FriarBall: 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

FriarBall has moved

Well it's official - FriarBall has a new home. While you will still get the same great commentary at the new site that you got here, I have added a couple of new features to go along with the new site. Want to know what they are? Then check out the new site at So update those bookmarks and those RSS feeds and head on over.

Spring recap No. 21: Padres 6, Mariners 6

Have we heard enough about the contributions of Chase Headley, Jody Gerut and Callix Crabbe this spring yet? Well if you haven't, Headley hit a game tying HR, Gerut and Crabbe both drove runs in. I can't imagine these guys not joining Tony Clark and Michael Barrett on the bench when the season starts.

Justin Germano had probably one of his roughest outings of the spring as he gave up 3 ER and 6 hits in 5 IP, but he also struck out 3.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What every Padres fan should know, Part 1

Let me get some housekeeping items out of the way before I start. First, this is not a guide to viewing games at Petco. Truth be told I have never been to Petco Park, I currently live in DC and I haven't seen the Padres in San Diego since 1994. In fact, I think the last game I went to was the first game of the double header in which Tony Gwynn collected his 2,000th hit.

Second, this is not a guide to being a fan in San Diego but is rather the opposite. I have lived among high concentrations of Colorado Rockies fans, Washington Nationals fans and Baltimore Orioles fans since 1994 and as such, your perspective about your team changes when you understand how other fans view your team. That is what I will talk about in this first part so without further delay, here is what fans need to know.
  1. The Adrian Gonzalez rule. The player may change but the general rule still applies, and it applies to most teams, most players are not as popular away from home. Take Gonzalez's case - he is the premier power hitter in the lineup, is a hometown boy and put up numbers comparable to a certain Crime Dog when he played in town. But outside of SD, Gonzalez doesn't compare to the league's other 1B's, or does he? Ducksnorts has a pretty good breakdown showing that Gonzalez has put up some top slugging numbers on the road. Which brings me to my second point:
  2. You will probably never convince opposing fans how good our players are until they see them in person. If you ask people in DC who the next big 3B will be, any Nationals fan is ready to argue that Ryan Zimmerman is a superstar in the making. Ask the same thing on the opposite coast and Kevin Kouzmanoff's name will dominate the conversation. I have seen both play last year in DC and guess what, they both have potential ... and they both have some work to do before they are even in a superstar conversation.
  3. Our pitching staff is overrated by us and underrated by almost everyone else. The knocks against our staff by others, Jake Peavy and Chris Young had career years and aren't that good, Greg Maddux hasn't been an ace in 10 years and Mark Prior and Randy Wolf couldn't stay healthy even if they pitched for a team made up of doctors. Well, Peavy is a perennial Cy Young contender, Young is becoming more consistent, Maddux isn't supposed to be a staff ace and Wolf and Prior don't have to carry the load so whatever innings they turn in are worth the (relatively) small investments we have made in them.
  4. The fan base actually travels well to some places. Maybe the lack of a team in the area for more than 30 years had something to do with it but for the past two years when I have gone to Nationals games against the Padres, there are just as many (if not more) Padres fans in attendance than Nats fans. We are no Red Sox nation but I know you didn't see any Pirates fans a week later when Pittsburgh came to town (but then again that was the Pirates). I can't speak for many other places but I do remember a decent fan base at Rockies games a few years back as well.
Hopefully I haven't rambled too much but these were the first things that came to mind. So now I turn the floor over to you, what are some other things every Padres fan should know? After I get some responses I will add Part 2, and you can bet there will be some info on helping Dodgers fans face reality.

Spring Training Game 21 Preview: Mariners vs. Padres

At Peoria Sports Complex, 7:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Miguel Batista (Sea) vs. Justin Germano (SD)

Germano and company are back from China just as roster moves are being made and Randy Wolf is getting extra time throwing in minor league games on days off. The competition for starting spots is getting fierce and this game could go a long way in deciding who will fill in for Mark Prior while he makes his way back from injury.

Spring recap No. 20: Padres 5, White Sox 0

You can tell we are getting close to the regular season as guys struggling to make the roster are putting up solid performances, making it harder to determine who actually belongs in SD.

Wil Ledezma set the tone for the Padres with 4 scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits, walking 2 and striking out 3. No pitcher gave up more than 2 hits.

On offense, Paul McAnulty hit his 4th HR of the spring while going 2-for-3. He also scored 2 runs. Tony Clark also went 2-for-3, the only other Padre to pick up more than 1 hit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Spring Training Game 20 Preview: Padres at White Sox

At Tucson Electric Park, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: John Danks (Chi) vs. Wil Ledezma (SD)

Still working short handed, SD will give Ledezma his 1st start of the spring as he battles for a coveted spot in the 12 man pen. Spring is winding down quickly and this is the point where performances start to count as they will determine who will stick with the big club.

Spring recap No. 19: Diamondbacks 8, Padres 4

Shawn Estes had another rough outing, this time giving up 5 ER and 10 hits in 4 2/3 IP while striking out 3. In contrast, Glendon Rusch tried to keep pace with Justin Germano as he pitched 2 scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits, walking 1 and striking out 2.

Offensively it was the Callix Crabbe show for SD as Crabbe went 3-for-3 with an RBI. Jody Gerut hit the only SD HR of the game, his 3rd of the spring. It appears the competition for the final bench spots are just as close as the ones for the rotation.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring Training Game 19 Preview, take two: Padres at Diamondbacks

At Tucson Electric Park, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Edgar Gonzalez (Ari) vs. Shawn Estes (SD)

Estes still gets his turn in the rotation and Brian Giles officially returns to the lineup, just in time for the season to start. Estes will be followed by Glendon Rusch, weather permitting the games to be played at all. Those of you in Tucson, make sure you have an umbrella.

Spring recap No. 18: Padres 6, Dodgers 3

Alright, so the Padres leave China with a winning record over the Dodgers after beating them 6-3 sometime while most of us slept Saturday night/Sunday morning.

A bunch of minor league pitchers with no shot at making the major league roster held the Dodgers to 3 runs while Scott Hairston knocked in 2 runs, Kevin Kouzmanoff knocked in another and Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-4 at the plate.

Stateside, the game against the Rockies was rained out which in turn pushed back Brian Giles' 1st appearance this spring.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spring Training Game 19 Preview: Padres at Rockies

At Hi Corbett Field, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Jeff Francis (Col) vs. Shawn Estes (SD)

Padres are everywhere as Estes leads a split squad against the Rockies, Jake Peavy starts a minor league at the Peoria Sports Complex (also at 1:05 p.m. PT) and the China Team also took on the Dodgers sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, with Cesar Ramos starting.

Peavy, Chris Young and Greg Maddux are all scheduled to stay behind as the Padres travel through Tucson, instead relying on minor leaguers to power what remains of the team. Apparently the China Team will get back Monday night but may not see action until Thursday so they can get over the jetlag from the long trip.

Of course even that may not be enough time as my in-laws recently went to Malaysia on a business trip/vacation and they've been back a couple of weeks and are still getting over the traveling. Let's just hope this doesn't ruin our opener.

