FriarBall: 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Edmonds returns to So Cal

So we finally got the answer to our CF problems - 37-year-old Jim Edmonds.

Huh, I think I liked this move five years ago but now I am not so sure. He hasn't played more than 117 games in either of the last two seasons and we saw what happened when Mike Cameron missed games last year.

The part of this deal that I like is that we have a proven CF (when he's healthy) and all we gave up was a 3B who was probably never going to make the big club, a deal I would make every time. But it has to be understood that this move is only a stop gap solution and hopefully Edmonds doesn't fall off this year like Vinny Castilla did when he was supposed to solve the problems at third for a season.

I don't expect Edmonds to be playing much longer but if he can pull out one final solid season (maybe like 2005 when he hit .263/.385/.533 with 29 homers and 89 RBIs), then this could be the makings of a good season for the Pads.

Plus with the additions of Randy Wolf and Tadahito Iguchi, the Padres seem to be quietly building a contender for 2008. While it may be fun to see the flashy signings of players like A-Rod, what most people often forgot is that it's the quiet kid in the corner of the room that is usually the most trouble. Hopefully that is us.

I think that by this point, most of us are willing to trust Kevin Towers and the moves he makes but you still have to wonder how much an old CF who has put his body through the wringer over the years with his amazing defensive plays has left to give his new team.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Brocail the second Padre heading for Houston

Doug Brocail became the second Padres free agent to head for Houston, signing a 1-year deal on Tuesday.

Unlike the Astros signing of Geoff Blum, I can't say I care about losing Brocail. He did a decent job at certain points last year but he also caused a lot of heartburn in other situations. And with Kevin Towers' rep for finding cheap, solid pitching - I am sure this is one loss we can overcome.

However, it would be nice to actually sign someone this year. A CF perhaps?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hunter signs ... with another Cali team

First things first - Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. Now on to the real business.

The list of potential CF's shortened by one on turkey day as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (got to be PC around here) signed Torii Hunter to a 5 year $80 million dollar deal.

Most of us Pads fans were pretty sure Hunter was going to be out of our price range anyway but now the point is moot. Time to turn our attention elsewhere.

Speaking of FA signings, we will definitely have a new 2B next year now that Geoff Blum has signed a 1 year deal with Houston.

It's not time to panic but as teams are starting to fill their rosters now it would be nice to see more than just the re-signing of Greg Maddux and adding four minor leaguers.

But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I will leave with one final thought - at least we aren't feeding the A-Rod beast. Good luck with that New York, we saw how that worked before.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Padres shopping list for free agency

I'm currently reading "Moneyball" (yes, I am really late to the party) and every time I put the book down I am suddenly in the move to play GM so with free agency officially open (it's just past 12:15 on the East Coast), I thought I would finally give my thoughts on some free agents the Padres should target.

Before I go on to new additions I first want to ID the areas of need. Obviously most of the talk has been on CF but with the release of Marcus Giles, 2B is also a need (it kind of was before the move) along with LF and Nos. 4 and 5 starters.

Let's deal with the big question first, who do the Padres target in a market full of CF's? The biggest attractions are Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter and even Aaron Rowand. Obviously if the price is right, Jones or Rowand are more attractive based simply on age. While Mike Cameron could also return, I think Jones is the intriguing choice here based simply on the fact he had a terrible '07, possibly putting him in the Padres range.

If the market prices are too high, expect Towers to pull off a trade. My suggestion is that we sign Doug Mirabelli again and trade him back to the Red Sox either Coco Crisp or a couple of minor leaguers on the verge of breaking out this season.

In left, I think the Padres should focus on resigning Milton Bradley. When he played he provided the lone offensive spark and except for the incident where he needed to be tackled by Bud Black, he has behaved himself.

To fill the hole at 2B, it is being rumored that SD is toying with moving reserve OF Scott Hairston there. While this would get his bat in the lineup every day, I think Hairston has more value as the guy who backs up Bradley. One move I think needs to be made is bring Geoff Blum back - he filled in admirably for Giles when the latter was benched - to be the utility guy off the bench. What would be great is if Blum could help Matt Antonelli get adjusted to the big leagues. Another option here could be Kaz Matsui, who had a resurgence with the Rockies and would bring speed and stolen bases to a team that didn't have much of either last year.

As for pitchers, one name that intrigues me is Jason Jennings. This guy could actually pitch at Coors but with no run support in Houston he had a pretty lousy year. With the help of Black, Jennings could regain his form and actually see his numbers improve quite a bit by pitching at Petco. Matt Clement and Kerry Wood have also been rumored to be on there way but I think Jennings has more upside.

Regardless of what happens the next few weeks and months, I think the biggest thing I want to see as a fan is some proof that the team is dedicated to winning and will make smart moves in trying to do so. Even if a couple of these holes are filled by minor leaguers, as long as we get someone to man CF I will be pleased. So let's hope Kevin Towers can make another one of those moves he is famous for.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Padres start offseason with key move

The Padres got things off on the right foot this winter by re-signing Greg Maddux to a one year deal.

While Maddux is not the staff ace he once was, this move was key for the Pads and not for the 10 or so games he will win next year. With Maddux back on staff, we should see Jake Peavy, Chris Young and the rest of the staff continue to improve and be the best staff in the NL once again.

There were many things Kevin Towers needed to accomplish this offseason and he has apparently made strengthening the rotation a priority, now he needs to find fourth and fifth starters - either in the minors or on the market.

The move all but guarantees the Padres will see at least one milestone next season as Maddux has 347 career wins. Now that this first piece is in place, let's see what other moves Towers has in store - hopefully a CF perhaps?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Did the NL West just get tougher?

It's finally official, Joe Torre is now in charge of the underachieving Dodgers. And naturally all sorts of Padres followers are asking how this hire affects the NL West as a whole.

Like I have said before, Torre is a good manager but I question how well he fits with LA. But I am not going to get into that discussion again. What I want to talk about is how hard the NL West could be in 2008 if this move pays off for the Dodgers.

SD ended 2007 by falling 1 game short of the playoffs, losing out to eventual NL champ Colorado in a wild card playoff. Arizona played well above expectations and a streaking Colorado bumped us out of the mix. If things were to remain the same for AZ and Colorado, along with an LA team helmed by Torre playing well, more than one team in the division will be guaranteed an early start on the offseason again.

If Torre gets the Dodgers to live up to their potential, the NL West should clearly become the toughest division in baseball, despite the fact that SF will most likely be terrible again.

While I am not a proponent of throwing money around hoping a championship can be bought (I have watched my Washington Redskins try that approach year after year with no success), I do think this hire requires some smart moves this offseason, something Kevin Towers always seems to be ready for. The obvious areas are the backend of the rotation and the outfield, but even a strong middle reliever could be good enough.

Again, I am not proposing wholesale changes and a shopping spree, but some noise needs to be made. A lot is being made about getting a top name center fielder but even re-signing left fielder Milton Bradley is a great start. But with a thin - and overpriced - market for the other outfield positions, this could be the Padres biggest challenge. Somehow I think Towers pulls this off given what happened at the end of the year and don't be surprised if help once again comes in the form of a trade.

As the stove warms up there will be plenty more rumors to discuss and available players to drool over but for now the consensus is this - no one in the NL West is safe after last year and something obvious has to be done to improve. If it doesn't happen, the Pads will once again be on the outside of the playoffs.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quick news and notes

Now that the Red Sox have officially ended the 2007 season, it's time to start looking at 2008 and doing what any good fan does, play Armchair GM through the winter. Already there are two things of note for Padres fans that I would like to weigh in on.

1. Joe Torre to the Dodgers? In their usual way, LA is going for the big move in hopes that it will fix its dysfunction and get the team to the playoffs. I've got nothing against Torre as a manager, but I just don't see him as the difference maker the Dodgers need.

Now this is not to bag on a guy with 4 World Series rings, but I think the bigger concern LA has is getting rid of a ton of oft-injured, aging and under achieving talent - something very few if any managers can make work. Luckily for Padres fans, the longer the Dodgers neglect their real issues, the better the shot SD has at staying towards the top of the NL West.

2. I'm sure most of you have heard - and read the subsequent comments - about Mike Cameron's 25 game suspension. Granted Cameron is not on the '08 roster but there are a couple of interesting opinions being bantered about.

Jbox over at Gaslamp Ball feels that even though he didn't want Cameron back before, this situation may present a discount opportunity.

Obviously the CF situation is one to be followed closely throughout the winter but here is my first take on the situation - while I think Cameron did a good job defensively in CF the past couple seasons, and had some good offensive hot streaks, I want to see what someone else can bring to the table.

