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Manny Machado Jersey

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Manny Machado was signed by A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres at the beginning of Spring Training with the thought that he was going to be the Manny Machado we saw in Baltimore, but that wasn’t really the case.

People forget that he still hit 32 home runs in 2019, but what they do remember is the .256 batting average he had.

While it wasn’t Machado’s best year or anything the Padres were hoping for, he is still under contract for nine more seasons and I don’t see how he doesn’t have a comeback season in 2020.

You have to remember he didn’t have Fernando Tatis Jr. on base for a few months due to his hamstring and back injuries in addition to not having a healthy Hunter Renfroe and no Franmil Reyes in front or behind him to give him protection, which could’ve been a factor to his mediocre numbers in the second half.

Look, Manny Machado is a superstar player and he was still amazing on a daily basis over at the hit corner so to say that it was a bad decision for San Diego to not sign a future Hall of Famer would be stupid.

There are some positives though if you want to compare his contract to that of Bryce Harper who actually got more money.

Although Bryce had a better year, as his war was 4.2 compared to 3.1, he is not leaving Philadelphia for 12 more seasons.
Machado is going to age better than Harper, as Machado is a much better defender than Harper and I think Harper will age like Albert Pujols has which means he will end up fitting a DH role once it happens.

On the other hand, I don’t see Machado declining defensively so he will be playing third base for pretty much the entirety of his career.

Matt Strahm Jersey

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Back in September, I wrote about Padres left-handed reliever Matt Strahm and how his intriguing repertoire out of the bullpen was generating mostly unnoticed performance. I noted his respectable 2.12 ERA and 3.45 FIP in 51 innings, while also pointing out that his numbers were trending upward. In the final month of the season, after that article was posted, Strahm continued to impress, posting a 1.74 ERA and 2.87 over a stretch of 10 1⁄3 innings, striking out 14 and walking four.

Strahm is no stranger to success. In his debut season with the Royals in 2016, transitioning from a starting role in the minors to a setup role in the majors, he put up a 1.23 ERA, 3.06 FIP, and 0.9 fWAR in only 21 innings. After a hiccup with inconsistent performance, a season-ending knee injury, and a subsequent trade, he returned to flash dominance in a versatile role out of the bullpen for the Padres.

With the Royals, Strahm relied strongly upon his fastball (he threw it nearly 80 percent of the time), which was good-not-great velocity-wise, sitting around 93-94 MPH, touching upper-90s. He’d occasionally mix in a curveball, slider, and changeup, results varying. His curveball without a doubt was his best secondary pitch as a starter. His only other significant offering, his changeup, was considered mediocre.

Strahm’s fastball was touching 97 in relief this year. It sits in the low 90s during extended outings but has exceptional, bat-missing life in the zone and is a plus offering. His curveball is already plus, flashes better than that, and Strahm’s ability to locate it in several effective locales allows the pitch to miss bats against both left- and right-handed hitters. Strahm will break off curveball featuring spin rates in excess of 3,000 RPMs. His changeup is fringey right now and only projects to average, but Strahm is able to maintain his fastball’s arm speed during release, which allows the pitch to induce sub-optimal contact.

Because of Strahm’s ability to locate his curveball effectively, I don’t think significant changeup progression is a necessary component for Strahm to attain a mid-rotation ceiling. If he can refine his fastball command, I think he can get by using the fastball/breaking ball against hitters from both sides while using the changeup as a tertiary change of pace.

His second year in the majors saw him struggle with locating his fastball. None of the secondaries took a step forward, giving his potentially impactful arm little to work with. The Royals did try him out briefly as a starter that season, as he went on to post a 7.11 ERA and 4.27 FIP in 11 2⁄3 innings. Losing a tick of velocity, he relied on his fastball less, turning to his slider and changeup as his main secondary offerings. None of those looked encouraging in a small sample size.

Fast forward to 2018, as Strahm had been traded to the Padres. Back in the big leagues quickly, he worked with four primary offerings out of the bullpen. Not your typical reliever. The biggest difference though this time was that his secondaries were generating good results.