Spring recaps Nos. 16 and 17

So our bitter rivals to the North took us on in an exhibition game in China and how did it turn out? A 3-3 tie. Isn't that supposed to be like kissing your sister? Not that I would know what that's like but after this I might actually have an idea.

But enough rambling, looking at the box a couple of things stand out the biggest being that it looks like Justin Germano should get the opportunity to start while Mark Prior is still on the mend. He continued to be sharp in MLB's China debut, giving up 1 ER, 5 hits and 1 BB in 5 IP while striking out 5. Trevor Hoffman also found it easier to pitch in China, striking out 2 and giving up 1 BB, no hits and no runs in 1 IP.

Stateside, Wade LeBlanc didn't fare too terribly well in his first start, giving up 5 runs (2 earned) and 7 hits in 2 2/3 IP. LeBlanc showed some control as he struck out 5 while walking none but the A's picked up the win 9-3.

Tony Clark continues to have a hot spring as he went 2-for-3 with an RBI (his spring BA is now .429) and Chip Ambres hit his first HR of the spring.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Training Game 17 Preview: A's at Padres

Game 17: At Peoria Sports Complex, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Lenny DiNardo (A's) vs. Wade LeBlanc (Padres)

I didn't get up a preview for the game in China but I will have a recap later tonight. In Arizona, LeBlanc makes his first start of the spring for the big club while the guys not in China continue to hold things down.

Spring recap No. 15: Brewers 6, Padres 2

I will keep this one short because it took me so long to get to. Chase Headley hit his 3rd HR of the spring, Callix Crabbe also went yard and Randy Wolf gave up 3 runs (2 earned) in 4 IP.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring Training Game 15 Preview: Brewers at Padres

At Peoria Sports Complex, 7:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Claudio Vargas (Mil) vs. Randy Wolf (SD)

I hear we lost half of our team in China. Did anyone check the Great Wall? Ok we didn't really lose them, they just aren't here. The ones who are here however, will take on the Brew Crew under the "Friday Night Lights."

Alright, I'm getting off this thing now, too many bad puns hurt my head and I know, I brought it on myself.

Spring recap No. 14: Cubs 3, Padres 2

So far we've been able to avoid the injury bug, but Greg Maddux's start was cut short Thursday after taking a hit off his thigh. The injury isn't a big deal but it did cut the start short.

Offensively Callix Crabbe went 3-for-4, probably strengthening his case to remain with the team a little and Marshall McDougall hit his first HR of the spring.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spring Training Game 14 Preview: Padres at Cubs

At Mesa, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Jason Marquis (Chi) vs. Greg Maddux (SD)

The obvious storyline here is that Maddux faces his old team. And while I hate to go with the obvious, it works for the spring.

Spring recap No. 13: Padres 11, Giants 5

Apparently the offense decided to get going again today and guys like Chase Headley, Tony Clark, Paul McAnulty and Jody Gerut once again led the charge.

Headley only had 1 hit but it was a three-RBI, two-out double. Clark actually got the scoring started by singling home the first run and finished 2-for-2. McAnulty, who is fighting for one of the few bench spots, hit his 3rd HR of the spring while Gerut (who is also fighting for a bench spot) hit his 2nd.

With Bud Black's insistence on keeping 12 arms in the pen, the fight for the bench is already that much tougher. With 5 spots on the bench, we already know Michael Barrett will fill 1 as he and Josh Bard split time. So who will the final four hitters be? I think it's safe to say Clark was signed with a specific role off the bench in mind and if you are to go off of performance so far, Headley, McAnulty and Gerut would seem to be the front runners to fill those spots along with the versatile Callix Crabbe (who as a Rule V pick has to remain on the roster to stay in the organization).

So if Crabbe has done enough to earn his stay, does that mean Headley heads back to the minors for more seasoning because he is the one that can be sent back? It seems like a shame but I feel that is the way things are playing out. What do you think? Drop me a comment and let me know who is on your bench if you run the team.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Training Game 13 Preview: Padres at Giants

At Scottsdale Stadium, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Tim Lincecum (SF) vs. Chris Young (SD)

With half the team on the way to China for an exhibition against the Dodgers, we are effectively a split squad against the Giants. Does that really matter? Not against the Giants and not in the spring.

Spring recap No. 12: Angels 8, Padres 4

Who cares if it's spring, apparently you don't challenge Jake Peavy's manhood. Being touched up for 4 runs while doing what all good pitchers should do, trying new things out to see how they work, apparently Peavy had enough and pitched 2 scoreless innings after that.

Glendon Rusch produced a solid outing, giving up only 1 hit and 1 BB in 3 innings while striking out 4. With his ERA now at 1.35, I could see Rusch earning a spot at least in the Pen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Training Game 12 Preview: Angels at Padres

At Peoria Sports Complex, 1:05 p.m. PT
Starters: Jered Weaver (LAA) vs. Jake Peavy (SD)

Peavy gets the start but Glendon Rusch will also get some innings. But the real thing I want to know is, are the Angels in Los Angeles or Anaheim? I guess figuring this out is like trying to find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.

Spring recap No. 11: Rangers 5, Padres 2

Justin Germano and Shawn Estes both pitched in Monday's late game and Germano seemed to answer the performance Randy Wolf had the night before. Germano pitched 4 innings of scoreless ball, giving up only 2 hits in the process.

Estes didn't have such a good performance though, giving up 4 runs (only 1 earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Estes also gave up 3 hits and walked 1 while striking out no one.

Here are the current spring stats for the four guys vying for the last two spots in the rotation:
  • Estes: 4 1/3 IP, 20.77 ERA, 11 hits, 4 BB, 1 K
  • Germano: 9 1/3 IP, 3.86 ERA, 9 hits, 1 BB, 3 K
  • Glendon Rusch: 3 2/3 IP, 2.45 ERA, 2 hits, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Wolf: 4 1/3 16.62 ERA, 11 hits, 3 BB 6 K
Again, these are really small samples and not entirely accurate because of the nature and purpose of spring training but even an ERA over 15 has to be a little troubling. I know Chris Young had an astronomical ERA last spring training but still, those high numbers are not pretty to look at.

Offensively, not much stood out other than Jody Gerut was the only hitter to pick up multiple hits (he went 2-for-2).

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Training Game 11 Preview: Rangers at Padres

Texas vs. San Diego
at Peoria Sports Complex, 7:05 p.m. PT

Justin Germano tries to improve his shot at getting a starting spot the day after Randy Wolf posted his best outing this spring. Germano will also start the game against the Dodgers in China. Texas counters with Jamey Wright, who starts in place of Kevin Millwood. According to the Rangers website, Millwood will throw a simulated game instead.

Spring recap No. 10: Padres 12, White Sox 3

Rather than the normal game treatment, I decided to look at what Ron Shandler and his 2008 Baseball Forecaster had to say in regards to Chase Headley, who has been having a solid spring.

One of the things Shandler seems to emphasize is the theory of drafting skills when playing fantasy baseball, and not paying for stats that don't tell the whole story. Looking at stats like contact rate (ct%, AB-K/AB), walk rate (bb%, BB/AB+BB) and power index (PX), Headley definitely has a strong skill set that once he adjusts to the majors, he should be a consistent hitter with good power.

