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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #95 Jerry Mumphrey


It was 1980, and speed was king. Baseball’s landscape was littered with basethieves more daring and prolific than any in today’s game. And no team boasted more of these larcenous jackrabbits than the San Diego Padres.

This was the game I grew up with, and while I now realize the insignificance of the stolen base on runs scored, I will never forget how much fun it was to watch. And watching the Padres, the first team in MLB history to feature three players with 50 or more steals, was indeed fun.

The most effective of the local bandits was a comically bad-fielding centerfielder named Jerry Mumphrey. In his lone season in Padre-brown, Mumphrey stole 52 bases (30 more than the second-best total in his fifteen-year career) and was caught a mere five times. His .298 batting average and 49 bases on balls enabled him to post a .352 OBP, relative to a league OBP of .320. Jerry’s stolen base total, in addition to Gene Richards’ 61, Ozzie Smith’s 57, and Dave Winfield’s 23, helped the Friars pace the NL with a now-unthinkable 239 thefts.

Unfortunately, much of the apparent value of Mumphrey’s offensive performance was negated by his defensive misadventures. His circuitous routes to the ball, coupled with his league-leading 11 (yes, ELEVEN) errors, made him a less-than-ideal centerfielder. With the equally inept Richards in left, perennial Gold Glover Winfield was the pitchers’ only outfield friend.

Mumphrey had been obtained from the Indians for Bob Owchinko and Jim Wilhelm, neither of whom will appear in this Top 100 countdown. On March 31 the following year, after a single memorable Padre campaign, Jerry was shipped to the Yankees with John Pacella in exchange for Ruppert Jones, Joe Lefebvre, Tim Lollar, and Chris Welsh. Two of the players netted in that transaction will appear on our list. Essentially, Owchinko, Wilhelm, and Pacella were swapped for three of the 100 best players in team history. If that is to be Jerry Mumphrey’s legacy, perhaps 95 is too low a ranking

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #96 Marvell Wynne

The following is a guest article by Michael Baker of metalsupply, a San Diego Padres blog.


Marvell Wynne was never a great player, but he was one of my favorites. He lingers in my memory for his above-average centerfield defense and his great baseball name. He played only eight seasons in the major leagues, and only three-and-a-half years with the Padres, but Marvell managed to make a lot out of a limited skill set, somewhat similar to later Padres player Eric Owens and Padres draftee Thomas Howard.

Marvell was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Kansas City Royals in 1979. In 1981 he was traded to the Mets for Juan Berenguer (a terrible trade for the Mets), and later played for the Pirates, with whom he first reached the major leagues.

Marvell was primarily used as a defense-first centerfielder, and he arguably never would have played a game in the major leagues if not for his quick jump and good range. Early in his career he stole a few bases and managed to score a few runs, but he had no power whatsoever, terrible plate discipline, and generally hit like a pitcher. He was caught stealing as often as he was successful, which probably accounts for him stealing no more than 12 bases in any season apart from 1984, his only season as a regular.

In 1986, just after spring training, Marvell was traded to the Padres for reliever/spot starter Bob Patterson. In four seasons with the Padres, Wynne never accumulated more than 350 at bats. He had arguably his finest season as a professional with the Padres in 1988, when he compiled a .751 OPS in limited duty.

In 1989, Wynne was traded with Luis Salazar to the Cubs for the aged Calvin Schiraldi, Darrin Jackson, and Phil Stephenson. After spending a little more than a year with the Cubs, Marvell Wynne's MLB career ended, and given the choice of a hard life on the road in the minor leagues or a steady paycheck elsewhere, he chose the latter. He ended his career with the Hanshin Tigers in Osaka, the former team of Rob Deer, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Larry Parrish, Randy Bass, and Cecil Fielder. The team currently features former Padre Andy Sheets and one time Yankees phenom Shane Spencer. When he retired, Wynne returned to his home in Poway, CA.

Interestingly, Marvell Wynne might not be the best athlete named Marvell Wynne in his own family. His son, Marvell Wynne II, was a highly touted collegiate soccer player at UCLA, and was recently the first overall pick in the 2006 Major League Soccer SuperDraft. He will begin his professional career as a defender for the New York Red Bull (formerly MetroStars).

Monday, March 27, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #97 Dave Campbell


University of Michigan product Dave Campbell was acquired (with Pat Dobson) by the Padres in December of 1969 in exchange for Joe Niekro. Campbell, whose first major league hit was a home run for the 1968 World Champion Tigers, would become the Padres regular second baseman in 1970.

