I don’t get all the mockery the San Diego Padres’ Jedd Gyorko has reaped after breaking a franchise record in his sophomore year of play.
In a sad season that can’t be saved by the league’s best offense since the all star break, the Padres clung to a sliver of good news when homegrown slugger Gyorko broke the all time career home run record for a Padres second baseman.
Gyorko hadn’t done much to temper that mockery — he needed to hit career No. 31 to break a record no one thought of unraveling from the glut of stats surrounding baseball.
But shit, that’s pretty impressive for Gyorko, even though it’s pretty sad for the Padres.
In an injury-plagued season mirroring the power and contact of Dan Uggla, Gyorko has become part of the team’s problem. Remember that Gyorko took the hometown discount after a solid rookie campaign in 2013. It’s currently looking like another bad move for a snake-bitten team which has spent its limited budget wisely, but ended up with parts made in Papua New Guinea.
Or something to that effect. Cameron Maybin, Josh Johsnon, Gyorko, Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal and Andrew Cashner all came to the team based on solid decision-making, but Josh Byrnes was still fired because anything that went wrong, well, went wrong.
The Padres weren’t expecting much out of Maybin, but rewarded him when he finally met his expectations and started hitting. He was Exhibit A when the Brewers extended Carlos Gomez, because sometimes Five Tool Players mean Jack of All Trades, Master of None. That typically means you keep him around until he starts costing money. Instead the Padres made sure to keep him around for when he regressed to the mean.
Johnson signed for cheaper than what a pitcher of his caliber would fetch, but he also came with questionable health. Still, it was a gamble, and a return to the NL, and playing home games in a big stadium, would have mitigated some of that risk. It was also a one-year deal big market clubs typically shrug off. Johnson never pitched a game for the Padres before hitting the DL.
Grandal and Alonso should have adequately answered for Mat Latos, himself good when healthy. So the Reds get in the postseason that one year Latos was healthy and the Padres suffered through a weaker version of James Loney at first base and a roids user at catcher. And when Alonso started hitting for power, he’s out for the year.
And the rotation fell apart, quick-trigger extensions for guys like Corey Luebke not panning out as well.
Holding on to Chase Headley for too long had the right intentions behind it — but they basically gave him away for free, as a rental, for the MLB equivalent of Pedro Ciriaco.
Gyorko’s about the only thing going right for the Padres, and he’s hitting a buck, ninety-nine, and around 40 percent worse than the regular second baseman. That’s not a high bar to begin with, and Gyorko can’t even clear it.
There’s been flashes though, if you tend to pay attention to baseball in two-week increments. And for crying out loud, he’s 25, playing out of position, coming off injury, just had a kid … and so on and so forth. Careers aren’t linear. He hit 20-some home runs that one time. There’s a higher chance he’d hit 20 home runs again, than for Chicago’s Javier Baez for example, to do it again, for the simple reason that he’s done it before. In a big park. And he’s pretty big.
Thing is, three years ago Gyorko had the same hype as Chicago’s Kris Bryant, and Baez. Just a load of awesome power. Big body types. Tore up minor league pitching. We’ll see. Gyorko never had Bryant’s bat control, and his hands aren’t as fast as Baez’s, who in fairness perhaps has the quickest hands in the Majors right now.
Gyorko broke a sad record when you think in terms of Adam Everett owning Houston’s all-time homer record for shortstops. He’s got three more jacks than Gyorko. So, you know. Sad.
Before Gyorko there was a Home Depot lineup — old versions of the O-Dog Orlando Hudson and close-to-40 David Eckstein, short-term patchworks that got San Diego what they paid for. Before Eckstein, they had the declining Tadahito Iguchi. Before that the Giles Brothers reunion tour went more sour than the Uptons in Atlanta. Another short-term outcome. They traded Kevin Kouzmanoff, but Josh Barfield wasn’t as good as his dad.
Gyorko’s career and franchise milestone should be a sign of better things to come. He’s locked for long-term, and has as much of a ceiling and more minor league pedigree than the clowns the mid-market Padres have been forced to trudge out, for lack of money and draft day luck at the position. I mean, they haven’t existed for 150 years so calm down.
All may not be well, and ultimately it’s a hilariously Padres headline, the punchline that just keeps giving.
They just hired a new guy. He’s so good at exploiting the Latin American market that he got suspended for it. But hey, the Texas Rangers have had two World Series runs, and should be solid again next season. A.J. Preller could end up making the right decisions. He’s just like the fired Josh Byrnes, but with a better track record for pitching. Ideally the Padres are on the right track. But the same was true when Kevin Towers and his successor Jed Hoyer and then Byrnes.
If you need reminding, Hoyer’s time was uplifting but short. He however left a welt-sized stamp of his own when he traded 1B Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for the then-oft hurt Andrew Cashner.
So yeah. Guess who’s the All Star.
Through all that shit, Gyorko’s milestone is the majors’ most uplifting records. Even in his down year he accomplished something. He could be good again next year, and the year after that. He doesn’t cost $240 million and isn’t signed for the next 10 years. He’s at least entering his prime, which is something no Padres second baseman has said since Barfield messed up his audition.