The big names being thrown around are Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter but they both hinge upon price. I think Hunter is the more intriguing option here as both his offense and defense would not only be upgrades, but his defense would provide a constant spotlight as it will be regularly featured on highlight reels. For a club always worried about return investments, the extra national media exposure could only help right? Again, this is something to be watching all offseason and as more players file for free agency, it will be fun to see who the Padres add to punch things up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

2007 recaps: Relief pitching

Alright, back to our (somewhat) regularly scheduled programming and on with the recap of 2007.

Along with the starting pitching, the pen was considered a strong point coming into the season and it started out as such. But as the season wore on, it was apparent Bud Black favored certain pitchers in certain situations and sometimes that came back to bite the Padres.

With the exceptions of Trevor Hoffman, Doug Brocail and Scott Linebrink (who finished the season in Milwaukee), the pen was a relatively young group that still had plenty to prove. During the first two months of the season most of those guys came off as unhittable but they couldn't keep the torrid pace up all season.

There are definitely some good parts in the pen. Heath Bell proved to be a steal of a deal, Cla Meredith is a solid situational guy that induces ground balls and new guys and Justin Hampson and Kevin Cameron showed a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see what, if any, pieces are added here in 2008. With all of the guys acquired late in the season, including the Linebrink deal, this could just be a maturation process we are waiting for instead of adding any other pieces.

Heading into the 2008 it appears SD has plenty of pieces in place to make another run at the playoffs but it will take a couple of key additions all around the board to make it a success instead of the near miss it was in '07.

What players/pieces are we in need of? That's what we have the entire offseason to discuss.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

SD Fires

So I am late in getting this up and I know a number of other blogs and web sites have mentioned things about the SD fires but I wanted to quickly say that my thoughts and prayers are with those affected.

Looking at the great maps provided by, what really gets to me is how close those fires are to where I used to call home. Living in Penasquitos between the ages of 4 and 14, I knew people from and went to school in Poway, had friends go to Rancho Bernardo and even had teachers that lived in Ramona.

It's been a long time since I've talked to any of those people but it doesn't make the feelings any less real, and having gone through similar situations in the past - I lived 15 minutes from Columbine when those shootings happened and now live in the DC area, just a couple of hours away from Virginia Tech - I have seen how hard tragedies like this can be to deal with. And now as body counts are beginning to come in, it makes situations like this that much harder.

I'm rambling so I will cut this short - to everyone in San Diego: Stay safe and let your loved ones know you are alright. And while it may take some time to recover from these events, just remember that being around people you love at times like this can make all the difference.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

2007 recaps: Starting pitching

Alright, so it's been almost another week between posts so I guess it's time to get to my thoughts on the starting pitching in 2007.

What started out as one of the team's strongest parts became somewhat of a problem as things wore on. If Jake Peavy doesn't win the Cy Young, it will be a tragedy as he was clearly the best NL pitcher this year. Not only was he the only starting pitcher in the majors with an ERA under 3.00 ( he finished with 2.54), he also led the NL in wins and strikeouts - the pitcher's triple crown. But behind him was one roller coaster of a staff.

Competing with Peavy for the Cy Young through the All Star break was teammate Chris Young, however he tailed off after an oblique injury early in the second half of the season. Once the injury hit, you never knew how good Young would be for how long and it showed in his stats. On July 24, Young was 9-3. Then after the injury he went 0-5 (to finish with a 9-8 record) and the Pads went 2-8 during that span.

Greg Maddux had a similar situation happen to him where he had five consecutive losses but he followed that up with five wins in his next six starts and finished with a 14-11 record. Maddux clearly wasn't the Maddux of old and for a long time it seemed that he needed to be pulled by either the sixth inning or 65 pitches, whichever came first. But he picked it up in the second half and threw less than 65 pitches only once.

After Maddux the rotation was a complete mess. Clay Hensley battled early season injuries and was never able get going once he was healthy. David Wells was like Maddux but compounded, needing to be pulled by around 50 pitches before he imploded. He was so ineffective that he was eventually released. And while Justin Germano came up huge at the start of the season he eventually wore down and was no better or worse than any of the other pitchers the Pads were trying to get quality starts out of every now and then.

All of this inconsistency eventually wore down the pen and contributed to SD missing the playoffs, but that is more of a discussion for the breakdown of the pen. With Peavy and Young back healthy, the top spots of the rotation are obviously taken care of but after that its anyone's guess as to who will fill out the spots in '08. Maddux has a player option and would again be a good back-of-the-rotation guy, but it is obvious the Nos. 4 and 5 spots will need to be addressed.

Hensley is probably not an option and Germano may be better suited for long relief. And from what the guys the Pads were trying out at the end of the season, none of them really seized the opportunity provided to them in a time of need. There is clearly some need here, no matter how strong it was thought to be at the beginning of 2007.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

2007 recaps: Offense

Alright, It's been almost two weeks now since Colorado prevented the Pads from making the 2007 postseason. To me, that means it has been long enough since the end of the season to now recap the 2007 season without two much bitterness. Today I will start with the offense.

In my opinion, the offense this season was maddeningly inconsistent. While the Padres scored 741 runs and only allowed 666 (that's an ominous number), it seems like many winnable games were lost this season that again, any one of which could have send SD to the postseason.

Adrian Gonzalez led the team with 30 home runs - but that was way too low for the way he started the season, he should have reached 40 and knocked in more than 100 RBI. However, this was only his second full season and so I am sure he will continue to progress and avoid three-month long slumps in the future.

Khalil Greene was second on the team in HRs (27) and RBI (97) but he also struck out 128 times. Remarkably Gonzalez (140) and Mike Cameron (160) struck out more than him but it seemed like he always struck out. I guess he only hit .254 so maybe that's why it felt like more K's than it really was.

I liked Brian Giles once he was moved into the leadoff spot this year. He is a shell of the power hitter he once was (although he had quite a few multi-HR games during dry spells for the rest of the O), but he knew how to get on base (.361). If we decide to once again not worry about stealing bases, Giles could be an interesting candidate for the leadoff spot again - but that is a discussion for later this offseason.

I liked the additions of Milton Bradley and Scott Hairston during the season, especially the spark that Bradley provided, but for the most part the only other offensive players I won't mind having back are Kevin Kouzmanoff and Josh Bard, but again, another topic for another day.

One final thing I will say is that a return to the playoffs will hinge on getting the pitchers run support next season and this year's crew didn't cut it, meaning changes will need to be made. There are some interesting pieces here and it showed during 2007. Now lets see the Pads take the next step in 2008. A review of the starting pitching is up next.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The offseason is now here ... somewhat unexpectedly

I don't want to be accused of being a fair-weather fan or any of that garbage but I have to say I am can't really say I'm frustrated over the events of Monday night.

Now I sat there and watched the game and I do agree that Matt Holliday never touched the plate, but in all honesty, the Pads season never should have come down to that slide. In fact, it never should have come down to Tony Gwynn Jr.'s triple on Saturday either. One more win at any time during the season and we're not sitting here now forced to talk about next season and the changes that need to be made.

While I want to secretly believe that the Padres allowed a playoff to happen so Jake Peavy could pick up his 20th win of the season - and further cement his claim on the Cy Young - we really were just a mediocre team after the All-Star break (and I really don't believe that 20-win nonsense, I'm just making conversation). The Pads had been inconsistent ever since Chris Young strained his oblique and while we were the top pitching staff in the NL this year, it was clear that our staff wasn't as good as it was early on.

There are bound to be quite a few changes this winter and it will be interesting to see who Kevin Towers decides to keep around and target in free agency. The only thing I can predict for sure is that things can't remain the same or we may be in a similar spot again next year.

As things heat up this offseason, look for my thoughts on the moves the Padres do and should make and hopefully the pain of Game 163 will be erased as SD sets the tone for the NL in 2008.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bonus baseball ... but not the playoffs yet

So Brett Tomko couldn't get the job done and now the Pads are subjected to trying to win a tie breaker match against the Rockies at Coors Field. I lived in Colorado for almost 7 years and they never had a team this good, even with the "Blake Street Bombers" so this will be a big scene.

Apparently Bud Black's plan to "save" Jake Peavy for Monday will come off as paying off but I am still confused about the decision. Shouldn't the plan have been to win Sunday? I realize Tomko has been decent for us and had never lost at Miller Park until Sunday, but wouldn't you rather put your chips on Peavy with three days rest than any form of Tomko?

