Petco Park and appreciating Adrian Gonzalez

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Adrian Gonzalez’s raw numbers are plenty good on their own: .274/.405/.559 with 37 homers and 85 RBIs in 139 games.
He ranks among the NL’s top five in homers, OPS, and times on base and is in the top 10 for on-base percentage, slugging percentage, total bases, and extra-base hits. And he’s done all that damage despite being intentionally walked 20 times while surrounded by the worst lineup in baseball.
On raw numbers alone he’s been one of the best handful of hitters in the league this season and the same was true in 2006, 2007, and 2008 as well. However, even those strong raw totals dramatically underrate Gonzalez’s bat because he calls the majors’ most pitcher-friendly ballpark home. Petco Park turns home runs into fly outs more than any venue in recent memory and the impact can easily be seen in Gonzalez’s splits.
At home this season he’s hit .230 with a .434 slugging percentage and .832 OPS while averaging one homer every 20.5 at-bats. On the road he’s hit .314 with a .671 slugging percentage and 1.082 OPS while averaging one homer every 9.8 at-bats. Add it all up and Gonzalez has been about 30 percent more productive with over twice as many homers away from Petco Park. And this season’s extreme splits are nothing out of the ordinary for Gonzalez, who has the following numbers in four years with the Padres:

                      G      AVG      SLG      AB/HR
Petco Park          307     .261     .440       24.3
Everywhere Else     311     .306     .583       14.9



Those numbers are pretty remarkable. When at Petco Park he’s hit .261 with a .440 slugging percentage and one homer every 24.3 at-bats. When not at Petco Park he’s hit .306 with a .583 slugging percentage and one homer every 14.9 at-bats. Stick him in just about any other ballpark, for any other team, and Gonzalez is a household name who gets tons of MVP votes every year, but Petco Park has cost him about 50 points of batting average and 10 homers per season.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.