MLB: San Diego Padres at Colorado Rockies

Every Friday, the Getting Blanked crew makes a prop bet of sorts with one another having something to do with baseball games over the weekend. Of the four competitors, whoever wins the prop bet is able to dole out a punishment on the colleague of their choice – UNLESS ELVIS ANDRUS AND SOME DOPE’S WEDDING TOSS A MONKEYWRENCH IN THE WHOLE ARRANGEMENT. This week’s punishment was watching and recapping Tuesday night’s San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies game in Denver. Because of #PropHate, I watched this game on purpose.

The Narrative

Webster’s defines “déjà vu” as…”a feeling that one has seen or heard something before”. Webster’s also defines “hacky lede” as “using the Webster’s defines device.” But last night’s Rockies/Padres matchup was déjà vu for Prop Hate/I Watched This On Purpose.

The most recent entry before this one also featured the Rockies and Padres. In fact, we were one day away from witnessing the very same pitching matchup two IWTOP in row (Jorge De La Rosa and Andrew Cashner start today’s Rockies/Padres tilt). You could accuse the Getting Blanked crew of East Coast bias or you could face facts: these two teams are awful.

This narrative (these two teams stink) is, well, it’s pretty much true. The Rox and Pods sit side by side in the NL West standings, comfortably below .500 and comfortably free of any lingering stakes or meaning in their respective seasons.

Despite similar lots in life, these two teams are striking in their contrast. The Rockies have one star (Troy Tulowitzki), two really good players (Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez, currently out injured) and a whole lot of God-fearing bros of various levels of replacement. As they are the Rockies, they have no pitching of which to speak. None. No, no, he doesn’t count. Nope, neither does he.

Take Colorado’s starter, Jeff Manship, for example. That’s it. Jeff Manship. That’s the joke.

The Padres are a different breed. They have one really good player (Chase Headley) and that’s about it. They don’t have many bad players, but they don’t have any great players. Not having bad players is a good idea, not having a great player to two is a great way to turn your franchise into the chicken club sandwich of baseball teams.

The Padres have no pitching because they don’t really need it. Their ballpark creates serviceable pitchers out of heavy ocean air. The last good pitcher the Padres developed was shipped out to feed their insatiable need for entirely unremarkable league average nobodies.

The Padres are the other side of the flags fly forever ethos which carries great risk in pursuit of great reward. The Padres are risk adverse – possibly to a fault. It is easy to forget how close the San Diego Padres came to winning the NL West in 2010. The Friars gagged away a big division lead, handing the division to the Giants who, of course, went on to win the World Series. The Padres didn’t kid themselves after that unexpected brush with October, staying the course and continuing to pile up prospects and controllable talent.

You need to give something up to grab those prospects in all their cost-controlled glory. Over the last four years, the Padres have traded their best player…twice. They dealt Adrian Gonzalez (to the Red Sox) and Mat Latos (to the Reds) in successive winters. The result? After getting Anthony Rizzo from the Red Sox in the A-Gon deal (that’s good!), the Padres flipped Rizzo to Chicago for Andrew Cashner. Attractive as Cashner might be, that doesn’t look like such a hot deal for San Diego right now.

Losing Rizzo makes the return for Gonzalez all the more grim and makes the two big moves they made look very…safe. The Padres aren’t really in a position to compete right now, though their farm system ranks as one of the best in baseball (with most of the talent a long way from the big leagues.)

This makes the Padres wise, as they refuse to overplay their hand and they will not watch a star walk for nothing. The Padres extract value whenever it seems possible. You can’t put a price on all that prospect capital, am I right?

It also makes the Padres irrelevant, faceless and ultimately pointless. They are not even a threat in the wide-open, highly mediocre NL West. They lack an ace and a real All Star. They have nothing, really. They are the embodiment of mediocrity, of playing it safe and of extracting value.