And now it sounds like Peavy may have to wait until Game 3 of the NLDS to pitch, assuming we beat Colorado. Is anyone else as nervous about this situation as I am? I am usually a fan that always gives my team way more credit than it deserves, but - to quote Star Wars - "I've got a bad feeling about this." Especially since Peavy and Greg Maddux have been the only stable starters we have had since the All-Star break.

I guess if there is at least one thing to take solice in, it's that at least we get to see the Pads play at least one more game than the non-playoff teams.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Trevor hands D-backs NL West

Most Pads fans will attest to the fact that when it's Trevor Time, it's not necessarily and 3-and-out event. More than any other closer in history, Trevor Hoffman has come in to close out games and assure SD a notch in the win column. But we all know that there is usually some excitement in the process.

Well Hoffman made things interesting Saturday and instead of the Padres clinching a playoff spot, the blown save in the ninth lead to a Milwaukee win and Arizona winning the division. Luckily for SD they still only have to win the final game of the season to lock up the playoffs, but it still would be nice to have that part of the season wrapped up. What irony is it that Tony Gwynn Jr. hit the game-tying triple?

While Arizona has played well above expectations and has earned its playoff spot, the thing that frustrates me is that because the entire NL is mediocre this year, the D-hacks have the best record and have secured home field advantage until the World Series. Nothing like helping out your enemy.

Things still stay dicey if the Pads can't win tomorrow, with a potential four-team playoff a possibility to sort out the wild card. Despite the fact he is ineligible for the playoff roster, Brett Tomko will play the biggest role for multiple teams. Let's hope his role is that of heartbreaker - to the other teams still hoping to get in.

Friday, September 28, 2007

True playoff excitement

While listening to ESPN Radio on my drive home last night, an interesting scenario was brought up. Apparently, if the Pads, D-hacks, Mets, Phils and Rockies all finish the season with the same record, it would extend the season until Oct. 4 because it would take that long to play enough games to sort out the mess. Now that's what I call playoff fever!

Another big win for SD on Thursday (of course every win is huge at this point) but the best part was that Jack Cassel went a whole 4 2/3 in his start. Amazingly he only gave up two runs before he was pulled but it seems like when Cassel starts, it's more of a bullpen start. Hopefully there is only one more of those in our immediate future.

With the final three games also in Milwaukee, this will be the series that defines the season. The Pads have maintained their lead in the wild card up to this point but that is no guarantee as we are facing a Brewers squad that is also fighting desperately to keep its playoff aspirations alive. Should make for a tough end to the season but as the saying goes: "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger." Hopefully we're strong enough to survive this.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The race is not over yet

Just when you think "settling" for a wild card spot was the best the Pads could do, a two-game win streak over San Fran (thanks in part to a big home run by Brian Giles) has us back to within one of the NL West lead.

Now I know that the lead is still really two games because AZ holds the tie breaker, but apparently these guys still want to win after all, even if we will have no OFs to play once we get to the playoffs. Does anyone else think its weird we picked up Jason Lane to play for us for a week this season?

This is what makes baseball exciting this time of year and it will be great to see how all of this plays out. So remain on the edge of your seat and keep sending your good vibes towards the Friars. They're going to need it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The pack has finally caught up

Wow, it's time to get off this runaway train before it hits a burning building.

What seemed like an almost sure thing in July and even August has become a possibility as the Pads are no longer solely on top in the NL wild card race. What happened to this team that was at one point a trendy pick by writers to be in the World Series? Is there one moment this season that set the stage for the collapse that has taken place since?

Despite the late struggles of the rotation, the Pads are still the best in the NL in terms of pitching. They are the only team with a collective ERA under 4.00 (3.63) and have compiled 20 shut outs this season. Offensively SD is towards the bottom of the league but runs have been coming a lot easier lately - and so are the losses.

The talent on this team now, I feel, is a lot better than what we started the season off with but it doesn't seem to have made a huge impact. Did Chris Young's injury really affect the race that much? I don't want to say our season has come down to one player's oblique but things haven't been the same, with Young or the team, since that injury occurred.

Kevin Towers released David Wells because he was too taxing on the pen but look at what's happened since then. Not only have the Pads been able to find a successful No. 5 starter but Justin Germano has been ineffective too. It makes me feel like if Boomer was still here at least we wouldn't be worried about two starters making it to the second. We could be comfortable until the fourth.

But the struggles are related to more than just the pitching staff. I would say Milton Bradley's constant health battles have also kept the team inconsistent. I still think this was a great pickup (yes, even after he blew up and Bud Black had to put on a WWE clinic to restrain him, injuring him in the process) but if he could have stayed on the field the Pads may still have a small cushion in the wild card. But again, one injury does not a team's struggles make.

SD seemed to make it through two month's of Adrian Gonzalez struggling but what about the fact that Josh Bard, Marcus Giles, Michael Barrett and a third outfielder have not been every day players like we need. I'm not bagging on Bard, he has played far better than I think we've expected, but Barrett was brought in so we wouldn't have to use Bard every day and Giles can't keep Geoff Blum off the field.

Looking at this club, it seems that injuries and season-long slumps - along with stellar play by a young Arizona club that wasn't supposed to contend this year - have finally caught up to the Padres and unless some real playoff magic happens, they could be at home in October for the first time since 2004.

I'm not one to loose faith in my team but right now it's hard to fight the urge to say 2007 was fun while it lasted, let's hope 2008 is finally the year. So instead let's start praying for a playoff miracle.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Winning clutch games

Between watching the chases for the various division pennants and with the start of football season, it has occurred to me - and maybe that's just because I'm slow - that there are certain franchises that just win clutch games.

The most obvious example of this for me is an NFL one (sorry guys), the New England Patriots (sorry again). It doesn't seem to matter what hype is surrounding what upstart team, the Pats just seem to get the job done and are a constant contender for the Super Bowl.

The best examples of this in baseball come from the AL East (here's the third apology) and you guys know who they are. But what about in the NL? It seems there has been a changing of the guard of some sort in the NL with no team really establishing itself like Atlanta had done for about 14 years.

All three division leaders are struggling towards the postseason and the biggest opening is for the Pads, only a 1/2 game behind Arizona. We've been a playoff team a few times the last decade but now is the time for the Padres. With 10 games left it's time to see how clutch this group is and if they can put it all together, they could establish themselves as the team to beat in the NL in 2008 and beyond.

Obviously looking that far ahead is a little far reaching at this point but this organization seems to be on the verge of doing something special and my only plea is for these guys to focus the rest of the way. When these guys are on they can beat the best teams in the league but they have struggled against teams like tonight's opponent Colorado.

This is the point of the season where legendary tales begin and SD is in the position to write a true epic. It all comes down to how bad these guys want it and how well they are willing to play for it. If I am Arizona I am peeing my pants right now because the Pads are in the best spot they can be in. I smell the playoffs and a division title.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How the West is being won

It's been a week since my last post and the first thing I wanted to say is that I am still here. As I have been scurrying through the week trying to get things done for my real job, I have been reflecting on my blogging journey so far this year.

When I started blogging I wanted to try and post at least once a day and while I have had stretches where I have posted day after day, I have also gone a couple of days between posts too. It's amazing how simple something as writing a couple of sentences every day about the Padres can seem until you actually sit down to do it. It just makes me admire the guys who actually post multiple times a day even more.

I have had other struggles along the way too and as I sit and think about this I can't help but think about how similar my path has been to the Padres. There have been ups-and-downs for both of us all year and hopefully when the end of the regular season comes, we will both be preparing for the postseason.

Speaking of the Pads, once again they are closing in on the NL West title. Just when you think we have to settle for the wild card the Padres sweep the Giants and get right back into things.

At this moment the Padres are trying to close out a second straight win against the Pirates and it doesn't help but remind me of how the Pads have been playing lately. When they face the best competition, they play at the top of their game but when they get the "easy" games, they seem to fall flat on their faces. They have done better in September, but with only a handful of games left, you have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat.

This is the time of year when we see the true character of a team and depending on how the Padres make the playoffs should tell us a lot about what to expect when they get there.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Rocked in Colorado

It's a good thing the Friars had an off day because their performance in Colorado is not what you want to see out of a team fighting for the playoffs. And if it wasn't for Greg Maddux the Pads would really be hurting.

If these guys expect to make it further than the first round in the playoffs (or even make the playoffs at the rate they are going), they need to win games, especially against teams that are trying to get ahead of them in the Wild Card race. It's hard to believe that earlier in the week a NL West title was still a possibility. Now I am just hoping we aren't witnessing a monumental collapse. It's hard to believe that it was only June when SD had the best record in baseball.