What I like most are Shandler's latest projections for Headley (released at the end of Feb.). He estimates Headley will get 323 AB while posting a .273/.371/.463 line while hitting 10 HR, 24 2B and 48 RBI. Not bad for a guy that may not quite have a home with this year's team but may be playing himself into a role.

I know, I am sounding like I am getting too excited over some spring stats but it just seems like Headley is using the spring to put it all together.

On a side note, Randy Wolf had a better outing Sunday, giving up 2 runs in 3 IP. And while he may have given up 5 hits he also struck out 5 without giving up a walk. After Justin Germano starts tomorrow, I will post an updated chart looking at the candidates for the final rotation spots.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spring Training Game 10 Preview: White Sox at Padres

Chicago vs. San Diego
at Peoria Sports Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

It's Randy Wolf's turn once again to try and lock down that No. 4 starting spot as he leads the Padres against Jose Contreras and the White Sox.

While I think a lot of emphasis is being placed on the performance of our pitchers (I am using the term loosely), I think I am now more interested in how Chase Headley performs the rest of the spring. I think he could really force the Padres hand here and make it hard not to start him. I know, I am getting excited over spring stats but it looks like he is really doing a good job of hitting so far. It might be time to get him adjusted to the majors so we can start reaping the rewards.

Spring recap No. 9: Padres 9, Rangers 5

It may be spring but there is no denying that Chase Headley is putting up numbers and Saturday's game was no exception as he went 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored, 3 RBI, a triple and his 2nd HR of the spring.

With Headley hitting like this, it makes me feel not quite as anxious about the possibility of him playing left while Scott Hairston mans center.

Greg Maddux also had a good game for the Pads, giving up only 1 run in the 3 IP while striking out 1.

Heath Bell, on the other hand, continues to look lost as his ERA raises to 15.00 after giving up 3 earned runs in 1 inning. How worried about his performance am I? He was the only Padre I drafted in my fantasy baseball league Saturday night.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Training Game 9 Preview: Padres at Rangers

San Diego vs. Texas
at Surprise, Ariz., 12:05 p.m. PT

(Note: I apologize for the lateness of this post, Blogger has been down most of the morning).

Greg Maddux makes his second spring start, scheduled to throw 3 innings. Does anyone else remember when Maddux had trouble getting past 60 pitches last year at the beginning of the season? Maybe if we start getting him his regular starts now, he can avoid those issues this season. The Padres will face A.J. Murray, who in 28 IP last year went 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA, struck out 18 and walked 15.

Spring recap No. 8: Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3

Before we get to the game, here is a Jim Edmonds update. Apparently he will be sidelined 2-3 weeks with his strained calf. So we will see when he really returns. Don't like my outlook, well we can just go with Bud Black's comments in that he is "hoping for the best."

Ok, the game. Chris Young pitched 3 innings of no hit ball, walking 1 and striking out 3.

Offensively, Will Venable went 1-for-2 again, driving in 2 more runs and raising his BA to .417. I don't want to get excited over spring stats but it's nice to see him having this type of success. Scott Hairston also had a good day offensively, going 2-for-3 with a HR and 3 RBI.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Spring Training Game 8 Preview: Diamondbacks at Padres

Arizona vs. San Diego
at Peoria Sporst Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

Two division foes in two days. This has all the makings of a late season run with none of the drama. Chris Young (ours, not the OF for Arizona obviously) makes his 2nd start of the season opposite Doug Davis. Arizona is playing split squad today so be ready to see a ton of names in the boxscore you haven't seen before.

Spring recap No. 7: Padres 10, Rockies 3

Well, it looks like we've gotten that early fragility warning on Jim Edmonds we all feared. Apparently it is only a strained calf but his return is uncertain. Rather than speculate on a Plan B, let's just look at some of the happenings of yesterday's game.

Jake Peavy apparently is in fine form, striking out 4 in 3 innings but just to point out both sides, he also gave up 2 runs and 4 hits.

Glendon Rusch
put in a solid performance yesterday and possibly solidified himself as a possible starter candidate with a no runs, no hits and only 1 walk in 2 IP yesterday. He also notched 2 K's. Trevor Hoffman also had goose eggs in runs and hits in 1 IP yesterday.

Tony Clark is going to be invaluable off the bench. I am not basing this statement on his 2-for-3, 1 RBI performance yesterday, but that sure does put the mind at ease as far as pinch hitters go.

Will Venable seems to be putting together a decent spring as well, going 1-for-2 to raise his BA to .400 while hitting his 2nd HR of the spring and driving in 2. Apparently the future in CF may not be as far away as we think, but I still think we need Edmonds for '08.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Training Game 7 Preview: Rockies at Padres

Colorado vs. San Diego
Peoria Sports Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

Jake Peavy makes his second start of the spring. And while it would be easy to make a joke about wearing a cup here I refuse to do so (mostly because I actually can't think of one funny enough). Glendon Rusch is scheduled to relieve Peavy and if he gives up less than 3 ER's, he could be the front-runner for a rotation spot, especially after Wednesday's game.

We face the Rockies for the first team this year, with Mark Redman scheduled to take the hill. The other obvious comment I will not make here? Whether or not Matt Holliday really touched home plate.

Spring recap No. 6: A's 15, Padres 4

So it seems the OF may not be as undermanned as we thought huh? Invitee Jody Gerut is now hitting a robust .455 and it seems most of the guys spending time out there are hitting over. 300 this spring.

Randy Wolf had another rough outing, giving up 4 runs in 2 innings while Shawn Estes and Justin Germano felt the need to keep the competition for those last starting spots close by giving up 3 and 4 runs, respectively. But hey, even Heath Bell had an off day as he gave up 2 runs.

This is a little early and the sample is a little small (even for spring training) but here is the breakdown of the competition for the final starting spots:

Wolf - 1.2 IP, 6 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 K
Estes - 1.2 IP, 9 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 1 K
Germano - 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 K
Glendon Rusch - 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K

Until Wednesday's game, Germano had not given up a hit or a run. He still has the most innings pitched of the 4 likely candidates and could possibly command a spot in the rotation if he can avoid another game like this.

As this competition continues and more innings are pitched, I will continue to update this chart.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring Training Game 6 Preview: Padres at A's

San Diego vs. Oakland
at Phoenix Municipal, 12:05 p.m. PT

It's a backend of the rotation bonanza as Randy Wolf gets his second start of the spring while Justin Germano and Shawn Estes are waiting in the wings to get some innings in. Larry DiNardo is scheduled to start for Oakland.

Spring recap No. 5: Padres 9, Giants 6

Apparently Greg Maddux knows how to work efficiently, facing only 6 batters in 2 innings while pitching two scoreless innings. Other "standouts" (again, using the term loosely given the situation) include Tony Clark knocking in 2 runs and Paul McAnulty hitting his 2nd HR of the season.

