FriarBall: October 2007

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.