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Padres Third base breakdown 

  I Don't Know's on Third 
 
It was not long ago that the Padres had a black hole at third base. In 2006 a contending Padres team could not get a grip on the position. I’m sure then manager Bruce Bochy must have thought back to the famous Abbott and Costello skit and thought, Who’s on first, What’s on second and I Don’t Know who is playing third base today! Guys named Vinny Castilla, Geoff Blum, Mark Bellhorn, Todd Walker, and Russell Branyan made up the carousel of third baseman that 2006 season. Then general manager Kevin Towers decided he had seen enough and went out and traded young hot second base prospect Josh Barfield for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff has been a mainstay at third base since coming over for his rookie season in 2007, averaging 146 games played over the last three seasons. 

Kevin Kouzmanoff
Year
Team
Age
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
AVG.
OBP
SLG
OPS
2007
Padres
26
484
57
133
30
2
18
74
32
94
0.275
0.329
0.457
0.786
2008
Padres
27
624
71
162
31
4
23
84
23
139
0.260
0.299
0.433
0.732
2009
Padres
28
529
50
135
31
1
18
88
27
106
0.255
0.302
0.420
0.722
 
Averages
 
546
59
143
31
2
20
82
27
113
0.263
0.310
0.437
0.747
 
The Padres knew they had a young hotshot third baseman in the system in 2006 when they acquired Kouzmanoff, by the name of Chase Headley. Headley in 2006 was the #5 prospect in the Padres organization according to BaseballAmerica. Headley was only in High-A ball at the time in Lake Elsinore, but he was making great strides earning Cal League mid and post season All Star nods and was also named an Arizona Fall League Rising Star. Headley then jumped to AA San Antonio and earned mid and post season Texas League All Star recognition and was awarded the Texas League Player of the year award. Chase has been dubbed the “savior” by Padres fans, and he was called up full time in 2008. Playing a little more than half a season in 2008 and a full season in 2009, Headley has shown glimpses of the potential Baseball America saw in 2006.
 
Chase Headley
Year
Team
Age
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
AVG.
OBP
SLG
OPS
2006
Lake Elsinore
22
483
79
141
33
0
12
73
75
96
0.292
0.390
0.435
0.825
2007
San Antonio
23
233
82
143
38
5
20
78
74
114
0.330
0.437
0.580
1.017
2008
Portland
24
259
49
79
24
1
13
40
31
65
0.305
0.383
0.556
0.939
2008
San Diego
24
331
34
89
18
2
9
38
30
104
0.269
0.337
0.420
0.757
2009
San Diego
25
543
62
142
31
2
12
64
62
133
0.262
0.342
0.392
0.734
 
But wait there’s more! 
According to Baseball America, three of the Top 10 Padres prospects play third base.
2008 – 2nd round pick (69th overall) – James Darnell
Baseball America’s #3 Padres prospect for 2010
This is what Paul Dipodesta had to say on his blog "It Might Be Dangerous" after the pick of Darnell
 
“Darnell (U South Carolina Columbia) is a big, strong 3B who is athletic and skilled enough to play all over the diamond. His strength is what separates him, as he has hit 18 and 19 homers in the past two seasons. The ball absolutely jumps off his bat, and it was no different with wood as he hit 8 homers in just 128 ab's on the Cape last summer.

Overall, this is a very toolsy player with a lot of life and power to his game.”

 
Darnell has been able to hit with ease cruising through rookie ball in short season Eugene in 2008. Starting at low A ball in Eugene and finishing the season with High-A Lake Elsinore.
 
Year
Team
Age
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
AVG.
OBP
SLG
OPS
2008
Eugene
21
67
9
25
6
1
2
15
11
12
0.373
0.462
0.582
1.044
2009
Fort Wayne
22
222
40
73
17
2
7
38
57
51
0.329
0.468
0.518
0.986
2009
Lake Elsinore
22
235
40
69
18
2
13
43
30
38
0.294
0.377
0.553
0.930
 
 
 
2008 – 1st round pick (46th overall) – Logan Forsythe
Baseball America’s #5 Padres prospect for 2010
This is what Paul Dipodesta had to say on his blog after the pick of Forsythe
 
“Logan is a 3B for the University of Arkansas, though he played all around the diamond for Team USA last summer (he has also caught in the past).