We should be relieved that Jake Peavy will take the hill to open a 3-game set in LA (especially since he is pitching on normal rest), but with the way this season has been going, nothing surprises me anymore. This LA series is just as important as the last two (Arizona and Colorado) so let's hope our boys don't choke.

If you squint hard enough, the playoffs are still in sight.

Friday, September 7, 2007

You definitely need a scorecard to tell these guys apart

I spent today's off day transferring files from my old computer to my new one and while doing so I came across the San Diego Union-Tribune's "Meet your 2007 Padres" page and realized that this team is nothing like it was back in April.

Of the 25 players on the opening day roster, seven players are currently not on the roster (two have spent most of the season in the minors but are on the 40-man roster), one has shuttled back and forth all season between the minors and the Padres and two of the starters have lost their jobs.

As fans we all applaud the job Kevin Towers has done as the season goes along, but looking at these changes wholesale, the job he has done seems even better. Replacing guys like Jose Cruz Jr., Rob Bowen, Russell Branyan, David Wells and Scott Linebrink with Milton Bradley, Michael Barrett, Morgan Ensburg, Rob Mackowiak and Justin Germano may not sound like much (and we may be missing Wells as we search for a No. 5 starter) but these moves have kept the Padres within striking distances while the Diamondbacks seem to be having a "team of destiny" type season playing well beyond their talent. Personally I would much rather be battling for the division title to the wire than sitting here trying to determine what happened to the promising season the Padres appeared to be having at the end of May.

No matter how much we want it to happen, not every move made by Towers will work out in our favor but with his track record, chances are the moves will work out more often than not. The same goes for wins - the Pads may not win them all but they need to be winning more games than they lose at this point. And if that happens, we should be enjoying another postseason.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The old college try

I hand it to Jake Peavy for trying to help out the team by starting on short rest and keep the Padres in first in the division.

It's just too bad he had his worst outing of the season while trying to be the hero. I didn't see the game live but it looked on Gameday Live that Peavy had some location issues. It looked for a while that he might have been ok with the Padres up 5-3 going into the fifth inning but then he and Doug Brocail surrendered the lead and SD lost ground.

Obviously this loss isn't the end of the season but it sure stings. The offense should stay hot with a trip to Colorado up next but it seems what the Pads really need now is for its starters to get hot. Justin Germano is next up while the Rockies throw out Elmer Dessens and his 8.10 ERA.

These next few weeks are key (as if it wasn't obvious) and right now the Pads need as many wins as they can get. Hopefully the rotation will hold together long enough to get to the postseason.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Looking for any degree of seperation

It's time for that roller coaster feeling again. After a great Monday in which SD took a lead on Arizona, the Diamondbacks tied things right back up on Tuesday, their offense the one that exploded for 9 runs.

Wednesday's game is the last meeting between the two teams for the rest of the season and it's a good things too as I am tired of seeing these guys make mediocre Doug Davis look like Roger Clemens.

The most interesting part about the Pads lately is that it seems the team's biggest strength is now a concern. I would never have imagined that the losses of David Wells and Scott Linebrink would punch so many holes in the pitching staff but apparently Kevin Towers is looking for solutions in the form of callups and retreads like Brett Tomko. Tomko actually has Davis-like numbers for his career with a record of 91-91 and a 4.62 ERA.

Regardless of the outcome, the NL West will be fun to watch down the stretch and hopefully Lady Luck will shine on the Friars.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Padres take another from D-backs, Maddux on way to 400 wins?

Winning 2 of 3 from the Dodgers and picking up another win from Arizona is just how I want to see this team head into the playoffs.

All of the worrying we did in July seems to be going away now and despite the fact we have no permanent fixture in the No. 5 starter hole doesn't seem to be stopping the Pads, who have finally woken up this season offensively. Did they really hit 5 home runs against the Diamondbacks Monday? And where did Brian Giles get all that power from? I thought his power hitting days were over.

Even though we got another great performance from Greg Maddux, I saw this article on the Padres official Web site and thought it was a tad premature. I mean, does picking up win No. 344 at age 41 really warrant a story on going for 400 wins?

I would love to see Maddux hit this milestone but with the way he has tired around the sixth inning in about half of his starts this season, I think it is unrealistic to think Maddux will pitch more than two more years, picking up 56 wins in the process.

As a working member of the media, I am embarrassed when stuff like this happens but I guess it always seems to happen. At this point in the season, whether Maddux will make it to 400 wins is irrelevant, but his pitching of late has been anything but.

Let's hope this battle for the NL West continues to go well and that the Padres can keep picking up these key wins. And if Maddux - or anyone else - reaches a milestone in the process, that will make these wins that much more exciting.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

There's something familiar about this spot

Great news Padres fans - in case you have completely hidden yourself from the outside overnight, you probably already know that SD has regained first place in the NL West with a 3rd straight win over Arizona last night.

And with the worst thing that can happen tonight being the Padres and Diamondbacks could end up tied atop the division standings, I would say this home stand has been successful so far. Chris Young takes the mound tonight and the only thing I hope for besides a sweep is that CY can get through the outing without any pain and without his next start date in doubt.

There is still a month left in the season and SD by no means has this thing in the bag but it is nice to know that despite some of the recent struggles - and all of the struggles throughout the year - this team is still tough to beat and hasn't imploded.

As a side note, if you haven't heard enough gushing about Milton Bradley, here is a tiny bit more - this guy is a stud and Kevin Towers would be foolish not to bring him back in 2008. For all of the naysayers who think this guy destroys clubhouses, all he has done is brought to life a pretty pathetic offense and given this team enough of a boost that it can now feel secure with more than just its pitching. Thanks Billy Beane for "unloading" your problem on us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

100 down, hopefully many more to go

It's amazing to think that I have hit the 100 post mark here at FriarBall, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

For those of you who missed Tuesday's game, Justin Germano may not have been the best pitcher out on the mound but he was good enough to give the Padres a 2nd straight victory over Arizona despite the fact he went against D-backs ace and Cy Young candidate Brandon Webb.

The offense seems to be coming around now that SD has cut AZ's division lead to 1 game and if these guys can play similarly to how they did at the beginning of the season then the Pads should be a feared opponent as the playoffs approach.

The series is what baseball and the run to the playoffs is all about - this series may not decide the NL West champs but it will go a VERY long way in determining the final outcome of the division.

It's good to hear that Chris Young (ours, not there's) will start Thursday to close out the series and Greg Maddux has been decent enough lately to give fans the hope of a sweep. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, we know what happens when we start thinking too positively.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

An official apology

So I just realized that I have been hard on the guys lately. I ragged on them when they blew a game against the Mets earlier this week and even when they beat them the next night I was still critical.

I don't want this to come across as an excuse (but it sounds like one anyway) but with all of the changes that have been going on in my life lately I feel like I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been to the bigger picture. I didn't realize the Pads took 2 of 3 from NY while increasing their lead in the Wild Card race.

Last night's drubbing added even more padding to securing a playoff spot and from the looks of it, it seems Milton Bradley's return to the lineup has helped out guys like Adrian Gonzalez.

I won't apologize for the comments I have made about the pitching because I still think we need more consistency all around at the moment but I will say I shouldn't be so hard on these guys are they have gotten things going in the right direction. Another drubbing of the Phillies would be great, but it hasn't been Clay Hensley's year so who knows what the outcome will be.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

30 runs and more struggles for the pen

I don't make it a point to often talk about non-Padres affiliated news but I had one thing to say about Texas beating Baltimore 30-3 Wednesday. I think the thing I am most surprised about is that Texas reliever Wes Littleton actually picked up a save in the process by entering it when the score was 14-3 and pitching the last three innings in which the Rangers scored 16 runs. Needless to say the game was already out of hand but I guess save rules are save rules. This type of outing only strengthens the argument for those who think saves are a worthless stat. As far as the Orioles are concerned, too bad there isn't a 10-run rule like in little league.

In Padres news, Trevor Hoffman has officially hit a slump after blowing another save and the pen seems to be in almost a full tailspin. Heath Bell eventually picked up the save after Adrian Gonzalez homered in the top of the 10th but these kinds of outings are not good. Granted we got to Billy Wagner before the Mets got to Hoffman and both closers have struggled in this series but it seems that if the Padres continue to ball like this heading into the playoffs they could have another first round exit.

