Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Change

The most obvious statement I can make is, I haven't posted in a while here.  Despite my best intentions, I only seem to post sporadically even when able to post regularly.

Recently Rick from @RJsFro approached me with an offer to post over at a new site, Padres Public.  I would post under the Padres Trail title but the post would be hosted at Public.  I hesitated, but when he told me who else was involved - virtually every other independent Padres blog - I jumped on board.

And so that's where it stands.  I'm posting every Tuesday morning at Padres Public, and randomly during the week if the right topic presents itself.  Since I'm a packrat and borderline hoarder, I've no intentions to shut this site down.  It may come to pass I have something I want to talk about that really doesn't fit at the Public and I need an outlet; time will tell.  For now, look for me at Padres Public.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bringing the Playoff Hammer

You don't want to play the Padres these days.

After spotting the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead, San Diego roared back to take control of the game via 3 consecutive 2-run innings. Then, after Dale Thayer got Matt Holliday to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the seventh, the Padres broke the game open with 5 runs to win going away. 11-3 was your final.

Some scoring tidbits:

- The last time San Diego hung 11 on the Cardinals was last April 2 in St Louis.
- The last time they scored 10 or more against the Cardinals in San Diego was 5/28/2006 (W 10-8). That game is memorable because Josh Bard hit 2 home runs off Mark Mulder. It's the only 2-HR game of Bard's career.
- You have to go back to 1993 to find a home game where the Padres scored at least 11 runs against St Louis - 8/24/1993 to be exact. The Padres scored 13 in the first inning that Tuesday night, although only 9700 people saw it.

Some odds and ends from last night (quick hits, since I started this post at 0650 and now it's 1510):

- You're no doubt aware that Cameron Maybin and Logan Forsythe had three opportunities to be the first Padre to hit for the cycle. In those 3 AB neither one put the ball in play (Maybin walked). Oh, well.

(Seque: Andrew Cashner will throw the first no-hitter in Padres history. Bank it.)

- I couldn't tell if Forsythe burned Cardinal CF John Jay on his RBI double in the second, or if Jay just took a bad route to the ball. Some on Twitter thought the latter. That ball was drilled, however.

- Initially I thought wild pitch was the correct call, allowing Everth Cabrera to advance to third; after looking at the replay, however, he was going. Perhaps it should have been a stolen base.

- Taking Carlos Quentin out after his AB leading off the third - right call. He looked uncomfortable at the plate during that at-bat.

- Good Grief Maybin's HR was crushed. 439' was a conservative distance.

- When was the last time a Padre got six plate appearances, at home, during a 9-inning game? Can't remember seeing it in person this year.

- Reports that Pete Kozma can't hit seem greatly exaggerated. Then again, one game is the definition of a SMALL SAMPLE SIZE.

- Jamie Garcia couldn't find the plate, and when he did find it he caught too much of it. I've been out of touch a lot, but there seemed to be a lot of hysteria amongst #stlcards Tweeters about his home/road splits. Yes, Garcia is a much different pitcher at home than on the road. It has to be all mental; is he able to locate that badly at Busch and get away with it? Can't be.

- Cardinal pitching in this game was awful overall. They gave up 4 - FOUR - unintentional 4-pitch walks in this game. Headley got 2, Kotsay 1, Grandal the other. I believe there is a study out there documenting that the strike zone gets bigger in the pitcher's favor on a 3-0 count. St Louis hurlers couldn't even hit that expanded zone.

- Shelby Miller pitched well. Hey, he kept the Cardinals in the game for 3 innings when San Diego threatened to blow it open early. When he has a HOF career, I can say I saw his first ML at bat. Assuming I don't lose my scorecard.

- Holliday's double play. Killer.

- David Freese was hit twice last night. St Louis came way in to Yonder Alonso in the eighth, after Freese got hit the second time, but didn't hit him. I wonder if this will carry over to tonight's game. St Louis can't afford to give the Padres free baserunners, not the way they're currently swinging the bat.

St Louis came in leading for the second Wild Card spot, but you would have thought the Padres were playing for a post-season berth, not the Cardinals, the way last night's game unfolded. It's too bad the Padres are 8.5 back with 20 to play, because I would not want to face them in the post-season.

Neither do the remaining teams fighting for a playoff spot.

CORRECTION to my last post: I said if the Padres won 4 of 6 from the Diamondbacks they'd tie AZ. Yeah, not quite. They'd need to win 5 of 6 to catch AZ, assuming they both win the same number of games outside of those head-to-head matchups. Math is hard.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Games That Matter

Let's face it - sports are a lot more fun to play when there's something to play for.  When asked, every player will tell you they want to win the World Series this year.  Not everyone gets to do that.  As the season progresses, teams fall out of contention, and by September they are 'playing out the string'.

