Thursday, August 2, 2012

Safety net

It's frightening to think of this Padres pitching staff without Petco Park's assistance to arms and psyches. Back in April when another fence debate arose, I shuddered while envisioning this club's pitchers outside the Petco cocoon over a full season. Here's an excerpt of what I wrote: "A less enormous outfield shouldn't be seen as a recipe for more on-field success, given the team's glut of Nos. 4-5 starters both in the majors and above Single-A."

At this stage of their careers, several of the team's current starters such as Jason Marquis, Kip Wells and Ross Ohlendorf, are thought by scouts to be No. 5 starters. The White Sox didn't think Clayton Richard could survive the combination of their hitter friendly ballpark and American League lineups. Entering this season, scouts liked Anthony Bass as a potential No. 4 but wondered if his max-effort style would make him more suitable, long-term, to a relief role. Because he gives up so many walks, Edinson Volquez, the one healthy Padres starter with ace stuff, might be exhausted and timid by now but for Petco. Joe Wieland impressed some scouts yet also projects as a No. 4. I've written at length about Petco being Miracle-Gro for relievers. In sum, I can't recall another Padres pitching staff, save the one in 2008, more in need of Petco's embrace. Without it, a long ugly season would be excruciating.

The rotation could have more raw stuff within a year or two if Andrew Cashner shows he can stay in a starting role, if Casey Kelly, described by scouts as a No. 3, can stay healthy, if Cory Luebke comes all the way back from Tommy John surgery and if Double-A starter Adys Portillo continues his rise. Read the whole article if you want to know where I stand on the fence debate. I'm not trying to change the mind of folks who say the games are deathly dull at Petco. I ask that they weigh the cost to the home team's pitching staff of making the outfield less gigantic.


  1. Well said, thanks for the reminder, and the realistic assessment of the pitchers in the Padres' org today. There are some other (very) young arms to get excited about for the long term (ex. Fried), but the short-to-medium term does not look good ... looks, to me, a bit worse now than a year ago even ...

    I'm not even sure Marquis/Wells/Ohlendorf deserve the "No. 5 starter" label. I agree with folks who say there are really only ~15 "No. 1 starters" ... so then even if the next 30 are "No. 2"s and then 30 "No. 3"s, etc ... starting pitchers #136 to #150 are "No. 6" :-)

  2. Just had this debate with some overly optimistic Padres fans. Agree 100% and it doesn't look much better to start the 2013 season either unless a number 1 or 2 guy are brought in from the outside.

  3. I think your assessment of the Padres minor league pitchers is off. Kelly, Sampson, erlin, wieland, cashner, luebke, portillo, andriese, and Kelly are all potential #3 or better above a-ball. Thats well above average for all teams.

    1. Even if you want to nitpick and say no scouts see Wieland as better than a #4 (which is untrue) thats still a very solid number of pitchers who project as #3 or better in the high minors. Seriously, check out other minor league systems. Drafting and developing top pitching is the most difficult thing to do. It may SEEM as if the Padres minors is devoid of top pitching but when you compare to other systems you will see they compare extremely well

  4. Snaarf: Who wrote or said "no scouts see Wieland as better than a 4"?

    Erlin: Not generally regarded as a 3 or better. Not sure he ever was, either.

    As for Kelly, Luebke, Portillo and Cashner, doesn't look like you read what I wrote about them, either in recent articles or articles earlier this year.

    Scouting opinions on Sampson are all over the map.

  5. You're cherry picking the bad about these guys. Most guys still have detractors and problems to work on. Your outlook is unrealistically bleak. I should say you're the one with the comprehension problem. Go literally and look at other top minor league systems and compare these ~7/8 guys to their top guys. Padres will come out on top more often than not, rendering this article absurd.

  6. Your inclusion of portillo and exclusion of Sampson is exactly the puzzling stuff I speak of. Portillo at this point has far more flaws and is father from reaching his potential than Sampson. Nothing but good reports on Sampson this year. Portillo may have a higher ceiling but that doesn't detract from Sampsons. Yet you list portillo and then merely say opinions are mixed on Sampson. Thats the case for most prospects!

  7. Nothing but good reports on Sampson? Not true.

    Have mentioned him several times, including earlier this year. So what if I didn't mention him in one paragraph?