I’m sure they’re a licence to print money for their ownership group but if the San Diego Padres up and replaced all 25 members of their team today, would anybody notice? Would anybody care? They are as beige as featured prominently in their nondescript uniforms. They are a victory for marginal surplus value-huggers the world over. They are nothing.

Nice stadium, though. Can’t beat that San Diego weather, either.

Win Expectancy Chart

Source: FanGraphs

Welp. At least all they got all that pesky excitement out of the way early!

Coors Field is a Bogeyman with Horrific, Omnipotent Powers

Watching the Padres broadcast in the early going, it becomes very clear that Coors Field is a bad place. It is a bad place where bad things happen. It might be because of this:

Or it is because Coors Field is the antithesis of the Padres home field, Petco Park. Petco suppresses offense, it keeps the games in hand and looks like a nice, placid place to take in the game. Coors Field is a slugfest waiting to happen, where no game is ever really over. Would Padres hero Trevor Hoffman have posted one of the most hollow careers in the history of stat compliers playing in Colorado? No chance in Hell’s Bells.

This offends the sensibilities of the shaggy dog Padres. Breathless pre-game reports about the forbidding vastness of the Coors outfield and the homer-friendly nature of the yard imbued a sense of dread over the proceedings, as though a four hour game featuring dozens of runs could break out at any moment!

Coors Field lived right up to its house of horrors reputation, as nine runs plated before the top of the second inning was complete. The Rockies batted around in the home half of the first inning, then Nick Hundley homered, Will Venable tripled (scoring the pitcher, who previously lined a single off Manship), and Alexi Amarista nearly beheaded the Captain of the Manship in the top of the second, putting the Padres back on top.

“No game at Coors Field is ever really over”, which makes watching games here (against your will) a lot like lucid, waking nightmare from which there can be no escape. Thankfully, this game was indeed over by the third inning.

The Most Important Play Of The Game

The Rockies loaded the bases in the third inning against hopelessly inept Padres starter Eric Stultz. But this is the National League, which means the pitcher must take his turn at the plate, often to give himself up to prevent further damage. With the bases loaded, there is no chance for the pitcher to bunt.

Instead of a real hitter, we have Jeff Manship hitting with the bases loaded on one out with his team down 6-4. Jeff Manship, the pitcher, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. It reduced the Rockies probability of winning by 16.5%. It nearly reduced me to tears.

Welcome Aboard the Jeff Manship Cruise To Replacement Level Island

To say the pitching matchup in this game was unsexy undersells the point considerably. The starting pitchers, Jeff Manship and Eric “Some Kind of Wonderful” Stults are as underwhelming a twosome as you could hope to find in the game today. Stults bounced around between the Dodgers, Rockies, and White Sox before putting together a handful of decent starts with the Padres last season.

Jeff Manship’s surname is Manship. His career ERA is 6.30. He ain’t so good.

Pitching at Coors Field is difficult for even the most competent of hurlers. Jeff Manship is, sadly, not the most competent of hurlers. Coors Field has a reputation for murdering breaking balls, causing them to sit and spin rather than break with their usual bite. Blame the thin air for that one, too.

Rockies analyst George Frazier made a great point in the fourth inning, demonstrating that Coors Field demands pitchers snap off their curveballs JUST SO, stating that if a pitcher gets “on the side” of their breaking ball, rather than on top, the ball would spin and become another cement mixer ready to get banged.



This is what a cement mixer slider looks like. The centered logo provides a nice visual for a ball that’s just sort of spinning up to the plate, not providing the tight spin which leads to darting and/or missed bats as a good breaking ball should.

Maybe this is just an example of a pitcher needing to adjust to Coors Field. Or maybe it is just that Jeff Manship is bad. Here are something thing I learned about Jeff Manship during this game.

  • Jeff Manship went to Notre Dame
  • Jeff Manship is terrible
  • Jeff Manship allowed 10 baserunners in five innings.
  • Jeff Manship did not strikeout a single batter.

