Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's STILL not time to panic

Sometimes I wonder if anyone reads this blog.  Since no one hazarded a guess on my quiz from Friday, apparently the answer is 'no'.  Bummer.  Either I'll put out the answer after I get a guess, or I'll discuss it on Thursday.

But, since I'm quite clearly writing this blog purely for my own amusement, I can say pretty much whatever I want, right?

Well at least within accepted standards of good taste and decorum.  Except for the quiz post from last week.

Anywho, the Padres are in a bit of a funk right now, aren't they?  Five runs scored in 4 games.  For the first time this season, every member of the rotation has lost a game in succession (and yes, I realize Latos got a no decision on Friday).  If you're a #padres twitter follower, not only did you see a lot of bile and anxiety from Padres fans post-game last night, but a lot of yukking from those small pathetic mortals who call the Giants and Rockies their team of choice.

Like I did earlier this month, I say again (with emphasis this time because I love you):  IT'S NOT TIME TO PANIC.  STILL.

Note that even with a 5-game losing streak in progress, the Padres still sit 6 games ahead of San Francisco on the loss side.  San Diego will play at least .500 ball the rest of the way, meaning the Giants will have to go 22-8.  You know, .733 ball?  Now they have played that well for a stretch this season, but that was before Jonathan Sanchez forgot how to get people out in successive games, and before Tim Lincecum forgot how to get people out at all.  Not worried.

Colorado has to be better - 23-7 (.766 ball) - to catch up.  They haven't played that well all year.  LA?  24-6 (.750 ball).  They haven't played that well all year.  AZ is already out.

Now, I'm not saying this is not a difficult stretch for the Padres.  As I pointed out on Baseball Digest (you like the shot of Bud Black's ear?  I can't figure out the photo settings over there.  Yeah I suck) this is a critical week.  In many ways, the 9 games starting with Philadelphia last Friday through Sunday's final game with Colorado are more difficult than the 17 road games in 21 days.  Philadelphia is now 18-4 all time in Petco.  Arizona has won 2 of every 3 games played against the Padres in Phoenix.  Colorado has won 8 of 12 meetings with the 2010 Padres.  There is cause for concern.  There's just no reason to panic yet.

So who will snap the Padres out of the funk?  Here's the records for our starters following a loss:
  1. Chris Young (1-0).  He's probably not going to snap the funk.
  2. Bullpen (10-2).  I didn't track who started these 12 games, but they pitched well enough to keep the game close.
  3. Mat Latos (7-2).  The best starter on the staff for a reason.
  4. Clayton Richard (5-3).  Not to shabby.
  5. Jon Garland (6-4).  Winning 60% of the games started following a loss?  I'll take it.
  6. Kevin Correia (3-3).  Considering how bad he was in May/June, this is a pleasant surprise.
  7. Wade LeBlanc (1-6).  Another data point highlighting LeBlanc's struggles.
Correia goes tonight.  He won't pitch as badly as he did last Thursday, and I'll bet real money Kennedy won't throw a one-hitter for 7.  HERE ENDETH THE LOSING STREAK.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Remaining Latos starts, and a fun Quiz

Had a great podcast Thursday night.  Thanks to all those folks filling the chat room with commentary.  I had a caller - first one I've had in over a month (ballgirl hasn't called in a while, although she did chat us up last night).  Unfortunately for me, the caller broke into Spanish, and I'm probably the only guy in South Bay that doesn't understand Spanish.  Not sure what to do, I ended up cutting his mike.  Sorry dude.  Maybe I should have asked him to switch to English first.

At any rate, the whole show is worth a listen.

I did want to elaborate, or at least mention, one of the discussion points that came up, and that's the number of starts Mat Latos has left this season.  As you no doubt are aware, Latos started the season with a 150 inning ceiling on his arm.  As the year progressed, and Latos matured into the best starting pitcher on the club, that ceiling was raised to 150-180 innings.  After leaving the game tonight, he's thrown 149 2/3, and his start tonight was after he was pushed off his normal start date of Tuesday night.

So what's the season got left for him? (As an aside, Mark Grant/Mark Neely discussed this during the game.  Grant thinks Latos has 7 starts left)

  • 1 Sept @ Arizona.  Since Garland is behind him in the rotation, I could definitely see Bud Black sending Garland on short rest and skipping Latos, since 2 Sept is an off-day.  No Start
  • 6 Sept vs LA.  Will be 10 days between starts.  He might start earlier in the week against Colorado.  Start
  • 11 Sept vs SF.  Latos has owned the Giants this season.  Start
  • 16 Sept at STL.  Here we get into the 'it might depend on what the standings are' final two weeks.  If the Padres maintain their current advantage over San Francisco, the magic number for this game would be 9.  I'm thinking the Padres probably start him.  Start
  • 21 Sept at LA.  This is the day after an off-day, so a good date to skip Latos if desired.  And it's probably desired.  No Start
  • 26 Sept vs CIN.  Probably his last start of the regular season.  If all stays as is right now, this will be the game the Padres clinch the division.  Start
  • 1 Oct at SF.  Unless they need to win this game in order to fight off the Giants, there's no way Latos pitches.  No Start
So I can see Latos making 4 more starts this season.  There has been talk about spot starts in September, for Stauffer or perhaps Luebke, which makes this plan all the more probable.  6 innings in 4 starts would be 24 innings, and put Latos at 173 innings headed into the post-season.

