Saturday, January 22, 2011

Prospect talk

I recently addressed the 19 Padres prospects who are in San Diego for the club's winter program. Was inclined to remind them that the Padres have never won a World Series and that getting the trophy is part of why they're here, but Padres executive Jason McLeod beat me to it. McLeod, like the Doogster, used to work for the Red Sox, so he'll not be satisfied with moral victories. (I don't think there's a debt service trophy, or a trophy for playing meaningful games in September.)

Anyhow, I was there to talk about media relations, not the big picture. The club had asked me to explain how the local and national baseball writers go about their jobs, what they look for and what the pitfalls are for ballplayers in dealing with the press. The Padres say that if the players are familiar with several aspects of major league life, including media relations, they'll be more comfortable when they reach San Diego. Makes sense. The gist of what I said: It's easy to deal with the baseball press, both local and national, and with a little thought, players can convey messages that benefit themselves and the team.

The players also were to visit the Navy SEAL training site, perhaps to show how far the body and mind can be pushed, and they heard from iconic Padres Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman. Another former Padre, Brad Ausmus, threw batting practice. With former Padres such as Mark Loretta and Dave Roberts working for the club, Padres prospects do not lack for baseball experts to consult. All five are aces as people, too.

My surface impression is that these Padres prospects are attentive and driven, and larger physically, generally speaking, than the general cut of prospect from 1995-2009. The players who grew up in Spanish-speaking countries all speak English, which the Padres say will make their transition less difficult. (Vladimir Guerrero might not agree.)

The group includes three players on the 40-man roster: right-handed pitchers Simon Castro and Jeremy Hefner and middle infielder Jeudy Valdez. Other pitchers in attendance were Casey Kelly, Matt Lollis and Juan Pablo Oramas. The outfielders: Jaff Decker, Reymond Fuentes, Rico Noel, Donavan Tate and Blake Tekotte. The infielders: Matt Clark, Anthony Rizzo, Drew Cumberland, Logan Forsythe, James Darnell, Jedd Gyorko and Edinson Rincon.

When the Padres asked my thoughts on social media and the potential boons and perils of Tweeting and text messaging, I said they were useful tools but like most tools could do either good or harm depending on how they were used. In that context, I mentioned Brett Favre. A Padres official cringed. A Web site bought the Favre photos for $12,000 and the story promptly drew 5 million hits, a reminder, I told the players, of the celebrity-obsessed times in which we live.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

So long, C.Y.

Best wishes to Chris Young, who is now a Met.

Readers of this blog know that I admire Young for how he competed for the Padres. In that regard, I think his experiences as a basketball star for Princeton translated to baseball. Young didn't fluster easily. He was every bit as prepared as, say, Peyton Manning. He adapted well to the game's dynamics. The former Ivy Leaguer is both book smart AND people smart. Someday, I think he'll be a good sports executive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome back

Commish Bud Selig issued the following statement today regarding the retirement of Trevor Hoffman:

“All the great statistical accomplishments of a marvelous 18-year career on the mound do not tell the story of Trevor Hoffman. He is retiring from the game with a Major League record total of 601 career saves and seven All-Star selections, but it is Trevor’s class and leadership that has always stood out to me. He earned the universal respect of his peers and the people throughout our game, and he built a profound legacy in the city of San Diego and in his two years in Milwaukee.

“Trevor Hoffman has been the consummate professional, representing all the best of our national pastime. I am delighted that he is setting out on a new course in a role with the Padres, the club with which he will be forever linked. I have truly appreciated Trevor’s friendship over the years, and on behalf of Major League Baseball and his admirers throughout the game, I wish him and his wonderful family all the best in the years to come.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Twenty invited

The Padres have invited 20 minor leaguers to major league camp. Later, I'll write about a few of these players. Below are the club's bios.

Right-handed pitchers (7) -- Anthony Bass, Brad Brach, Craig Italiano, Casey Kelley, Alexis Lara, Scott Munter and. Luis Perdomo.

Left-handed pitchers (3) -- Colt Hynes, Rob Musgrave, Juan Oramas.

Catchers (3) -- Jason Hagerty, Kyle Phillips, Guillermo Quiroz.

Infielders (7) -- James Darnell, Logan Forsythe, Kevin Frandsen, Jesus Guzman, Andrew Parrino, Gregorio Petit, Anthony Rizzo.

