Thursday, April 29, 2010

There may be something to this

The Padres broke their 8-game winning streak on Sunday, when Mike Adams gave up 2 runs in the eighth to Cincinnati.  They lost that game 5-4.  They then went out and got drubbed by Florida (thanks Josh Johnson) 10-1.

Ut-oh.  Was that the beginning of a crash to earth for the Padres?  With Garland pitching Tuesday night (who had struggled so far in 2010), and Correia on Wednesday (who is not the same pitcher on the road he is at home), one wondered if the salad days were over.  Remember, they started 2009 9-3 and then struggled mightily until after the All-Star break.

Nope.  Jon Garland was tremendous for the second start in a row.  Correia?  Well, Kevin wobbled through 5 yesterday, but the offense bailed him out, and the bullpen slammed the door getting the last 12 outs.  Series win.

The Padres return tonight off a 4-2 road trip, and in sole possession of first place in the Division.  Nice.  They face a sterner test this weekend in the offensively-loaded Milwaukee Brewers, but Milwaukee's Achilles heel is it's starting pitching, so they have a good chance to keep the momentum going.

Adding fuel to the fire of hope starting to burn brightly around San Diego is Daniel's latest post.  During the off-season, the team shifted gears slightly by emphasizing team speed and defense on the roster.  So far, they rank #1 in the league in UZR/150 and third in Defensive Runs Saved.  Given how hard it is to score runs in Petco, and the old saw 'speed never goes into a slump', that has all the earmarks of a sustainable approach to the season.

With the bullpen being lights out as usual (and in spite of my concerns regarding overuse), the starters just need to be good enough, and the offensive just needs to be average, for this team to compete.  And contend.

There may be something to this.  It could be a fun summer in San Diego.

Tonight I'm at the ballpark (7:05 start).  It's Podcast night, but the 'Cast may not start promptly at 10pm, based on the game.  I won't start the show until the game is over and I'm in the car headed home, which means if you've got a comment for the chat room or want to call in PLEASE BE PATIENT.  I won't know you're there until I'm back in front of my computer, which might be a while (depending on traffic).

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Latos vs LeBlanc in the rotation?

Something I've been thinking about for the better part of a week is what to do with Wade LeBlanc.  The reasons why I've been wondering, well, I'll explain at the bottom of the post.  The Padres are in an enviable position, because they will have too many starting pitchers when Chris Young comes off the DL.  Note that I'm not considering Tim Stauffer, who was a candidate to start during spring training, in this discussion, as he is doing a nice job out of the Padre bullpen.  San Diego has been able to let Chris Young rehab at his own pace is because of their depth in the rotation.

LeBlanc has pitched very well since taking CY's spot in the rotation.  Latos, outside of the scintillating start against San Francisco, has struggled. With Young almost ready to resume his place, the Padres have a tough call to make:  who gets sent back to Portland?

Here's my thought:  it's not as simple as giving Wade LeBlanc a ticket to Oregon.  Based on performance so far this year, Latos might be a better choice.

Let's take the emotion out of it and look at this objectively.

1.  Latos (4 starts): 20 1/3 IP, 14 R (all earned), 24 H, 6 BB, 13K, 5 HR.  WHIP = 1.527, ERA = 6.20.  Granted, half the runs he allowed happened last night.
2.  LeBlanc (2 starts):  11 IP, 1 R (earned), 10 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 0 HR.  WHIP = 1.273, ERA = 0.82.

LeBlanc, despite making two fewer starts and throwing 9 1/3 fewer innings, has only three fewer strikeouts, is allowing fewer baserunners, and has a miniscule ERA.

Since Earned Run Average is an inherently flawed metric, a deeper look is in order.  Here are a little more advanced statistics, ones currently commonly accepted as being good measures of the quality of a pitcher (i.e., they take the defense out of the equation).  The first two take into account Latos' start last night, the last two don't.

K/BB ratio:  Latos 2.16, LeBlanc 2.5.
K/9:  Latos 5.76, LeBlanc 8.18.
FIP:  Latos 5.46, LeBlanc 2.30.
xFIP:  Latos 3.99, LeBlanc 3.42.