In what passed for a good season for a Friar of that woeful era, Dave led NL second basemen in putouts and assists. His 12 homeruns would be the franchise standard at the keystone position for two decades, surviving until Brett Boone clubbed 19 during the 2000 campaign. Still, Campbell’s OBP of .268, and slugging pct. of .336 left something to be desired.

Nonetheless, Dave Campbell would remain in the lineup for another season, finishing sixth in the league with 12 sacrifice hits in 1971. He saw part-time duty for the Padres for the following season-and-a-half before being shipped to the Cardinals for Dwain Anderson.

After closing out his big league career in a lackluster fashion with the Houston Astros, Campbell went on to a distinguished broadcasting career, teaming with Jerry Coleman from 1978-88 (excepting Coleman’s managerial stint in ’80) in the Padres’ booth, and later attaining greater fame as an integral part of ESPN’s radio and television team, for whom he continues to provide stellar work.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Bellhorn & Blum


There would seem to be little place for it on a roster, given the limitations already inherent in selecting 25 players with whom to begin a season.

And yet it would appear that the Padres will carry both Mark Bellhorn and Geoff Blum, a matched pair if ever there was one. Switch-hitters who have demonstrated the ability to play every infield position passably, either would represent the consummate utility infielder.

Most winning teams have a guy like this. Winning teams seldom have two of them, however.
Each man can be used as a pinch hitter and spot-starter, as well as a replacement for an injured starter for a significant stretch of time. This is the sum of their value.

What the club lacks on the bench is an infielder who can be used as a late-inning defensive replacement, or as a pinch-runner. Blum and Bellhorn do not suffice in this area.

In addition to these guys, we've got Eric Young, who at least can play centerfield (sort of) and pinch-run, but who is an otherwise similar player. I honestly don't know what the hell the Padres are doing.

My suggestion is to try to trade Blum, as Bellhorn is better (he reaches base far more often, and has more power). That failing, release him. Release Young, as well. There are dozens of guys in the minors who can do these jobs for the league minimum. Release Klesko, too. Give Adrian Gonzalez the first base job, and cross your fingers.

On second thought, it's probably better to keep Blum, release Vinny Castilla, and install Bellhorn at third. Release Doug Mirabelli, too, and find out where Doug Gwosdz is. He'll come cheap.

Release Dave Roberts, too. He's the only one of the three Dave Roberts's who've played for the Padres who won't be cracking our Top 100. That should tell you all you need to know about the guy. I'll take my chances with Ben Johnson, or Terrmel Sledge.

Sledge, for sure. He's got a funny name, and we all know how far that took Top Padre #184, Archi Cianfrocco.

Did I miss anyone? Are there any other players who should be released?!?!

Didn't think so.

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #98 Mark Thurmond


Drafted by the Padres out of Texas A&M in the fifth round of the 1979 draft, pitcher Mark Thurmond was the heir-apparent to the “crafty lefty” mantle shouldered proudly in previous seasons by Randy Jones.

He appeared equal to the task upon reaching the big club in 1983. Hitting the ground running, Thurmond posted a 7-3 win-loss mark, to go with a stingy 2.65 ERA. His lack of strikeout stuff - just 49 punch-outs in 115 1/3 innings - went unnoticed in a baseball community that had yet to notice a young sabermetrician named Bill James.

Mark continued to trick NL hitters with smoke and mirrors in 1984, logging a big season for the World Series-bound Padres. He notched the second most victories on the club, going 14-8, en route to a 2.97 ERA. The left side of the ’84 squad’s infield, comprised of Graig Nettles and Garry Templeton, helped the stuff-challenged lefty turn numerous ground balls into outs, enabling him to allow less hits than innings pitched. It would be the last time Thurmond would accomplish such a feat as a Friar, however, as his alarmingly low 57 K’s in 178-2/3 innings served as an indicator that his days as an effective starter were coming to an end.

The wheels came off in the 1984 World Series, as Thurmond lost Game One 3-2, and was bounced after retiring only one hitter in the first inning of Game Five, having been touched up for three runs.

In 1985 the ERA rose by a full run, the win-loss record flip-flopped to 7-11, and the man who had just a year earlier been among the top lefties in the NL began to fall out of favor with the Padre brass. In July of 1986, Mark Thurmond was sent to the Detroit Tigers, who had battered him senseless in the World Series less than two years prior, in exchange for Dave LaPoint.

Thurmond finished his career performing mop-up duties in Detroit, Baltimore, and finally in San Francisco, for whom he threw his final pitch in 1990. His prominent role for the Padres’ first pennant-winning club remains the crowning achievement in an otherwise-undistinguished career.

Billy McCool...

