November 03, 2011
What, you thought we were done with this whole classroom conceit? Nope. In the interest of completion, we're finally running the lecture for the San Diego Padres, which was delayed for a variety of reasons too long to go into here. Doing our scolding is Ray of The Sacrifice Bunt. Don't worry, Padres fans. Jed Hoyer has been legally blocked from taking him to Chicago.
Hey Friars, take a seat.
I didn't expect to see you here, not after last year. Then again, I didn't expect to see you winning 90 games last year. It's just too bad what happened that September, but that's life, kid. Still, the way you came together was a thing of beauty. You weren't the biggest kid out there but you had a ton of heart. So what happened? I know you had a rough winter, but there's no hiding behind that. You went from 90 wins to 91 loses. From where I'm sitting, you won't be turning that back around anytime soon.
Let's just get to the elephant in the room. Trading Adrian Gonzalez(notes) wasn't easy. That kid's a beast, but it was something you had to do and I respect that. And you didn't do too bad in the deal, getting Anthony Rizzo(notes) over in return. He's no Adrian, but he still looks like something special.
The Punishable Offenses: But you know who else is not Adrian Gonzalez? Brad Hawpe(notes) and Jorge Cantu(notes). What were you thinking? I know, I know, you were thinking that you could catch lightning in a bottle. How'd that turn out? Three-hundred and seventy one plate appearances and -0.3 wins, that's how. Let's let that be a lesson for you: Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes son, the bear eats you. And this year, it looked like he regurgitated you back up and snacked on you again. And that's not even the worst of it, because while Cantu and Hawpe were flailing away in San Diego, Jesus Guzman(notes) was setting the Tucson desert on fire. I'll get to him later, though.
Getting back to 2010, you owed a lot of credit to David Eckstein(notes). I know you don't want to hear this, but that little snot-nose was a good influence on you. And I know you thought you had found two Ecksteins in Orlando Hudson(notes) and Jason Bartlett(notes) — but we all learned there's more to being a leader than a lackluster glove and no power. And now you're stuck with the two of them for another year. For your sake, I hope Hudson takes fewer plays off of work and stops inviting the fans to mow his grass on Twitter.
Not appreciating the little things seems to be a theme with you. Whereas in 2010, you filled the bench with the likes of Yorvit Torrealba(notes) and Jerry Hairston, Jr., you thought you could get by this season with Rob Johnson(notes) and Alberto Gonzalez(notes). And how about the bullpen? Last year, your core of relievers was the talk of the town. And now? All those sliders have finally caught up to Luke Gregerson(notes) — and you're considering spending $10 million on Heath Bell(notes). Ten million dollars! My word, son, do you even have $10 million? I expect to see some fresh arms out on the mound come April.
Partners in Crime: I'll have you know, I'm not putting this all on you. I know your owner, Jeff Moorad, isn't the richest guy on the block. But frankly, I'm disappointed in the way he's running things. Revenue sharing was implemented to help you compete, not to help him buy the team. What's he doing? And the way he sticks his nose in your business! Maybe I was too hard on you earlier about Orlando Hudson. After all, it was Moorad who wanted you to bring him in. I guess he learned nothing from the time he let his buddy Eric Byrnes(notes) crash at his old place in Arizona. If you're not careful, this guy will step all over your toes. For that kind of treatment, you'd think he could bump your allowance a little higher than $45 million. How does he expect you to hang with the kids from San Fran and Philly with that kind of money?
Something to Build On: To your credit, you don't seem to have any delusions about your situation. That Mike Adams(notes) trade took guts. I know you wanted to ship Bell out to Texas but Jonny Daniels wouldn't bite, so you made the tough decision and gave them Adams. And it's a good thing you did, because Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland get along great with Casey Kelly(notes) and Keyvius Sampson in your minor league system.
I feel like I'm being too harsh, this year wasn't all bad. Don't get me wrong, it was mostly bad, but there were a couple of things to be proud of. Like I said, I'm proud of you and the way you handled the Mike Adams trade. And your draft this year was some kinda nice. After last year's embarrassment with Karsten Whitson, you came back strong, scooping up some great young players like Cory Spangenberg, Joe Ross, and Austin Hedges. And even when it looked like the appeal of UCLA would be too much for them to resist. Hedges in particular looks like something special. I'll be keeping my eye on him.
Shape Up or Ship Out: There were some bright spots on the field, as well. Third baseman Chase Headley(notes) finally came into his own, taking a page from Brian Giles'(notes) book and learning that a player must coexist with Petco Park. He may not hit as many home runs as the other third baseman but he gets the job done. Cory Luebke(notes) also proved himself a pitcher with some promise. Along with last year's breakouts Mat Latos(notes) and Tim Stauffer(notes), he gives you a nice core in the rotation.
And how about some of your finds? I feel like I should bust you for what you did to the poor Marlins, Cameron Maybin(notes) is a helluva player. Lock him up and you've got center field taken care of for years. And Jesus Guzman. Everyone knew Maybin was just looking for an opportunity, but you deserve credit for seeing something in a 27-year-old career minor leaguer like Guzman. At first or in the outfield, I can't wait to see what he can do next year (even if I might cross my fingers).
The Sacrifice Bunt
Read more of Big League Stew's Detention Lecture series here