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Friday, June 30, 2006

Fire Bruce Bochy (2)

Yesterday's game went 14 innings. Bruce Bochy is good for a couple of blunders in a 9 inning game.

Before one pitch was thrown, you could see that Bochy was already working to avoid the sweep. Having managed bad teams for years and thus trying to avoid the sweep with some regularity, perhaps Bochy merely views all sweeps as negative. If so, someone should let him know it's only bad when the Padres get swept. Bruce decided to start Eric Young. Eric Young is either the worst player or second worst player on the team depending upon which stats you're looking at. Not only did Young start, but he was batting second. Now, batting order isn't the most important thing in the world, but there is still some effect and as a general rule you just don't put your worst hitters at the top of the lneup. Basic stuff. Eric Young came up to bat 5 times during the game and was not pinch hit for once. He should have been. Both his bat and glove are liabilities.

In the top of the 9th, Sweeney replaced Linebrink. I don't so much have an issue with this move as I have an issue with Sweeney being the low leverage guy. That position should really belong to Adkins and/or Cassidy. Both have put up negative WXRL this year.

In the bottom of the inning, Eric Young was allowed to hit for himself. That's no good. Johnson should have been hitting there.

In the tenth, Bochy partially redeemed himself going to his closer in a tie game and finally getting EY out of left field.

In the eleventh, Bochy blew it again. Hoffman had only thrown eleven pitches. He's thrown more than double that in an inning without needing to be removed. Hoffman should have still been on the mound. Instead, Bochy goes to the 'pen. Not only does he go to the 'pen, he goes to the 'pen for one of his least effective relievers, Jon Adkins. Perhaps Embree is unavailable, you might have thought, but that proved false when after Adkins nearly gave the game away in came Embree.

In the 14th, Bochy made another pitching change. He was forced to bring in Cassidy. That's the sort of thing that happens when you pull your closer too soon and you use your better relievers in low leverage situations.

The solution?

Fire Bruce Bochy.

Good news, too

Paul DePodesta joins Padres front office. I'd just like to take this time to say, "Yay!"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #81 Scott Linebrink

The following is a guest article by Geoff Young of Ducksnorts, the San Diego Padres blog.


One of the shrewdest moves Padres GM Kevin Towers has made during his decade at the helm was plucking Linebrink off the waiver wire in late May 2003. The Astros had removed Linebrink from their roster to accommodate Geoff Blum, who was coming off the disabled list.

Linebrink promptly became one of the premier relievers in baseball, compiling an ERA lower than all but two other pitchers (the Yankees' Mariano Rivera and the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez) during his first three years in San Diego. Featuring a mid-90s fastball and nasty splitter, he has complemented closer Trevor Hoffman well as the Padres' top setup man.

Despite some injury issues in his minor-league career, Linebrink has proven to be quite durable, working in 73 games in both 2004 and 2005. When it looked as though Hoffman might bolt to Cleveland following the 2005 season, Linebrink was next in line to assume the role of closer. Although he has not performed in that capacity as a professional, there is little question that he would succeed if given the opportunity.

Linebrink is a better pitcher than most big-league closers today. The Padres are fortunate to have him waiting in the wings should anything happen to Hoffman.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Top 100 San Diego Padres: #82 Dave Freisleben

The following is a guest article by Howard Lynch.


Dave Freisleben was drafted by the Padres out of a Pasadena, TX, high school in the 5th round of the 1971 amateur draft (96th overall), after being a 2-time Texas American Legion MVP.  I can't find a comprehensive tally of his minor league career ... but here are some major events along the way:

       - Threw 4 shutouts for the Northwest League's Tri-City Padres in 1971 ... http://www.canadianbaseballnews.com/archives/bluhis.html ... a Northwest League (NWL) all-time pitching record according to: http://vancouvercanadians.blogspot.com/2005/08/northwest-league-nwl-all-time-pitching.html

       - Was 17-9 for the Alexandria Aces, then the Padres' Double-A farm team, in 1972 ... leading a staff that also included Dan Spillner (16-7) and Randy Jones (3-5) ... http://www.thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060523/SPORTS/605230323/1006

       - For the 1973 AAA Hawaii Islanders, Dave Freisleben led both the strikeout (206) and ERA (2.82) totals ... http://linkmeister.com/islanders/islhist.htm

       - while in the PCL, Rob Neyer reports that Dave's repertoire was ... Pitch Selection: 1. Fastball  2. Curve  3. Change  4. Slider (occasional);  Source: The Sporting News (6/23/1973, Fred Borsch); this describes his repertoire while pitching in the Pacific Coast League, and might not accurately describe his pitches afterward, in the majors ... http://www.robneyer.com/book_04_extras2.html.