...is among the multitudes who once played for the San Diego Padres.

Heathcliff Slocumb, too. And Archi Cianfrocco, Atlee Hammaker, Fred Kuhaulua, even Rick Lancelotti.

How McCool is that?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Kent Hrbek All Stars

When running the numbers for our Top 100 Padres, Richard went way beyond the top 100. And in doing so, he brought to my attention that the following players all donned Padre uniforms:

#114- Joe Lefebvre
#389- Doug Gwosdz
#489- Adam Hyzdu
#572- Jason Szuminski
#575 Ed Wojna
#617- Eric Cyr
#629- Walt Hriniak

Now, Gwosdz was a truly exceptional catcher hampered by the fact that he was among the worst hitters in MLB history, and Hriniak would go on to great acclaim as a hitting instructor (Gwosdz could've used his help...).

Nonetheless, a crappier bunch of ballplayers you couldn't hope for. It does make me feel better, though, that both Mike Champion and Champ Summers were Padres.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #99 Tim Worrell


Drafted by the Padres in the 20th round of the 1989 amateur entry draft out of Biola University, Worrell would spend four seasons in the minors before a solid showing in 1993 earned him a call-up. He would make his first Major League appearance as a reliever on June 25th at Jack Murphy Stadium against the visiting Reds. It wasn't terribly successful, as Worrell with 2 on and 2 out in the third would give up a three run home run to Kevin Mitchell. Those three runs were more than enough for the Reds' Tim Belcher who allowed only two runs in his complete game that day.

Tim was a below average pitcher in '93, but still had some value as an above replacement level player. It looked as though he might have more success his second time through the league having matched his previous season's production in his first three starts. Unfortunately, his season would be cut short by a torn elbow ligament, going in for Tommy John surgery on May 12, 1994 and not returning until September 1, 1995. Tim made nine relief appearances to close out the '95 season in unspectacular fashion.

1996 would mark the first time the Padres made the post season since 1984 and the reason Tim Worrell makes this list. At 28 years old and in a pennant race, Worrell had a career year. In his first full season back from surgery, Worrell was a solid 34% better than average at preventing runs and was worth nearly five wins relative to replacement. Only Trevor Hoffman was more valuable out of the bullpen for the Padres in 1996 and while Hoffy picked up three saves in the final series of the season, Tim was the winning pitcher in both of the games he appeared in. Unfortunately, the Padres were swept in the opening round of the playoffs, but Worrell and his 2.45 post season ERA weren't to blame.

Tim's next season wouldn't be nearly as productive as he would pitch 15 fewer innings over ten more games and would see his RA increase by more than two. It was only his second full year as a Padre and it would also be his last. Worrell was sent packing along with Trey Beamon in a trade that would net Donne Wall, Dan Miceli and Ryan Balfe from the Detroit Tigers the following off-season.

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #100 Akinori Otsuka


Signed as a free agent prior to the 2004 season, Otsuka who had been one of the best relievers in the history of the Japanese League had no trouble adapting to Major League Baseball. Aki's unorthodox delivery, wicked slider and relative luck with turning balls put into play into outs were good for a 1.75 ERA, a steady job as Trevor Hoffman's 8th inning setup man and third place in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind teammate Khalil Greene and former Padre farmhand Jason Bay.

The unorthodox delivery, which involved a small tap in his glove with the ball, was the matter of some controversy. On May 2, 2004 following one pitch by Aki in the 8th inning, the Mets played the game under protest. "We felt it was an illegal pitch, the way he (Otsuka) was delivering the ball," said Art Howe. The argument was that the move was deceiving to runners on base and ought to be called a balk. The league disagreed. The Padres won. And Aki picked up a Hold, which he would go on to lead the league in that year. He would also pitch in the ninth most games of any Padre pitcher in a single season.

Overall, Aki was good for 4.6 Wins Above Replacement in 2005, but thanks to Manager Bruce Bochy's decision to call on Aki in high leverage situations, he managed 5.1 WXRL (Win Expectation relative to replacement level and the quality of lineup faced).

2005 was a bit of a disappointment following his outstanding 2004 campaign. Fans saw his strikeout rate fall, walk rate climb and RA balloon. Part of Aki's problem that season was his BABIP regressing toward league average and less favorable groupings of walks and hits. In fact, his Peripheral ERA rose only about half of a run. Despite the drop off in production, he was still a valuable asset worth nearly 3 wins over replacement.

In the off-season following 2005, Otsuka was dealt to the Texas Rangers as part of a six player trade. Barring a return via free agency later in his career, and the Padres do like to bring back former players in the twilight of their careers, we can safely assume that Aki will not climb any higher on the Padres All-Time List.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Infield Musings

Barfield appears a lock.