Hopefully leaving the glitz and glamor of the Big Apple for Philly will turn things back to normal for pen. It will be a matchup of ancient ones as Greg Maddux takes on Jamie Moyer. Fire up the time machine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tough start on the road

I realize I have been lax in updating the blog but between quitting my old job, starting my new job and my brother-in-law coming home for the first time in 2 years, the blog has been last on my to do list.

Things seem to have gotten worse since the last time I wrote. SD lost 2 of 3 to the Astros and then Trevor Hoffman blows the save in New York in the opening game of an East Coast road trip. Not a whole lot seems to have changed lately - the offense is still inconsistent as guys try to find their strokes, the pen seems to be wearing down and even the starting pitching looks like it's reaching its limits. At this rate SD could be out of the playoff hunt in a week.

Positives? Milton Bradley is back in the lineup and still seems to be swinging a steady bat and for all of the talk that circulates about needing to be hot entering the playoffs just remember St. Louis won the World Series last year after almost missing out on the playoffs on the last day of the season. By no means do I want the Pads to go in that way but I think just making the playoffs at this point is the main goal.

The rest of the season is going to be a roller coaster so it's at this point that we as fans just need to sit back and see what happens - and hope for the best even though the process could be extremely agonizing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Big inning leads to series win

Two things stick out to me from Thursday night's game.

1. How about the offense scoring 9 in the 5th? Cavernous Petco looked more like Coors last night (yes, I realize a lot of people are writing the same thing) with an 11-9 outcome. But with the deep fences and long alleyways in Petco, should it really be a surprise to see teams take advantage of all that green in the outfield as they hit it to the gaps? Nice to see the comeback and then see the Padres hold on for the win.

2. Our team is definitely an enigma. There are some teams, no matter what year or what sport, that you can just predict how they will win and where the trouble spots will be. Not so with the Padres. Last night it was the offense that came through after SD fell behind but the lead was almost squandered by the pitching and defense when most people would say those are the Padres strengths. They have mainly been a pitching team throughout the year but it seems of late our starters are having trouble getting deep into games and the pen looks likes it wearing down. I realize Kevin Towers is doing everything he can to spare the pen (getting rid of David Wells and running an all-night shuttle between SD and Portland so as to bring up and rest a different batch of arms every night) but what really needs to happen is the Padres need to get 2-3 consecutive starts to last 7 innings or more.

In Denver, it looks like the writers are already saying this game could be the breaking point for the Rockies but if you ask me, wouldn't you need to see another game and see how the team bounces back from a loss like this before you start calling it the end of a playoff run. The best part is the fact where Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post says the manager has looked like a genius because his pen has held up so well lately but last night seems to erase all of that.

They're hitting the panic button in the Rockies, which should now make this a race between the Padres and the Diamondbacks but just in case Colorado isn't done after one bad game, let's hope the team can put it all together against Houston this weekend.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Time to play catchup

With 45 games and 2 1/2 games out of first, SD has to start making its move now if it is going to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Padres still hold a slim lead in the wild card standings but that is not the way you want to enter the playoffs, especially if you had the league's best record earlier in the season.

This stretch begins with a home series against Colorado - one of the hottest teams in the NL right now - but the funny thing about this is that both Colorado and Arizona are the teams in the thick of it with SD instead of the Dodgers. I don't think anyone thought either the Rockies or Diamondbacks would be in position to compete this year but here they are.

The next step in the march to the postseason takes place now, and if the Padres are going to solidify their place they need to begin by winning the series against Colorado.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Welcome to 2002 Brian Giles

Apparently someone forgot to remind Brian Giles that he doesn't have 5 HR in 3 game power anymore and that he was a leadoff guy whose best asset is the fact that he gets on base. But apparently all of the Padres love Cincinnati after scoring 25 runs in 3 games.

After that offensive outburst it me thinking - would the Padres be better in a ballpark like Great American? Obviously the Reds aren't any good but it's not because of their hitting, so with a staff like the one SD has, would the Padres succeed in a park like that. A lot is made of Petco and the fact that the pitching staff benefits from the deep fences but does the ballpark really make that much of a difference?

In certain situations, it's obvious the environment and the ballpark have an impact (Coors Field anyone) but that doesn't mean the Padres wouldn't be just as successful in a smaller park. Now I am not trying to dredge up the argument going on as far as whether to move the fences in but the wheels started spinning after seeing all of the runs this weekend.

It's actually really nice when the offense makes an appearance, it would just be better if it was around more often.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tough night for closers

Obviously most of the focus on Friday night's win is on the fact that Trevor Hoffman blew his first save since April but he wasn't the only closer in the game - or in the league for that matter - that had trouble closing out a game last night. I didn't realize Friday the 10th was just as unlucky as Friday the 13th.

Of course in Cincinnati the lack what we have - stable relief pitching. And even though Hoffman gave up the save, it seemed obvious that the longer the game went the more likely a Reds reliever would blow the game. Who knew that reliever would be David Weathers, the only guy the Reds have been able to count on this year?

SD sends former Red Justin Germano to the mound to face Bobby Livingston, whose 4.46 ERA entering the game is lowest an opposing pitcher has had in a week. Hopefully some more runs are on the way.

Outsider's perspective: Cincinnati Reds

There is plenty of news coverage on various Padres blogs about what the local media outlets are saying about the Padres. But as a guy who lives on the other side of the country, I thought it might be interesting to see what the media outlets of our opponents are focusing on.

I wanted to get this up before Friday's game that began the series against Cincinnati, but I will have to settle with getting it up now.

Apparently at the Cincinnati Post they actually have a reporter blog each game live and it is actually kind of interesting to see what this guy thinks of the Padres. The best part is the comments section where it actually makes me feel that even though the Pads are struggling right now I can say that at least I am not a Reds fan.

I will attempt to get up Cincinnati's version of the events up in the morning and any other stories they have involving the Padres. Let's hope they can make it 2 straight wins on Saturday.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cardinals once again have Padres number

How come it seems that no matter how good or how bad a team is, there are just some clubs that just know how to beat others. In this case I am talking about how the Cardinals always seem to be the Padres in meaningful games, especially when it comes to the playoffs, but losing three out of four this week really hurt when SD is in the middle of a pennant race.

Amazingly San Diego won the 2005 and 2006 series, 4-3 and 4-2 respectively, but St. Louis holds an all-time series lead of 240-170 and won this year's matchup 4-3. SD has also lost 6 of its last 7 playoff games to St. Louis and also swept them in 1996. In fact, SD has never won a series against St. Louis in the playoffs.

This year the losses seem worse not only because St. Louis is going nowhere fast but also because the Padres lost to a bunch of mediocre pitchers (and that is giving those guys a lot of credit). Losing to guys like Kip Wells and Braden Looper just can't happen when you are in pursuit of a World Series title.

It's no secret where the Padres are struggling (offense and starting pitching not involving Jake Peavy and Chris Young) but this is the time of year where teams of destiny seem to win despite their shortcomings. If SD truly is on track for a World Series title this year, the time to get lucky is now.

Obviously it's still possible to win a World Series if you struggle to make the playoffs - St. Louis did it last year - but going that route will be a lot tougher than SD trying to win a playoff series against the Cardinals.

These last two-plus months of the season are crucial if this is to be SD's year, but only luck at the same time will ensure the Padres' run to the first championship in any sport for San Diego.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Barry Bonds, home run king

I don't make it a point to talk about non-Padres stuff often but I wanted to take a moment to talk about THE home run.

With the game on in the background and trying to get kids settled for bed, I came down with my three month old son right as Barry Bonds started his at bat in the fifth inning. No sooner did I sit down and start rocking my son when I heard the unmistakable crack of a home run.

You knew Bonds wanted to hit the home run at home so that he would actually be cheered and get to celebrate the achievement, but the one thing that may be overlooked here is the fact that this home run was actually a meaningful hit in a tie game.

Stopping play and knowing Bud Selig was not in attendance, it was obvious that Willie Mays was in attendance but the classiest part of the evening was the video message from Hank Aaron shown on the Jumbotron. Bonds then said a few words and actually showed some emotion and I think that if that was the guy portrayed in the media every day, he wouldn't be as hated by the baseball world as he currently is.

Baseball fans, and sports fans in general, like stars who are just as human as we are and when you hear the emotion coming from Bonds in short speech after the home run, he almost seemed like he could be a likable guy - if he wanted to be.

Regardless of whether he is guilty of cheating or not this was one of the moments that any fan watching the game will be able to recall (at least until A-Rod breaks the record) and one day I hope to tell my son about how we watched this moment of sports history together. Regardless of the man the moment is celebrating, it is definitely neat to be able to have a personal story to go with this bit of history.

