June has been a dreadful month for the Padres. The team is 3-11. The offense, which has struggled all year, has absolutely collapsed, scoring a total of 26 runs in the 14 games, an average of fewer than two runs per game. And the most beloved of all Padres, our own Tony Gwynn, has passed away, gone to play hardball for eternity with the greats of the past.
Add to all that the fact that the ownership has stated outright that a failure to improve on the field will necessitate changes, and you’ve got a legitimate baseball crisis on your hands.
Manager Bud Black stands in the center of all this, unable to find a way to spur the offense into action. His latest attempt came Monday night in Seattle, when he dropped Everth Cabrera, the team’s leadoff hitter, to the 8 hole.
A week ago, Black tried moving Cabrera down to the number two slot in the lineup in an effort to get him going. Cabrera went 3-for-22 in that position. Now Black is trying a more drastic move.
Cabrera has struggled mightily this month, hitting .098 with an on-base percentage of .179. Leadoff hitters who get on base less than 30% of the time do not remain leadoff hitters. Hitters whose batting averages start with zero do not remain major leaguers for long.
Cabrera’s value on offense comes from his ability to get on base and steal bases. On this date in 2013, Cabrera’s was hitting .305 with a .382 OBP and 31 steals, and was on his way to the All-Star Game. As of today, he is hitting .223 with a .260 OBP and had 13 steals.
Last year, Cabrera was suspended for testosterone use.
Dropping Cabrera to number 8 moved Seth Smith to the number 2 spot, Carlos Quentin to #3, and Chase Headley to cleanup. Will Venable, who has been hitting leadoff for the last week, remained at the top of the order.
Cabrera went 0-2 with a walk from the number 8 position.