This will be my last entry for Dean’s Baseball Blog. I’ve moved my blog to WordPress and have linked it to my website.
The new blog is called “Dean’s P.O.V.”
Thanks to MLB for allowing me to post my views and opinions on their site!
Never during this season have the Padres appeared to be more broken than over the past three days in Arizona. After having been swept by the division leading D’Backs, it’s apparent that the ballclub needs to do a lot of house cleaning before the start of the 2009 campaign.
But where do you start? When you look at the individual performances by some of the players, you think, “Hey, that guy’s doing okay…maybe they should keep him around next year.” And that’ll more than likely be the case with many of the players. However, it takes a “team” to win a championship, and I don’t believe the Padres have had a real “team” since 1998. Oh sure, they had most of the elements that make up a team in 2005, 2006, and 2007, but us Padre fans remember how those seasons ended.
So, what are they going to do after this nightmare of a season is over? A lot of disgruntled fans believe the answer lies in spending more money on free agents. Well, how’s that working out for the Yankees this year? The only thing the Padres can do is what every MLB club does at the end of each campaign–they evaluate their players, determine their strengths and weaknesses, and then attempt to adjust their rosters accordingly prior to spring training.
Being that the Padres have the second worst record in the NL, it’s pretty obvious that their weaknesses far outweigh their strengths. They could start with the pitching staff. Outside of Jake Peavy and Chris Young, there isn’t another reliable starter on that staff. And I worry about Young. Just look at the numbers, folks. I believe they have a fairly good nucleus for a bullpen, providing that they bring Hoffman, Bell, Hensley, Adams, and Hampson back next year. The rest of them can go. I still believe that Cha Seung Baek would be an asset if used in middle relief and as a spot starter.
Surprisingly, the Padres’ home run production has been decent, especially since the All-Star break. However, too many of those homers have come with the bases empty. What the club lacks is speed, clutch hitting, and bench strength. Those issues MUST be addressed prior to the 2009 season. It also wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time on fundamentals during spring training.
One of the many decisions the Padres will have to make in the off-season concerns Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley, who’s been playing out of position in left field. Headley’s done a respectable job in left, but he’s a natural third baseman and would probably be more comfortable there. Keeping in mind that this is only his second year in the big leagues, Kouz has been solid at third and has decent numbers at the plate. However, I believe the Pads need stronger defense and speed in the left field. And, while one of them may have to go, it should be noted that Kouz has more trade value.
One thing for sure: there will be changes to this ballclub before the first game is played in 2009. And they could be BIG changes. As broken as they are, it’ll take a lot more than a “quick fix” to help this team.
On a personal note, this will be my last blog for a while. In addition to embarking on a new promotional campaign for Pinch Hitter, I am also trying to finish my second novel and begin work on a screenplay. To those of you who have read and responded to my writings, I say “thank you very much”.
For those who are interested in what’s happening with Pinch Hitter, please check out my website: http://www.deanrwhitney.com.
In addition to being credited with a “W” in the Padres’ 8-3 victory over the Phillies last night, Chad Reineke displayed his ability to swing a bat by getting his first big league base hit and knocking in a run with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. His single, which made the score 3-2 Phillies, must have inspired the Padre offense because they ended up scoring five big ones in that inning.
Okay, if you look at the numbers, it wasn’t a great pitching performance. The 26-year-old rookie surrendered three runs on five hits and three walks over five innings of work. Although his pitch count was 102, thirty-five of them came in the first inning when he displayed an obvious case of the jitters and allowed two runs. And even though the Phillies have been struggling offensively, they’re still one of the best hitting clubs in baseball.
Jody Gerut continued to make a case for himself to be part of the 2009 Padre outfield by collecting three hits, including two doubles, and driving in two runs. Currently hitting a solid .293 with twelve home runs, Gerut could end up in either right or left field next year. I believe he’s done an excellent job in center this year and wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him there again in 2009. However, the Padres may be looking for someone with a little more speed to fill that position.
Three of the four Padre relievers who shut down the Phillies over the final four frames last night could very well be mainstays in the Padres’ 2009 bullpen. The club is discussing a deal with Heath Bell that would keep him around for a few more years. Clay Hensley and Mike Adams should be retained. If Wil Ledezma continues to improve, he might also be around next year. Likewise for Justin Hampson. It’s always nice to have two lefties in the pen. And, there’s no doubt in my mind that Trevor Hoffman should be brought back for at least one more season. That leaves one spot open for a pitcher who could double as a middle-inning relief pitcher and a spot starter. They have a guy capable of that right now; his name is Chow Seung Baek. As a starter, Baek is 0-6 at Petco Park with a very high ERA. I believe he’d be more valuable to the Padres as a reliever.
Speaking of Chow Seung Baek, he’ll get a chance to pick up his first Petco Park victory today in the rubber game of the three-game series. Local boy Cole Hamels gets the nod for the Phillies.
