FriarBall: January 2008

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?