Bass, 23, is 22-13 with a 2.86 ERA (94 ER/296.0 IP) and 242 strikeouts against 76 walks in 81 games (54 starts) over parts of three seasons in the Padres minor league system. He made 27 of his 28 starts in 2010 for Single-A Lake Elsinore, going 8-7 with a 3.13 ERA (46 ER/132.1 IP) and 109 strikeouts against 20 walks. The right-hander also led the California League in ERA, opponents batting average (.248) and WHIP (1.09) last season.

Brach, 24, is 9-6 with 78 saves, a 1.90 ERA (32 ER/151.2 IP) and 189 strikeouts against 27 walks in 140 appearances over parts of three seasons in the Padres minor league system. He spent all of 2010 with Single-A Lake Elsinore, going 5-2 with 41 saves, a 2.47 ERA (18 ER/65.2 IP) and 74 strikeouts against 11 walks in 62 appearances. The right-hander was named the California League Pitcher of the Year after setting a new single-season saves record for the league with 41 saves.

Italiano, 24, went 4-6 with 17 saves, a 2.58 ERA (15 ER/52.1 IP) and 36 strikeouts against 27 walks in 47 appearances for Double-A San Antonio last season. Over parts of six minor league seasons in the Oakland Athletics (2005-09) and Padres (2009-10) minor league systems, he has gone 18-23 with a 4.44 ERA (155 ER/314.0 IP) and 341 strikeouts against 171 walks in 128 games (48 starts).

Kelly, 21, pitched the entire 2010 season at Double-A Portland. As the youngest player in the Eastern League, he was 3-5 with a 5.31 ERA (56 ER/95.0 IP) with 35 walks and 81 strikeouts. In 38 minor league starts over two seasons as a pitcher in the Boston Red Sox organization (2009-10), Kelly is 10-10 with a 3.69 ERA (78 ER/190.0 IP) with 51 walks and 155 strikeouts.

Kelly pitched the first half of the 2009 season and played shortstop the second part of the campaign. He went 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA (22 ER/95.0 IP) with 16 walks and 74 strikeouts on the mound in ’09 and represented the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game that July. He made his professional debut in ’08 as a shortstop, splitting the final seven weeks of the season between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox and short-season Single-A Lowell.

Lara, 23, has gone 13-8 with a 3.33 ERA (77 ER/208.0 IP) and 215 strikeouts against 110 walks in 146 games (two starts) over parts of five minor league seasons in the Padres system. He made 44 of his 48 appearances last season with Double-A San Antonio, going 4-5 with a 3.95 ERA (31 ER/70.2 IP) and 56 strikeouts against 33 walks.

Munter, 30, spent all of 2010 with Triple-A Portland, going 4-1 with a 2.66 ERA (21 ER/71.0 IP) and 67 strikeouts against 32 walks over 49 appearances (one start). The right-hander is 3-2 with a 4.75 ERA (38 ER/72.0 IP) and 22 strikeouts against 34 walks in 84 appearances over three Major League seasons with the San Francisco Giants (2005-07).

Perdomo, 26, went 4-6 with a 3.40 ERA (31 ER/82.0 IP) and 49 strikeouts against 34 walks over 58 appearances (three starts) for Triple-A Portland last season. He made one appearance for the Padres in 2010. The right-hander spent the 2009 season with San Diego, going 1-0 with a 4.80 ERA (32 ER/60.0 IP) over 35 appearances.

Hynes, 25, is 11-9 with a 2.63 ERA (71 ER/243.0 IP) and 211 strikeouts against 58 walks in 185 appearances over four minor league seasons in the Padres system. He split 2010 between Single-A Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio, going 3-2 with a 2.10 ERA (19 ER/81.1 IP) and 62 strikeouts against 17 walks over 61 appearances.

Musgrave, 25, is 14-9 with a 3.43 ERA (85 ER/223.1 IP) and 275 strikeouts against 66 walks in 115 games (15 starts) over three minor league seasons in the Padres system. He spent 2010 primarily with Single-A Lake Elsinore, going 4-4 with a 2.48 ERA (27 ER/98.0 IP) and 113 strikeouts against 27 walks over 51 appearances (six starts).

Oramas, 20, is 12-9 with a 2.57 ERA (59 ER/206.1 IP) and 248 strikeouts against 73 walks in 64 games (31 starts) over four minor league seasons in the Padres system. The southpaw spent 2010 primarily with Single-A Lake Elsinore, going 7-3 with a 3.00 ERA (28 ER/84.0 IP) and 90 strikeouts against 26 walks in 24 games (21 starts).