Strahm has relied on four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup, all of them generating fair results. Using prorated pitch values from FanGraphs and eliminating decimals to create a wider range, we see that 27 pitchers out of 291 with 50 innings have posted values at or greater than zero. Strahm is one of them, with the majority of the rest looking like great company.

The changeup has turned into my main focus there. With the Royals as a starting pitcher prospect and a big league reliever, his changeup was considered fringe and there wasn’t much reliance or focus on it. It also seem to correlate pretty well with his uptick in strikeouts.

Strahm developed more confidence in the pitch as the season went on. And the results progressively got better and better.

May: 22 results, .156 wOBA, .451 xwOBA, 0.0% K%, 0.0% BB%
June: 24 results, .196 wOBA, .273 xwOBA, 12.5% BB%, 0.0% K%
July: 53 results, .264 wOBA, .286 xwOBA, 5.9% BB%, 29.4% K%
August: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .184 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 28.6% K%
September: 22 results, .126 wOBA, .171 xwOBA, 0.0% BB%, 33.3% K%

Now it looks like Strahm will get to test that new toy in the Padres rotation. He’s pitched a starter’s workload this spring, netting fantastic results. But it all doesn’t fall on the changeup, as he’s also working with a new slider. An adjustment to the mentality in which he throws the pitch with and work with his new pitching coach led to massive improvements.

“I started to develop it a little bit in Kansas City, but my knee injury in 2017 kind of put an end to that. Getting traded over here was a little blessing in disguise, to get with Balls [pitching coach Darren Balsley]. He kind of sharpened it up. He made it a legit swing-and-miss pitch for me.

“Something that helped it click was A.J. Ellis explaining to me — this was last year — the term ‘kill slider.’ That really stuck with me. It helped me throw my slider as a swing-and-miss pitch, versus trying to place it somewhere. A.J. said to just throw the hell out of it, and I was like, ‘All right.’ I did, and ever since I’ve kind of had that feeling for it. I basically take my four-seam and rotate the baseball — maybe 25 degrees? — and let it rip.

It’s only Spring Training, but there has been nothing but positive signs from his few outings.

2/27: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO
3/4: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
3/9: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO

Now fully healthy and pitching with a complete four-pitch arsenal, Matt Strahm looks like an enticing breakout candidate for 2019.

Luis Perdomo Jersey

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2 years ago, Luis Perdomo looked like he would stay in the starting rotation for years to come. At times, he was simply dominant. Of course there were times when the wheels would come off, but that’s normal of a rule 5 trial by fire pitcher in his early 20’s.

2018 came along and things got much, much worse. He couldn’t find the plate, and when he did he got shelled. Demoted to AAA, he spent time becoming a more mature student of the game. He pitched well as a reliever during his September call up.

Fast forward to today and Luis Perdomo is suddenly one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen. In fact, he’s unique in the sense that he can give you length if necessary. In 27 IP he has a 2.67 ERA. Most impressive is his 1.04 WHIP. The man who was always out of control is no longer a thrower, but a pitcher.

His 2 worst outings were against Toronto and Atlanta. He gave up 7 ER in 4 IP. You take out those 2 games, he’s given up just 1 ER in 23 IP. 0.43 ERA. In other words, he’s been dominant.

There’s been a few subtle changes that are worth noting. 1st, his slider. The graph below, courtesy of fangraphs, shows that Perdomo has thrown his Slider more than anytime in his career. He’s thrown it 35.6% of the time vs. 26.5% last year. You can thank the minor league development staff for that. They’ve openly forced players to throw their slider more, and it’s really helped Perdomo. Opponents are hitting just .158 when he throws it. It’s his top “put away” pitch.

2nd, He’s all but abandoned his Splitter. Good thing too, it’s terrible.

Lastly, he’s simply locating his primary pitch, a sinker, incredibly well. He’s cut down dramatically on his walks, and no longer trying to strike everyone out. He’s a true sinkerball that relies on location over power. He’s maturing and trusting his stuff.

Luis Perdomo 3.0 looks to be here to stay. A reliable middle innings arm that can be extended. Sounds good to me.