I don't know if there were any "big" lowlights, other than most of our starters getting off to a slow start this spring. But if that is a big deal, then spring training would really matter.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring Training Game 5 Preview: Giants at Padres

San Francisco vs. San Diego
Peoria Sports Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

Greg Maddux makes his spring training debut as we get our first look at the post-Barry Bonds Giants. Tim Lincecum takes the hill for SF. In Lincecum's first spring start he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings so you know what that means - overvalue him now so you can be sure to get him in your fantasy baseball league. And then watch him go 7-5 again.

Spring recap No. 4: Padres 12, Brewers 4

As has become standard, I will point out a couple of highs and lows from Monday's game.

Highs: Chris Young gave up only 2 hits and 1 run in 2 innings pitched. Chase Headley continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-3 but it was forgotten man Paul McAnulty who hit the game's only HR. McAnulty went 1-for-2 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Luis Rodriguez, fighting for a bench spot, also had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with 4 RBI.

Lows: Well, we know what won't happen this year - the Padres won't hold runners. Young allowed 2 stolen bases in 2 innings. And for those who like to blow meaningless games out of proportion, Adrian Gonzalez has yet to record a base hit this spring. Yeah, I could care less too. Let me know when he goes all of June without a hit.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spring Training Game 4 preview: Milwaukee vs. San Diego

Padres vs. Brewers
Maryvale Baseball Park, 12:05 p.m. PT

It's Chris Young's turn to make his Cactus League debut as he is scheduled to throw two innings in today's game against the Brewers. Jeff Suppan gets the call for the Brewers but the more interesting note may be Eric Gagne starting a morning "B" game against the Padres. What makes that interesting, you've got me. But if this were the regular season I would find some way to overdramatize it to make it sound better.

Spring recap No. 3: Mariners 6, Padres 2

Well, we got our first scare of 2008 in this matchup but luckily we will come out on top. In case you haven't heard, Jake Peavy took a hit in the groin and he never wears a cup. Luckily he will not miss any time.

Highlights (if you want to call them that): Chase Headley went 2-for-2, continuing his bid to earn some playing time. And whil he was credited with the loss, Glendon Rusch (another candidate for that No. 5 starter spot) actually had an OK first outing, giving up 1 run and 2 hits in 1 2/3 innings. Not fantastic but better than the guys he's competing with.

On the downside, all of that talk about Trevor Hoffman being on a downward trend will flare up again after giving up 2 runs and 4 hits in 2/3 of an inning, but there is a simple explanation to all of this - it's spring training.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring Training Game 3 Preview: Mariners at Padres

Seattle vs. San Diego
Peoria Sports Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

According to the promo for the game on, Jake Peavy has added a changeup to his repertoire. I guess when your the reigning Cy Young winner and had one of the best pitching seasons in a while, you have to find something to do with your winter right? The M's are countering with Carlos Silva.

Spring recap No. 2: Padres 11, Mariners 10

Just so we don't get overhyped about what happens during spring training, I am going to keep these recaps short. This is more just to help me get in a groove for when the regular season comes around.

Highlights from Saturday's game? Chase Headley hit a HR and drove in 4 runs, making a case for getting some serious playing time (or least staying up with the big club) this season. Also, in the race to fill the backend of the rotation, Justin Germano went 2 1/3 and didn't give up a hit or a walk and struck out 2 ...

But that leads us to the downside of yesterday. For the second straight day our "starter" only went 2/3 of an inning - this time Randy Wolf gave up 3 runs in that span. Again he and Estes are coming back from injuries and it is only the first couple games of spring training but still, trends make me nervous. Let's just hope this is one of those times I am nervous because I have nothing better to do.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Spring Training Game 2 Preview: Mariners at Padres

Seattle vs. San Diego
Peoria Sports Complex, 12:05 p.m. PT

The back end of the rotation continues its parade to kick of spring training with projected No. 4 starter Randy Wolf scheduled to pitch the first inning with No. 5 starter hopeful Justin Germano slated to throw the next two. Seattle will counter with Felix Hernandez.

It's spring and it's baseball, what more could you want?

Spring recap No. 1: Royals 13, Padres 9

Upside: Shawn Estes took the mound, threw 30 pitches and left uninjured. Matt Antonelli flexed his long ball stroke, going deep in the 5th and Will Venable also went yard in the 7th, showing there is some power in the farm system after all.

Downside: Estes gave up 6 runs in 2/3 of an inning (but how much did we really expect out of him?), we lost to the Royals, which preseason or not, is kind of low and this picture on sums up Jim Edmonds in CF for the Padres.

Let's hope this really isn't a sign of things to come. Welcome to San Diego Jim ... or at least Peoria right now I guess.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Spring Training Game 1 Preview: Royals at Padres

Kansas City vs. San Diego
At Peoria Stadium, 12:05 p.m. PT

Shawn Estes takes the mound, maybe I mentioned that already? To counter, the Royals plan on sending Gil Meche, Hideo Nomo and Jimmy Gobble - hopefully at different times - to the mound (sorry for the bad joke, just shaking the rust off). It's spring and it's the official Cactus League opener for both teams so we can now return to business as usual. Go Padres.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Training: Mariners 10, Padres 3

Spring baseball has unofficially begun as the Padres lost the annual charity game against our "bitter" rivals Seattle on Thursday, 10-3.

Despite being blown out in a meaningless game, is reporting that Trevor Hoffman looked sharp, pitching a "perfect inning."

The one part of the story that gets me is the description that Hoffman "threw sharp breaking pitches and signature changeups in the fifth." Now we all know Hoffman has the wicked change that has made him so effective for so long but I thought he had all but ditched the breaking stuff.

Now before I get carried away I am reminding myself that this isn't even an official Cactus League game, but I can't help but wonder if Hoffman might be reaching into his past to maybe give him some new tricks this year and push off talk of his inevitable decline one more season. But again, it's only the beginning of the spring so I guess we will have to wait and see if this breaking stuff is for real.

Anyways, it's nice to have something other than speculation to talk about. So happy spring and enjoy the return of Shawn Estes to the mound tomorrow against Kansas City.

2008 Previews, fantasy style

I decided to add one more, albeit late, post to my 2008 previews. However, I am turning the reigns of this post over to a friend of mine, Derrick. Derrick is a contributor to and runs the blog Ultimate Fantasy Baseball Rankings.

Derrick is not a Padres fan by any means, but we won't hold that against him as he really knows his stuff. So for all of you fantasy baseball players out there, here's an outside look at our guys. So without further ado, here's Derrick:

From a Fantasy Baseball perspective the players that fill the roster of the San Diego Padres 2008 Major League baseball team are ... um, well … bland, to put it politely. The few fantasy relevant names that do stand out range from Jake Peavy, perhaps the best fantasy SP in the game, to Jim Edmonds, a defensively talented CF who seems to have left his bat on the better side of his 30’s.

However there are a few bright spots - along with Peavy there are other reliable fantasy players, such as former #1 overall pick Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez will turn 26 this season and has slugged .500 or better in each of his seasons in SD, proving that you can hit for power while playing half your games at Petco. At the same time 20 of his 30 2007 HR’s were recorded on the road, so he’s probably a 35-40 HR guy, but we will not see that as long as the current ballpark dimensions remain. I’m expecting Gonzalez to have nearly a repeat of his 2007 performance in 2008.

