Morning Coffee with Mark Whelan: With Deno Gone, Time to Pick a New Favorite Player


Chris Denorfia was my favorite Padre. I just chose him at the beginning of this year. I liked his quiet leadership, I liked the way he approached his work. I liked the fact that his results were better than you would expect from his skill set. He was an overachiever. But humble, soft-spoken, and always willing to do whatever was asked of him to help the team.

My favorite players haven’t always been quiet types or underdogs. In the mid-80s, my favorite player was Keith Hernandez of the Mets. Fiery, incredibly baseball-smart, did things his own way, consistent hitter who sprayed doubles around the park. For a while it was Greg Maddux. Kind of a combination of Hernandez and Denorfia – incredible baseball mind, but soft-spoken, and a great teammate.

Now It’s time to pick someone new. I’m willing to wait. Between Tony Gwynn and Denorfia, I didn’t have a favorite player, other than Maddux. And he was only on my team for a year. So I’m not going to just choose someone to choose someone. It has to be earned.

Who are the most likely Padres on today’s team? Well, I know who it’s not going to be. Yasmani Grandal. His constant smirk bugs the crap out of me. Everth Cabrera. It’s not going to be someone who took ‘roids. Maybin wasn’t ever an option, either, even before the suspension. Too fragile.

I kinda like Yonder Alonso. Just the right amount of arrogance. Great smile. I like the hitter he’s supposed to be, spraying doubles. I like doubles. But let’s face it. Unless he hits .300 the rest of the year, he’s pretty unlikely to come back next year. Not with Tommy Medica waiting in the wings.

Medica? Interesting choice. Certainly seems to have the hitting chops. The unbuttoned top button shows just the right amount of rebellion against authority. But that thing where he asked to have the official scorer’s decision changed so he could have the cycle? MAJOR drawback. It ain’t about the name on the back of the shirt, Junior. It’s about the name on the front of the shirt. Still, he’s the first Padres hitter I’ve been really excited about in five years.

I thought Jedd Gyorko was going to be that guy last year. And maybe he still will. But I like a high average and OBP more than I like home runs. Who knows, the Jerk Store might find his way back into my heart if he hits .275 with 30 long balls next year.

Pitchers? You’ve got to be a pretty special pitcher to be my favorite player. Maddux and Tom Seaver are the only two to have had that honor. I don’t see anyone here likely to step into that role. Although Andrew Cashner likes to hit and run the bases. I like that quality. A lot.

Alexi Amarista and Rene Rivera. I like them. Overachievers. I love watching the Little Ninja play. Big smile, loves what he’s doing. Makes a mental mistake here and there, but doesn’t let it affect him in the next AB or the next inning. And Rivera. Huge overachiever. Great defensively (another characteristic of Hernandez and Maddux). Catchers who throw out a ton of guys rule. And he’s hitting, for the first time in his career, he’s hitting for power. At Petco Park, yet. Rivera’s a real possibility. But if he starts hitting .200 again, he can’t be my favorite. Wait a minute, he’s only hitting .235. This year must be getting to me – I’m starting to think .235 is a good average. .235 ain’t gonna cut it once the rest of the team starts hitting.

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