Dave made his Major League debut with the Padres, at age 22, on April 26, 1974 vs PHI, winning 6-2 and pitching a complete game (http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B04260SDN1974.htm) (note: the game was caught by Fred Kendall ... http://members.tripod.com/bb_catchers/catchers/ushcatch.htm).  In his second start, Dave also threw a complete game, beating the Expos 5-1 and in the process, getting his first big league hit, a double off Ernie McAnally (http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B05010SDN1974.htm).  In his third start, Dave beat the Phillies again, this time besting HOF'er Steve (Lefty) Carlton (http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B05060PHI1974.htm).  A month of relative-struggles saw his ERA get over 4.00 until he blanked the Cardinals on 6-hits on June 7th (http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B05060PHI1974.htm).

The most amazing thing I did not know in Padres' history is what Dave Freisleben did in August of 1974 ... did you know that a Padres' pitcher tossed 13 *SHUTOUT* innings in 1 game?  Check out this box score from August 4, 1974: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B08042SDN1974.htm ... OUCH!  I'll bet that's the best no-decision start in Padres' history. This was against a Big-Red-Machine team that went on to win 98 games! I'm in awe!  Dave followed that outing with a complete game victory over the Pirates ... after a rough outing vs Cubs, Dave then toss'd a 3-hit shutout over the Expos ... then 8-innings vs the Pirates ... and then, he did the free-baseball-thing *AGAIN*, tossing 11-innings of 1-run ball at the Cubs (before getting pounded in the 12th) ... so, for August, 1974, Dave had 6 starts and pitch'd 55.2 innings (averaging *OVER* 9 innings per start)!!!  Who knew?  You can see all these details for yourself at http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Kfreid1010011974.htm ... Thank-you, Retrosheet!  In retrospect, doesn't this seem like a prime example of why the fuss over pitch-counts has evolved, especially for young pitchers?

Dave's weakness shows, even during this amazing stretch ... it was his control.  In that 3-hit shutout of the Expos he issued 7 walks.  For the season, 112 walks (in 211.2 IP, with 130 Ks), which was 3rd most in the league (http://users.adelphia.net/~lwfoster/hbppage/recaps/hrec74nl.htm, wow, Steve Carlton had a rough season in 1974, well, except that he toss'd 291 IP, http://www.baseball-reference.com/c/carltst01.shtml).

1974 was Dave's best season, finishing it with a 3.66 ERA ... good for an ERA+ of 97, which led the team (http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/SDP/1974.shtml), and he was named Padres Rookie Pitcher of the Year.  If you ignore those walk totals, then that 1974 staff looks like it has a *VERY* bright future ... with 125 starts coming from 2 24-year-olds (Randy Jones and Bill Greif) and 2 22-year-olds (Dave Freisleben and Dan Spillner).  Alas, only Randy Jones would elevate his performance, and we'll see him much higher on the Padres Top 100 list.

Mid-May of 1975 saw Dave toss back-to-back complete-game near-shutouts (both vs. Cubs, some things never change :-)) ... but after that, his ERA bounced between 3.80 and 4.20 ... finally finishing at 4.28 (ERA+ = 82).  He finished the season with 7 out of his final 8 appearances in relief, after August of 1975 not being nearly as remarkable (35.2 IP, 26 ERs = 6.55) ... see http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/Kfreid1010021975.htm for all the details.

1976 didn't start for Dave until May 24th, but it was still his high-water-mark season for Wins, finishing with a 10-13 record and an ERA of 3.51 (for ERA+ = 93).  Despite the late start, it was his typical fast start, getting complete game shutouts in his first 2 starts (vs Dodgers & Giants, for which he was named National League Pitcher of the Week), and tossing a third shutout vs Mets on June 8th, and going 10-innings vs Phillies in his next start!  Another iron-man streak there ... 6 starts with 53 IP! ... but then not another complete game until September 18th, with a 4-1 victory over JR Richard and the Astros.

The start of 1977 was ugly, with an ERA of 6.49 at the end of April and an 2-month absense from the mound (a stint on the DL, perhaps?).  After peaking at 7.91 on July 3rd, when he failed to get out of the 2nd innings vs Reds, Dave worked his ERA under 4.50 with 3 more 9-inning outings ... but the season ended on a very rough note, giving up 19 runs in just over 16 IP over his final 4 starts.  His final line = 7-9 in 23 starts, 138.2 IP, ERA = 4.61 (ERA+ = 77) ... not a disaster, but the beginning of the end.

Dave's final start for the Padres came on April 29, 1978 ... http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B04290PHI1978.htm ... in which he gave up 7 runs on 10 hits (+ 4 walks) and didn't get out of the 5th inning.  After 6 relief appearances, the Padres traded him on June 22, 1978 to the Cleveland Indians for Bill Laxton (who had pitched for the Padres in 1974, but never again made it the majors, http://www.baseball-reference.com/l/laxtobi01.shtml).  Dave got 10 starts for the Indians, but they weren't pretty as he finish his time with them at 1-4  in 44.3 IP with a 7.11 ERA (ERA+ = 53).  After this, Dave was subject to these transactions ...