Chris Young remains the team’s #2 SP entering the 2008 season and is a good one to have in the middle of your fantasy rotation. Young’s numbers greatly improved in 07, due in large part to the fact that he was able to keep the ball inside the park a lot more often. Young allowed only 10 HR’s in 173 IP in 2007 compared to 28 HR’s in 179 IP in 2006. This helped him lower his ERA to a miniscule 3.12. If not for a late season injury, which led to inconsistent performances during August and September, his overall numbers would have been even more impressive.

The knocks on Young have always been his lack of control and sloth-like delivery. Calling him slow to the plate is a vast understatement. I believe that these two factors are intertwined. Because of Young’s extreme height he has a hard time keeping his body tight and compact through his delivery. As such his delivery is not always the same which makes it difficult for him to harness his stuff. When you watch Young pitch you can almost see him concentrating and telling himself to keep it tight as he coils back to begin his delivery. While this concentration is necessary to maintain some semblance of control it causes his delivery to take more time than it should and allows base runners to focus in on his movements and get a great jump, compounding the problem.

I think it’s quite possible Young ends up posting the same numbers he did last season, but with more IP, K’s and Wins, which would make him a top 15 SP. At the same time I stress that this projection is given with a relatively low degree of confidence. The aforementioned control issues being the main culprit. If Young has problems getting the ball over the plate on a consistent basis I would expect his ERA and WHIP to end up closer to the 4.00 and 1.30 levels respectively because of the increase in base-runners and home runs allowed, again caused by the lack of control.

Kevin Kouzmanoff is a name that drew the ire of Padres fans and fantasy managers alike during the first half of the 2007 season. However, the fantasy managers that stuck with Kouz through the hard times, much like Pads manager Bruce Bochy, were rewarded with a stellar 2nd half that saw Kouz hit .317/.366/.524, with 11 home runs over 252 ABs!

Watch for Kouzmanoff to continue to build on his 2nd half success in 2008. A .290, 25 HR, 90 RBI season, while probably at the high end of his abilities, would not surprise me at all.

I hate to write this on a San Diego Padres Blog, but my journalistic oath requires me to be honest (I just lied, I’ve taken no such oath) so you heard it here first: This will finally be the season that we witness Trevor Hoffman age before our eyes. I know that none of you want to hear this and I understand if you are screaming the following at your computer screen right now, “Hoffman was nearly 40 last season and looked just as good as ever! His ERA was under 3.00 and he recorded over 40 saves for the 4th consecutive season! How can you possibly think that he is on the decline?!?”

The emotions behind these statements are strong and love for a long-time, trusted ally transcends logic. This is why I am here to help you see through the love-fog and save yourself fantasy heart-break. Hoffman’s velocity has obviously declined. He no longer has the ability to reach back and rely on his stuff to get a strikeout when he needs one most. He has to live on the edge of the plate a lot more than he used to because of his declining stuff, which leads to a higher BB rate. He is having a hard time keeping the ball down in the zone which has led to more of his outs coming from fly balls. All of these little signs of decline combined with his ever increasing age lead me to believe that Hoffman in 2008 will have his worst ERA since 1995 (3.88) and his worst WHIP since his rookie season (1.40).

Please understand, I’m not projecting a total collapse and Hoffman, barring injury, will still start and finish the season as the Pads 9th inning guy. Just look for his numbers to be not quite as sharp as usual and for his Saves totals to be in the 30’s rather than the 40’s.

A few other players on the roster this season that will be fantasy relevant in some formats are Greg Maddux (watch for his numbers to improve with a full season in SD He still doesn’t BB anyone and most of his outs are still of the ground ball variety), Mark Prior (big ? but he’s worth a late-round flier, or at least keeping an eye on), Scott Hairston (has the power to hit 20-25 HRs in Petco), and Heath Bell (has had the stuff for years, finally put it all together last season – if Hoffman goes down he’s a lights out closer).

If you like to go after young guys with upside look no further than two of San Diego’s best, Matt Antonelli and Chase Headley. Both could end up with starting spots out of Spring Training, but more likely will be sent back down to AAA for a bit more seasoning and recalled later in the season. I believe that both are ready to contribute to some degree at the Major League level and it is only a matter of time before these two offensively talented hitters get their opportunity to do what they do best for a team that desperately needs what they do best.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Estes returns to the mound

Well it looks like the search for a No. 5 starter is about to get a little more crowded, and a little more fragile, as Shawn Estes makes a long-awaited return to the mound in the Cactus League opener on Friday against Kansas City.

It's been almost two seasons since Estes last pitched for SD and I'm sure that many casual fans are wondering either who this guy is or are probably thought Estes has retired.

Looking at Estes' career stats on, he was an All Star in 1997 and owns a career record of 99-90 with a 4.71 ERA in 1,634 1/3 innings - 6 of which have been for the Padres (0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 1 game).

I don't know which is scarier, thinking Estes could be the No. 5 guy until Mark Prior comes back, thinking Prior could be the guy or knowing Glendon Rusch is in the mix. Just thinking about that trio, combined with No. 4 starter Randy Wolf makes my arm start to hurt.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Enough with the past and optimism

So, spring training is under way and games begin soon. But as the local papers scramble to help feed our need for news on the Padres we get stories like this one about Brian Giles, another optimism piece talking about his progress relating to returning from surgery.

But the one thing that has always annoyed me in regards to the media is its tendency to drudge up the past in order to fill space. Hey, in case you haven't heard Matt Holliday never touched home and the Padres barely missed the playoff because of it.

Oh the drudgery of the offseason. Well at least we know that we are now safe until the season starts, and the first time we face the Rockies, and if we meet up again with the playoffs on the line. At least it will all be played out by 2009 right?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Should we be worried about the OF?

A lot of talk has been made about the No. 5 spot in the rotation or who will man LF but as we get closer to the start of spring, I can't help but think we are in need of two full OF rotations.

With Scott Hairston only penciled in at left, what would happen if he fails to pan out and both Jim Edmonds and Brian Giles are seriously bit by the injury bug? Who fills in?

Obviously the Chase Headley experiment out in LF would have to be revisited but what would we do for longer term CF and RF replacements? Do we call up 2B of the future Matt Antonelli to pitch in for Giles or does Paul McAnulty get another shot? And what about center? Rule V draftee Callix Crabbe is listed as the backup for 2B and all 3 OF spots but would anyone be comfortable sending out an OF of Hairston/Headley, Crabbe and Antonelli/McAnulty?

All of these questions are starting to make my head hurt and I can tell it is getting late because I have been rambling for a while now so I will say this, whenever Kevin Towers finally picks up that extra OF, it won't be too soon because the alternative is looking a little too ripe for my taste.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What draws you to baseball?

With the first game of spring training still over a week away, I thought that now I would pose this question to the audience out there - What is it that draws you back to baseball year after year?

For me, no matter how many times I wanted to just kind of forget about it during the mediocre years of the Padres, I still found myself drawn to the team once the end of February rolled around. While I can't quite decide what it is about the game (probably the strategy involved and the battle of wits between managers when making moves), I still remember the exact moment I became a fan.