Given Josh Barfield's tremendous spring performance thus far, it would appear that he is in the process of locking-up the second base job. It could be assumed that this development would render Mark Bellhorn superfluous, but that assumption would be incorrect.

With the NL West essentially up for grabs, it seems clear to me that our chances of taking the division crown would be improved mightily if Bellhorn were to supplant Vinny Castilla at third base. Bellhorn figures to post an OBP roughly .075 higher than Castilla, with similar power numbers.

Castilla's supposed defensive wizardry could not possibly close that gap. Brooks Robinson, in his prime, could not close that gap. Teams that have more batters reach base, score more runs. This is obvious to most people not named Bruce Bochy.

And yet, Bochy is an intelligent man, and I trust that he will not take long to recognize the offensive-cipher that Castilla will prove to be.

Klesko done

Or possibly not. I suspect Ryan is capable, still, of a .285/.380/.490 line, even playing half his games in Petco. If he can attain those numbers, the Padres will be tough to beat in the West.

If not, let the Adrian Gonzalez era begin. Or the Walter Young era. Or Tagg Bozied. Really, I'm not picky.

Khalil Greene blossoms?

Sort of. I expect large strides on the offensive side. Seventy extra-base hits are not out of the question, coupled with a leap in bases-on-balls, and a corresponding jump in OBP and slugging.
Think .275/.360/.510. Which is one hell of a line for a shortstop in Petco.

Richard: I'll be shocked if he slugs over .480. I expect something like .260/.330/.440. Maybe a little more average and a bit more power (.270/.340/.470 maybe), but no way he slugs over .500 or has an OBP over .350.

In short, this will be the year he becomes an offensive force, if he's ever going to. It needs to happen, because the apparent benefits of his defense at shortstop are going to disappear in about three years, and he'll be our third baseman.

Mike Piazza

Just hit a grand slam in his first spring training game as a Padre. Just sayin.'


Chan Ho Park out of the pen?

He's looked good in relief pitching for Korea and I think that may be where he's most valuable for the Padres this year. His PECOTA Weighted Mean Average as a starter is a K/9 of 6.32, BB/9 of 4.42, HR/9 of 0.98 and ERA of 4.96. If adjusted to relief the numbers are 7.33, 4.81, 0.80 and 3.92. Not bad.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Voice of Reason...

...amongst the angry mob, courtesy of Dan LeBatard:

Steroid story a case study of situational ethics

I won't pretend that Barry Bonds is a nice guy. But I also won't pretend that common opinion of him and his accomplishments is anything less than unreasonable, illogical, and ignorant.

That being said, I sure am tired of Bonds kicking the Padres' collective ass.

Monday, March 06, 2006

About That Van Mo Show...

...it was totally on Saturday night.

I was just so quiveringly eager on Friday, y'know??? So I got a little carried away.
The great man was amazing, though. I would have to say that he has become a more remarkable singer with age. He only played about 90-minutes, however, and nobody in the audience had had enough by then. Not a single tune from Astral Weeks, either.

Still completely worth the L.A. road trip, and the cash.

Kirby Puckett, R.I.P.

Our thoughts go out to Puckett's family and friends, and also to Minnesota Twin fans everywhere. The bowling-ball centerfielder played baseball the way we all hope to live our lives- with exuberance and joy. A career cut short-and a life cut tragically short-will not dim our memories of Puckett.


...to those who have offered to assist in the "Top Pads" project. We think this is going to be a lot of fun to put together, and even more fun to read, as it unfolds.

There will be loads of guest-contributions, without which the project could never come to fruition. So again, thanks. We hope to begin posting with Padre #100 on March 20, which is, appropriately enough, the first day of Spring.

And for those on the edge of your seat, #100 is not Hideki Irabu.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Coming Soon...

All-time Top 100 Padres

Work has begun. We've received positive feedback from several potential contributors, some of whom are among the best-known Padre-voices on the internet. Stay tuned...

And not related to baseball...

I'm going to see Van Morrison tonight. Cool.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

At long last, a post at "Friar Faithful."

During our nearly 2-1/2 month absence, Richard and I have been mulling over ideas for the blog. A rundown of our top Padres of all time is in the works, and we'll gradually assess the myriad transactions the club has engaged in since December.

If anyone hadn't given us up for dead, and finds themself reading this, know that baseball is back, and so is "Friar Faithful."

The upcoming months promise a veritable cornucopia o' Padre commentary here.


No... seriously. I'm not kidding.