The San Diego Padres continue to make outs on the base paths and that cannot be a common thing if this team wants to compete deep into the summer. Through Thursday the Padres are tied for the most stolen bases in all of major league baseball. 14 stolen bases is very impressive for a team that doesn’t really have a speed burner starting every day. In fact Cory Spangenberg is the only current Padres player I would categorize as having elite speed.
Still with the 14 stolen base, seven base runners have been gunned down attempting to steal. Bud Black has gone wild with the green lights on the base paths. Seeing Yonder Alonso getting thrown out in Thursdays game, left me scratching my head. I’m all for being aggressive on the base paths, but lets not be silly. Yonder Alonso is not the most fleet-footed of Padres, so sending him on a straight steal seems strange. Perhaps a sign was missed by someone. I really don’t know.
The point is this team isn’t the 1987 St.Louis Cardinals. They shouldn’t be running into outs on a nightly basis. The aggressiveness is fine, but choose your moments wisely. The Padres already have a team that strikes out a bit too much. You cannot give away at bats and outs on the base paths and be succesful. At least not for the long run.
The defensive problems the team has shown are one thing, but the reckless base running needs to cease. This team will never be a fantastic defensive team. They do however have the ability to be slightly above average. The outfield has been impressive so far, as it was thought they would be painful to watch. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton are adequate in the corner spots. They are both hitters though, and you take what each gives you defensively as a bonus. Wil Myers has been nice to see in center. The 24-year-old former rookie of the year has embraced the challenge of playing center and ran with it.
The infield is a work in progress and I only view Will Middlebrooks as an above average fielder. Yonder Alonso is hitting like a man on a mission, but he is always an adventure at first base. He can make a phenomenal field and throw one play and the next misplay a pop-up or ground ball. Errors are part of the game and anybody can improve their defense if the truly want to. Tony Gwynn came into this game viewed as a below average fielder. He worked his tail off and won five Gold Gloves in the outfield. Not everyone has the work ethic of Tony Gwynn, that was legendary. That is what made the man special.
The middle infield is a mess in my eyes. Alexi Amarista can play a very adequate short stop, but he is not an everyday player. Yangervis Solarte and Amarista are super utility guys that should not even be starting on a nightly basis. They will both have long tenures as professional baseball players, but their niche is as utility players, not starting midfielders. That is the brutal truth. Amarista and his .282 career on base percentage in 1,150 at bats is not a starting player. Solarte could be a very productive hitter, but his forte like Amarista is the ability to play multiple positions. Clint Barmes is strictly a back-up short stop and basically a player-coach in the locker room.
The defense is what it is, that can’t be changed. However making outs on the base paths foolishly, is not going to win ball games. Outs made on the bases can be demoralizing to a team. The game of baseball is all about momentum. I can not stress to you how much the game is mental. Giving a team outs, can and will come back to hurt you in the end.
I was always taught playing ball that if you give up a couple of runs in an inning, you better come back and rally for a few runs yourself. If you give up a few runs and then go one, two, three in the batting order. The team you are playing just got a huge amount of confidence, and you as a team just got demoralized. Same goes for getting thrown out at home. The base runner just took a positive like a base hit and turned that into a negative. Those little microcosms of a game make up a season. If you don’t think they mean anything, then you aren’t watching the same game as I am.