It’s time to open the Gaslamp Ball mailbag! I love this part of the week. You should know the drill by now, but if you’re new I’ll give a quick explanation. Each week on Friday I write a post asking for questions and then I answer them. Okay, it’s pretty simple.
I think that’s enough banter, especially since it’s not witty. Let’s dive in!
If a new manager comes in and wants to clean house how are you going to feel if the Padres let someone like Balsley go after so many years? How about Barajas or Hoffman? -AnteaterReborn
Well, Mr. Anteater, I haven’t thought much about this. The best way I can put how I see things is that the trajectory of this organization is such that whoever takes over just needs to steer the ship without crashing it. From top to bottom this thing is being built exceedingly well, and I believe that.
I know what you’re going to say. “Trevor, there’s no winning, how can this be run well based on prospects?” I’m very glad you asked. The thing is that there is talent in this organization. A top level pitcher brings this team a little closer. Another prospect or two breaking in the majors does the same thing. It will take a combination of young and veteran to push the Padres over the top, but either way it’s closer than it appears. The 2019 Padres were filled with talent, but they didn’t know how to win. That will come. So, I hope the house doesn’t clear, but if it does then bring in guys who aren’t too different and things should stay on course.
Or blow it up for the heck of it an start over. There’s no true blueprint to bringing home a World Series.
The Padres need an established RH starter. Can they afford Gerrit Cole? -Codswalloper
Afford? Sure. If not, money can be moved, fat can be trimmed. Gonna get? Eh, probably not. At this point of the season most roads see Cole heading to Los Angeles. Some say Dodgers (crying ensues), but most experts thing Cole is heading to the Angels (crying, while still apparent, gets softer). It’s not technically impossible that Cole becomes a Padre, but it seems unlikely at this point. So, the question becomes, who can the Padres get that is both a high level arm and not Gerrit Cole?
Other pitchers set to hit the open market include Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler, and probably end list. Dallas Keuchel, maybe? I don’t think I’m missing anyone, but even if I am the point is choices will be limited. There might be some value, but there is not a lot of top of the rotation pitchers available in free agency coming up, barring something insane. That means looking to the trade market for a potential star.
Of course Thor is a top target. Maybe the Indians could be talked into parting with Corey Kluber? The Tigers would certainly be open to listening on Matt Boyd, if you think he fits the bill...which is a stretch, but a conversation for another time. I’m honestly not sure, and this is all speculation. There are some who think Stephen Strasburg might be available to come home, should he decide to opt out.
To wrap this up, there is a need for an arm and it probably isn’t going to be Cole. It might have to be someone we aren’t even thinking of yet. A top flight arm is imperative.
Will the Padres take a hard headed approach with Hosmer when it comes to him hitting against lefties? Or will they wise up and platoon him in the future? -CruizinSD
It’s hard to wise up when the Padres knew what they were getting with Eric Hosmer. For his career he has a 79 wRC+ against lefties. And yes, he was worse in 2019 to the tune of 59 wRC+, but the point he was always going to be a below average hitter against lefties. To get to the question of platooning him, maybe. With the new manager anything is possible.
The one point I want to make is that with the way 2020 is shaping up, it at least seems more possible to platoon him. Take a peek back to 2018, and there was really nobody worth platooning him with. Same goes for most of the year in 2019 as well. Outside of Hosmer, here are the list of names who have gotten any time at first base since he joined the team: Chase Headley, Jose Pirela, Christian Villanueva, Wil Myers, Rafael Lopez, Seth Meijias-Brean, Austin Allen, Ty France, and Greg Garcia. Of that group, none of them have over 10 games at the position. Pirela leads the pack with nine.
What makes 2020 so different is the options to platoon are getting more reliable. It’s not too different from 2019, but France could step in with his small sample-sized 96 wRC+ and technically be an improvement, Mejias-Brean is less of an improvement, but still counts. Or how about Josh Naylor, who hasn’t played first since 2018, but might be worth a shot for his 80 wRC+.
There is still no truly great options, but they seem to be improving. Until there is a truly clear choice, it’s likely to remain the same, so don’t hold your breath for any of this.
What happened to the Padres’ running game? Margot led the team with steals, but only Tatis and Myers seem to be good at it (plus Jankowski, who was hurt). Hosmer is usually good for single numbers, but had none for the first time in his career. Machado had 14 in 2018, only five this year. What happened? -Codswalloper
Got the hard hitting questions for me today, I like it. According to Fangraphs the Padres ranked 27th in baserunning in 2019 with a value of -11.1. In 2018 they ranked 21st with a -5.7 value. So there wasn’t a huge drop-off, but there was one nonetheless. So, time for more numbers.
Overall the Padres stole 70 bases as opposed to the 2018 total of 95. They got caught stealing at a greater rate in 2019, but the fact of the matter is the steals have gone where the rest of baseball has gone: On the shelf so more bombs can be hit. The homerun totals between years is astonishingly different. After hitting 162 in 2018, the team hit 219 the next year. That’s the real difference for the Padres as a unit. They had less need for speed because they were hitting the longball more. Across the board, the numbers were fairly similar between teams.
There are other factors at play, like a more talented team, but the 2019 team was much better. The team was worth 13.4 fWAR to the 2018 squads 8.0 fWAR. So, by the metrics they were slower and got caught stealing more, but they were better. The team is changing.
Thank you for your questions! Get them ready for Friday when we do this again. Although keep in mind this Friday will be the minors-only mailbag!