Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Can you build a team to win in Petco?


Wednesday May 5, 2010

This is another of those answers to questions Web posed to me along the way before I started writing for his blog. I thought it might be of interest, especially since the Padres are showing they can win both at home and on the road so far this season.

Can Hoyer Build a Team Designed to Win at Petco with Speed, Defense and Pitching ?

I don't think the question has ever been can you build a team designed to win in Petco around speed, defense and pitching. It has been can you build a team that can win consistently in Petco's unique circumstances and still win elsewhere.

In the past 3 years the Padres have been a very good hitting team on the road and sat in the middle of the pack in runs scored on the road.

It was when that team returned home that they struggled to score runs. Every one else also struggled to score runs in Petco, but the Padres were slightly worse than their competition at scoring runs in San Diego even though although they do have a winning record at home.

So what do you have to do to both win at Petco AND win on the road?

I think the Padres are taking a lesson from Bud Black's old team in Anaheim and building a team that can play both small ball, be patient at the plate/bunt/steal a base/put pressure on the basepaths/hit to the opposite field; AND play for  a "walk and a dong" when the situation presents itself.

They have the right kind of power players for Petco, RHB with pull power like Kyle Blanks and Scott Hairston and LHB that have opposite field AND pull power like Adrian Gonzalez and Will Venable.

In the past they have had mediocre to good pitching at home and poor pitching results on the road. Their defense has left something to be desired. Not horrible, just not good.

Now with Headley at 3B and Blanks/Scott Hairston patrolling LF, with Gwynn/Scott Hairston in CF and with Venable playing RF regularly, the Padres outfield defense is well above average. The infield has improved with the addition of Jerry Hairston and moving Headley to third, while adding a few errors, has not added many runs scoring on hits to 3B. Overall the defense is much improved.

With just a few judicious moves and a change in attitude, Hoyer has created a team that can win in Petco with speed, defense and pitching and win on the road.

- Vic Power

The Effect of the McCourts Divorce on the Dodgers

Wednesday May 5, 2010

Do you think the Moores divorce had a huge effect on the Padres payroll?

The McCourts divorce has resulted in a drop from their season ending payroll of  $131,507,197.00 in 2009 to an estimated $83.0 million to begin the 2010 season.

That is a $48.5 million drop in payroll. A 36.9% drop.

While the Padres had a larger percentage drop of 40.6% in going from $73.677 million in 2008 to $43.734 million in 2009, a $29.937 million drop, the dollar figure of the Dodgers drop is $18.5 million or 38.3% larger.

Think about it, the Dodgers drop in payroll from the end of the 2009 season to the start of the 2010 season is larger than the Padres, Pirates or Marlins entire 2010 payroll.

And remember, no team has won the World Series since the advent of salary arbitration in 1973 with one player making more than 16% of the payroll. Manny Ramirez $20 million salary is nearly 25% of the Dodgers $83 million payroll for 2010.

The future for the Dodgers?

While the Padres were adding scouts and crosscheckers, the Dodgers were firing them.

Peter Gammons said - "The Dodgers have an $83M payroll. They couldn't offer salary arbitration to Jon Garland and Randy Wolf because ownership didn't want to pay for additional Draft picks, and have spent the least money on Draft and international signings of any of the 30 teams the last two years"

Their once loaded farm system has seen the best prospects graduate or be traded away and are now ranked 24th by Baseball America.

Prior to the season I wrote to Web that I thought Kershaw would have trouble this season and that Billingley could very well show his true colors as a middle to back of the rotation type.

My reasoning at the time?

"Kershaw - His xFIP of 3.90 and his BABIP of .274 point towards a regression in 2010. Look for his ERA to rise about a point from his 2.79 over 30 starts if he stays healthy.

Billingsley - His xFIP of 4.04 and BABIP of .294 say his ERA of 4.02 was a pretty true indication of his value. In other words average."

How prescient was I?

Kershaw has a 3.07 ERA through 5 starts and 29.1 innings, but has walked 22 and his WHIP is 1.53 which is much more in line with his 4.77 xFIP.

Billinglsley has a 4.85 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP through 5 starts and 26 IP. Taken along with his 4.32 xFIP they combine to paint a picture very much inline with my preseason take.

These two are the future of the Dodgers pitching and represent what were thought by most in the organization to both be future top of the rotation pitchers. They are looking more and more like 2-4 types.

Beyond Ethier and Kemp there are no young position players of All Star caliber in the system above High A. In other words 2-3 years away. Even amongst pitchers, only Scott Elbert is thought to be anything more than a back of the rotation type.

In the field Ramirez and Furcal are both injured and the team itself is filled with journeymen such as Casey Blake, Ronnie Belliard, Jamey Carrol, and Reed Johnson; AARP card carriers in Garrett Anderson and Brad Ausmus; and mediocre youngsters such as Xavier Paul and Blake Dewitt.

After the 2010 season Ramirez, Kuroda, Padilla, Ortiz, Belliard, Johnson, Weaver, Ausmus and Anderson will all be free agents. 9 of the 25 players on the roster.

Sherrill, Martin, Billingsley, Loney, Kuo and possibly Kershaw will be eligible for arbitration.

After 2010, the Dodgers are in serious need of a transfusion of big league talent without the capital to go after it either in trade chips or in dinero.

Is a return to the mediocrity we saw after the 1988 WS championship headed to Chavez Ravine? If the McCourts divorce is not settled soon and payroll AND money for signings of amateur talent is not freed up, then the Dodgers will have a hard time competing in the years to come.

- Vic Power