You can keep looking at your convenience.  By all the statistical measures I reviewed, however, at this moment in history Wade LeBlanc is pitching better than Mat Latos.  I'm not saying we should give up on Latos, or that 4 years down the road he won't be the best starter on the team - we shouldn't, and he might.  But today - for this team - LeBlanc is currently the better option.

And let's not forget how close the #5 starter competition was in spring training.  Latos beat-out LeBlanc the last week of March, so it's not like Latos' making the team was a slam-dunk.  These guys graded out virtually even, with Latos being just slightly better.

So who do the Padres send down?  They ought to, in my opinion, seriously consider Latos.  Now, LeBlanc's next start is at home against Milwaukee (Thursday night).  If he lays an egg, then perhaps you keep working with Latos and send LeBlanc back down.  But if LeBlanc shuts down the Marlins Brewers, a team that just got finished torturing Latos a very good hitting team, well, that's another point for Wade staying in San Diego.

I really need to hire a proofreader.

(why I started pondering this:  I have Wade LeBlanc on my NL-only Rotisserie League fantasy team, and I was trying to decide if I should keep him or trade him.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two of three ain't bad

Everyone knew the Padres weren't going to finish the season 156-6.  They were going to lose another game in 2010.  I think most of us, however, figured it wouldn't be yesterday, especially after Kyle Blanks doubled in two to give the team a 4-2 lead after 5 1/2 innings.

Scott Rolen's HR made the game close after 6, but after turning the contest over to the bullpen one had to like the Padres' chances.  Going into Sunday, the Padres bullpen was one of only 2 in the NL not to have lost a game (the other?  Pittsburgh.  Go figure), the third lowest ERA (3.02), and the best Batting Average Against (.190).  Looking good.

Unfortunately, Mike Adams couldn't get the game to Heath Bell.  Cincinnati scored 2 in the eighth, and won 5-4.  Bye-bye, 8 game winning streak.

You gotta like where the Padres are now, though.  Form 3-6 to 11-7, and the best record in the NL.  The team is pitching its butt off, and they are getting just enough production offensively (10th in the NL with a .736 OPS).  There is some cause for concern, though:  Padre starters aren't getting deep enough into games.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Yep, that's right - speechless.  No way did I expect the Padres to sweep San Francisco, no way did I expect them to win 7 of 9 on this homestand, no way did I expect them to be in first place by themselves today.

It's nice to be wrong sometimes.  It does leave one with little to say.

The Padres have tonight off and are enroute to Cincinnati.  Your projected matchups:

Friday - Correia vs Johnny Cueto
Saturday - LeBlanc vs Bronson Arroyo
Sunday - Richard vs Homer Bailey

The winning streak will probably end in Cincinnati, but they can definitely take 2 of the three there.

Podcast tonight at 10pm.  You know the drill.  Bring your questions and comments.  See you then!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Clip And Save

During last night's radio broadcast, at least the 2 innings I was able to listen to, Ted Leitner told a story about the early 1980s Padres teams and the standings.  He remembered a season where the Padres were in first place in early May, an unusual event for the franchise that had only been in first if they won on Opening Day. The SD U-T printed the NL West standings inside a dashed box with the annotation "CLIP AND SAVE".

FWIW, I looked at Padre season results from 1976-1986, and I think he was referring to 27 April 1982.  That year the Padres opened 12-4 and were tied for first.  They lost the next night and never got back atop the division.  I assumed that after 1984 being in first place wouldn't have been that novel a thing.

Well, for a franchise that's lost 90+ games 85+* games the last two seasons, it's refreshing to be on top of the division, even if it's only after 14 games.  After winning last night 1-0, that's exactly where the Padres find themselves. (*ed note:  saw a comment at Gaslamp Ball by Zach regarding this post and the 09 Padres.  Zach's right - they lost 87 last year.  My bad.)

I've been thinking about doing game summaries here, similar to what USS Mariner does, but Geoff over at Ducksnorts already does a real good job of it, and he has the added benefit of attending the games.  I, on the other hand, chase small children around the house at night when I'm not standing in the drizzle on a softball diamond.

