PADRES OFFER USAIN BOLT A CONTRACT TO PLAY CENTER FIELD!Posted: March 29, 2010
What is My Point?
Jed Hoyer, the Padres’ GM, is emphasizing pressure on the bases but the media is translating that into the Padres wanting to have incredibly fast players on the field.
Why Does it Matter?
The media will be focusing on writing about speed and may become critical that a certain player isn’t fast enough for the Padres. This will cause front office and players to comment on possible acquisitions based on a criteria that isn’t the focal point. The focal point is really forcing opposing teams to make plays if they want to beat the Padres.
The Over 220 lbs Baseball Club
“Welcome! Welcome to the Husky Runners Club. Yes we are big and yes we are slow. But what do we know that they don’t? The answer is the application of pressure! We know when to steal bases… and why.”
“Carlos Lee! Carlos, we love you! We look to you as someone who knows when to take advantage of a situation. Now tell us…what do you know that everybody else doesn’t?”
“No, no, no,” I say with a laugh. “Why is it that you can steal and nobody ever throws you out?”
“Because I pay attention to the game. I watch the pitcher and I know his tendencies. This catcher is lazy. This pitcher is always too concerned with the batter. This pitcher always throws to the plate using the same cadence.”
“Carlos, I have to admit that I really wasn’t expecting you to say that. So if I pay attention to the game I too could steal bases?”
“Si… I mean yes.” (Carlos is also a funny guy.)
Base Stealers Steal 3rd….Pressure Makers Steal 2nd
The easiest base to steal is third base, but it also represents the highest payout to loss ratio. Stealing third is risky because you are already in scoring position at second base. The real reason to steal third is to get the catcher to throw the ball away (Click here for example), but most managers don’t know that. Back to the fast guys.
Carl Crawford loves stealing third. And that dude is fast! Carlos Beltran loves stealing third and that dude is even faster… when he is healthy. Bill Tavers loves stealing third. You know, Bill Tavers. C’mon, Joe Table, a.k.a. Jose Mesa? Willy Taveras, a.k.a…?
Bill Tavers = Willy Taveras!
I have been keeping tabs on Jed Hoyer because I want to learn from the guy. I may listen to all that he says, but actions truly display what a man is thinking. So let’s try and understand what is on Jed Hoyer’s mind.
Here is a quote from Padres coach Bud Black. But before we read this, let’s try and understand the meaning behind his statement. Let’s not be critical of the words that are used and instead try and understand his message. Ready? Ok. Here it is:
“We want the other team to feel it when we’re on the bases,” Black said of the team’s base-running focus early in spring training.
“When we say we’re placing more emphasis on being more aggressive on the bases, we’re emphasizing aggressive leads, good secondary leads, good turns at first and second, good turns around third — all aspects.” Bud Black
Who noticed that these statements said nothing about speed? Did you hear Bud say that we have world-class speed on this team? What is Bud saying that Jed has emphasized? Think.
I love reading about game theory. Game theory is really just the probability of anticipating what your opponent is going to do. If you ever play me in a game, be prepared to make decisions. I am willing to sacrifice in order to gain an advantage. I do not react. I force my opponent to choose. My youngest brother taught me this.
Sten and Chess
My brother Sten is 6 years younger than me. He is the most similar to my Grandpa who was very analytical. When I was 15, it became a ritual for my brothers and I to play chess while we watched the movie, Vacation. My brother Larsen who is 2 years younger than me, and Sten and I would take turns at the chessboard, round robin style. The winner kept playing and the loser would trade places with the brother who was watching the movie.
Lars and I started noticing a pattern that Sten was using. We knew that the queen was the most important piece on the table because it had the most mobility on the board. Larsen and I based our strategy around the queen. Sten didn’t. He built his strategy around the knights. Knights move in a way that is more difficult to defend. Even if we saw it coming, we had to figure out a way to defend against it. This was a problem.
If Sten would sacrifice his queen, we knew that we were in trouble. We realized that he was forcing us to make a decision. But he was sending a deeper message as well: intimidation. He forced us to execute. For Sten, the game wasn’t over when we took his queen, it was over when we took his king. It was very confusing and stressful for Lars and I. He forced us to react which caused us to constantly be on the defensive.
Jed Must Play Chess
The Padres are not fast. They run well, but they are not burners. In fact, they don’t have one player who has “plus, plus” speed, but they have a bunch of guys who run well enough. Notice that Bud Black is talking about being more aggressive on the base paths. I think that decision is coming from Hoyer.
Spring training games don’t count, but messages are sent. Teams may say that it is just to get ready for the coming season, but that isn’t entirely true. Scouts are watching and opposing GM’s and managers are watching tendencies. I guarantee that every report is saying that the Padres will steal and try and take an extra base. Even though the games don’t count, their message is clear.
Hey! We are Hitting and Running on this Pitch Right Now!
It was 1998 at USC (Trojans) and we were hitting. We had a man on 1st base and he had just missed the hit and run sign. Our coach, Mike Gillespie never got upset if we lacked ability, but he was very upset when we neglected to pay attention to the details. He put his clipboard down and walked out of the dugout and this is what he said to the runner who missed the sign:
“We are hitting and running on THIS pitch RIGHT NOW.”
I couldn’t believe it! The opposing catcher was looking at Gillespie. Their pitcher was looking at him. And then I got a glimpse of their pitcher’s eyes and he didn’t know if he should believe Gillespie or not. He was completely confused.
Their pitcher finally threw a pitch. Our runner on 1st took off and our batter hit the ball on the ground in between 1st base and 2nd base where the second baseman had vacated. We had just called our “shot” and the opposing team knew it was coming, but they couldn’t execute!
Hoyer Was a Pitcher
Hoyer pitched at Wesleyan University, where he still holds Wesleyan’s career saves record. Pitchers are paranoid. They always think the worst. Watch how many times a pitcher steps off the rubber when there is a man on second base to call the catcher. They worry that the runner is telling the hitter what the catcher’s signals are.
Pitchers will throw over to 1st base with runners who don’t steal bases. They will tell you that they got the sign from the catcher who will say that he got it from the manager. But most pitchers will change the way that they pitch when there is a runner on base because they are concerned about runners stealing.
Hoyer understands the pressure that the pitcher feels just like Sten understood the pressure he was putting on Lars and I. He also understands that forcing players to make plays is difficult. He knows that it is hard for an outfielder to throw a ball to 2nd base on one hop when a base runner is challenging him. He has been out on the baseball field and he has felt that pressure himself. He knows that the best way to win is to pressure the opponent to make decisions and to make plays.
If I was playing the Padres, I would have one thing on my mind. Hoyer doesn’t play with a queen.