FriarBall: July 2007

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?

Thursday, July 5, 2007


So after having my wife constantly ask me if I wanted anything to do with the sparklers we were lighting in celebration of the Fourth of July - and having her try numerous times to unsuccessfully spell words with her sparkler while shooting pictures in fireworks mode - I decided to show a little loyalty.

And then after coming home and seeing our boys battling in a close game, I have to say I was surprised to see Scott Linebrink do so well tonight (even though he gave up a hit). He got the first two batters out with relative quickness and ended up throwing only 11 pitches to 4 batters. I want to see Linebrink do well and it seems that SD has made its moves to improve the offense already so we should really be rooting for Linebrink to succeed. He could still eventually go, but the better his reputation is when he leaves the more we can get in return.

It was a shame Chris Young's gem wasn't rewarded with a win for him but I want to go on record and say he is probably the most underrated pitcher in baseball. Thursday's game will be critical to winning the series and it's great to see the only pitcher better than Young scheduled to start. Look for Jake Peavy to have one of his best performances of the season.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Lots of changes lately

Sorry for the long delay between posts, the fourth has screwed up my schedule at work and has left me little time to write this weekend. But as I have pondered about what to write, I thought it might be time to finally define the identity of this blog.

I originally started this blog as a way to post my opinion on the news and happenings with the Padres but quickly detoured into other things like game-by-game analysis. So I am going to stop and go back to what I want to do. I still want to try and post everyday (of course as my schedule allows), but instead of focusing on the specifics of individual games, I want to talk about what the franchise is doing, what it is accomplishing and where it is going. So without further blabbing from my end, here is my take on a couple of the recent happpenings.

SD trades for Bradley

While I am more of a Parker Brothers guy myself (ok, stupid game joke out of the way), Milton Bradley appears to be just the type of guy that can really fill a hole. Granted, he doesn't have the cleanest track record but it appears SD is willing to take a chance, even without a physical. Along with Michael Barrett, many comments are being made about what these two new acquisitions will do to the team's chemistry. I think both guys have plenty of motive to behave and I don't think either will be a problem, no matter how closely both will be watched.

Series win over Dodgers

This series and the one with Arizona are going to be the toughest series' the rest of the season but I have a feeling the Dodgers won't be able to compete with the Padres. The Dodgers won two series' in April but since then, the Padres are 5-1 against our neighbors from the North. Our pitching should carry us to a division title and into the playoffs but if the Padres don't find more offense, they will struggle to get past the first round.

All-Star pitching

With the release of the All-Star rosters, it is no surprise that the Padres have two - and potentially three - pitchers on this year's squad. Jake Peavy and Trevor Hoffman are having the best year's of any starting pitchers and closers in the National League, and "last chance" nominee Chris Young should have been included in the first place considering the fact that Brad Penny and Peavy are the only two NL pitchers on a better roll right now. While the whole "last chance" vote and All-Star are jokes in general, it's cool to see our guys getting the recognition they deserve.