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How much longer can the Padres keep Anthony Rizzo down?

May 27, 2011, 6:09 PM EDT

Anthony Rizzo spring training AP

14 homers, 56 RBI.

Those are Anthony Rizzo’s totals in 44 games for Triple-A Tucson so far.

And they’re totals Brad Hawpe may struggle to match if he spends the entire season as the Padres’ first baseman.

Rizzo actually has slowed down a bit of late.  He’s hit a mere .329/.415/.671 in May after dominating Triple-A pitching to the tune of a .400/.471/.744 line in April.

But even Rizzo’s bad splits are terrific.  He’s doing his best work at home in Kino Stadium, but he’s still hitting .340/.411/.660 in road games.  Of course the left-handed hitter is tearing up right-handers, but he’s hitting a fine .333/.364/.500 in 30 at-bats against southpaws.

And with 56 RBI in just 169 at-bats, it’s obvious he’s saving his biggest hits for when it matters.  11 of his homers have come with men on base.  He’s hitting .410/.474/.860 with runners on and .458/.521/.949 with RISP.

The Padres, meanwhile, have gotten a .224/.270/.367 line with six homers and 22 RBI in 196 at-bats from their first basemen.  Hawpe is on pace for 13 homers and 42 RBI at the moment.

To be fair, Hawpe is getting the job done at the moment.  He’s actually been very good this month.  But with Eric Hosmer having graduated, Rizzo has taken over as the game’s best first base prospect and he’s moved up his timetable in a big way with his huge start.  If Hawpe goes into another slump, it’s going to be very difficult for the Padres to resist the lure of calling him up.

  1. sknut - May 27, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    since its end of may is the deadline past for super two status? it must be close at least.

    • JBerardi - May 27, 2011 at 7:08 PM

      Super-two doesn’t have a fixed deadline. If IIRC, it’s roughly the 20% of rookies with the most service time that year who are granted super two status. And yes, that does mean that as more teams hold guys back to avoid super two status, the deadline itself moves back, so teams then have to hold guys back even longer. Which then pushes the deadline back further still…

      It’s a pretty bad rule.

  2. JBerardi - May 27, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    Oh yeah, and Anthony Rizzo is a beast. He’s really only played two full pro seasons (he was too busy beating cancer in ’08 to play baseball) and he’s making a very strong case that he belongs in the major right now. Any time you have a player making that kind of noise with the bat at such a young age (he’s only 21 this season), it’s a sign that you might have something special. All the more so for a guy who’s actually missed significant time in his career.

    Oh yeah, and he reportedly plays a great first base. So just throw that on the pile.

  3. purdueman - May 27, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    New Padre owner Jeff Moorad is considered to be a “super agent” and is no dummy; the reason why Rizzo isn’t going to be brought up any time soon is because even if he hits he’s not going to pull the sorry hitting Padres out of last place anytime soon and more importantly, Moorad doesn’t want his arbitration/free agent clock to start ticking.

    If the Padres were to call up Rizzo now and he sticks, he’d become a dreaded “super 2″ arbitration eligible player. That would cost the Padres an awful lot of money by the time his third year of arbitration eligibility rolls around.

  4. jamie54 - May 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM

    True that which is why it’s fortunate Hawpe is doing a little better. But word is they’d move him back to right anyway then bring up Rizzo to play 1b. Clock is ticking, they won’t push it.

  5. cvjim - May 28, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Padres just need to cut the vets and turn this team over to the young guys so they can start playing together and build some true team chemistry. First, we can’t hit because of Petco… Now they are on the road and have 3 hits and 7 hits against the Nats. Even thought they are “only” 9 games out in May, this team, as is, is not going to make it. So why not bring up the young guys and let them get a feel for the bigs. Let them all know when they get here that they know this year is a rebuild year and they want them to get experience so go out and have fun and see the majors. You will be able to get 2-3 good prospects for Heath Bell, maybe one for Ludwig and a Slurpee for Hawp (yes, he’s played better lately but his throw to first base the other night was horrible)… Keep the starters in place and bring up the young pups.

    • purdueman - May 28, 2011 at 11:21 PM

      cv… in theory what you say makes sense, if of course management truly doesn’t think that the current makeup of the team can rebound to compete in a pretty pedestrian (weak), division. I’ve heard Padres new owner Jeff Moorad interviewed though a couple of times on San Diego sports talk radio and he definitely has a plan.

      First of all, you don’t want to rush a bunch of kids and then risk either blowing their confidence or more importantly, get their service time clock ticking to where you’ll be right back in the same leaky boat a few years down the line (with some of your emerging stars needing to be dealt in order to keep the payroll manageable).

      Moorad’s plan I think is fundamentally sound. He’s completely reorganized and redirected the Padres scouting department to focus and focus hard on evaluating young talent with respect to their abilities geared towards the home park. That means focusing on speed and punch and judy contact spray hitters.

      Small ball may not be what many of the fans want, but as long as the Pads have to play 81 games or more a year in a home ballpark that’s just behind Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon on the list of the largest parks in the west, that’s how they best can succeed. Pitching doesn’t so much matter because as soon as pitchers get into a Padre uniform, their ERA’s all suddenly drop because many of their mistakes turn into routine fly ball outs.

      • cvjim - May 28, 2011 at 11:44 PM

        True… that was my plan in theory… I’ve also heard Moorad talk and I do like him and I think he does have a good plan. I do think that using Petco as an excuse for not hitting is bogus though. You may not be able to launch as many homers here as in Cin or Phil but you still have to be able hit the ball and we’re just not doing that… are we in a dry spell and not having things fall their way, yes… but, those eventually work themselves out. Moorad says they have a better ballclub than last year, I don’t think that’s true… With Eck and Jerry’s spunk on that team, they had fire… this team seems to be missing that… If they keep the park as is (and I hope they do) they need to stock this team with speed, much like the Cards did at Busch in the 80′s. Get em on, get em over and get em in. Nothing wrong with small ball at all – you just have to execute it.

      • purdueman - May 29, 2011 at 12:28 AM

        cv… as we all know, baseball is as much a mental game as it is a physical game. Going into this weekend the Padres were hitting a dismal .201 at home, and at this point I think that all of the park-bashing (i.e., now being referred to as “Hitters Hell” on a daily basis), that’s been going on has psyched many of the regulars out.

        It also didn’t help to lose the O-Dog, one of teams true veterans who’s hitting style is actually suited to the park, when they did either.

        In listening to Padres commentator Randy Jones, there also seems to be a real lack of team chemistry this year. After all, the Padres turned over something like 50% of their roster from last years team and sometimes the incoming new chemistry meshes, sometimes it doesn’t.

        Bud Black isn’t known for being like Ozzie Guillen and jumping down guys butts when they start feeling sorry for themselves, and i wonder if that’s been a contributing factor to the teams poor start as well. As we all know even in our own lives, different people respond differently to any given management style. Some need coddling, but others need a good swift kick in the ass at times (and I just haven’t seen that side of Black).

        Personally? I just don’t like watching games at Petco; the park just feels very “sterile” to me. The first thing that needs to be done is those God-awful ugly bare concrete elevator shafts on the first and third base lines need a good coat of paint! Sounds trivial, but it helps to give the ballpark a prison like feel to it, as do the growing number of purplish-blue empty seats. JOMO.

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