Looks like the Padres are happy with giving away stolen bases to opposing teams this year. Last night's display by Mike Barrett was horrible—just horrible. The previous night was even worse, so I guess that was an improvement.
Last night, Chicago had Alfonso Soriano (still recovering from a leg injury) on first, and the Cubs decided to steal. Soriano did not have a great lead, or jump or anything like that—but it was the "throw" from Barrett that made the moment special.
As Barrett cocked his cannon back, Soriano was still a good 40-50 feet from second. Barrett released the missile, which proceeded to bounce about five feet behind the pitchers mound and slightly to the right. Total air distance for the ball—about 65 to 66 feet.
If you are wondering if Soriano made it—yup, he made it. I think he was already dusting himself off by the time Green scooped up the grounder from Barrett.
If I was managing against the Padres right now, I would have everyone steal. I mean, why not? I think Franklin Roosevelt could steal a base against any Padres catcher—last night, or any other night, for that matter.
I would think, as a catcher at the Major League level, you would want to be the best possible catcher. If you can't throw a baseball all the way to second base and you are a Major League catcher, something is wrong. Looking at Barrett's stats, it's clear he's not in the lineup because of his bat—that's for sure.
So, what have the Padres done to shore up one of the most important positions (in baseball? Luke Carlin. I hope he's either funny, or has the power of the Force to help the Padres get through this long season. He's had 41 at bats this year and is batting .171. Of the 12 runners who have attempted to steal a base with Carlin behind the plate, nine have made it safely.
That's not a great improvement over Barrett, to be honest—but it's not as bad as it could be. As for Barrett: 12 runners, 11 making it safely. Eight of those in one game. Ouch.
Those are the back-up catchers. As for the Padres' regular full time catcher whom I haven't discussed yet? That would be Josh Bard. Josh, Josh, Josh. 47 attempts, 41 made it. 41 out of 47. What in the world??? Thankfully, he's currently on the DL. I won't discuss his hitting.
You might be thinking I'm picking on the Padres' catchers, I'm not really (well, maybe a little). I'm really picking on Kevin Towers, GM of the Padres. Why? San Diego really hasn't had a decent catcher since Carlos Hernandez, in my opinion.
Hernandez didn't hurt too much at the plate, and he was a fairly solid catcher. For his career, he threw out almost half the runners that attempted to steal on him. That's pretty good—especially when compared to what the Padres have now.
Stolen bases puts players in scoring position. The Padres are giving up a lot of stolen bases and giving up a lot of runs. Funny how that works out.
So, to actually pick on Towers: Who is coming up in the Padres farm system? Anybody? Bueller, Bueller? No one, really. There is Nick Hundley—but I just don't think he's the answer. He could always surprise me when he does make it to the Padres' roster—but I'm not holding my breath.
Free agents? I'm sure there may be a couple, but Towers doesn't like to spend money—and when he does, it's on a 43-year-old, used-to-be All-Star. So, I just don't see that happening.
Mr. Towers, please—come to your senses and pay out a little extra cash to get a solid catcher for the 2009 season, or maybe before the trade deadline this year if the Padres have a chance at the Wild Card. By keeping the current catchers you have, you are killing your pitching staff, losing double-play opportunities, and tipping the favor of the game to your opponents.
Perhaps you could post a want ad in the local papers? Wanted: Catcher w/ability to throw runners out. Decent bat a plus...