It didn't rain hard enough to stop the game, but it did rain enough to be annoying.  AND we had a double header last night.  AND I pitched.  Suffice it to say, from the neck down I looked like a drowned rat. It was a good night to wear multiple layers of clothing.

However I will make a couple of points:

1.  One hit?  That's all we got?   During the post game on XX 1090, this little factoid came up:  the Padres had only won one other time when they got a single hit. (July 19, 1975).  They scored their runs on two bases-loaded walks in the sixth inning.  Last night was the first game in franchise history won 1-0 on only one hit.  It's not just a rare event for the Padres, it's a rare event in baseball.  Since 1974 there's been only 9 other games decided 1-0 with the winner having a single hit.  In 7 of those 9 games the single hit was a solo HR.  The other two:
  • 7 Sept 86:  Giants beat Montreal on a hit by pitch, stolen base, wild pitch, and double (the lone hit).  Run scored in the top of the first.
  • 27 April 02:  Seattle beats the Yankees on a walk, wild pitch, and single (the lone hit).
2.  That means last night was the first third first game in 35 years where the lone hit didn't drive in the run. Pretty cool. (I was right the first time.)

3.  How many times can you say the key play of the game involved the first baseman falling into the camera well?  That's just ridiculous.  Consider that if Aubrey Huff could have somehow kept his balance Headley wouldn't have been able to advance.  They might still be playing.

4.  Jonathan Sanchez is a beast.  You probably already knew that, seeing as he no-hit the Padres last year. He has also posted back-to-back 10 strikeout games.  First time in his career he's done that.  Thirty-four pitchers have also done this (since 2006).  Only 7 of them had a third game of 10+ strikeouts, and it's a who's who of pitching studs the last 5 years (Peavy, Sabathia, Lester, Johan Santana, Verlander, Harden, Lackey).

Padres go for the sweep this afternoon.  Clip and Save.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Five Hundred

If you were panicking before Friday, you're probably exultant today.  Padres sweep those pesky Diamondbacks, right the ship at .500, and are tied for second place in the NL West (two behind San Francisco).

We ought not to get too euphoric, however.  The Padres received significant help from a band of arsonists known as the Diamondback bullpen corps.  To wit:
  • Friday:  Starter Edwin Jackson throws six shutout.  Heilman, Howry, and Gutierrez combine to allow 6 runs in 2 2/3, with Gutierrez being tagged for 4.
  • Saturday:  Kevin Correia was nails, and the Padres led by 2 after six.  Even with that, Norberto surrendered 3 more runs in 2/3 of an inning of work.
  • Sunday:  Padres trail 2-0 entering the seventh.  Friday night Match Light brothers Heilman and Gutierrez combine to allow 5 runs in the inning and lose the game.
Against the Diamondback starters the Padres scored 2 runs in 17 innings.  Against the bullpen?  14 runs in 6 2/3.  Most teams will not have the soft bullpen Arizona currently sports.  The team needs to create more runs early in games, so they can get to the Gregerson/Adams/Bell end and not rely on late inning heroics.

It is comforting, though, to know they have the ability to come back late if they need to.

Some other thoughts:

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Still Not Time To Panic

I talked to this a little bit on the Podcast last night, but even though the Padres are currently 3-6 this is not the time to panic.  Remember the following:
  • Padres lost 2 of 3 in Arizona.  The Padres ALWAYS lose 2 of 3 in Arizona.
  • Padres lost 2 of 3 in Colorado.  The Padres faced Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge De La Rosa in that series, Colorado's two best pitchers.
  • Padres lost 2 of 3 to Atlanta.  They faced Tommy Henson and Tim Hudson, Atlanta's two best pitchers.
So now is not the time to pull the plug.  There are some things that should concern us as fans, though.
  • Of the twelve total runs Atlanta scored on Wednesday and Thursday, 10 of them scored with two outs.  That's a problem.
  • The Padres scored two of their three runs after two away, so that's something good.  However San Diego left 10 on base Wednesday (6 in scoring position), 9 yesterday (5 in scoring position).  That's also a problem.  The 'clutch hit-itis' extends throughout the lineup, as Blanks, Headley, J. Hairston, T Gwynn, and Eckstein have all left a guy or guys in scoring position.
  • Additionally, the Padres have loaded the bases three times in the last 2 games, twice Thursday alone.  They did not score a run in any of those situations.
I know there's not been (to date) a credible study on clutch hitting as a measurable skill - hitting with the bases loaded, statistically, and getting a hit is no different from hitting with the bases empty.  I wonder, though, if the mental stress of trying not to make an out weighs on these hitters and they start to press, expand the strike zone, etcetera.

