Diamonds in the Desert: A Baseball Blog from Tucson


Late Off-Season Ramblings
February 1, 2012, 16:45
Filed under: Uncategorized

During this off-season, my best baseball pal and I went to see “Moneyball” in the theaters…then a friend of mine sent me the book as a birthday present.  I recently read the book and found it fascinating.  Having seen the movie took nothing away from the book (and probably vice versa), because the book adds a lot of critical background information about what Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s did in drafting/selecting baseball players.  The odd thing is, no matter how amazing it is to me that statistics (like on-base percentage) can be used for something as fundamental as selecting ballplayers, and no matter how interesting the case is presented for using stats to better describe the reality of baseball, I am essentially a fan who will never embrace the “numbers game.”  Frankly, most of that comes from my discomfort with numbers:  I’m a total dunce when it comes to math and anything that uses numbers in its process is lost to me.  Oh sure, my blog will reflect basic info from box scores, but that doesn’t mean that information sticks in my head or communicates particularly well to me.  It’s just a way to provide a snapshot of the game in my head and to my readers.  If you haven’t seen the game, you can get an idea how it went by reviewing the box score’s commonly accepted set of measured standards.  It gives me something that allows me to compare how it appears players are doing during the season (“Moneyball” and Bill James arguments that they’re measuring the wrong things are interesting, but don’t necessarily make me feel I’m wrong to use the box score info in this manner).  But, aside from filling in some of my knowledge base about the stats of the game, the main impact “Moneyball” had on me was make me yearn for the start of baseball season!  Only a couple more months!!  And even less time until Spring Training (though, sadly, no Spring Training events in Tucson this year).

I suppose the book also has me wondering what in the world Josh Byrnes, new GM of the San Diego Padres, is doing with his off-season moves in the Padres family.  A lot of those faces we grew to know and love last year here in Tucson are no longer a part of the Padres team.  Gone are:

  • INF Anthony Rizzo – to the Cubs

(But SD gets Carlos Quentin!)

  • C Luis Martinez – to the Rangers
  • OF Aaron Cunningham – to the Indians
  • INF Jarrett Hoffpauir – to the Nationals
  • P Aaron Poreda – to the Pirates
  • P Matt Buschmann – to the Nationals
  • P Will Inman – to the Red Sox
  • P Wade LeBlanc – to the Marlins
  • INF Steve Tolleson – to the Orioles
  • P Luis Perdomo – to the Twins
  • P Samuel Deduno – to the Twins
  • OF Cedric Hunter – to the Athletics
  • P Evan Scribner – to the Athletics

RELEASED:

  • P Stiven Osuna
  • OF Eric Patterson

DECLARED FREE AGENCY (apparently still awaiting final disposition):

  • INF Pedro Feliz
  • C Guillermo Quiroz
  • P Jon Leicester
  • OF Drew Macias
  • P Greg Burke
  • OF Bobby Kielty
  • C Kyle Phillips

Granted, there have been a flurry of off-season articles about the strength of the Padres minor league system (prospects)…and I take heart in remembering that both the AA San Antonio Missions and High-A Lake Elsinore Storm did incredibly well in their leagues last year.  If some of that talent has stayed in the Padres system, and moves up to Tucson, we could be in for a remarkable year as T-Pad fans!  Still, it’s disheartening to see the Padres give up on some of the talent we rooted for last year.  And, no matter the return on the trade, it is difficult for me to be thrilled about losing Rizzo in particular.  He astounded fans with his prowess in AAA ball at Tucson last year, and I think the “Rizzo Buzz” brought folks into Kino Stadium who might not have otherwise come.  I hope we’ll have another exciting storyline in the 2012 season:  time will tell!

For me…well, I KNOW the buzz will happen.  There’ll be this whole new roster of kids in town, but most of all there will simply BE baseball.  Real, live baseball.  I may not “get” the stats…I may not know the players, but…I LOVE baseball!  Among my favorite baseball things:

  • Being outdoors, the smell of the grass, the warmth of the sun, the sound of a wooden bat hitting a ball on the sweet spot…the leisurely pace of the game and chatting with a friend about the weather (or the game)…silly mid-inning activities…a cold beer and ballpark food…discussing who’s cute this year…watching enthusiastic kids and fans of all ages marvel at the strength and ability of the ballplayers
  • Watching a homer fly off into the night…but also learning something more about strategy…learning to value and appreciate “little ball” more and more each season (in spite of what “Moneyball” might have to say about steals, bunts, etc.!)…cheering for the player that just made an impossible catch
  • Sitting so close to the field you can check out who shaved before the game…feeling connected with the team or a player:  no matter their stats, a player will stand out and remain in my head if I’ve felt some connection with him, or seen him be extraordinarily kind to fans:  so, Jeff Salazar, doomed to AAA forever apparently (though he’s made some remarkable plays in the Bigs), will probably remain one of my favorite ballplayers forever because he once gave me a hug and a fist bump when I was ushering Sidewinders’ games…“The Good Wife” will make me a fan of a player (like former Tucson Sidewinder wife, Amy Choate, who always chatted kindly with the “help” at baseball games)…and I’ll cherish forever, as good baseball guys, Tucson Padres Pedro Feliz and Aaron Cunningham, thanks to kindly given autographs (and a baseball direct from Pedro’s hand!)

Baseball is coming, people!  Can you feel it?

Future of the Tucson Padres.  One of the other off-season developments for the Padres family was a California court decision which essentially wiped out any chance Padres’ owner Jeff Moorad had of building a AAA stadium in Escondido CA (article).  With that failure, Moorad has said, unequivocally, that he will sell the AAA franchise.  There are, apparently, no local prospects among the mix of potential buyers, so it is looking increasingly unlikely that the team currently known as the Tucson Padres will remain in Tucson after this 2012 season.  All I can say is “Boo hoo.”  Darn it.

2012 Opening Day is April 5th Mark your calendars now and plan to be there for the first Thirsty Thursday of the 2012 season!  I hope you plan to be there to see this year’s batch of Tucson Padres battle against the Fresno Grizzles!

(Disclaimer – This posting has not been reviewed/approved by Pima County, the City of Tucson, the Tucson Padres, Tucson AAA Baseball, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, PCL, MiLB, MLB, National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, Tucson Baseball LLC, or any other baseball official and represents the views and biases of the author alone)

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