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San Diego Padres: Welcome To The Nation’s Biggest Kmart

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With attendance dropping and strikeouts at an all-time high, baseball itself is striking out in a big way. Coincidentally, the San Diego Padres lead Major League Baseball in strikeouts. The record of 1,571 punchouts was set by the Milwaukee Brewers, last season. With four games remaining until the all-star break, the Padres sit atop the strikeout leaderboard with 896 K’s, and are on pace for over 1,800 strikeouts in a single season.

The San Diego Padres are quite familiar with high strikeout numbers. The 2017 Padres ranked third in the majors in strikeouts with 1,499, while the 2016 Padres finished second with 1,500. To put things into perspective, the pennant-winning 1984 San Diego Padres struck out only 810 times throughout the entire season. Tony Gwynn struck out 23 times in 1984. Franmil Reyes already has 39 strikeouts in 92 at-bats (41%).
Four hitters in the lineup have a strikeout rate higher than 30%. Eric Hosmer leads the team with 85 strikeouts, followed by Galvis and Villanueva (both with 81). Cory Spangenberg is casually striking out in over one-third of his plate appearances and Austin Hedges has 42 strikeouts in only 113 at-bats.

Baseball is simply not as entertaining without contact. According to Tom Verducci, the average time between balls put in play is 3 minutes, 45 seconds. That’s 41 seconds longer than in 1998. This is bizarre, and not enough action for today’s fans.
The San Diego Padres rank dead last in National League OBP and currently have 161 more strikeouts than hits. The 2017 World Champion Houston Astros struck out less than anyone in MLB last year, after ranking fourth highest in 2016. It’s possible to make big jumps in production like the Astros did, and first-year hitting coach Matt Stairs was supposed to fix this issue. Unfortunately, instead of “‘wasting less at-bats,” the Padres struggling to even put the ball in play.

There is no definitive answer as to why teams are striking out at such an absurd rate, but launch angle is a good start. Players are simply modifying their swing to hit the ball at an upward angle, creating more home runs. This method has proven quite effective for many hitters, but not everyone. My favorite analysis of launch angle is from Joey Votto in Spring Training earlier this year.
The San Diego Padres rank dead last in National League OBP and currently have 161 more strikeouts than hits. The 2017 World Champion Houston Astros struck out less than anyone in MLB last year, after ranking fourth highest in 2016. It’s possible to make big jumps in production like the Astros did, and first-year hitting coach Matt Stairs was supposed to fix this issue. Unfortunately, instead of “‘wasting less at-bats,” the Padres struggling to even put the ball in play.




3 Trades the Padres Should (And Should Not) Make

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Now that the All-Star Game rosters have been announced we are right in the heart of Major League Baseball trade season. As usual the Padres are expected to be big players as the July 31st deadline approaches.

But does that mean they’ll be buying or selling?

Obviously the Friars have fallen out of playoff contention in 2018 so the Manny Machado idea is out the window (go get him in free agency!). But going out and getting other established big league studs now is not a bad idea if the right guys are targeted.

The Padres are still in the long play here so it’s safe to assume they’re looking for young players that can be part of a 2020 playoff surge. But unlike the moves they made the last few years those young players don’t necessarily have to be low-level minor league prospects.

With that in mind here are three trades the Padres should make … and three trades they should NOT make this month.
MAKE THIS TRADE: Go Get RHP Noah Syndergaard

Let’s go ahead and start this off with one of those “Whatever Togerson” kind of ideas. Noah Syndergaard is a stallion. He has the stuff to be one of those rare true aces in the Major Leagues: an upper-90’s fastball, a wipeout slider, and the kind of mound presence that brings to mind Randy Johnson. Amid rampant rumors to the contrary the Mets have said they’re not keen on trading him or Jacob deGrom. However, New York’s National League team has what most talent evaluators consider as one of the five worst minor league systems in the game. They’re not in contention now. They probably won’t be in contention next year. So the logical thing to do would be to sell off some pieces now and start to restock the system.

The Padres system is stuffed to the gills with talent. Let’s go ahead and establish this, though … asking for Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, Luis Urias, and all of a sudden Chris Paddack is a non-starter, even for Syndergaard. After that we can talk. The Mets will have plenty of suitors from current contenders that need another starter to get over the hump THIS year. The Padres are looking to NEXT year and beyond. The asking price for the man they call Thor is going to be steep and that’s where San Diego has an advantage. They can offer the best package for the strapping righty and he is absolutely not a rental.

Syndergaard is just 25 years old. He’s not eligible for free agency until 2022. He’s exactly the kind of guy the Padres should be looking to add. It’s rare to have the opportunity to add a talent like this with a contract situation like his. The Mets don’t care if they help anyone reach the post-season they just want more good players. This is not a match that many people will think about but for both sides it makes a whole lot of sense.