I'm also willing to bet Latos will start one game in each round if the Padres get all the way to the World Series.  So figure he'll top out at about 200 innings this season.  I just can't see SD shutting him down if they are making a deep run into October.

Finally for your weekend viewing pleasure, after the jump we have a riddle.  Using the pictures (one NSFW) as your only hints, what is the line score at this point in the game.  Leave your guess in the comments.  Answer Monday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beating the teams you should beat

One of the marks of a good team is how it fares against sub-standard competition.  Of course, sub-standard is a relative term; all ML teams consist of major league talent, the elite of the baseball players available.  Some teams have less success than others.  Heck somebody has got to lose these games, right?

As the Padres are a very good team, how have they done against the teams they're supposed to beat?  For the purposes of this discussion, teams they're supposed to beat are .500 or worse as of today.

  • Arizona - 10-4 (including 8-0 at home)
  • Baltimore - 2-1
  • Cubs - 4-0
  • Houston - 5-2
  • Milwaukee - 4-3
  • Mets - 3-3
  • Pittsburgh - 6-0
  • Seattle - 4-2
  • Washington - 3-3
That's (does higher math) 41-18 against the second division.  Good news.

But it does mean they're 35-31 against the good teams.  And that's fine, too; the good teams are good for a reason.

Here's an interesting look at the schedule.  Our Padres have but 8 games left against sub-.500 teams (4 with Arizona, 4 with the Cubs).  The remaining 28 games are against top-tier competition (the Rockies, Cardinals, Dodgers, Phillies, Giants, Reds of the world).  On the one hand they may play .500 ball the rest of the way.

On the other hand, they will be recently battle tested once the playoffs roll around.  That can't help but be a good thing.

Podcast tonight at 2200, following the Burn Notice Season Finale.  See you then.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Now IS the time to exult

My latest Baseball Digest post is up for your reading pleasure.  As in previous weeks, it's focused on looking at this week's worth of home games against Arizona and Philadelphia.  This post is more pointed at what just happened.

I think all of us were a little nervous going into August, and it wasn't just because the Giants were surging.  The schedulers had set the Padres up to spend the first three weeks of August on an extended road trip.  The three home games with Pittsburgh were nice, but essentially they were just another city to stop in for a series before moving on.  With 17 road games in 21 days, although publically all of us thought 'these are the 2010 Padres, they'll find a way', privately many of us thought 'I wouldn't be surprised to arrive on 24 August in second place, looking up at San Francisco'.  And when they started this stretch off with a 3-4 trip to Arizona (which as we talked about back on 9 August wasn't that bad), some folks started jumping off the bandwagon.

Then the Padres got hot.  White Hot.  Like the SUN!

Sweep of the Pirates.  Winning 2 of three tense games in Frisco (which would have been a sweep if they could have gotten a hit with RISP on 8/14).  First 4-game sweep ever in Chicago.  Then a minor let down in Milwaukee, winning only on Sunday.  But you put it all together, and over this 21 day run the club went 13-7.  That's only .650 ball, folks.  This just in:  The 2010 Padres are GOOD.

Never in my wierdest dreams did I think the Padres would leave San Diego with a 2.5 game lead, and return with a 5.5 game bulge (SF pounded Cincinnati last night to cut a 1/2 game off the deficit).

Now we will play 16 of 19 in Petco.  Starting off this extended homestand is 3 against a team we've owned at home this season, and 3 against a team that's won 15 of the 19 games they've played downtown.

If you haven't got pennant fever, hang out at my house for a while - it's contagious, and you'll be infected before long.  Or you might get Bronchitis.  There are no guarantees in life, people.

Just so this post has some statistical content, here's an update on the offensive performance of our two trade deadline acquisitions:

Miguel Tejada - 21 games, 96 PA, .276/.344/.391, 1 HR.  Tejada has improved his hitting across the board since being acquired July 29th.  He still isn't showing much HR power, but he has injected some life into the offense.