No longer will Padre fans hold their breath and say “Perdo…NOOOO!!” when this version trots out to the mound.

Chris Paddack Jersey

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As expected, the Padres have brought an early end to star rookie Chris Paddack’s season. The right-hander’s start against the Brewers on Tuesday will go down as his last of the year, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Paddack concluded his season in excellent fashion, tossing five innings of one-run, one-hit ball with nine strikeouts against a single walk in the Padres’ loss in Milwaukee. It was the fourth straight outstanding performance by the 23-year-old Paddack, who yielded a mere two earned runs and totaled 32 strikeouts versus four walks in his last four appearances – a 23 1/3-inning span.

After joining the Padres in a heist of a trade with the Marlins back in 2016, Paddack quickly rose up the ranks to become one of the game’s most coveted young arms. And though Paddack underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after switching organizations, it’s evident he’s all the way back at this point. The 2015 eighth-round pick amassed a professional-high 140 2/3 frames this year, notching a 3.33 ERA/3.96 FIP with 9.79 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9 in the process.

Now, with San Diego out of contention as the season winds to a close, the team understandably wants to preserve a hurler who could be a front-line starter for the long haul. The Padres’ playoff drought will sit at an embarrassing 13 years after this season, but if they’re going to return to relevance sometime soon, it seems likely Paddack will have quite a bit of say in it.

Nick Margevicius Jersey

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Pitchers jumping from High-A to the major leagues is something we rarely see. Having not even faced competition in the upper-minors yet, going from facing lineups that a majority of non-big leaguers to facing actual big league lineups is not an easy task. Taking on that task Sunday will be Padres prospect Nick Margevicius, a good-but-not-great prospect (FanGraphs tabs his future value at 40) who the Padres saw enough promise from him in camp to put him in the big league rotation.

A left-hander out of Rider University, where he put up a 3.18 ERA in 229 college innings, he was drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. His pro-debut saw him yield dominant results across two levels (1.31 ERA, 48 IP, 8 BB, 62 SO), included with a big strikeout boost when he left the college ranks. He started the 2018 season at Low-A Fort Wayne where he continued his success (3.07 ERA, 76 IP, 9 BB, 87 SO), earning him the promotion to High-A Lake Elsinore, where he finished out the season (4.30 ERA, 58 2⁄3 IP, 8 BB, 59 SO). Now after an impressive showing in Spring Training (12 IP, 4.50 ERA, 4 BB, 12 SO), he’ll get his first taste of big league action.

Off the top of my head, the last notable jump for a pitcher from High-A to the majors was Jordan Hicks last year. The reasoning for his case was pretty ease to point out, that being that he sits triple-digits. Here’s the thing with Margevicius, though: he can barely hit 90 mph on the radar gun.

Being a minor leaguer, there isn’t much public data available on Margevicius. Luckily, he did appear in a Spring Training game against the Diamondbacks, who play in one of two Spring Training complexes with Statcast-tracking. This appearance came back on March 19th, an outing that saw him give up two earned runs in four innings, striking out three and walking one. His fastball velocity was dreadful. He maxed out at 90.7 mph, minimized at 86.9, and averaged 88.8. This falls in line with the scouting reports. He’s “crafty.”

“Margevicius has the qualities of a finesse lefty. His fastball sat in the 88-to-90 mph range, touching 91, with above-average armside movement and riding life when he was up in the zone. He will mix an infrequent cutter to righties in the mid-80s, showing pitchability and knowing when to change looks at the heater.”

This velocity isn’t something we’ll typically see in today’s game and it’s something we keep seeing less and less of with upcoming prospects. Out of 265 pitchers that threw a four-seamer and accumulated at least 10 innings, only 11 pitchers sat lower than what Margevicius did with his four-seamer on March 19th. Adding an age constraint of 23 or younger and the lowest average velocity was from Orioles reliever Josh Rogers at 89.9 mph. Nobody else sat below 90.

Now you may be asking however did Margevicius reach the highest level of baseball in the world. Well, there’s two reasons. First, it’s his superb-control. Here are the walk-rates of each of his minor league stops.