I would consider these areas items to address by the coaching staff, as opposed to discovered weaknesses in the team.

The Padres face Arizona this weekend, and will throw Garland/Correia/ plus one against the back of the Diamondback rotation.  This weekend the team should win 2 of 3.  If they don't, well, then we can raise the concern level from 'its early' to 'anxious'.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Call To Action

Padres lost last night 6-1 to Atlanta.  There's a reason Tommy Hanson's considered one of the elite young pitchers in the league.  Secretly all of us kind of expected the Padre offense to be flat yesterday after the 17-run explosion on Monday.

But that's not what this post is about.

My wife, someone not easily dissuaded from pursuing things she wants, contacted the Padres Store and spoke with customer service regarding merchandise for women carrying the new military logo.  If you haven't seen the logo, here it is:

The women she spoke with was very nice, but told her the Padres are phasing in items carrying the new logo, and it will be a long time, if EVER, before they start carrying women's clothing with that design.

This kind of blows my mind. In a military town, with female service members, why would the Padres elect to follow that course? Not to mention the thousands of military spouses in the greater San Diego area, and Padres fans stationed throughout the world, who might find this apparel cool enough to wear.

I'm throwing this out to you. My wife was the first person to call and ask about women's clothing with the military logo. If you or someone you know is or would be interested in buying women's apparel with this design, please call Corin at the Padres store at (619) 795-5921 to make the request. Should enough people call in to ask about this, the Padres may change their marketing plan to support and start carrying these items.

I want to emphatically state I am not trying to start a 'Padres discriminate against women' campaign with this request for assistance.  I think they've made a marketing mistake only.  They won't change their plans unless we as fans and consumers voice concerns and interest.

Thank you.

Podcast tonight at 10pm.  You know the drill.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Odds and Ends from the Opener

I did a post yesterday on the game highlights from the opener.  This post contains some of my observations from the game that aren't necessarily tied to the game action.  I thought you, gentle reader, might enjoy them.

Parking - we left for the ballpark at 1330, and I immediately realized all my regular parking hid-e-holes would be either (a) filled with downtown workers, or (b) still on the "2-hour parking only" plan.  So we went in with only hope in our hearts.  I ended up on K street at the $20 lot right next to the main Padre lot.  Why would I pay $20 to park?  Because all I had on me were $20s (unlike normal when all I carry are hundreds), and if you park in a $15 lot without change you end up putting $20 in the machine anyway.

The lot we picked quickly devolved into a clusterf**k, because there were only a fixed number of spots open, with the rest marked RESERVED.  Except the parking lot gurus left two entrances open, for only one attendant to try and control, so you had people entering from both directions and parking in open spots regardless of how they were marked.  After some terse negotiations, the Head Parking Lot Guy for that particular little lot showed up, and closed the lot to new folks, while telling those of us in the lot already to park wherever we could find an open spot.  Kudos to the Head Parking Guy for defusing what could have become an explosive situation.  And, I got a great spot less than 5 min from the stadium.

Lanyards - Season Tix holders (which we are this year, first time since 2001) get a plastic ticket holder and lanyard complimentary from the Padres.  Cool, eh?  Except my wife went to put hers on and the lanyard immediately broke.  Which began "The Saga To Find A New Lanyard":
  • To the Padres Rewards window - the usher there sends us to the Guest Services booth.
  • Guest Services - has no lanyards, they send us back to the Padres Rewards window.
  • Padres Rewards - they have no lanyards, they send us to the Padre Ticket Office.
  • Padres Ticket Office - they have no Season Ticket Holder lanyards, tell us to go to the ticket office OUTSIDE THE STADIUM
So no replacement lanyard yet.  We'll try again at our next game.