I believe I mentioned this when Tony Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame but as a really young kid I began collecting football cards. However, one day my best friend brought over his baseball card collection and showed me this card:

While there may be nothing extremely exciting about this card, for some reason I was drawn to it and Gwynn from then on. Whatever effect that card had on me still holds me to this sport this day and even though my wife can't understand why I will watch full Padres games on TV whenever I get the chance, I personally know it goes back to that first card.

So now I open up the floor and ask, What draws you to baseball?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Padres book shoutout

Since we've hit the last news lull before the season, I thought I would send some publicity to Geoff Young over at Ducksnorts, who has just uploaded previews of his upcoming book, Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual.

According to Geoff, the book should be available in the next few weeks and it will be a great read for Padres fans. So check out the preview and tell Geoff that Friarball sent you.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Let the optimism begin

If there is one thing that I love about Spring Training (or maybe I really despise it, I can never tell) it's all of the optimism that floats around.

The oft-injured starter that hasn't played a full season since the Padres last made the World Series? "I'm in the best shape of my life."

The struggling slugger who had career lows in BA, HR, RBI, etc. but wasn't injured? "I've been working out all offseason and have put on 15 pounds of muscle."

The perpetual minor leaguer hoping this year is the year he finally cracks the big league lineup? "I've lost 10 pounds so I am more lean and mean."

But regardless of the canned line of optimism, the truth is this - the slate is wiped clean, everyone is optimistic their team is ready to win it all this year (except maybe Pirates fans, sorry Pittsburgh) and until the first pitch is thrown we have no idea how out of shape the team's fatty is this go around.

Happy spring everyone.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Previews: Closer

Trevor Hoffman is and always will be the closer until he retires. With that said, how much longer can the aging saves leader keep hitters off-balance with an 85 mph fastball and a changeup as his only pitches?

The key to the changeup is obviously making the pitch look like a fastball in relation to release point and arm speed, but when the velocity drops on your fastball as you get older (and don't use PEDs) how much are the two pitches really different.

Hoffman has always been one of my favorites and to me, signifies the post-Tony Gwynn era Padres but sometimes time just runs out. However I am predicting that will not be this year.

Saves are about as easy to predict as wins with a lot of the actual results dependent on others but I am going to say Hoffman posts another 40+ save season, blows less than 5 and keeps his ERA in the 2.50 range.

However, if the last week of last season really was indicitive of how much longer Hoffman can hold on, I am still confident we will get those numbers out of our closer. The only difference may be that Heath Bell would be the one posting the numbers.

The 'pen will again be the strength of this team and us making the playoffs will once again come down to how much work it can conceivably do without running down.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008 Previews: Bullpen

Note: This section will not cover closer Trevor Hoffman, that will be covered in tomorrow's final preview post.

If there is one thing the Padres have an abundance of, it's arms in the bullpen. Both Kevin Cameron and Justin Hampson proved to be pleasant surprises and with another strong showing by Cla Meredith, I am confident middle relief will be covered, no matter who else fills out the pen.

The setup role should be pretty well set too as Heath Bell had an outstanding year last year and seemed to fill in well once Scott Linebrink was traded. Bell should be the closer of the future, but unless he develops Hoffman-like consistency, his effectiveness may run out before he gets a chance.

If the starters can get deep into games with leads, the pen will hold onto most of them. If there is one thing I am not worried heading into this season, it's the pen.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2008 Previews: Starting Pitching

It's no secret by now that the Padres have one of the best, if not the best, 1-2 combos in the majors when it comes to starters. Jake Peavy and Chris Young got off to an amazing start and if it wasn't for a pesky injury after the All Star break, Young may have been a stronger Cy Young candidate.

With Greg Maddux coming back we have a solid enough No. 3 starter that he should guarantee us at least 10 wins once again, despite the fact that Maddux is clearly not the pitcher he was. However, his years of experience have made it possible for him to remain effective.

Any fan worth his weight knows the biggest question for the Padres is who will fill the last two spots in the rotation. Low budget signings Randy Wolf and Mark Prior should be adequate to fill the roles if they can remain healthy, but that's the $64,000 question this season.

Both Wolf and Prior tend to be fly ball pitchers and their home run to fly ball ratios should see the most improvement because of their new surroundings. Should the need arise, both Justin Germano (last year's No. 5 starter) and Clay Hensley headline a list of youngsters who will be itching for another chance to earn a full-time rotation gig.

It remains to be seen how effective Germano really can be - is he more of the pitcher we saw in the first half (only 1 loss), or is he closer to the guy we saw struggle in the second half? A similar questions could be asked of Hensley, but he too is also trying to battle back from injury.

Regardless of who fills the last two spots, someone is going to have to step up in a big way.

Monday, February 11, 2008

2008 Previews: Right Field

Keeping with the theme of aging outfielders, the Padres will again turn to Brian Giles to man the right side of the outfield.

When healthy, Giles did an admirable job in the leadoff spot last year, creating pressure on the pitcher when he reached base despite the fact he was no real threat to steal or advance extra bases with his speed.

His power is fading along with his health but with no real alternatives for the outfield lets hope Giles can silence the doubters for one more year. His BA will probably be around last year's .270 and don't expect much more than 10 HR. Giles is slated for the leadoff spot again at this point but don't be surprised if Giles finds himself coming off the bench for a younger, faster player by the start of the summer. I have no idea who that player will be, but Giles is probably one injury or slump away from losing his role on the team.

It's probably not the best year to be a Giles.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

2008 Previews: Center Field

Mike Cameron was getting old, had an expiring contract and spent some time on the DL last year so we let him leave. Kevin Towers' grand move to replace him? The older, and more often hurt Jim Edmonds.

Now don't get me wrong, I loved Edmonds. But that was back in 2004 when he was still producing Web Gems on a nightly basis and played more than 120 games a year.

On the plus side, we get a guy who has continuously proven he can cover a large space and we didn't have to give up a whole lot to get him. Now we just need him to stay healthy.

Even if Edmonds plays more than 120 games this year, he still won't quite put up the numbers he was putting up five years ago. However, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch for a .260 BA with 20 HR and 60 RBI if all of the pieces fall into place.

The other wild card to this scenario is who will play CF when/if Edmonds gets hurt. That's something that I don't even want to venture a guess at right now. Hopefully by the end of the spring, we will at least know the name of Plan B.

Friday, February 8, 2008

2008 Previews: Left Field

Before we get to the muddiest of all previews, I would like to bring attention to a story from saying we are close to bringing in Tony Clark to back up Adrian Gonzalez at 1B. Whether or not Clark has much of an impact on the offense, one thing Clark will do is help the Padres nail down the trophy for the tallest team in the league. At least we will win something.

Now on to LF. According to the Sports Lunch today with Kevin Towers and Bud Black, our starting lineup is set to feature Scott Hairston as our regular LF (thanks to Gaslamp Ball for the post on the lunch).

Hairston did great things when he came over from the D-backs last year and it would be awesome to see him do more of the same. Like Khalil Greene, Hairston probably won't have the most impressive BA, but given a regular opportunity to play he could put up 20 HR.