And now baseball can get back to overhyping teams and players that matter, or will at least be a part of the pennant races.

With August here, still some tinkering left to do

The Padres are in the home stretch, in second place in the NL West and while we would like to think that SD has to be one of the favorites to win NL, there are still a couple of things that need to be corrected for a postseason run.

The David Wells horse has been beat to death and it seems there is a possibility he could be released. The only problem is, Greg Maddux has no stamina and can't get past the sixth, Justin Germano has been struggling after a hot start and Clay Hensley never got things together after suffering through some early season injuries. And with Chris Young still hurting, there is not much starting pitching to rely on at this point. It also appears that any future starters that are laboring in the minors are not quite ready to make the jump up to the majors (Tim Stauffer anyone).

I think one thing we thought the Padres had an abundance of this year was pitching but it seems like the starters have hit a wall, and with Bud Black still trying to find a consistent starting lineup it seems like the wheels could be coming off this thing in a hurry.

The Padres seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place right now with Wells struggling so much but if a couple of guys could get hot as the season winds down, they may be able to get things going in the right direction and have enough momentum entering the playoffs that a deep postseason run may still be possible, even if the offense still doesn't come around completely.

Hopefully a solution will present itself soon but if it doesn't, I fear the Padres will be at home watching the playoffs like the rest of us.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bonds brings chase - and baggage - to town

I may be in the unpopular minority here, and especially because I'm a Padres fan, but as Barry Bonds brings his quest for home runs No. 755 and 756 to town I have to say that whatever prejudices we may personally have against the man as baseball fans we have to remember one thing - he has never been found guilty in any way that would jeopardize his status with Major League Baseball.

As much as I would like to see the legitimacy of his record chase challenged we have to remember one thing - it is Bud Selig's fault (and maybe even the fault of those commissioners before him) that there is a dark cloud surrounding the chase of one of baseball's most hallowed records. If drug testing had been implemented back when the NFL brought it into their league, one of two things would have happened, Bonds would have achieved the record cleanly or he (and others who set home run records) would have been caught and would not have the home run totals he has now.

So as Bonds brings his chase to town I have two things going through my head: One, I hope Padres pitching can keep him homerless while he is in town so his home run doesn't have the potential to cost SD a game and two, as much as I don't want to I think it's time to start rooting for Alex Rodriguez to go on a tear because the more home runs he hits now, the sooner he can break Bonds record and bring legitimacy back to the record.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Padres end up buying as trade deadline passes

I don't know about you but after all of the deals the Padres had made before today, I didn't think Kevin Towers would pull the trigger on any more deals but alas, SD is welcoming four new players into the organization: Rob Mackowiak, Morgan Ensburg, Wilfredo Ledezma and Will Startup.

The truly masterful stroke of all of this dealing though is the fact that the only real player with any experience in the majors is Royce Ring - which I would say is a pretty good deal.

I do admit though that I am a little puzzled by the move to acquire Ensburg since SD clearly wanted Mark Loretta or Mike Lamb from the Astros. And the fact that Houston designated him for assignment and seemingly gave up on him raises a red flag, but maybe a change of scenery will help like it did for Milton Bradley. Mackowiak's comments on being traded make me think he doesn't want to be on his way to SD either but maybe when he is on a winning team again that will change.

The best thing about all of these moves though is the fact that it signifies Towers and company are not satisfied with the team this is now and want to do what they can to make sure we get past the first round of the playoffs.

The depth of the bench just a major boost and it will be interesting to see how all of these pieces fit together. This is a great time to be a Padres fan. Now let's hope they can get back on track against the Diamondbacks.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Welcome to the Hall "Mr. Padre"

When I was 8-years-old, there was only one sport I paid attention too - football. But one day my best friend came over and showed my his baseball card collection (which consisted mostly of Padres since we lived in San Diego).

Going through his collection, he proceeded to tell me about the players and handed me some of the cards he already had. Then he came to the card of a Padres outfielder and proceeded to tell me how good this guy was. He then gave me this card, and I was hooked:

After watching Tony Gwynn play, I became amazed by the way he could put the ball where ever he wanted. He didn't hit the ball the farthest, or even over the fence very often, but there was always something about his approach and the way he always made contact that really resonated with me. When I watched him I knew I was watching someone special and his induction into the Hall of Fame Sunday justifies what I thought all those years ago.

While most kids my age spent their time reading comic books, choose your own adventure books or figuring out how to play Nintendo without the game freezing on them, I woke up every morning to read the Sports page of the San Diego Union so I could see how Gwynn was doing in his pursuit of his latest batting title. Reading the paper even became a game with my dad as I would see if I could wake up and get to the paper before he could, meaning I was a 10-year-old up at 6 a.m. reading baseball stats.

As the years went on I became more engrossed with Gwynn and the fact that he seemed to play a different game than every other player on the field and in 1994 I was sure he was going to be the first player since Ted Williams to hit .400 (Ironically I actually lived off of the newly opened Ted Williams Parkway before I moved from San Diego in 1994).

Upon moving from SD to Colorado, I still managed to follow Gwynn's pursuit of more batting titles and hoped that he would again flirt with batting .400. But as the year's carried on, so did Gwynn's health and it hurt me to see him struggle to stay healthy his last four years. He was never a 162-game player like fellow Hall inductee Cal Ripken Jr. but he never passed 130 games in any of those last four years.

The thing I appreciate the most about Gwynn and his career is the fact he never left SD, even though the Angels would have paid him a lot to come to Anaheim and be their DH. He probably could have prolonged his career as a DH but it was so important to him to finish his career in SD that he hung up his cleats while he could probably still contribute. That to me is the greatest attribute an athlete can have, is a loyalty to his team that he will play for less or retire rather than play for another team.

Upon Gwynn's retirement I found it harder to follow baseball the way I used to, however I did find another "underrated" talent to root for in saves leader Trevor Hoffman. But as Gwynn and Ripken prepare to enter the Hall, I find myself drawn back to the game, thankful that Gwynn's playing style is getting the true recognition it deserves.

It's because of Gwynn that I am a baseball fan. And so to Mr. Padre, I want to say thank you and congratulations. You truly deserve it.

Adding to the W column

I never thought that in a season in which the Padres are one of the top teams in the NL, that a single win would be such a relief. But after all of the struggles of late it was nice to see Jake Peavy finally pick up win No. 10 in a 9-4 romp over the Astros on Friday.

This game actually had no business being this close though as SD was actually up 9-1 in the bottom of the ninth before Houston tried to mount a come back. I give the front office credit for trying to see exactly what they have acquired for Scott Linebrink but does anyone else find it odd that a pitcher can save his ERA by just committing an error and only allowing those runners to score.

Anyone who just looks at the box score will notice that the newly acquired Joe Thatcher still has an ERA of 0.00 but his 1/3 of an inning resulted in 3 runs, 1 hit and 1 walk - and the need for Heath Bell to come in and get the last two outs before giving up the game.

Obviously this one game doesn't make or break a career but it is a reminder that sometimes stats don't tell the entire story. Let's hope the Padres can make it 2 in a row tomorrow (it seems like it has been such a long time since that has happened). Greg Maddux takes the hill so let's hope Bud Black can remember the number 65.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Still walking a slippery sloap

April was good, May was better, June was okay.

Then came July and it seems that any momentum SD has built this year has vanished. Not only are the Padres losing games against teams they should be beating, but they are getting hammered. SD's run differential in July? The Padres have been outscored 113-68 as of Thursday's 7-1 loss in Houston.

I know I have suggested this before but with the call-up of Clay Hensley and the struggles of David Wells, I think it is time to move Wells to the pen and give Hensley another shot at starting. Even though Hensley has been struggling this year in the majors and minors, he looked like he was turning things around as he pitched 3 shutout innings Thursday.

My biggest question is, what could this switch hurt. Wells obviously doesn't have the stamina he used to and giving up 7 runs in 3 innings shouldn't be too hard for a guy like Hensley to top, who has had success before in the majors. It is a known fact that Wells can only go about 5 innings anyways so why not let him pitch fewer innings and keep his arm fresh for the postseason.

It's obvious more changes need to made, and that does not necessarily mean making a trade. Bud Black has tried shaking up the lineup and now I think it's time to shake up the pitching staff. The Padres have not had a lot of success from their starters of late so a change like this could help stir the guys up and get them going in the right direction again.