Padres Store - We went looking for clothing sporting the new Military logo.  They have some for sale in the stadium stores but all men's styles and sizes.  Of course my wife wants a women's style shirt with the logo. The Padres apparently didn't believe women would want this sort of thing, because they don't carry any women's clothing with the military logo on them in the main (or satellite) Padres store in the stadium.  Weird.

Game Notes
- At what point can I make fun of people wearing concert t-shirts for bands there's no way they saw live?  An attractive blonde in our section was sporting a 'Led Zeppelin' T-shirt.  She was 21 (based on the beers she carried), but even if she was 31 she'd have been a year old when the band broke up, she wasn't attending concerts as a 1-year old.  Is there a new fashion trend to wear concert tees I'm not aware of?

 - I recommend the Baja Bistro.  Excellent Baja Nachos, and the Carne Asada burrito wasn't bad either.  Also, they have Belgian White Ale on tap, which I HIGHLY recommend.

- One Marine in the pre-game ceremonial formation out in the outfield.  One.  And he made the rest look bad.  We make light of the Marines in the Navy, but when it comes to dress uniforms, they put us to shame.  Semper Fi, Mac.

- Padres handed out little magazines at the gate, which included a scorecard.  A nice touch.  The scorecard is a bit on the tiny side, in that it has enough room to record the game action, but not enough to take detailed notes.  Then again, what do you want for free?

- The Opening Day T-shirts are nice.  Thanks.

- If the whole stadium wins 2 free tacos from Jack in the Box, coupons will be handed out at the exits (vice using your ticket stub).  Those coupons don't start showing up until the 8th inning.  So, if you're watching a blowout, and gotta have a free taco, you're going to have to wait until the 8th.

- The Second Class Sonar Tech who sang 'God Bless America' was awesome.  I think his name was Best.  Also, the National Anthem was well done too - I liked the acoustic guitar accompaniment.

Richard v Hanson today.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Well That Was Fun

Did I mention I was going to Opening Day?  I'm sure I did.  And what an opener it was.  You don't see a team score 10 runs in an inning very often, especially on Opening Day.

Well most people don't.  As Michael Weston likes to say, "I am not most people."  I've seen this before - thirteen years ago.  On April 1, 1997, the Padres hung an 11-spot on Pete Harnisch and the Mets (sixth inning).  I believe it is the most runs San Diego has ever scored on Opening Day in one inning.  And yes, it is the only other Opening Day I've ever been to.  I'm sure I have a ticket stub lying around the house somewhere.

I should tell the Padres to make sure I attend the home opener every 13 years.  It's a guarantee they'll score at least 10 runs in the game, and probably all in the same inning.

Some thoughts about yesterday's game:

1.  It rained during the Padre introductions.  I've never been to a Padre game where it actually rained.  Thankfully the rain only lasted until the national anthem was sung, then the sun came out and remained out (off and on) the rest of the day.

2.  I thought Kevin Correia pitched from behind a lot yesterday.  The stats bear it out to a point:  of the 25 hitters he faced, he started 12 with a ball, 11 with a strike, and 2 hit the first pitch.  That's not terrible, but not great.  After the Padres exploded for 10 runs in the fourth, he didn't improve:  Five first pitch balls, five first pitch strikes.  With a 10-run lead, wouldn't you pound the strike zone?  Seemed curious.

In fairness, "Big Ed" Mujica wasn't much better (2 1-0 counts, 3 0-1 counts).  Adam Russell, however, pounded the strike zone (1 1-0, 5 0-1 counts).

3.  Everth Cabrera laid down a bunt in the third inning, and almost beat it out. If he had pushed it a little further up the line he would have.