DON’T MAKE THIS TRADE: Keep LHP Brad Hand

Just like last year there will a bunch of inquiries about Hand. Sure he’s had a rocky year, especially for a guy with his stuff, but the proof is in the pudding. When he’s on he’s one of the best relief pitchers in the game (and he’s on more often than not) plus he has a manageable contract and he’s loved in the clubhouse. A really good bullpen won’t win you a title but you probably won’t win a title without a really good bullpen so keeping an All-Star-caliber piece from the left side for the coming playoff run is a good call.

MAKE THIS TRADE: Move an INF, Preferably Jose Pirela

I just want to see Luis Urias at Petco Park. However that happens, I don’t care, just get the kid up here after the break. The kid who just turned 21 years old a month ago had two hits in the Triple-A All-Star Game. He’s ready to test himself in the Major Leagues. Plus bringing the Mexico native up is one of the few things that would put a charge into the Padres fan base right now. Pirela is not a good defender and probably never will be and his bat, while good, is not enough to make up for that deficiency with the glove. I don’t even care what comes back at this point, just clear a spot for Urias and let’s get the ball rolling.

DON’T MAKE THIS TRADE: Hang on to LHP Clayton Richard

Eric Lauer and Joey Lucchesi look like legitimate big league starting pitchers and they both credit Richard for their development. That alone would be enough to hold on to the veteran but he’s been better than expected on the mound. Clayton is 4th in the National League with 118.0 inning pitched and for a team with a bullpen that’s thrown the 3rd-most innings in baseball this year he’s been able to provide something resembling a rest every 5th day. Clayton Richard does have trade value and could fetch a decent return but I’m big on leadership and this guy provides it to young pitchers so it would be nice to keep him around.

MAKE THIS TRADE: Deal RHP Tyson Ross

Ross has been a great story. At least through June he was. Signed to a 1-year deal to prove he was recovered from his Thoracic Outlet surgery, Ross got off to a great start but in July he’s made two disastrous starts and the market for him probably cooled a bit. Every pitcher goes through a rough patch at some point. If he can rebound in his next start the Padres can write it off as just that and Ross will have interest from teams looking for rotation depth. If he looks bad again, however, the Friars might not be able to move him for more than spare parts, even in a market that looks to be thin on starters.

DON’T MAKE THIS TRADE: Let Someone Else Acquire OF Adam Jones

I love Adam Jones. I really do. He’s a guy I’d take on my team any time and there have been talks about the Padres bringing the San Diego native home at the deadline. I think, even at the age of 32, he still has a few very effective years remaining but this is one that would be smart to address in free agency instead of trying to get him in a midseason trade. I base that on the fact I think a contender like the Cubs or Indians, two teams in need of outfield help, will make a move on Jones and it would be awesome to see him back in a pennant race again.




San Diego Padres: Joey Lucchesi Falters In Loss To Dodgers

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The San Diego Padres came crashing back to reality on Wednesday night in a tough loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. After Eric Lauer fell just one out shy of a shutout victory on Tuesday, Joey Lucchesi struggled to make it past four innings, without the help of a defense behind him.

Everything seemed to be going along smoothly to begin the contest, with emotions still running high from Tuesday night’s fun. Travis Jankowski and his spectacular catch in centerfield set the early tone, which changed drastically in the third inning.

The Padres entered the third inning with a 1-0 lead, thanks to an RBI-single by Carlos Asuaje, before the wheels began to fall off. A Matt Kemp RBI-single began the rally, followed by a Logan Forsythe RBI base knock, and a Max Muncy run scored on a throwing error by Freddy Galvis, allowing Cody Bellinger to reach first and extend the inning.

Lucchesi lasted just four innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits and a walk. He did record four strikeouts, including two of Justin Turner. However, after 91 pitches, Andy Green brought in Phil Maton to try and slow down the Dodgers’ offense.
While Lucchesi struggled with his command and his defense committed two errors (and just terrible play overall), the story of the night was the lack of San Diego Padres offense (evergreen story). Padres’ hitters struck out 12 times against Kenta Maeda and staff. Eric Hosmer, Hunter Renfroe, and Wil Myers combined for four on the night.

Outside of Jankowski’s defense and night at the plate (1-3 with a BB and run scored), the only other bright spot was the relief appearance of Phil Maton. Making only his third appearances with the Padres since May 12th, Maton tossed two scoreless frames, walking three and striking out one. Maton came out to work a third inning, but was pulled after walking the first two batters. Proper bullpen management could have prevented that situation.

Ideally, Maton continues to get some positive work on the mound, giving the Padres more peace of mind about trading away a few bullpen pieces to needy contenders who are willing to pay steep price tags out of desperation.
San Diego would pull to within one in the bottom of the seventh. A line-drive rocket off the bat of Christian Villanueva made it 3-2 (108.7 mph exit velocity, 16-degree launch angle), but it wasn’t enough to take the victory.

There really isn’t much more to discuss, other than the fact that this game seemed to take nearly five hours to complete. I will leave you with this strike three call against Wil Myers late in the game. Umpires strike again….
The Padres and Dodgers will conclude their four-game set on Thursday night with a 7:00 pm first pitch. Tyson Ross and Ross Stripling are scheduled to throw in the finale.





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