San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers threw another snit fit yesterday after the Padres’ 30th loss in 47 games this season:
“It’s the way you play the game,” said Towers, visibly angry. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the intensity and how you carry yourself.
“We’ve got some hungry players down below looking for an opportunity. There’s not one player in the system who is going to turn it around. If we make changes, it will be wholesale.”
We weren’t aware part of Petco Park’s charm was its glass exterior. Or is it merely that Mr. Towers prefers fan-pandering platitudes about heart and passion, as if a six-week slump reflects upon the moral fortitude of a man? Is it alright if the team blows as long as they trash the locker room after each loss and listen to The Smiths in a darkened hotel room after each road game?
The LOS ANGELES TIMES saved us a lot of time today by pointing out the relative dearth of available talent, famished or otherwise, in the Padres’ system. BASEBALL PROSPECTUS ranks Chase Headley as a top 25 prospect, ready to replace a struggling Scott Hairston in left, but top 40-ranked Matt Antonelli has struggled this season in the minors. Maybe he’s starved, though?
Antonelli would replace Tadahito Iguchi, who is hitting .258/.327/.348 this season, at second. However, his career line in the States is .274/.345/.413, which is just a few doubles away. Are those doubles missing from his stat line because he didn’t have the heart to swing a little harder three times? And who signed him to a $4 million contract to kill time for Antonelli’s arrival?
Same with Hairston, amplified: He’s signed for darned near the major league minimum because, bless his passionless heart that makes Towers cry out in anguish, he’s barely a major league player. This season: .220/.271/.394. Career: .241/.294/.432. Another three doubles have been lost to heartless batting eyes. Why can’t he fall on his bat to end the unforgiving pain?
And the list goes on: What did you think you were getting when Jim Edmonds arrived in an offseason trade from St. Louis, Mr. Towers? Didn’t you notice where Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak scratched out the sell-by date on him and replaced it in crayon or were you too busy looking at his moral caloric intake? Randy Wolf is pitching just like Randy Wolf.
As for the others truly slumping like Khalil Greene, Jody Gerut, Josh Bard, etc., you don’t have a lot of options to replace them. Otherwise, you would have given up on Greene last year. Bard was supposed to be your backup catcher, but Michael Barrett hurt himself punching Mark Prior in the back (or similar, we suppose; Barrett’s always been a hands-on guy). And so on.
How many of these are you willing to claim as yours, Mr. Towers? And if you were concerned about their moral fiber and how it might affect their batting average on balls in play, why did you take a chance on them?
Maybe, Mr. Towers, you could find a little solace in the two-year extension you just signed and accept that good teams can have a bad six weeks. Maybe the team you assembled will be just fine without added pressure from above.
Then again, maybe the team you assembled is lousy. No reflection on your own moral fiber, sir. Maybe your team just needed a rocket scientist. (Oh, wait. You hired one.)