4.  The fourth inning was a little bit luck, and a little bit of great hitting:
  • Chase Headley reaches on a ball just out of Nate McLouth's reach in center.  McLouth then rolls over the ball, and Headley hustles into second.
  • Will Venable singles to center.  I thought they should have sent Headley, but Glenn Hoffman held him up. A smattering of boos when that happened, but in the end it really didn't matter.
  • Nick Hundley and Tony Gwynn Jr walk, forcing in a run.
  • The first of 3 key at bats in the inning:  Correia fouls off two balls, then he's late on a fastball...but manages to send it down the RF line for a single and 2 RBI.  Bad luck for Jair Jurrjens.
  • Second of 3 key at bats.  Atlanta brings the infield in, and Cabrera hits a ground ball to the left of second baseman Martin Prado.  Prado makes the play, then throws home; Gwynn beats the tag at the plate.  It was a slowly hit chopper, and I was surprised Prado tried to throw home.  He had a play at first on Cabrera (he had no play at second on Correia based on defensive positioning).
  • After Jurrjens retires David Eckstein on a fly to right, Adrian Gonzalez tattoos this next pitch to LC for a ground rule.  That ended up being Jurrjens' last pitch of the day.
  • The third key at bat.  Jo-Jo Reyes comes in to face Kyle Blanks.  Blanks works a 11-pitch at bat and then lines a double into the LF corner.  Awesome.
  • Venable completes the scoring with his 3-R HR to RC.  That ball was crushed.  I thought it was out when he hit it, if it had enough height to clear the wall.  It did, barely.
5.  Point against the new 3:35 start times - in the sixth inning Venable lost Prado's lazy fly ball in the sun (or at least, in the sky).  The ball was emminently catchable.  Correia could have retired the side in order, but instead, after striking out Chipper Jones looking he gave up single/single/walk/walk and left the game.  Maybe it was just yesterday's cloud-flecked sky that caused Venable to lose track of the ball, but it's too bad.  Thankfully the game was well in hand when those 2 runs scored.

6.  Scott Hairston's single in the seventh was a direct result of Brave pitcher Reyes falling asleep on the mound.  If Reyes gets over to cover first, Hairston's out.

42, 843 attended.  All in all a fun day.  I'll have some other notes tomorrow on non-game related items.

Padres are off today.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Check This Out

So the Padres lost 4-2 today.  Ubaldo pitched well, Garland battled, the Padres tried to come back and fell short.  Ho hum.

Since I don't have much to say about the game, I will instead share this REALLY COOL screen grab from ESPN's Gameday coverage of yesterday's game:

Now when you look carefully, you'll notice it says:
  • Strike One (Foul)
  • Strike Two (Foul)
  • Ball 1
  • Strike 3 (looking)
  • In Play (Hariston Jr Singles to Center)
Congratulations to Jerry Hairston Jr for being the first ML hitter in recorded history to strike out looking, yet get two more pitches in the same at bat and reach base safely on a single to CF!

Actually sometimes Gameday hiccups a little bit.  This is one of the better hiccups I've seen.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bullpen Stiffens, Padres Win

In only the fifth game of the season, it's a bit early to call a game 'must-win'.  That said, you can bet the Padres didn't want to go into Sunday's game with a 1-4 record, especially with Ubaldo Jimenez on the mound.  Happily they won't.

Matt Latos was bitten by the HR bug, which has plagued the staff early on this season, and left the game in a 4-4 tie after six.  Eight stout innings by the bullpen held off the Rockies long enough for San Diego to figure out how to push a run across, and the Padres outlasted Colorado 5-4 in 14 innings.  Eight innings of 2-hit ball by the relief corps.  In fact, after Hawpe's HR tied the game at 4 in the sixth, the Rockies didn't get a hit until the 12th.  Tremendous effort by the bullpen.

It's late, and in a game dominated by the bullpen there's not much to add.  Well maybe one thing.  San Diego continues to do dumb things on the bases.  Tonight Gwynn got picked off second in the first inning (and he was out, good call).  Headley got cut down trying to stretch a single to a double in the second.  But neither of those blunders hold a candle to Nick Hundley getting PICKED OFF FIRST with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth.  Nick was trying to steal second.  Nick.  The catcher.  In an inning where the Padres had already scored three runs, where Hammel had walked two, hit a batter, and was clearly on the ropes, they decided to put Hundley in motion on a 3-1 count.  Of course Cabrera doubled right after that out was recorded.  Of course he did.