Hagerty, 23, spent the 2010 season with Single-A Fort Wayne and hit .302 (130-for-431) with 14 home runs, 35 doubles, three triples, 74 RBI, 74 runs scored and 88 walks while posting a .423 on-base percentage in 122 games played. The catcher has hit .276 (171-for-619) with 20 home runs, 48 doubles, three triples, 101 RBI, 111 runs scored and 116 walks in 174 games played over three minor league seasons in the Padres organization.

Phillips, 26, was acquired by the Padres from the Toronto Blue Jays last season. He split 2010 between Triple-A Las Vegas and Portland, combining to hit .306 (74-for-242) with three home runs, 11 doubles, two triples, 36 RBI and 28 runs scored. The catcher made his Major League debut for Toronto in 2009.

Quiroz, 29, spent the 2010 season in the Seattle Mariners organization, combining to hit .286 (93-for-325) with seven home runs, 22 doubles, two triples, 46 RBI and 37 runs scored in 96 games played between Double-A West Tenn and Triple-A Tacoma. Over 101 Major League games played with the Toronto Blue Jays (2004-05), Mariners (2006, 2009-10), Texas Rangers (2007) and Baltimore Orioles (2008) he has hit .208 (53-for-255) with two home runs, 11 doubles, 28 RBI and 19 runs scored.

Darnell, 23, split the 2010 season between Single-A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio, combining to hit .271 (108-for-398) with 11 home runs, 25 doubles, one triple, 58 RBI and 51 runs scored in 108 games played. Over three minor league seasons in the Padres system, he has hit .298 (275-for-922) with 33 home runs, 66 doubles, six triples, 154 RBI, 140 runs scored and 147 walks in 250 games played.

Forsythe, 23, spent the entire 2010 season with Double-A San Antonio and hit .253 (99-for-392) with three home runs, 22 doubles, one triple, 38 RBI, 66 runs scored and 75 walks in 107 games played, leading the Texas League in walks. Over parts of three minor league seasons in the Padres system he has hit .278 (252-for-907) with 14 home runs, 45 doubles, seven triples, 99 RBI, 153 runs scored and 183 walks with a .407 on-base percentage in 251 games played.

Frandsen, 28, split the 2010 season between Triple-A Pawtucket, Triple-A Salt Lake City and the Los Angeles Angels. With the Angels last season, he hit .250 (40-for-160) with 11 doubles, 14 RBI and 24 runs scored in 54 games played. Over parts of five Major League seasons with the San Francisco Giants (2006-09) and Angels (2010) he has combined to hit .243 (138-for-568) with seven home runs, 29 doubles, one triple, 53 RBI and 65 runs scored in 228 games played.

Guzman, 26, spent the entire 2010 season in the San Francisco Giants organization with Triple-A Fresno, where he hit .321 (143-for-445) with 18 home runs, 28 doubles, one triple, 72 RBI, 66 runs scored and a .510 slugging percentage. He made his Major League debut with the Giants in 2009. Over parts of 10 minor league seasons in the Seattle Mariners (2001-07), Oakland Athletics (2008) and Giants (2009-10) systems he has hit .300 (1100-for-3672) with 109 home runs, 217 doubles, 31 triples, 585 RBI and 595 runs scored in 973 games played.

Parrino, 25, spent the entire 2010 season with Double-A San Antonio and hit .246 (101-for-410) with 11 home runs, 28 doubles, four triples, 49 RBI, 70 runs scored and 68 walks in 125 games played. Over parts of four minor league seasons in the Padres systems he has hit .253 (353-for-1395) with 23 home runs, 86 doubles, six triples, 162 RBI and 224 runs scored in 413 games played.

Petit, 26, spent the entire 2010 season in the Texas Rangers system with Triple-A Oklahoma City and hit .251 (118-for-471) with seven home runs, 20 doubles, one triple, 53 RBI, 59 runs scored and 12 stolen bases in 130 games played. He made his Major League debut for the Oakland Athletics in 2008. Over nine minor league seasons in the Athletics (2002-09) and Rangers (2010) systems he has combined to hit .266 (808-for-3034) with 41 home runs, 139 doubles, 22 triples, 343 RBI, 413 runs scored 66 stolen bases in 827 games played.

Rizzo, 21, combined to hit .260 (138-for-531) between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland with 42 doubles, 25 home runs, 100 RBI and 61 walks in 136 games in the Boston Red Sox organization in 2010. Over four minor league seasons in the Red Sox system, Rizzo has a career batting average of .284 (307-for-1080) with 85 doubles, 38 homers, 180 RBI and 170 runs over 282 games.