May 21, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Former San Diego Padres catcher Nick Hundley (4) talks Make a Wish Foundation kids prior to the game against the Minnesota Twins at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Some thoughts for a Monday morning…
Nick Hundley was traded to the Orioles this week for a left-handed reliever. Two and a half years ago, the Padres felt Hundley was worth 9 million for 3 years. They based that on his hitting .367 for two months at the end of 2011 and being a slightly above average defensive catcher. Two-plus seasons later, during which Hundley stopped hitting .367 and dropped behind Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera on the depth chart, the Padres traded Hundley and some cash to the Orioles for Troy Patton, a pretty good lefty relief specialist.
Sure, the Padres filled a need in their bullpen by getting a second lefty, and Hundley’s usefulness as a third catcher was limited. But the real lesson here is – don’t judge a ballplayer on two months’ work. Hundley was a .240 hitter before his hot streak, but he was a .212 hitter after. Wanting a player to be great, plus a hot streak, does not equal a great player. For examples from 2012 and 2013, see Chase Headley and Will Venable.
Nevertheless, I am sorry to see Nick go. His omnipresent smile and joy in playing the game were infectious, and I enjoyed watching him. I wish him well with the Os.
Are you as baffled by the Padres’ hitting as I am? Over the last 18 games, they have scored 2 or fewer runs in half of them, including three shutouts and four 1-run games. But they’ve also had an 11-run game, a 10-run game, a 9-run game, an 8-run game, and two 6-run games. So 9 times they’ve done almost nothing, 6 times they’ve been very productive, and only 3 times in 18 games have they scored between 3 and 5 runs.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to see them putting big crooked numbers on the board when they do, but why is it always feast or famine? With this pitching staff, scoring 4-5 runs would win them a lot of games. Scoring one or none isn’t going to win them many. Save some of those runs for another night, guys! If only we could find a way to do that. Can Qualcomm and General Atomics spare a few engineers to work on this problem?
Hunting For Playoffs:
Of the Padres’ next seven opponents, not one currently has a winning record. Twenty-two games against teams currently at .500 or below. This would seem to be an excellent opportunity for the team to break solidly out of its hitting funk, get healthy, and get back in the pennant race.
After this, 19 of the following 22 games will be against NL West teams, where everyone except Arizona is over .500. They’ll need to be solidly in the hunt before starting that critical stretch. We know the story of the first 50 games of the season – great pitching and terrible hitting. However, the hitting is showing signs of recovery. The next 50 games should let us know whether the Padres will be playing relevant games late in the season or if we should schedule a golf trip for that weekend in mid-September when the Giants are in town.