Thanks to the Wild Card construct, the number of teams with something to play for has gone up dramatically.  But that doesn't just include those teams vying for a playoff spot.  It also includes those teams in their way, who no longer have hopes of getting deep into October.

Two months ago, when looking at the September schedule, one knew the Padres would have games that mattered to play, but only because they played teams trying to get to the post-season and could stand in their way.  Los Angeles.  San Francisco.  St Louis.  That's still true.  But they also have games that matter to play for their own sake.  They have an outside shot at getting to .500 before the season ends.  They have a better shot to catch Arizona for third in the West.

I'm glad they're playing well.  It makes me smile that they have a chance to torpedo the Dodgers' chances for a playoff spot, and they scored a direct hit last night with the 6-3 win.  Maybe they'll administer the coup de grace in late September at Petco.  They can also gain a small measure of revenge for years of playoff futility by smacking around the Cardinals next week.  They've already left the Pirates playoff ship dead in the water and listing heavily to port by taking 5 of the 6 games from Pittsburgh.  That's a lot of nautical references, isn't it?

The games I'm REALLY looking forward to are the 3 here against Arizona this weekend, and the three in AZ in 2 weeks.  Why?  Because no one in their right mind thought the Padres would finish higher than fourth in this division this year.  No one in their right mind thought they'd be within shouting distance of .500 in early September.  Yes I realize they need to finish 18-7 to reach .500, and that is a tall order; the mere fact we can talk about it without looking really stupid is a victory.

San Diego last won the season series from Arizona in 2010.  They've only won more than 10 games from the Diamondbacks once in their history (12, 2004).  If the Padres win both those series they'll match that total.  If they win both series they'll catch Arizona in the loss column (assuming they each have identical records in their other games).

I hope (and expect) they'll continue to be a thorn in the side of the Dodgers, Giants, and Cardinals down the stretch.  Two weeks from now I really hope they'll be looking down at AZ from third place.  Wouldn't that be great.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2009 Reprise?

A quick thought ahead of the 1030 news conference with new ownership:

In 2009 the Padres went 39-35 after the All-Star Break, 37-25 after July 27. They carried that momentum into the 2010 season and to within a game of making the playoffs.  As play started on 29 August 09 they had gone 19-23 since the Break , and would win 20 of their next 33 games to close out the season.

In 2012 the Padres have gone 26-18 since the All-Star Break.  I'm not saying they'll play .606 ball the rest of the way like they did in 2009.  They are playing better ball already than that team did, and we know how the 2009 late season success carried into 2010.  Better play now has to portend to a brighter season in 2013, right?

Something to think about.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Game Reflections - Game 130 vs Braves

It's not very often the Padres have a seven-game winning streak.  It's not very often they come home riding a seven-game winning streak, which included 3 straight against a Wild Card contender.  But that's exactly where we find ourselves today.

Well - check that.  It's 8 straight now.

After a most satisfying 3-game sweep in the desert, the second 3-game sweep of the season in Phoenix (the last time San Diego swept the D-backs in AZ before this season was NEVER), the team returned home to face Atlanta, leaders in the NL Wild Card.  Today was a great day, because:

1.  Of the aforementioned 7-game winning streak,
2.  It was Padres Social night, which I was not aware of until I got to the ballpark (MAN I've been away a long time), and
3.  It marked the Major League Debut of Casey Kelly, that 'other' player we got from Boston for Adrian Gonzalez.  His father was in attendance - former major leaguer Pat Kelly, he of 7 ML at-bats in 1980 for the Toronto Blue Jays.  And, it was his father's birthday (check that link again).

A lot going on.  So let's get to it.

- Interesting tidbit - all the runs Atlanta starter Paul Maholm has allowed since becoming a Brave have scored via a home run.  When I read that, my sarcastic thought was 'well here comes the shutout!'.  Maybe with the May 2012 Padres.  Not the August 2012 Padres.  Yasmani Grandal took care of business with a laser of a 2-run HR in the second inning.

- The Kid Kelly pitched 6 effective innings.  He worked around a 2-out double from Jason Heyward to get out of the first inning.  He froze Paul Janish with a ridiculous curveball for the second out of the second, and straned two runners when Maholm flied to center.  After Michael Bourn was doubled off second on a busted hit and run (Martin Prado lined out to second), Kelly allowed only one more baserunner and no more hits.

- In fact, the next Brave hit after that Bourn single was Prado's base knock leading off the ninth.  Padres pitchers retired 16 of 18 hitters faced, the only two that reached were via walks, and one of those was erased thanks to a double play.

- That said, Dale Thayer made the eighth inning interesting.  Dan Uggla hit a 2-2 pitch to the 396 sign in CF before Cameron Maybin jumped and hauled it in.  Chase Headley had to sprawl behind the bag at third to snare Janish's ground ball for the second out of the inning, and Bourn drove Carlos Quentin to the track in LF with his drive.