Known for incredible makeup, Logan has been a coach and fan favorite. He played the entire summer for Team USA with a broken foot and refused to come out of games. Furthermore, he continually showed his best performances against the best competition and in the biggest moments.

A right-handed hitter, he has tremendous control of the strike zone while consistently hitting for high average and extra base power. At this point, he has been more of a doubles guy than a homer guy, but we believe his advanced approach and strength will translate to more home run power as a pro. Logan has also stolen 29 bases over the past two years. In short, we think this is a very well-rounded player with great intangibles.”

 
In his first professional season Logan tore the cover off of the ball. Skipping over Low-A ball, he put up huge numbers at Lake Elsinore and was promoted mid season to AA San Antonio. After a short adjustment period Logan finished strong and hit .300 between the two stops.
 
Year
Team
Age
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
AVG.
OBP
SLG
OPS
2008
Azl Padres
21
26
2
6
0
0
0
0
5
8
0.231
0.429
0.231
0.660
2008
Eugene
21
9
2
3
1
0
0
0
1
3
0.333
0.455
0.444
0.899
2009
Lake Elsinore
22
236
46
76
12
3
8
30
61
48
0.322
0.471
0.504
0.976
2009
San Antonio
22
244
37
68
9
3
3
31
41
63
0.279
0.384
0.377
0.761
 
 
 
2007- Signed out of the Dominican Republic – Edinson Rincon
Baseball America’s #9 Padres prospect for 2010
 
After taking time to develop a very young Rincon the Padres assigned him to start with short season Eugene in the Northwest league. As one of the leagues youngest players at 18, Rincon was able to hold his own, over half of his hits went for extra bases.

 

Year
Team
Age
AB
R
H
2B
3B
HR
RBI
BB
SO
AVG.
OBP
SLG
OPS
2007
Azl Padres
16
45
6
8
1
0
0
0
7
11
0.178
0.302
0.200
0.502
2008
Azl Padres
17
65
8
20
1
1
0
19
14
18
0.308
0.429
0.354
0.783
2009
Eugene
18
267
47
80
18
3
7
47
46
60
0.300
0.415
0.468
0.883

 

Now the new general manager Jed Hoyer is put in a tough position. Unlike 2006 when “I Don’t Know” was playing third, this Padres organization has a stable of young studs ready to handle the hot corner. 
 
Kevin Kouzmanoff is a crowd favorite, when he comes out the crowd erupts KOOOOOOOOUZ!   He has a great nickname, the Crushin’ Russian. Personally, I like to remind people that hit the ball in his direction, Kouz your daddy. Some fans may still even use their Kouz Koozies, what’s not to like about this guy outside of April – mid June? 
 
Kouzmanoff is now in his first arbitration year and will see a significant raise in the three to four million range. He has proven that after mid June he is a dangerous hitter and has a very consistent glove. Kevin will be 29 this year and in baseball terms he has peaked, the Padres know what they have in Kevin and with these hot prospects on the rise they need to find out what they have in Headley. The problem is, Hoyer doesn’t seem to be able to get any value for a consistent fielding third baseman with limited range that will probably hit in the six or seven spot on most teams. 
 
If the Padres played in Philadelphia then having an outfield with Headley and Blanks would be something you could contemplate. Those two in Petco will give manager Bud Black nightmares, unless Venable and Gwynn can make up ground like Griffey Jr. did in his prime, there is no way you can play with this two in your corner outfield spots. By the way, the farm system is littered with corner outfielders.
 
Something has to give at third base and although I do admire the rookie general manager trying to stick by his guns and get value for Kouzmanoff, it’s time to move forward. 
Given the facts:
  • Kouzmanoff is going to get a large raise in arbitration.
  • Headley is a below average defensive outfielder
  • Blanks needs to play every day
  • The Organization has up and coming third baseman in the system.
It is time to help Kevin out and move him to a place that does not play in the dead ball era for the first two months of the season. Relocate “Headley’s Hot Corner” from section 128 to section 112 and hope the “savior” shows up and turns that sweet swing into more extra base hits and Conan O’Brien look a like comparisons. 
 

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