What do you guys think needs to be done? Is a change in the rotation a good move? Drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Linebrink traded to Milwaukee

I wish I had something insightful and useful to say as far as the Scott Linebrink trade is concerned but after ready what Anthony had to say over at Friar Watch, he pretty much gives all the details we need to know about the young guys SD gets and what they can bring to the club.

As far as Wednesday's game is concerned, SD got absolutely shelled by a guy who threw only 74 pitches and should be getting shelled himself considering the type of season he is having. While I admit that all good teams eventually slump at some point, you still can't lose games to teams like the Rockies when they send pitchers like Aaron Cook to the mound. His season stats beg for him to get knocked around every game and SD should be able to do that.

Now I have said before that you need to ride these things out a little bit before panicking, but I am starting to seriously wonder if the Padres have enough consistent offense to make the playoffs. Sure we can put up runs with the best teams but it seems when one or two guys begin to struggle there is no one there to pick up the slack. Adrian Gonzalez seems to finally be hitting the ball again but where is the support?

It would be nice if we could save some of the offensive outbursts the team seems to regularly have and stretch them out over a few games so SD could notch more wins but sometimes you just have to take what you get when you can get it, and if you are the Padres you never turn down any form of offense. Let's hope someone else finds their stroke at Minute Maid park this weekend. SD is going to need it with David Wells taking the mound to open the series.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pharewell to the Phils

If there is one thing I bet all Padres fans are united about Monday it's the fact that Philly has left town. SD got thoroughly beat down this weekend and it didn't seem to matter who the Padres threw out there, Philly was going to take advantage.

But I think the thing that boggles my mind the most is how hard Philly hit the ball. I think someone forgot to tell them Petco is a pitcher's park and home runs are hard to come by.

While it is frustrating to lose 3 of 4 to a team like Philly that has had its struggles this season, the good news is SD is heading to hitter-friendly Coors Field to start a three-game set with Colorado. If there is one thing SD needs it's to jump start its offense and if there is one place to get an offense started, it's at Coors.

I have varying reactions of panic online this morning and while it would be easy to say the wheels are falling off, I would tend to think that SD just needs some thin mountain air to get things going again. But if the offense continues to stall upon leaving Colorado, then someone can hit the panic button.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Young wins pitcher's duel

It looks like this game ended up being what everyone expected, a showdown between two of the top pitchers in the NL. I'm just glad Chris Young was on his game and showed he is having just as good of a year as Cole Hamels.

The thing that caught my eye about the game however, was who came in as the bridge between Young and Trevor Hoffman. After taking a beating in the local blogs (check Ducksnorts and Gaslamp Ball), Scott Linebrink was not called on in the 1-0 win. Apparently Bud Black is getting the messages and listening to the information that is out there.

The only problem now, and I talked about this in my post earlier today, is what does SD do with Linebrink now? Between him and Doug Brocail, the Padres have two guys in the pen I don't want to see coming on in relief in close games. But with Kevin Towers saying he had no plans to make a trade for another bat, it seems like SD is stuck in a tough spot.

But again, I rant about things that should wait for another time. I should just be happy with the fact that SD won again. So I guess I will again table this discussion for another time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Slumping no more?

So right after I write about guys being in slumps and needing to get out of them soon, Adrian Gonzalez hits his first home run in a long time and Greg Maddux goes out and gets the job done (even if the pen almost gave the game away). And we even had a heroic Geoff Blum citing to boot.

Watching the game on MLB's Gameday, I was shocked when I logged on in the top of the second and saw Maddux struck out the side to open the game. Having Maddux on one of my fantasy teams, I know firsthand that his strikeouts have been few and far between. But to watch him strike out 6 was great and would have been better if I had actually started him last night. Oh well, the Padres winning that game is good enough for me.

But the biggest question after last night's game now has to be what to do with Scott Linebrink. I have previously gone on record to advocate that he should be given the time and opportunity to get himself out of this funk but letting two guys get on and then giving up a 3-run HR when all you have to do is get three guys out is not a good sign.

While Linebrink looked like he was turning things around at one point, he has struggled off and on since June 1, giving up 9 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. He has also given up 21 hits in that span and 4 of his 5 blown saves have come during that span. But luckily for him, SD has come back to win 2 of those 4 games.

If you look at his home/road splits, that appears to be part of the problem as hitters are batting .303 with an .880 OPS against him on the road and .163/.528 at home. But then again, last night's fiasco was at home, so numbers only tell part of the story.

As I look at my ramblings I really have no idea what to do other than to suggest that Heath Bell should take over at the 8th inning specialist if Bud Black is going to insist on having one. I think Linebrink has had enough time to straighten things out and it isn't happening so now a move has to be made.

Of course, with SD eventually winning last night and maintaining its place as one of the top teams in the NL, I guess I shouldn't be too picky. I mean, the Padres actually could have lost last night.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Stuck in the slumps?

How great was it to see Adrian Gonzalez pick up two doubles last night, giving fans more signs that he may finally be coming out of his slump?

Too bad for us that El Duque was on fire last night and kept Gonzalez on second after both of those doubles. I continue to see differing opinions online of whether the Padres really need that extra bat but I'll tell you, usually when a guy has a line like Hernandez's, you could have a lineup full of Alex Rodriguez's and it wouldn't have made a difference. Let's hope the Padres can pick up the rubber match tonight.

The one thing that worries me after last night's game though is that Jake Peavy is not as sharp as he was during the season. I don't know if this is just a slump but I would have thought that after the 2006 he had, karma would've let him avoid a slump until 2008.

The biggest worry about Peavy though is the fact that he is not the only one slumping. Greg Maddux can't seem to get people out, Gonzalez didn't hit much in June and now with Peavy not as sharp as he had been, it seems the Padres have to rely on fewer guys to carry more of the load - which usually ends in disaster.

Hopefully these are just the little mid-year hiccups great teams always seem to battle through before they make the a big playoff run. Think about it this way, St. Louis barely even made the playoffs before winning the World Series so if SD can get to the playoffs in one piece, maybe lady luck will bring the first pro sports title to SD with her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wells comes through

If one thing painfully obvious this year, it's that David Wells and Greg Maddux are really old. And while I am sure they are great to have around our young pitchers and that the knowledge they are passing on can't be quantified, I still get nervous every time I see it is their turn in the rotation (Wells even more so than Maddux).

So it's always a great surprise when Wells or Maddux can pitch past their recommended pitch count (IT'S 75 BUD BLACK), and Monday's start by Wells was fantastic. He went well over 75 pitches but got out before he imploded, giving up only 1 run in 6 innings.

I know there has been some complaining about the fact that SD carries a 7 man pen, especially when a couple of the guys will sit weeks on end between appearances, but this has to be the reason why - in case Wells or Maddux implode beyond the point of no return. But with what we saw from Wells tonight, hopefully that will not happen to a point that one of them has to be replaced in the rotation permanently. It was also nice that Michael Barrett showed off that bat of his.

As the season starts winding down, SD will need Wells and Maddux to be as sharp as possible so let's hope Black will start working them on a more limited pitch count (although I doubt it happens) and that the Padres can get some of that postseason magic from the postseason vets.

Monday, July 16, 2007

West Coast fan in an East Coast city

As I have mentioned a few times, my San Diego days are long behind me even though I am still an avid Padres fan.

And having been born into a Washington Redskins family (my dad grew up in Northern Virginia) I know all about trying to show your loyalty for a team on the opposite side of the country. Even though I haven't lived in SD for around 13 years, I have always lived in NL West country and because I was still getting settled in from my move across the country last year, it didn't seem to hit me as hard but the East is a hard place to root for a team.

Whether it's because the games don't start (mostly) until after 10 p.m. or just the simple fact that West Coast teams have no media exposure out here, I have to say that following the Padres has been hard this year. I have MLB Gameday and all the wonderful data it provides but it still isn't a TV.

But thinking about the scenario, this is what has made me a dedicated fan. With a Redskins obsession on the West Coast, I constantly had to defend my team to people who didn't watch them much and only knew what they saw on ESPN. It's not necessarily a position I love being in but being more than a fair weather fan means rooting for your team even when the situation is less than ideal, and this is one of those cases.

So as I am surrounded by Nats and O's fans, I proudly let my friends know that I root for SD. And after explaining my long history of growing up during the Tony Gwynn era, I have another thing to take solace in, my team can beat theirs. And with both teams trying to get rid of the mess previous GM's left, I think I can safely say the Padres will be better than them for a while.

So while I may not be able to catch my team on TV or the radio most nights, it's still a good time to be a Padres fan despite losing 2-of-3 to Arizona to start the second half off. Because in the end, you could be a fan of the Nationals.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Second half run and the trade deadline

We all should feel good about the fact that the Padres are in first place heading into the second half of the season but I think the one thing that is making me feel even better is what SD did right before the break in terms of the lineup.