November 3, 1978: Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later. The Toronto Blue Jays sent Sheldon Mallory (March 27, 1979) to the Cleveland Indians to complete the trade.

October 22, 1979: Released by the Toronto Blue Jays.

Before 1980 Season: Signed as a Free Agent with the California Angels.

April 1, 1980: Released by the California Angels.

A few moments of note in this career ... he gave up 1 Home Run to Hank Aaron ... http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/aaron/homerbreakdown.html ... and also caught one ... https://www.lelands.com/bid.aspx?lot=646&auctionid=603 :-) ... Aug 29, 1977 was a memorable day for Dave ... http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/moments/9908.html, he gave up Lou Brock's 892nd SB (tieing him with Ty Cobb) AND 893rd ... with Dave Roberts behind the plate obviously doing the best he could to get into a record book :-)

Here's reference to a few Sporting News articles that feature Dave ... http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/sabr/tbi/F/Freisleben_Dave.tbi.stm ... these might provide more insight into his health issues.

You can buy a baseball card of his that's got some value, and a reminder that our Padres almost moved to Washington, DC before the 1974 season ... http://tinyurl.com/e6az6 :-)  1974 was the same year that Ted Giannoulas had a fitting for a chicken suit in one of the greatest career moves in history but that was for radio station KGB and the Chicken's fame was still unrealized ... http://www.addictsports.com/baseball/archive/index.php/t-28507.html :-).

You were a stud, Dave ... well done!  I wish'd you'd been better taken care of.

PS. Here's some good news on what he's up to now ... he's a golf pro in Texas!  Really!  He "turned pro in 2001"!  Check this out ... http://www.heartlandplayers.com/player_profiles.htm.  I found this site while looking for confirmation that he really did pitch 13 Shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds in 1974 ... this was proof enough for me (not that I ever doubted Rerosheet).  It lists this info about his post-MLB life ...

Married to Melinda, with two children Lindsey and David JR, hobbies include Golf and coaching son David's baseball and basketball teams. Police officer since 1986.  Pitching Coach for two years in Texas Ranger's organization.

Futher interesting web pages ...





Thursday, June 22, 2006

Burroughs DFA'ed

The Devil Rays have designated Sean Burroughs for assignment.

It would seem that he'll soon be available for the taking. I doubt the organization shares this sentiment, but I'd like to see the Padres re-acquire him, if only to send him to AAA and wait for him to hit.

He's still just 25, is an above-average defender at third base, and has hit .280 with a .340 OBA through 440 major league games. Considering he is still the age of many major league rookies, I wouldn't be surprised if he rebounded to have a solid career as a regular. It is fairly rare for a player to play in that many games before age 25 and not become a good player. And he's far better than Vinny Castilla.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Fire Bruce Bochy (1)

In Wednesday's game, Bochy pulled Thompson in the 7th for a pinch hitter in low leverage situation. Thompson had thrown only 79 pitches and allowed only two runs. It was a bad decision. The reliever that replaced the effective Thompson promptly gave up the lead.

In today's game, Bochy removed Sikorski after only 20 pitches (15 were for strikes). Sikorski had struck out two of the batters he faced. After allowing a groundball, Bochy pulled him. Poor decision. The reliever that replaced him promptly allowed the go ahead run to score.

It should be obvious that a manager should allow a pitcher that has been effective during the game to pitch as long as he can safely do so. You never know if a guy is going to be on his game and it's stupid to pull a guy who has already shown you he's on his. Bochy tried to lose two games, managed to lose one. In two days. That's unacceptable.

Fire Bruce Bochy!

Monday, June 12, 2006

What Should the Padres Do?

The Padres have played nearly 40% of the season and are currently on pace to win 80 games. It will likely take 93-94 wins to repeat as Division Champions and 90 wins to make the playoffs as the Wild Card. I rather doubt it's possible to improve the team by 14 wins or even 10. Trading Vinny Castilla straight up for Alex Rodriguez at this point in the season should be worth less than 5.5 wins. The Padres would basically have to make two trades of roughly that caliber to be the favorite for the Wild Card. I don't see it happening. I think the Padres need to look at setting themselves up for next year at the expense of this year and they should start doing so now. This is in no way motivated by losing a series to the Marlins. That sort of thing happens to every team. It's not like we just lost a series to the Cubs.

It's still possible that the Padres begin to play much better and the Dodgers start to play much worse and the Padres experience great luck and the Dodgers have a series of unfortunate events in their future, but how likely is that?