th best prospect traded according to a BA article he also wrote).

http://tiny.cc/Ve7zA

field39 said...

Paul,

Every time they show Cabrera on camera, he looks like a kid in candy store. It is a picture that makes cynicism difficult.

David said...

With Grady saying yesterday you've come to terms with Lollis, can you give any insight into which of the other guys outside the top 10 are still possibilities to sign? Have any of Reyes, Madrigal or Wooten given you a flat-out no?

John said...

Paul,

What was the reasoning behind releasing Mark Prior? He wasn't costing us much, and (if I recall) didn't take a spot on the 40-man.

Were his injuries just not progressing at all to the point where he might never come back? Or was it something more like we'd put in enough time and effort, and just needed to cut our losses and move on?

SammyG said...

Paul,
With the payroll relief given by the Peavy trade, can I ask if we plan on ramping up our international signings and draft signings?

I think we have less than $18M committed next year estimating arbitration numbers, and I believe that around the $65M is closer to what the organization should be around through this Cox deal. Given that there isn't a lot of splash FA the Padres should sign, would Moorad be open to giving A-Gon a front loaded contract extension?

WebSoulSurfer said...

Paul,

I have to disagree with you about the value of Joe Thatcher. I posted about it on my blog today.

To me here are the important stats for him.

With RISP he has a .318 BAA and has allowed a .484 OBP.

In late and close games opposing batters have hit .375.

In tie games the opposing team has batted .500 with a .667 OBP!!

He chokes with the game on the line.

wilson said...

Paul,

Is there any chance that James Darnell will get another promotion before the season is over? It seems like the A/HighA levels aren't really challenging to him. It seems he should be up in AA/AAA like his college teammate Justin Smoak.

Caity said...

If you're still planing on doing this kind of post for the minor leaguers can I make a request and can you talk a little about Cedric hunter. I know he is still young and I still think he is going to be a good major leaguer but what is the cause for his minor dropoff this year? His obp is not very good but he still has only struck out 36 times in 450 pa is it just a year of bad luck for him? Thanks.

matthew houskeeper said...

I agree with Zino that cherrypicked stats are a big no-no.
I think your blog would carry a lot more credibility if you did not try to whitewash Kouzmanoffs hitting. His OBP is atrocious.

Linus Pauling said...

Paul;
does the Padres organization view Stansberry still as a prospect/future MLB player or more of a AAAA player? He seems to be doing well in Portland but never got a real chance in the majors. He could be decent at 2B or utility man.
Thanks!

Paul DePodesta said...

websoulsurfer,

Joe's obp against with RISP is .484 largely because of 4 intentional walks in just 32 plate appearances.

His late & close stats are based on nine plate appearances against (batters are 3 for 8).

His game tied stats are based on two ab's (batters are 1 for 2).

His career numbers in those categories are skewed due to his poor 2008 performance, which admittedly, was poor.

Small sample sizes are as bad as anecdotes, which I'll go ahead and offer... :-) How about game 163 in Colorado in 2007? Thatcher came into the game in the bottom of the 11th, runners on 1st and 2nd, to face Brad Hawpe with our entire season hanging in the balance. He struck Hawpe out.

He came back out in the bottom of the 12th, score still tied 6-6, and he struck out Jeff Baker, got Torrealba out on a flyball, and struck out Cory Sullivan.

He certainly didn't choke in the biggest moment of his career.

Paul DePodesta said...

matthew housekeeper,

Kouz's obp isn't good, but it's also exaggerated by Petco. His career line on the road is: .278/.320/.471, which is especially good when considering that most guys hit better at home.

He's never going to be a great obp guy, but that doesn't mean he can't be a productive hitter.

Paul DePodesta said...

By the way, thanks to everyone for not accusing me of jinxing Stauffer, as he gave up three runs the other night. I had a feeling that would happen.

maestro876 said...

Paul,

My only issue with your statements about Kouzmanoff is that you only quote his career road numbers. In fact, this year Kouz has been nearly as terrible on the road as he has at home. His road line for 2009 is .265/.288/.422.

You just can't have a Major League third baseman making that many outs.

newdynastyjewelers said...

Hey Paul, off topic, but why is it that Shuhei Fujiya is not going to be signed? Did he decide to transfer to a college that will have a baseball program next year so that he can hopefully move up in next year's draft?

joel said...

Kouz has over 1,500 major league ABs and is 28 years old, so it seems to me we know exactly the type of hitter he is (Shea Hillenbrand v2?), and no great change is forthcoming.

Since the Padres aren't competing for the playoffs this season, would it make sense to move Headley back to 3B, and play Blanks, TG Jr and Venable every day in the OF?

This would hopefully be an defensive upgrade, even if Headley takes some time to get back up to speed at 3B, and it would allow Headley to get back up to speed at 3B, and get PT to guys that may or may not turn into solid major league players.

Thoughts?

zino said...

Koooooooz!!!.. Sorry I could not resist....