Hey Bud Black:  All those cool points you earned by playing hit and run on an 0-2 count Friday night?  You lost them with that call Saturday.

The Padres came into spring training preaching aggressiveness on the bases, and they played that way throughout March.  But since the regular season started, they've been over-aggressive in my opinion.  They ran themselves out of the eighth inning Friday, and they cost themselves a run (which led to 5 innings of extra baseball) Saturday.

Rubber game today.  Jon Garland looks to rebound from his poor opening day start.  Ubaldo Jimenez looks to keep rolling along as one of the unsung aces in the National League.

Programming note:  I will be at the Home Opener Monday.  If you will be too, email me at  I'd be happy to meet anyone willing to admit reading this here blog.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Whoop Dee Doo

I didn't have a lot of faith in Jorge De La Rosa.  Yeah, he had a fantastic end of the season in 2009; after dropping his first 6 decisions, he finished winning 16 of his next 19.  He was just above average as a pitcher (ERA+ of 105), and had a tremendous K/9 rate (9.4).

We've seen this sort of thing before, at least with the 16-3 record after 5 June.  1984:  Rick Sutcliffe won 16 of 17 after being traded to the Cubs.  1985:  John Tudor won 20 of 21 after June 3 for the Cardinals.  It was a one-time deal for them, so I naturally assumed 2009 was a one-time aberration for De La Rosa. 

It might still be.  It wasn't yesterday.  De La Rosa made the Padres look silly (7IP, 1 ER, 9K), as the Rockies won their home opener 7-0.

I don't want to belabor the point - you've probably read all about it elsewhere - but I wanted to point out a couple of things.

Clayton Richard pitched well.  He gave up 2 runs on a one out single by Ian Stewart in the third.  Richard broke Stewart's bat on the pitch, and the ball still landed in the outfield.  What can you do?  The other was a solid single to Todd Helton in the fifth.  Helton isn't the hitter he was 10 years ago, but he's still very dangerous, and his .427 career OBP is the best in the majors right now.

Everth Cabrera.  He saved a run in the third on Dexter Fowler's hit up the middle.  By getting to it, he was able to hold Carlos Gonzalez at third.  Helton then grounded out to first and ended the threat.  It's also been a long time since I saw someone steal a base so cleanly he was on the base before the throw arrived, as Cabrera did in the eighth.  Too bad he couldn't stop his momentum and got himself tagged out.  Tulowitzki did what all middle infielders are taught to do:  he kept the ball on the baserunner until the umpire made a call.  Cabrera kept going, Tulo kept tagging, and the umpire got the call right.

Hit and run on 0-2?  The Padres talked all spring about being aggressive.  With Kyle Blanks on at first and two out, Manager Bud Black started Blanks while Headley faced an 0-2 count.  This is completely against conventional widsom.
  • You don't start a runner who is slow,
  • You don't start a runner with two out, because if he's thrown out that ends the inning (unless its a full count)
  • You don't start a runner 0-2.  2-0, 2-1?  Sure.  But not 0-2.
Hitting a baseball is tough enough.  Making contact when down in the count 0-2, when the pitcher holds all the aces and you're just trying to be defensive, is REALLY tough.  Did it work?  Of course it worked.  Headley singled through the hole vacated by Rockie second baseman Clint Barmes, Blanks went to third.  Too bad S. Hairston stuck out swinging to end the inning.

This is a fine example of why Bud Black is the manager and I'm not.  I sure wouldn't have the cojones to put that play on in that situation of a scoreless game.  Well done, Mr. Black. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Padres Lose 2 of 3 in Arizona. Also, the Sun Continues to Set In the West

I've just finished watching the Padres lose 5-3 to Arizona, meaning they start the season dropping two of their first three.  This is not unusual; the Padres have dropped 2 of every 3 in Arizona since they started playing National League baseball in Phoenix in 1993.  It would have been more unusual if they had won tonight's game to WIN the series.  They've only won 2 of their last 10 series in Arizona, going back to the start of the 2007 season.  Hence the 'sun sets in the West' title.