Ryan Ludwick - 21 games, 88 PA, .237/.318/.408, 3 HR.  Ludwick had a great home series against Pittsburgh, but other than that he's struggled.  Opposing pitchers seem to have found two weaknesses in his game at the plate - sliders off the corner away, and high fastballs.  Ludwick, if the Milwaukee series is any indication, can't lay off either.  Everybody struggles from time to time at the plate, but Ludwick will start facing 'he can't hit without Albert Pujols behind him' questions more frequently until he snaps out of his current funk.

Padres have 39 games left.  Going 20-19 the rest of the way wins them 94 games.  San Francisco would have to go 24-12 to catch them.  Colorado needs to finish 30-8, LA 31-6, and AZ can't catch them even if they win all their remaining games.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Now is not the time to Panic

There's been some talk about how the Padres are slumping right now, at least over their last 10 games (4-6).  Granted, their record would make one think that.  But let's look at this objectively.
  • Padres came off an emotional series against the Dodgers and dropped 2 of 3 to Florida.  Florida historically has succeeded in Petco (the Marlins had won 9 of their last 12 games in San Diego entering the series), and threw three of their best pitchers.  Padres managed to beat their ace (Josh Johnson) but lost the other two.
  • Padres then head to LA to play those Dodgers again.  Despite being shut out for 17+ innings they come away with a split.
  • Padres finish off the road trip in Arizona, where they've lost 2 of every 3 games they've played.  Again they lose 2 of 3.
Is the Padre offense in a minor funk?  Yes, but no more so then they've endured all season.  They did score 10 runs in two different games on the recent road trip.  Have their trade deadline acquisitions not had much of an impact yet?  Yes, that's true; Ludwick and Tejada are a combined 13 for 65 (.200) with one HR between them (Tejada); Ludwick didn't get his first extra base hit as a Padre until Saturday.  But not a cause to panic yet.

Perhaps their recent 4-6 record is due to facing some tough pitching and playing in two parks where they have historically struggled (San Diego is 27-34 since 2004 in LA, 159-194 all-time).  They still have the best record in the NL, and they still enjoy a 2 game lead on the Giants.

So don't panic.

Now if the Padres lose this series to Pittsburgh...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Raging Arizona

When the team is struggling, the last place they want to go is the one place they always struggle.  So here we go again in Arizona.  In case you weren't aware, San Diego has lost two of every 3 games they have played in the Desert.  Losing 2-1 last night didn't surprise me at all, even though Jon Garland again threw well, and even though Arizona sent a rookie to the hill.

With Richard taking the hill against Rodrigo Lopez, and Latos tomorrow against Joe Saunders, the pitching match-ups still favor the Padres.  They can win this series.  In a year where they've defied all conventional wisdom, winning a series in Arizona would be par for the course.

Just because it's Saturday, and this is a quick-hitter, how have our two trade deadline acquisitions fared so far (WARNING:  SMALL SAMPLE SIZE)

Tejada:  8 games, 34 PA, 6 for 32, 2B, HR, 2 SO, .188/.235/.313 (with Baltimore:  .269/.308/.362).  Struggling a bit.  It seems that every time I watch Tejada hit he gets jammed.  He must lead the world in pop-ups.

Ludwick:  6 games, 22 PA, 4 for 19, 0 XBH, 5 SO, .211/.318/.211 (with St Louis:  .281/.343/.418).  Also struggling a bit.  Ludwick spent most of this season hitting in front of Albert Pujols.  Did that inflate his numbers?  I sure hope not.

May be a quiet rest of the weekend from here - reunions and adult baseball are on the docket.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sometimes you get the bear...

...and sometimes the bear gets you.  When the Padres smacked LA around the Ravine 10-5 on Monday I briefly entertained thoughts of a sweep.  How great would that have been?  Dodgers effectively buried for 2010.  Things didn't work out that way, and we go into tonight's game hoping for a split of the four game series.

Let's put this in perspective.  LA and SD have played 6 games over the last week and are 3-3.  The Dodgers are no closer to first place today than they were last Wednesday (7 back). Before these 7-games-in-10-days started, I thought it realistic that San Diego could win four of the seven games (2 of 3 at home, split in LA).  They can still do that.

Also, it's tough to beat a team when:
  • You don't score a run for 17 consecutive innings (still active), and
  • You don't get a hit for 14 1/3 innings (from Tejada's first inning HR Tuesday to Ludwick's single in the sixth last night).
I don't know what it is about Dodger pitching that causes Padre bats to turn into wet noodles, but they held the Friars scoreless for 31 innings earlier this season and here we go again.

San Diego has a tough task today, seeing as Chad Billingsley hasn't allowed a run to San Diego over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched.  In contrast, Kevin Correia has allowed 4 ER in both his 2010 starts against the Dodgers.

Podcast tonight at 10pm Pacific.  Padres leave LA and head to that other house of horrors next (Arizona).