Five innings pitched, zero strikeouts for Manship. And he was the better of the two starters! Eric Stults only lasted 4.2 innings, allowed FOURTEEN baserunners and didn’t strike out a single Rocky. Not one. Two starters, no strikeouts. Four swinging strikes amid 173 combined pitches thrown by our two moundmen. This is what I Watched This On Purpose is all about.

Troy Tulowitzki ain’t havin’ it

Poor, poor Troy Tulowitzki. He’s a very good player who is in the middle of another lost season, both for the team and individually. Since returning from the disabled list in mid-July, Tulo has posted a measly .196/.292/.348 line with four homers and just two doubles. Awful. Jeff Sullivan wrote about new wrinkle in Tulo’s game – a tendency to wonder at the plate.

He’s a man at a crossroads but he’s also a man in the middle of a his first contract extension with the Rockies, with another five year deal due to kick in after for the 2015 season.

The Rockies shortstop entered last night’s action mired in a 2 for 26 slump. He’s not in a good way right now. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Tulo was called out on a borderline strike call to end the inning. Tulowitzki, to his credit, hated the call and made home plate umpire Todd Tichenor keenly aware of his displeasure. The sombre Coors Field crowd couldn’t drown out Tulo’s pleadings with Tichenor, as Tulowitzki expresses his disbelief/demand the ump respect his work ethic.

It is a little hard to make out without the video to lip-read along with so here is a transcription of Tulo’s protest:


Know that feel, Troy. Know that goddamn feel all too well.

A hero in our midst

Gotta finish the whole beer, my man. These are just the rules. (This is the only noteworthy highlight from the entire game.)

Random Thoughts and Whingings

  • As if to underscore the utter pointlessly of this particular dog days of August battle, the Rockies broadcast team spent a good half inning groping around for active players who attended Ivy League schools. “Mark DeRosa…was a quarterback in football at Penn….Doug Glanville of ESPN is a Penn grad…who’s the other guy? The big tall right-hander with the Mets…Chris Young? No, we mentioned him. Who’s the other guy, I want to say he went to Dartmouth. [20 seconds of dead air] ED LUCAS OF THE MARLINS. LUCAS WENT TO DARTMOUTH!” and on they went. ON AND ON.
  • Nolan Arenado is a player. He will good, probably not great, but he will be good one day, possibly for a long time. He showed some nice contact skills tonight as well as a very strong throwing arm at third base. He’s something.
  • Wandering through the Rockies clubhouse earlier this season, I happened to catch Nolan Arenado “reading” the Chive on his phone. He’s a baseball player, alright.
  • Ronny Cedeno started at shortstop for the Padres. There was a time when Ronny Cedeno was a thing, but now he’s basically a SS caddy. He’s there to “mentor” young shortstops in the way of not worrying about your total inability to hit. He went 1-3 with a walk.
  • After a telestrator incident gone wrong, aforementioned Rockies color guy George Frazier accidentally “drew” on the moon when he meant to point out a Taco Bell location hidden deep within Coors Field, visible in the previous shot to the ever-popular “camera guy shows off his focus skills with a sweet shot of the moon”. This lead to an extended riff by the Rockies booth on the presence of a TB franchise on the moon. It was tres drôle.
  • Will Venable is not nothing. Not a by a long shot. He’s actually quite good, in fact. I might even self-identify as a Will Venable fan. He’s big and strong and makes some slick plays in the outfield from time to time and he can sort of hit. He had three knocks tonight, including a triple and two singles. He was also caught stealing because life is pain and suffering from the moment you’re born until the day you die.

This game was played on a Tuesday night. I play pickup basketball on Tuesday nights. I’m a man in my early thirties, this weekly fit of activity does little to better my overall health but it is a ritual I greatly enjoy and look forward to with great anticipation.

After a typical run, nearly all my muscles and connective tissues can charitably be described as “tender”. Last night, my muscular fatigue and joint stiffness levels were slightly elevated as an empty gym gave us more time to play. Let’s not pretend full body malaise made this pathetic, forgettable encounter any easier to stomach. It did not, not even a little. Prop Hate lesson learned.