The one thing that will hinder Hairston is his lack of patience at the plate, but given that he is only 27, he could get better with time.

If Hairston falters there are a wealth of guys looking for any opportunity to play (including Chase Headley), and it could still be possible that Towers could bring in another player at some point.

LF is definitely one of the biggest questions heading into this year but if Hairston can lock the job down we should be in great shape.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

2008 Previews: Third Base

Kevin Towers traded for Kevin Kouzmanoff before last season, giving up on what fans thought was another talented prospect (and who could still be a good talent despite his struggles last season) in Josh Barfield.

In April, it looked like we got hosed as Kouzmanoff struggled to adjust to being a full time major leaguer but by June Towers once again looked like a genius. Given that Kouzmanoff should be better adjusted this season, he should easily surpass last year's numbers and I think he even approaches a .300 BA, 25 HR and 95 RBI. Not too much of a stretch but considering his second half last season it could be too modest.

Like the rest of the infield, last year's super utility man Geoff Blum traded one super sized state for another, meaning the Kouzmanoff's days off will most likely be handled by "3B of the future?" Chase Headley, provided Headley isn't the permanent fixture in LF.

Looking at the complete infield picture, I applaud what Towers has us sending out on a game-to-game basis, even if Tadahito Iguchi is just a rental until Matt Antonelli is ready. If Kouzmanoff's bat continues to get better, he could provide much of the pop that missing out of last year's lineup (not that he didn't provide pop in the first place, we just needed more).

Now if only the OF was as complete looking as the infield, we would be the team to beat in the NL hands down. But that is another topic for another couple of days.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

2008 Previews: Short Stop

We continue our look around the horn by looking at the short stop position, or more accurately, Khalil Greene. The 28-year-old is in the prime of his career and should be able to avoid distraction after he recently signed a 2-year deal.

Greene has an impressive defensive highlight real to go along with the power he has developed on offense. But one thing this guy will never do is win a batting title. After watching his HR total jump from 15 in each of his first 3 years in the league to 27 last year, Greene should be able to reach the 20 HR mark again and should see more than 80 RBI to go with a .250 batting average.

Much like Tadahito Iguchi at 2B, Greene should be the only guy we really see at SS this year with a couple of journeymen giving him a day off here and there. With Greene and Adrian Gonzalez at the heart of the lineup once again, this offense should be able to put up enough runs to support its pitchers.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

2008 Previews: Second Base

Unlike the previous two positions, second base will be the wild card for the Padres last year. After the failure of Marcus Giles to secure the position last year and having to rely on the now-departed Geoff Blum, SD went out and signed Tadahito Iguchi for 2008.

A quick refresher on Iguchi - he spent last year with the White Sox and the Phillies - hitting .267/.347/.400 combined with 9 HR and 43 RBI. His HR total was half of what it was the year before despite moving from one hitter-friendly park to another. Those expecting his HR numbers to bounce will be sadly disappointed as he has lost some of his power due to his age (he is now 33) and the rest will go due to his new home park (like we need to repeatedly bring this up but what the heck).

Good news for us is that Iguchi is not known as being a power hitter anyway. What we should see from Iguchi this year are numbers similar to last year, which will also include a handful of stolen bases. The numbers won't blow anyone away but at least with Iguchi we have a pretty good idea of what we are getting.

The main part of this deal though is the fact that his presence allows Matt Antonelli another year to prepare for what should be a solid major league career. If that extra year really makes a difference, I am okay with Iguchi keeping the seat warm.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

2008 Previews: First Base

If you go just by the "official" depth chart posted on, the question is not how much further will Adrian Gonzalez progress this year, but who will back him up if he should miss any significant time?

Gonzalez played in all but two games last year and played in 156 games in 2006, so health shouldn't be an issue but you never know. That said, things look good for Gonzalez to surpass most of his numbers from last year and despite being stuck in Petco, his power numbers continue to rise. He should be a legitimate bet to hit another 30 HR and knock in another 100 RBI at least this year.

Gonzalez is blossoming into something truly special and it should be fun to watch him take that next step this year. I am probably most excited to see what Gonzalez can do this season. This area will be a strength of the Padres this year.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

2008 Previews: Catcher

Wow, it's amazing how time gets away from you. Starting today (and hopefully continuing regularly until Spring Training starts), FriarBall will be looking at the Padres by position, heading into Spring Training and offering thoughts on how the team stands at each position.

Starting with the catchers, it's nice to know that while we may not have a standout superstar behind the plate we do have two competent catchers that would challenge for playing time on most teams in the majors.

While I would assume Josh Bard will be the "starter" this season, it is likely both he and Michael Barrett will each see plenty of plate appearances and have the opportunity to provide offense to the 2008 squad.

Bard really seemed to have a breakout performance last year but at age 30, he should continue to get better with more playing time and I don't see any reason why he can't improve upon the .285/.367/.404 he put up last year.

Barrett will be more of a wild card this year as he tries to rebound from a down year by his standards. Between Chicago and San Diego his batting average dropped from .307 in 2006 to .244 last year. While '06 was definitely a career year for the 31-year-old, he should be able to bounce back somewhat this year. His power numbers may not recover because of the Petco factor, but he should be able to hit more in the .280 range again and he should see upswings in his on base and slugging percentages as well.

The best thing about this tandem is the fact they are a tandem. If one gets hurt the other should be ready to take on more work without issue, and this may be the lone spot on the squad that is not in trouble if an injury occurs. Depth often decides post season runs as much as performance, and neither of those should hinder the catching position in '08.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Early predictions for the NL West

First things first: I apologize this did not get up on Monday as promised. As most of you probably know, life has a funny way of shifting priorities. But enough excuses.

As Jan. winds down, it's time for anyone and everyone to start making predictions. So starting today, here are my breakdowns of the NL West and the Padres. Today's prediction is the order in which the teams will finish in the division with a short reason why. (Disclaimer: Since it is Jan., I reserve the right to change my predictions based on potential injuries during Spring Training. You didn't seriously think I would allow myself to be held completely to these did you?)

1. Diamondbacks: It would be easy to go with the homer pick here but AZ really surprised everyone last year, especially those who said '08 would be their year. Well, it's now '08 and they have added Dan Haren to the rotation. This team will be tough to beat again and probably has the best shot at winning the division.

2. Padres: You didn't think I'd pick them to finish any lower did you? In midseason they were the best team in the NL but they faded fast and eventually lost game 163 to Colorado. Mark Prior and Randy Wolf are interesting additions to the rotation and along with Jim Edmonds and Tadahito Iguchi this team has made some changes in hopes of playing a little longer in '08. These moves should work.

3. Rockies: They needed to win 21 of their last 22 to make the playoffs and then swept through the NL before being swept out by the Red Sox. Kip Wells is not the answer to replace the "Dragon Slayer" Josh Fogg though and no one will be caught off guard this time. However, Matt Holliday is really good, even if he never touched the plate.

4. Dodgers: Call this a hater pick if you want but Joe Torre does not equal playoffs for the boys in blue. This team still has a lot of work to do and will need more than one year for Torre to work his magic.