2017, Rookie: 5.0%
2017, A-: 3.6%
2018, A: 2.8%
2018, A+: 3.3%

Since 2017, here are the 10 lowest walk-rates among minor league pitchers with at least 150 innings. Worth noting that none of these pitchers posted a higher strikeout-rate than Margevicius.

Ronald Bolanos Jersey

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The Padres announced Monday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Ronald Bolanos from Double-A Amarillo. Southpaw Jose Castillo was moved to the 60-day injured list to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

Bolanos, who turned 23 just 10 days ago, was a fairly high-profile signing by the Padres, securing a bonus worth a bit more than $2MM when he left his native Cuba. Listed at 6’3″ and 220 pounds, Bolanos is generally regarded as one of the more promising arms in a loaded San Diego farm system. MLB.com tabs him 15th among Friars farmhands, and he’s listed at No. 17 on Baseball America’s midseason update and No. 39 over at Fangraphs.

Bolanos opened the season in Class-A Advanced and posted a 2.85 ERA through 10 starts before jumping to Double-A. His 4.23 ERA there isn’t as impressive, but Bolanos has upped his strikeout rate, improved his walk rate and maintained his strong 47.7 percent grounder rate since moving up to face more advanced competition. He’s still relatively young for the Double-A level and will face considerably more experienced pitching in making his big league debut.

The Padres have kept Bolanos in a starter’s role throughout the bulk of his minor league career, though scouting reports note that there’s a definite chance he ends up in the ’pen. He draws praise for a clean delivery and a fastball that sits 93 mph while occasionally touching 96-97mph. His slider, curveball and changeup are less polished offerings, and the development of those offerings will likely determine whether his future is in the San Diego rotation or bullpen. For now, he’ll get his first experience at the MLB level in hopes of convincing the club that he can be a part of the staff early in the 2020 campaign.

Willie McCovey Jersey

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Willie McCovey, in full Willie Lee McCovey, byname Stretch, (born January 10, 1938, Mobile, Alabama, U.S.—died October 31, 2018, Stanford, California), American professional baseball player who played 22 years in the major leagues between 1959 and 1980, all but three of which were spent with the San Francisco Giants.

McCovey was a power-hitting first baseman and holds the record for most seasons played at that position with 22. In 1959 he was named the National League Rookie of the Year. McCovey had 521 career home runs and is tied with Ted Williams on the upper rungs of the all-time list. He was selected to the National League All-Star team six times, and in 1969 he was named Most Valuable Player in the National League after batting .320 with 45 home runs. He was enormously popular with the San Francisco fans and held several public relations positions with the Giants after his retirement. The portion of San Francisco Bay beyond right field in the Giants’ home field, AT&T Park, was named McCovey Cove in his honour. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, in 1986.

Tony Gwynn Jersey

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At one point it looked as if Tony Gwynn’s path to athletic greatness would be on a basketball court, as he would prove adept at passing the ball. But Gwynn could not pass up baseball, a game where the left-handed batter with the natural inside-out swing would shine.

A highly recruited point guard, Gwynn would attend San Diego State University on a basketball scholarship. Although he didn’t play baseball for the Aztecs as a freshman in order to concentrate on basketball, he was back on the field by his second year.

“Baseball was just something to do in the spring and summer,” Gwynn once said. “I told my mom I didn’t think I would try baseball in college. She and my dad told me it was something I might want to fall back on.”

Drafted by both Major League Baseball’s San Diego Padres (3rd round) and the National Basketball Association’s San Diego Clippers (10th round) in 1981, it wasn’t long before the lefty-swinging Gwynn’s mastery with a bat in his hand became evident, especially with his ability to slap the ball between third base and shortstop.

“How do you defend a hitter who hits the ball down the left-field line, the right-field line and up the middle,” said Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda in 1984. That same year Al Oliver, one of baseball great hitters at the time, said, ‘I’m not in awe of too many people, but Tony Gwynn is the best looking young hitter I’ve seen since I’ve been in the big leagues. I can honestly say that I would pay to see him hit.”