With the July 31 trade deadline approaching and a number of teams still in contention, it seems that there may not be a lot of players available for teams looking to add to their lineup. However, SD struck early and while the team is saying it is still looking to make some moves, the Padres won't be as desperate as other teams will be at the deadline, which should prevent Kevin Towers from making a trade out of desperation and giving up too much to try and help the team.

Now don't read that last line as saying Towers makes bad trades, but we all know what happens when the clock winds down an opportunity, sometimes there is a strong urge to impulse buy. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make a move either.

Because we have such a strong pen and more starters than we have spots in the rotation, Towers should loosen his Vulcan death grip on at least one of them for a good hitter (notice I didn't say power hitter). Scott Linebrink's name has been thrown around an awful lot and usually is around this time but what about other options? Kevin Cameron, Justin Hampson or even Justin Germano could be decent chips because of what they have done so far this year but I think that if Towers is willing to part with anyone, he should consider Doug Brocail. As a veteran lefty, this is the time of the year guys like Brocail make famous and since he had a solid appearance after getting back from the DL, this would be the perfect time to get top value for him. Someone else may need to be included in a deal to get a top bat but that is completely doable.

Now some may ask what I have against Brocail since I have mentioned a few times that he should be gone but just look at his splits this year when it comes to home and road games (5.40/1.61). Any pitcher who can't succeed in Petco needs to go. Alright, enough ranting about Brocail.

Anyways, enjoy the kickoff to the second half of the season as SD opens with NL West rival Arizona. Greg Maddux will get the boys going but let's make sure someone is on pitch watch this time. Maybe we can ask the ump for Little League rules in this game, so we are forced to pull Maddux after he reaches his limit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All-Star game thoughts

Note: I, in no way, actually condone the all-star game or the fact that the winner gets home field advantage in the World Series. However, since this is the only game until Thursday, I decided to take a couple of notes of things I thought were worth mentioning.

First, I don't know if I commend Giants fans or am completely abhorred by their actions. For those who didn't see the announcement of the players and mangers, SF fans showed the Dodgers their appreciation for being on the team by booing them when they were announced even though they were on the same team as their hometown players. I thought Philly fans were the only ones that were that ruthless.

Second, another conundrum for me, I don't know if I liked or feel disrespected by the fact Tony LaRussa only let Jake Peavy pitch the first inning. According to Jayson Stark's blog on, he was only the fifth starting pitcher to leave a game after the first inning without allowing a run. But the best part of his 16 pitches, he made both Derek Jeter and David Ortiz look silly on their second strike swings.

Third, tough outing for Chris Young who will now live in all-star game infamy for being the first pitcher to allow an inside-the-park home run. It was the second time today Ichiro disappointed Padres fans as I'm sure those who were actually paying attention were hoping Young would show off just how good he really has been this year. Oh well, there's always next year.

Fourth, even though it wasn't in a save situation it was nice to see Trevor Hoffman get to pitch the top of the ninth. He may not have the most saves this year but it was nice to see LaRussa actually show some respect to one of our boys. And even though Hoffman had his typical outing where he gives up a big hit before shutting things down, he didn't allow a run.

And finally, did anyone else think it was interesting that Albert Pujols was still on the bench in the ninth with the game on the line? Maybe that master strategist LaRussa knows something we don't about letting guys play in the All-Star game. Oh well, maybe the NL will get home field next year.

Ichiro's a no go

Bad news for Padres fans. In case you haven't seen it on ESPN, apparently Ichiro will not be leaving Seattle after all. According to the article, an announcement will be made on Thursday stating that the Mariners will give Ichiro a five-year extension that could be worth $100 million.

Of course this extension means bad things for teams looking for a center fielder this offseason as there will be one less top notch guy for teams to bid on, meaning the prices of Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter just went up.

Now it is still possible the Padres will re-sign Mike Cameron and since his performance has picked up after a slow start, that may be a viable option. But for those of us hoping to get a younger or more consistent center fielder, the chances of doing so may be slipping away. Let's just hope Cameron is willing to stick around.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Roster revamp

With the All-Star game taking place Tuesday, many media outlets have come out with different types of teams like an all-snubbed team (players who deserved to go but didn't get voted in) or like in the Washington Post, they had a recycled all-star team - a team of players who had been let go by one team and then turned around and had success with another.

On that list, three current Padres and two former Padres made the team. Of the players selected, the Post named Miguel Olivo as their catcher (he was non-tendered by SD in 2005) and Jack Cust coming off the bench (as we all know he was given away earlier this year and immediately got hot, although he has cooled off now). Not surprisingly, all three of the Padres on the team were pitchers: Justin Germano, Heath Bell and Kevin Cameron.

The Post also gave the Padres' pitching staff some more recognition as Dave Sheinin released his midseason awards, saying the two NL pitchers deserving of the Cy Young award are Jake Peavy and Chris Young. That is pretty cool since Brad Penny has more wins than both.

So in light of all of this reading this morning, it got me thinking about All-Star rosters and former Padres. Looking through old rosters, I was curious to see what kind of starting lineup I could put together with current MLB players that called SD home at some point in their career. So here is the lineup, as listed by position and current team.

C - Mike Piazza: Even though he played only one year in SD and has been injured much of this year, Piazza somewhat resurrected his career last year in response to critics saying his career was at an end. Other than Piazza, the only other active catcher who has spent any time with SD is Brad Ausmus and this year's collection of guys so he gets this spot by default.

1B - Derrek Lee: Granted he got in a fight with Young earlier this year and the Padres have a pretty good 1B in Adrian Gonzalez, Lee has actually had a 40 home run season and is a career .280 hitter.

2B - Mark Loretta: A solid defender, Loretta had 23 errors in three combined seasons at second for SD and was an all-star last year with the Red Sox. Although he never played in more than 154 games in a season (he did it in twice in SD), Loretta is easily the most consistent second baseman the team has had recently that is still playing.

3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff: If you look at the last few starting 3B before Kouzmanoff, neither is in the league anymore and every other guy that has manned the position as a spot starter is just that, so Kouzmanoff gets this spot by default. But it's not all bad as he has finally gotten going after a slow start and is showing SD fans why Kevin Towers was willing to trade away a top 2B prospect. Of course, we could always plug Sean Burroughs back in right? He's still in the majors I think.

SS - Khalil Greene: Even though he strikes out way too much, Greene has quietly become one of the best defensive shortstops in the league and has decent power. Greene needs to find a way to increase his average but his defense makes up for it.

OF - Jason Bay: I think most of us would agree that the Brian Giles the Padres traded for is nowhere near the caliber player that Bay is now. If they had been patient, Bay would have become a power-hitting outfielder the team is definitely lacking.

OF - Gary Sheffield: Even though he played 3B in his time in SD, Sheffield has been a power-hitting outfielder for Florida, LA, Atlanta and New York since he left town. Another 40+ home run hitter since leaving SD, Bay and Sheffield at the heart of this order would make SD a truly powerful offensive team.

OF - Brian Giles: The guy we got for Bay, the outfield, like 3B, has been a revolving door for a lot of players. And while Mark Kotsay has made some fancy catches over the years, Giles has recently redefined himself after it became blatantly apparent he left his power numbers in Pittsburgh.

So I am sure there is plenty to debate here so here is an open call for readers to post their starting 8. Any player listed on a MLB roster or in the minors (except for Rickey Henderson) is fair game as long as they played for SD. Let see some cool lineups and enjoy the All-Star break

Saturday, July 7, 2007

You're out of here

After a couple of crazy days, I come back only to see David Wells finally stick to his pitch limit - even though it was not of his own choice. At this stage of his career, Wells is definitely a guy who needs to - and feels he deserves to - get the borderline calls on the corners. And when he doesn't get those calls, he gets angry.

Which brings me to an interesting topic - the star treatment. Talk to anyone in Dallas - or outside of Miami for that matter - and they will claim Dwayne Wade got some questionable calls because he is one of the faces of the NBA. The same could probably be said for guys like Roger Clemens, John Smoltz or any other player that has had a long and illustrious career. Even Wells' teammate Greg Maddux probably gets the benefit of the doubt. I haven't done any additional official research - Anthony at Friarwatch would be a better source for official stats - but it's obvious not all players are created equal.

Do I have a problem with the star treatment? Probably only when the calls go against the Padres. But then again, what fan isn't upset when the calls go against their squad?