5. Giants: This organization is currently a mess and we will definitely need a scorecard to tell who the players are, but they are finally escaping the loooooong shadow of Barry Bonds. But they are still a couple of years away from actually turning this thing around and they should safely be entrenched in the basement by the end of April.

There you have it. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Preparing for 2008

Alright, starting Monday I will give my personal opinions on the breakdown of the 2008 Padres heading into Spring Training. That should get me enough time to organize my thoughts and feelings.

Now before you go around saying this is just some random guys random thoughts and decide not to check them out, I have to say that I have been enlightened this offseason. After finishing last in a fantasy baseball league following three years of success in another league, I decided to completely rethink my approach to the game.

I realize - and admit - I am probably the last baseball fan on earth to ready Moneyball, but that book not only reshaped the way I look at baseball statistics but my understanding of our own Paul DePodesta.

Following Moneyball, I read Fantasyland by Sam Walker of the Wall Street Journal. While that book is based mainly on fantasy baseball, there was also a lot of info about how to evaluate players and their talent in different ways as well. That book led me to the writings of Ron Shandler and let's just say my brain is on overload now.

So after I sort it out this weekend, I will begin some hopefully insightful breakdowns of the squad. So come back on Monday, even if it is to just see how bad I ramble.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Towers looking to add another OF

One of the things I can't stand about the offseason is when you hit the lull right before players get back to work. No matter what the sport, when the market opens to sign free agents there is always a flurry of news but as spring training or training camp gets closer, the news seems to slow down.

That is the point we have hit, so what type of news are we relegated too? Apparently in an online chat today Kevin Towers said he wanted to add another OF, this one day after the North County Times ran a story on a group of players taking extra OF practice to see if they could help out. Apparently that first practice must not have gone that well.

So, how big is this bit of news? Not really, but since it is happening during a lull in Padres news, it becomes bigger than it really is. And what makes this worse is the fact that this isn't really news. I mean, shouldn't every GM be looking continuously at possibles ways to improve his team?

And it's no secret that we're thin in the OF, so what does this really mean? It means it's time for players to report and for spring to finally begin.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Gossage finally gets his call

The baseball writers managed to do it again - only vote one guy into the Hall of Fame. But the news is good for Padres fans as Goose Gossage was the man voted in by the writers. He will join his former boss Dick Williams in Cooperstown this summer, voted in by the veterans committee.

Gossage, one of the men who redefined the reliever position and was the forerunner to today's closers, waited 9 years to hear his phone ring with good news. It kind of gives patience a whole new meaning.

Congratulations to Gossage on his induction.

Will Gossage be next?

Last year we saw Mr. Padre inducted and a second former Padre fall short. Will this year be the year Goose Gossage finally gets the call?

With a class that doesn't feature any first time locks, this could be the type of year Gossage needs to finally be voted in. And with Dick Williams already earning a spot because of his election by the Veterans Committee, this could be a big year for Padres fans. Granted, neither guy was exclusive to our club but they are still two of our own.

The announcement of the Class of 2008 will be on at 1:30 ET.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Did the Padres add enough this offseason?

Looking at the guys Kevin Towers brought in to help get this team back to the playoffs in 2008, I have two questions for readers:

1. Did Towers add enough to get this team over the hump (barring injury setbacks)?

2. Of the players that changed teams or were available this offseason, who would you have liked to seen retained or added to the roster (keeping in mind that A Rod or Johan Santana had no shot of coming here in the first place)?

My answers? For No. 1 I think that everything has to go right in order for it to work. Is that a generic answer? You bet. Is it meaningless? Not in the least. To elaborate, the Padres have talent and when guys like Randy Wolf and Mark Prior are healthy, they can be No. 2 starters. However, the reason they were available was because when was the last time either of these guys was a No. 2 starter? You get my point.

For No. 2, I would have liked to see Geoff Blum come back just because of his versatility on defense but other than him, I would have liked to see SD be able to retain Milton Bradley. At the very least he would have kept reporters and bloggers busy throughout the year. It would also be cool if we could sign a guy like Bartolo Colon, who is still out on the market. Granted, this violates my price range rule but between his injury-plagued '07, the horrible stats when he did pitch and the fact that he's 35 at the end of May, this has KT Bargain written all over it.

Now that you've heard my view, let me know what you think? Who do you think would have fit in well in SD? Get posting.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Other Padre Blogs

The news has been really hit or miss lately and so I want to take another opportunity to promote the new Padre blog directory Yes, my site is on there so I have every reason to shamelessly promote this site.

So if you find yourself surfing the net and looking for something to read on the Pads, head on over to the site and visit a blog you've never read before. You may actually enjoy it.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Does the Hall of Fame live up to its name?

With the hot stove cooling off, it seems the media has turned its attention to the Hall of Fame. And while you will find countless articles debating the Hall of Fame merits of various fan favorites, I have been pondering the importance of the Hall of Fame in general.

Last year's election was great because I saw my childhood hero elected in his first try, looking over the list I know there are those out there hoping their hero will one day get in as well.

Unfortunately, the voting process seems to be bogged down by arbitrarily decided statistical plateaus and many players who had a special role in shaping a particular franchise are left out in the cold and the system is in need of improvement.

While I don't have every single detail of my proposed system completely worked out, I think a change is needed in what the Hall actually represents. In my system, Cooperstown would be the home of and showcase the important moments in baseball history. Whether it is memorabilia from setting a record or some form of plaque for reaching a significant milestone, the Hall of Fame should highlight baseball history, not arbitrarily honor those a group of writers think are worthy to be immortalized in baseball lore.

But before you start firing off mean e-mails saying the players are more important than the milestones they reach, here is my proposal for the players - the honors should be administered by the team. Now many teams already have a team hall of fame or some sort of way to honor special players, but more emphasis should be placed on these honors.

Let it be up to the team to decide how important someone like Andre Dawson was to the Expos or Cubs. If Red Sox Nation feels Jim Rice was one of the most significant players in team history, let the Red Sox dictate so.

The Padres have only retired 5 numbers plus 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, but how many other players that have played for the organization did enough while in SD to merit a special recognition like that?

Is my proposed system perfect? Absolutely not, but would it help a guy like Goose Gossage get the recognition he deserves? Absolutely.

And if worst comes to worst, at least the baseball writers wouldn't have a say anymore.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008

It's a new year and hopefully a rejuvenation of this blog. In the tradition of making resolutions, my resolution is to blog more frequently, both during the season and off-season. Now for some catching up.

1. Looking for more blogs about the San Diego Padres? Check out The site is owned by Geoff Young of Ducksnorts, and is a list of links of blogs on the Padres.

2. Mark Prior is now a Padre. When he is healthy, Prior is a talented pitcher. However, it's been a while since he wax healthy. As the guys over at Gaslamp Ball have been saying, if Prior and Randy Wolf stay healthy, this could be the year we get back to the World Series but on the other side of things, their arms could fall off in the middle of an inning too.

Regardless of how last year ended, the one thing 2008 should bring is plenty of excitement. It seems Kevin Towers has done a good job of shopping this offseason to fill needs with capable players. Now we just need to spend the next 10 months doing whatever we can to ward away injuries. Does anyone have any bug spray?