- Uggla wasn't the only guy who got Petco'd tonight.  Quentin's drive in the fourth died just short of the 401 sign in LC, and Logan Forsythe drove Bourn into the wall just to the right of that spot with his blast in the eighth.

- Welcome back Jesus Guzman! Guzman enjoyed his second 2-hit game of this month in only his fourth start of the month.  I was feeling all warm inside about my guy ... then he got picked off to end the sixth.  Oh well.

Not much else to mention.  Maholm pitched well, his only mistake was to Grandal.  Tommy Layne came in and threw 6 strikes to retire the side in the seventh.  Luke Gregerson notched his second save and ran his scoreless inning streak to 23.  A crisply played game in 2:24.  3-0 Padres.

Here's something fun to ponder - the Padres only trail Arizona by 5 games on the loss side.  Let's make climbing into third a goal for the rest of this season, yes?  If we do that, we'll finish at .500, something unthinkable as even a possibility 6 weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


How mad must the Pirates be?  They take 2 of 3 from the Cardinals in St Louis, then come here and drop the first 2.

In fairness, if San Diego was going to win any game in this series it was going to be Monday night's.  Pittsburgh had just survived a 19-inning game in St Louis which used every pitcher they had available, including 3 starting pitchers, and so were slightly undermanned in the bullpen.  San Diego jumped on Kevin Correia early and rode that 3-0 lead to the victory.

Pittsbgh figured to bounce back last night, and they did.  I didn't see much of this game (playoff softball); in fact, I saw exactly two pitches.  Chase Headley get caught looking at an AJ Burnett curveball, and Carlos Quentin bounce into a 5-4-3 DP.  Ugh.

Still, the Padres went into the ninth up 5-3.  Garrett Jones tied the game at 5 all and it looked like they could carry that momentum into an extra innings win.  Queue the music, right?  Nope.  Chase Headley took care of that with his game winning 2-run HR in the tenth.

So that makes 4 wins in 5 games against Pittsburgh this season.  The Pirates can thank the schedule maker for putting both their series with the Padres after the All-Star break, when San Diego began playing much better. In the heat of a playoff race, the last thing contending teams want to see is a team in the second division playing with nothing to lose. Note to Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and St Louis - look past the Padres at your own peril.

The Padres look to sweep today; it will be their first home sweep against the Pirates since 2010.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


There had been a flicker of hope, in some corners, about the Padres improved play since the All-Star break. In fact, since June 12th they had been the best team in the NL West - a game better than San Francisco.  And they had gone into Pittsburgh, taken 2 of 3 from the Wild Card contenders, then taken the first game of a 4-game set in Atlanta, the Wild Card leaders.

Then a Logan Forsythe home run was the only run they scored in the final 3 games against the Braves.  THEN they come home and get crushed by the Giants last night, 10-1.  Reality check.

One wonders how different the game would have been if Forsythe's throw to third had been more on-line and nailed Angel Pagan for the second out.  Marco Scutaro's bloop single might have been caught, and Ross Ohlendorf could have escaped down only 2-0.  They likely still would have lost - Matt Cain was tough last night, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning - but it could have remained competitive.  Who knows.

Watching Ohlendorf get hit around in the third inning made me wonder:  exactly why did they keep this guy and cut Kip Wells?

Wells was designated for assignment on 3 August.  Since that date Ohlendorf's been really bad - 3 total starts, 11 innings pitched, opponents OPS'ing almost 900 against him.  Including his 2 August start at Cincinnati he's failed to pitch into the fourth inning in 2 of his last 4 starts, and he got pulled in that inning during one of the two starts he did see the fourth.  Not real good, that.

Wells?  Well, he was knocked out in the fifth inning of 3 of his last 4 Padres starts, and two of those games were against the worst two teams in the NL (Colorado and Houston).  Not real good either.

Comparing the two, neither strikes out many and both walk a lot of guys (Wells 20 in his 37 innings, Ohlendorf 24 in his 48).  The league was hitting .287 on balls in play off Wells, .342 off Ohlendorf.  Both tended to give up HR.  The only statistic I could find where Ohlendorf had a measurable advantage over Wells was FIP.  Ross' FIP so far in 2012 is 4.90, including last night's shellacking.  Kip's was 5.85.  (xFIP they're actually much closer; 5.28 to 5.51)  It would be kind of interesting if the main reason the team kept Ohlendorf is because his advanced metrics were better than Wells.  Or, it could be as simple as Ohlendorf is 5 years younger than Wells and throws slightly harder.

I dunno.  I thought the Padres had a chance to win every time Wells took the ball.  It's not a matter of if Ohlendorf will give up a big inning, it's when.  Neither of these guys were going to be with the team in 2013; why not keep the guy who seemed to be doing a better job of keeping your team in the game.

(Hopefully I'll be posting more now.  My schedule seems to have settled down a bit, finally.)