Will Be-able?

Can you name the last 10 opening day centerfielders for the San Diego Padres? Most likely not, so I’ll provide them in list form:

2008 – Scott Hairston
2007 – Mike Cameron
2006 – Dave Roberts
2005 – Xavier Nady
2004 – Jay Payton
2003 – Mark Kotsay
2002 – Mark Kotsay
2001 – Mike Darr
2000 – Ruben Rivera
1999 – Ruben Rivera

That’s a lot of turnover in a short period of time, which is a large part why the Padres hope William Venable will be able to lock down center for the next few seasons. As you may have heard by now, Venable is the son of William “Max” Venable, a former Giant, Expo, Red, and Angel, and the man the rebuilding Padres will turn to beginning in 2009.

Venable is a former Ivy Leaguer who also played baseball and basketball at Princeton University. Venable’s minor league stats reflect his willingness, at times, to draw walks. In 2006, Venable’s BB% was 10.4, that number dropped to 6.9 in 2007, and rose in 2008 to 9.1 in Triple-A. In a touch over 120 major league plate appearances Venable’s BB% sat at a healthy 10.6%. A bit surprisingly Venable has also shown some power potential, posting ISOs of .163, .095, .172, and .127 over his past four stops.

Despite stealing 39 bases in 2006 and 2007, Venable has stolen only eight since. Meaning is value is going to be limited to runs scored, and here’s the bad news, Venable is going to be playing in one of the worst lineups in baseball next season. He’ll earn most of his value with his leather, and unless your league somehow implements UZR, you’re unlikely to find value with Venable.

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How much different would that look had Mike Darr not died? Sad :(