“I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong” - Benjamin Franklin
In this past weekend series vs the Mariners, the opening series in the inaugural Vedder Cup, the Padres did not, perhaps, fail the test. But boy did they find 100 different ways to play baseball the wrong way.
It was, quite simply, the worst three day collection of baseball I've seen the Padres play in memory. How bad was it?
The Mariners are the worst hitting team in the AL by batting average and the second worst in runs scored, yet managed to score 14 runs in 3 games at Petco Park.
What the Mariners do have is pitching. There are second in the AL in ERA and 5th in the AL in Runs Allowed. They also have the benefit of being able to throw the AL Rookie of the Year frontrunner (Pineda) and the reigning AL Cy Young Winner (King Felix) on back to back days. And with all that pitching, the Mariners had little problems stifling the Padres bats (hardly an accomplishment) by allowing a total of 2 runs in 3 games while striking out 35 Padres over the weekend. Put another way, the Padres had 81 outs during the 3 game series vs Seattle. 35 K's makes up 43% of the Padres outs made over the weekend.
The starting pitching was mediocre, the defense worst and the offense atrocious. It was a less than remarkable beginning to the Vedder Cup. And now the Padres are 8-18 at home this year. It's May 23 and right now the Padres do not have double digit wins at home. The odds of going to a game at Petco and seeing a win right now? Not great, so I'd make sure you like the giveaway that night.
A 1-5 homestand thus far and a sweep by the Mariners in which they looked barely competitive was going to lead to changes. And today, that change took place (whether its the first of many remains to be seen).
Venable was optioned to AAA Tucson today. This is the right move that I don't think many would disagree with but it does mark that the plan for 2011 is not working.
If you play any fantasy sports, particularly through ESPN.com, you no doubt know who "The Talented Mr. Roto" is (AKA Matthew Berry). Every year, TMR does a pre-season column called "You Heard Me" which is essentially bold predictions from a fantasy perspective. This year he broke it down by team, making one bold prediction regarding a player on every team. Here is what he wrote for the Padres:
"Will Venable becomes this year's Drew Stubbs, going 20/30. I'm thinking: He needs to stay healthy and get regular playing time, but the power/speed skills are there."
That article was written on March 30th. And to be honest with you, I didn't even think this was that outrageous a prediction. I, like many, saw the September Venable had in 2010, saw the raw physical ability and thought "this guy is due to breakout." When he got regular playing time in 2011, it seemed that finally the stars had aligned for Venable.
It just hasn't happened.
7 extra base hits. 0 homeruns. At times he looks completely lost at the plate which has accounted for 36 K's in 151 PA.
I for one feel bad for the guy. Again, I don't disagree with this move in the slightest. But I've always like Venable and, behind Headley, there is no Padres I've had more patience with than Venable. I, like everyone else, kept waiting for him to put all the physical skills that are plain to see together.
Taking his place is Blake Tekotte from San Antonio. I'm not going to pretend to know anything about him, but here is what Corey Brock wrote at Padres.com:
Tekotte, who turns 24 on Tuesday, was hitting .291 with nine doubles, three triples and six home runs for San Antonio, also had 24 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Tekotte, a left-handed hitter, is considered a good defensive outfielder.
Tekotte was a third-round Draft pick in 2008 out of the University of Miami and becomes the second member of that Draft class to reach the Major Leagues. Infielder Logan Forsythe, who was recalled from Tucson earlier this month, was the first.
No doubt more moves will follow throughout this season. Depending on how the month of June and beyond goes, the 2011 season may ultimately cost the Padres their All-Star closer. By September, it will not surprise many to see plenty of new faces on this starting roster, likely to include Anthony Rizzo, who at this point pretty much needs to be Roy Hobbs to meet the expectations.
But by far the most substantial move the Padres have made thus far in 2011 has been demoting Will Venable. Was he the only problem? Hardly. There is not one facet of the game, beyond the bullpen, that is working right now. And Venable is far from the only player struggling at the plate. But demoting him does provide for Venable to "get right" as he put it.
And it shows that after mustering 2 runs and 35K's in a sweep at the hands of Seattle, the status quo is no longer acceptable.
Step one is admitting you have a problem. Jed Hoyer did that today.