Out of morbid curiosity I looked at Padre futility on the road since 1993.  Here is their winning percentage against the NL, on the road, in that span:
Pittsburgh - .605
Florida - .507
Milwaukee, Mets - .500
Cincinnati - .485
Los Angeles - .478
Cubs, Philadelphia - .472
Colorado - .455
Houston - .452
San Fran - .446
Washington/Montreal - .406
Arizona - .330
Atlanta - .313
St Louis - .265

The Diamondbacks have owned them in the desert.  I'm sure Arizona reacted with high fives and smiles upon seeing the 2010 schedule, much like the Padres probably groaned.

The sad thing is San Diego could easily have won this series.  Opening Day?  No chance, Haren was dealing.  Tuesday night?  C.Y. returned the favor.  Tonight?  They jumped out to a 3-1 lead but couldn't hold it.  Last year Kevin Correia gave up 2 HR total in March/April. He gave up 3 tonight (Dick Enberg's somewhat perplexing call on the first one notwithstanding.  I think he believed Hairston had a play on that ball.)  Thirty-three starts, 17 HR in 2009.  One start, 3 HR.  He's on pace to give up 99 HR, and that'd be some sort of Padre record.

Also he makes me look pretty silly for suggesting he should have gotten the Home Opener next Monday.  Thanks Kevin.  I don't need any help to look silly, dude.  I'm sure Correia will straighten things out for his next start against Atlanta.

In the meantime, San Diego has tomorrow off and travels to Denver for 3.  They'll miss Aaron Cook and Randy Wolf, but get Ubaldo and Jorge De La Rosa.

Don't fret about no baseball Thursday - there's always the Padres Trail Podcast to scratch that baseball itch.  10pm at the usual place.  It's just me to lull you into a false sense of security, and we've extended the show to a full hour (although it may not run that long), so feel free to call or chat with me.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Podcast Recap

Spent an hour talking to Steve Adler of Friarhood, Peter Friberg of Padres RunDown, and Web SoulSurfer of websoulsurfer last night on the Podcast.  We also had Mike from Avenging Jack Murphy, and for a time RJ's Fro in the chatroom during the discussion.  That's a lot of Padres expertise in one chat, and it generated a high level of discussion, references to Joe Randa aside.

Some of the highlights:

- No issues with Jon Garland/Chris Young making the opening day starts (on the road and at home, respectively).  Who the leader of this staff will be needs to be sorted out amongst the guys in the rotation; it may not be Young by default based on seniority.

- Wade LeBlanc will definitely be up this season, if for no other reason than attrition during the 162-game season.

- Lots of discussion on potential trades should the Padres fall out of the race.  Heath Bell, Chris Young, Gonzo moving all covered.  Listening to the podcast is worth it just for that part.

- The Padres are pretty deep at second base, according to Pete.  I was not aware of this.  Even if Antonelli doesn't carry his spring training success into the AAA schedule, the Padres have some up and comers in their farm system.

- All agreed Catcher is still an organizational concern, but aren't worried about the offensive production from that position as much as how they call a game, shut down the opposition's running game, and so on.  Lots of love for Hundley (and some for Dusty Ryan), not so much for Torrealba.

A great way to conclude the spring training season and get ready for Opening Day on Monday at Arizona.  Besides, the Padres beat Anaheim in Anaheim while the podcast was in progress - doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NL West Predictions and Tonight's Podcast

I've made some fearless predictions for how the NL West will play out, over at Stan Musial's Stance.  Please go here to read the full story, but here's how I project the final standings:

1.  Colorado
2.  Padres
3.  Los Angeles
4.  San Francisco
5.  Arizona

On to bigger news.  Tonight on the Podcast we'll be talking about the Padre roster, and projections for how they'll finish in 2010.  The show will be graced, and significantly improved, with the contributions of Websoulsurfer, Steve from Friarhood, and Peter from Padres RunDown.  You can find the show and chat room here.  This promises to be a great night of amateur radio, and I hope you will find your way there.