When the Padres claimed Eric Stults off waivers last May the expectations were low. The move, though documented in a Transactions Analysis column, received little-to-no thought at the time. Injuries had thinned San Diego's rotation to the point where Jeff Suppan made a few starts. A team in need of a warm body appeared to net a warm body and little else in Stults, who, in addition to a big-league ERA threatening 5.00, had career ERAs in Triple-A and Japan eclipsing the mark. Marrying pedestrian stuff with awful numbers is a set-up for a quick divorce.
Yet Stults' performance never prompted the Padres to consider an annulment. The journeyman southpaw compiled a 2.92 ERA and a 2.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 92 1/3 innings. Those are numbers not crafted only within the forgiving confines of Petco Park. In addition to pitching more innings on the road than at home, Stults also posted a better ERA, K/BB ratio, and batting average on balls in play while staying in hotels. Even a strained shoulder, which cost Stults close to two months of the season, did not stop him from posting a strong second half. Nor finishing with three consecutive quality starts to end the season—each consisting of exactly six innings and three earned runs.
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Thanks to Randy Smith and the magic of the internet, I found out that the Padres were going to throw 10 of their youngest and brightest arms in a controlled backfield game against Indian Hills junior college at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. These are the scouting situations I dream about, and Jason Cole and I arrived eager and early to find we were the only non-team personnel on the scene, a duo of emotion soon resulted: Anxiety. Are we allowed to be here? Why are we the only ones here? Excitement: We are the only ones here!
Set-up: each prospect arm would get one inning of work. It was a controlled game, which just means the on-site team personnel could roll an inning if a pitcher exceeded his pitch count or if the bats were simply destroying the opponent, which would be the case on a few occasions during the 10-inning affair. I didn’t focus on the bats, although several promising sticks graced the field during the game, and I didn’t pay much attention to the Indian Hills team. These are the bare-bones scouting notes I took. Take them as snapshots of an early March afternoon and not the canvas that will one day hang in the majors. Normally, I would just keep these notes for personal use throughout the year, but I was so impressed with the young arms on the field that I needed to voice these thoughts at the earliest possible convenience. I’m not sure any org in baseball can brag on lower-level pitching like the Padres. Here are the notes:
Does a change of cities change a General Manager's tendencies?
Do you like sausages? Here's a look inside the sausage. I wanted to start this article by saying, "Boy, general managers sure don't move around from team to team the way players and field managers do!" I proceeded to make a list of all the current GMs who had previously held the top job with a different franchise. That list:
Chase Headley is having a monster season in San Diego, but could this breakout have been predicted? Where does he go from here?
“When are we going to get a 'Chase Headley is awesome' article at BP? Or did I miss it?” These were the exact words, and this is the exact article. And I don't know if you missed it.
What you may have missed, particularly if you are in or not in San Diego, is that Headley has been on a rampage since being omitted from the National League All-Star team. As of this writing, he leads the majors—along with the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera—with 20 homers in the second half. As in, more than everyone else. As in, more than the 15 he hit over the previous two seasons combined. This helps explain why the Padres are tied with San Francisco for the third-best record in the NL since the break.
The Dodgers have spiraled out of control since late May, and with seemingly no plan for offense, it's a three-team race in the wild West.
Do you realize how bad the National League West has been since May 27? This is an arbitrary date reflecting my desire to cast the division in its worst possible light, so probably not. But consider what the standings looked like at the start of that day:
With 13 starting pitchers used this season, the Padres could take home the modern record by season's end.
On Tuesday night, Kip Wells started a big-league game for the first time since October 2009. By starting for the Padres, Wells became the 13th San Diego pitcher to do so this season. Unsurprisingly, San Diego leads the league in starters used (by two), and could set history. Since the 1998 expansion, no team has used more than 17 starters in a single season. Three teams, however, have reached 17: the 2003 Reds, the 2004 Rangers, and the 2006 Royals. The Padres’ pace is blowing those three teams away:
Of all the natural interleague rivalries, none are more viciously fought than the Vedder Cup series. Wait, you've never heard of it? Then read on!
When Major League Baseball introduced interleague play in 1997, Bud Selig decreed that certain teams would be “natural rivals.” One such “rivalry” pits the San Diego Padres against the Seattle Mariners, presumably because they share a spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz.
Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder has called San Diego and Seattle home at various points in his life, ergo the series is played for a “Vedder Cup” that doesn't actually exist, which is fine because Vedder is a Cubs fan. Much like the “rivalry” itself, none of this makes any sense.
The Padres are off to a horrible start, so a housecleaning might be forthcoming. Who stays and who goes?
The San Diego Padres, perhaps predictably, have gotten off to a miserable start in 2012. Although expectations were not high coming into the season, almost nothing has gone right for the club. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, not to mention ongoing ownership/television deal issues (I live 15 minutes from Petco Park and cannot watch the team on TV in my home, which might qualify as “charmingly retro” if it weren't so annoying), the Padres are staring at their worst-case scenario only a month into the campaign.
Last week, Kevin Goldsteinsuggested that a “housecleaning in San Diego could be coming.” Reader pobothecat wondered what such a housecleaning might look like, and so did I.