As the playoffs and award season gets underway, we want to take a gander at some players who had outstanding seasons in 2009 but whose teams ended up just shy of making the postseason and who will (most likely) not pick up any fancy trophies. Quite a consolation prize: a round of golf and a write-up on a low circulation sports blog.
Next up, Adrian Gonzalez, as written by Adam, aka Phony Gwynn.
Does anybody know a quality masseuse in Southern California/Northern Mexico? They have to be really, really good because Adrian Gonzalez is sore. Sore from chasing his brother Edgar to the hospital. Sore from painstakingly grooming his goatee. Oh, and sore from carrying the Padres' offense for the third straight year. Being a Mexican-American Sisyphus ain't easy, y'all.
Okay, so, I know the Padres weren't "just shy" of making the playoffs. But despite a noticeable lack of - what's that word? - talent, Bud Black's boys scrapped and fought their way to 75 wins and a fourth-place finish, something only the craziest and handsomest of bloggers would've predicted before the season.
Thus, if you're a Padres fan, there's only one thing the announcers can say that is music to your ears: "Adrian Gonzalez comes to the plate." If you hear that, some kind of Herculean feat awaits. Gonzalez missed his third-straight 100 RBI year by just one little sac fly, one duck snort, one measly groundout to second with a runner on third and one out. In other words he had the same number of RBIs as another southpaw slugger with a last name that ends in 'z': David Ortiz. You remember David Ortiz, right? He was pulled out of the Witness Protection Program in late June after missing the first 2 1/2 months of the season bouncing at a nightclub in Peoria, Illinois.
Now how could a guy belt 40 tater tots and not drive in 100? Quick rundown: the Padres were last in the NL in BA and SLG, 15th in OPS and 12th in OBP. David Eckstein was fourth on this team in RBI. Let that sink in for a second. Roll it around on your tongue. Taste the shame.
So when a guy can walk more than he strikes out (including 22 intentional walks, natch), post a .958 OPS, a 163 OPS+, and throw up a .402 wOBA in a park that should be run by the federal government - not to mention play Gold Glove defense - all for the bargain-basement price of just over $3 million a year, it's easy to see why teams like the Red Sox were lining up at the deadline to acquire him. I bet that smooth, oppo-field power swing would look good shooting balls over the Monster, eh Kris?
But for now he's a Padre, for better or worse. We're lucky to have him, no matter how long it lasts. Let's just hope this story has a happy ending.
Phony Gwynn writes at And Here Come the Pretzels and is an unabashed Padres fan living on the wrong coast