Gwynn, an early advocate of using videotape to study his swing, once said, “I love to hit. I can’t wait until it’s my turn. Sometimes, I think that’s all baseball is. I root for the other team to go down 1-2-3 so I can hit again.”

A 15-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner in right field, Gwynn spent his entire 20-season big league career with the Padres, one of only 17 players to play to have played at least 20 seasons and spent their entire careers with one team.

With his eighth and final batting crown in 1997, Gwynn tied Honus Wagner, the great Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop, for the most in National League history. In addition to his .338 career batting average, he earned seven Silver Slugger awards for offense and batted .371 in his two World Series appearances.

Greg Maddux once said of Gwynn, “He’s easily the toughest hitter for me. I can’t think of anyone who hits me harder. He handles the pitch away as well as anybody, and he’s able to stay inside the ball when the pitch is in. His holes are just very small.”

Steve Garvey Jersey

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Earlier this month, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced ten candidates for a Cooperstown plaque via the “Modern Baseball” Committee, which is tasked with voting on players (and one executive) who have been previously overlooked in the Hall of Fame vote. One of those candidates is Steve Garvey, the long-time first baseman for the Dodgers and San Diego Padres. Garvey was the Iron Man before Cal Ripken Jr., having played in 1,207 consecutive games from 1975 to 1983, a National League record that remains to this day.

Known as “Mr. Clean” during his playing days due to his grooming and manners, Garvey was one of the game’s most popular players in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He was one of those players who you just knew would be a Hall of Famer in the future and probably a U.S. Senator in his post-playing days. The script hasn’t quite worked out for Garvey. His playing career fizzled in his late 30’s and he was also tarnished with scandals in his personal life that short-circuited a potential career in politics.

Garvey hit the Hall of Fame ballot in December 1992 (for the Class of 1993) and finished with 42% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America (the BBWAA). In the previous history of the Hall of Fame voting, every single player who hit their first ballot with at least 40% of the vote wound up with a Hall of Fame plaque within ten years. But it didn’t happen for Steve Garvey. After 15 years on the BBWAA ballot without being elected, this is his fourth appearance on one of the Eras Committee ballots (previously known as the Veterans Committee).

Ozzie Smith Jersey

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“When you’re playing you want to be considered the best at what you do,” said Ozzie Smith. “I went about doing that, setting myself apart from the rest of the crowd. I didn’t want to be one of many, which you certainly are if you’re in the norm. But the guys that make it to the Hall of Fame are one of a few.”

Known as “The Wizard of Oz,” Smith combined athletic ability with acrobatic skill to become one of the greatest defensive shortstops of all time. The 13-time Gold Glove Award winner redefined the position in his nearly two decades of work with the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, setting major league records for assists, double plays and total chances.

Smith’s talent was evident to those who saw him come up with the Padres in the late 1970s. “Ozzie is the best young infielder I’ve ever seen,” said San Diego manager Roger Craig at the time. “Very soon he’s going to be one of the best shortstops in baseball, if not the best.” Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry added, “I saw him as a rookie in San Diego. I was always hoping they would hit the ball his way because I knew then that my trouble was over.”

Smith’s fame increased after his trade to the Cards, where he helped the team to three National League pennants and one World Series title. While not known for his bat, Smith’s offense continued to improve while in St. Louis. In 1985, he got his batting average up to .276 and helped the Cardinals win their second pennant since his arrival. In the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the series tied at two games apiece, Smith faced Tom Niedenfuer with one out in the bottom of the ninth and hit his first career homer batting left-handed (in 3,009 at-bats) to win the game. Smith went on to bat .435 in the Cardinals’ six-game triumph and won the NLCS Most Valuable Player Award, but St. Louis lost to the Kansas City Royals in seven games in the World Series.

Smith retired in 1996, the same year the Cardinals retired his number, and in his 19 seasons compiled a .262 batting average, 2,460 hits, 580 stolen bases, and was named to 15 All-Star teams. Smith set the following major league records for his position: most assists (8,375), most double plays (1,590), most total chances accepted (12,624), most years with 500 or more assists (8) and most years leading the league in assists and chances accepted (8).