Due to promotional work on my book, Pinch Hitter, I have not had time to post anything here for a few days. However, I thought I’d comment on a few issues that have popped up over the past few days.
First, the Padres are bringing up RHP Chad Reineke to start
tonight’s game against Philadelphia. Reineke is the player they received from Houston for Randy Wolf and is essentially replacing Chris Young (DL) in the starting rotation. Sometime before the game, a roster move will be made to make room for Reineke, whose record at Portland was 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA. It’s anybody’s guess who’ll be going.
I found the Padres’ choice interesting inasmuch as they bypassed a couple of Portland left-handers and a couple of guys who are highly thought of on the San Antonio roster in favor of Reineke. Obviously, the Padres see something in this guy that Houston didn’t see. After all, Houston gave him up for a pitcher who’ll be a free agent again next season. What I’m gathering from this is that the Pads have little faith in their minor league pitchers. Why else would they call-up a guy with an overall record of 5-10 and a 4.37 ERA in AAA over the likes of left-handers Wade Leblanc or Cesar Ramos? Both of those guys have been pitching well for Portland and have been in the organization for a few years.
Greg Maddux was outdueled last night by 45-year-old Jamie Moyer. Hmmm, that happens to be the same age as the main character (David Robbins) in my book. Perhaps it’s even more plausible than I thought.
Is there any question that Jake Peavy is the Padres’ best pitcher? Of course there isn’t. Why certain individuals want to take shots at him is way beyond my comprehension. When it comes right down to it, no Padre pitcher has more heart than Jake. After he lost to the Rockies on August 7th in Colorado, I commented that he appeared to lack his normal fire in his six innings of work. My concern was that he had a physical ailment of some type. But I would never question the man’s heart or accuse him of ducking a pitching match-up with someone like Tim Lincecum or CC Sabathia. Those decisions are made by management. By the way, I believe that Peavy’s 2.61 ERA is the best amongst starters in the NL. Don’t be fooled by his 9-8 record; he’s pitching for a bad team.
Chris Young is on the DL again. This time it’s for a strained right forearm. I have a feeling that we may not see much of him over the remaining six weeks of the season.
Brian Falkenborg? Give me a break! Oh well, he can’t be much worse than Cla Meredith or Bryan Corey (DL). I hope he proves me wrong.
I’m glad that Sean Kazmar is getting a chance to play on the big league level. No doubt about it…it’s a big jump from AA San Antonio. So far, he’s doing okay.
Fresh off their 16-7 victory over Colorado on Sunday, the Padres open up a 3-game series tonight against the NL Central contending Milwaukee Brewers. While 3 ½ games behind the division leading Chicago Cubs, the Brew Crew is currently #1 in the NL Wild Card race and comes into Petco Park with a 6-game win streak.
With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets pitching for the Brewers on Wednesday and Thursday, the Pads’ best chance of scoring runs is tonight against Jeff Suppan (7-7, 4.70). Since coming to Milwaukee from Cleveland via a trade, Sabathia is 6-0 with a 1.58 ERA. Being that he was 6-8 with the AL Indians when he was traded, it’s pretty obvious that he’s having a good time in the NL. Ben Sheets is no walk in the park, either. He’ll enter Thursday’s contest with an 11-5 record and a 2.95 ERA.
The Padres will counter with Cha Seung Baek tonight, Josh Banks on Wednesday, and Jake Peavy on Thursday’s non-televised day game. Many of us Padre fans were hoping to see a Peavy-Sabathia matchup on Wednesday, but the club chose instead to give Jake an extra day off. With very little to look forward to the rest of this season, a classic pitching matchup (like Sandy Koufax vs. Bob Gibson) would’ve been fun.
Clay Hensley and Trevor Hoffman ended major Colorado threats in the seventh and ninth innings respectively and the Padres held on to defeat the Rockies, 8-3, giving Greg Maddux (6-8) his third consecutive victory.
In relief of Maddux, Mike Adams had entered the game in the seventh with runners on first and second and no outs and the Pads leading 6-1. After getting a fly-ball out, Adams (et tu, Mike?) proceeded to walk the next two batters, thus forcing in a run. With the tying run at the plate, manager Buddy Black then summoned Hensley, who put out the fire created by Adams by inducing an inning-ending double play with his second pitch.
In the top of the eighth inning, Adrian Gonzalez made the score 8-2 by clubbing his 28th home run of the year with Luis Rodriguez on base. At that point, it should’ve been smooth sailing for the Padres in the ninth, right? That was certainly the case last year when the Pads had one of the best bullpens, if not THE best, in the majors. This year it’s a completely different story; every outing is an adventure.
One of the club’s least effective relievers of late, Bryan Corey, took the mound in the ninth. After he surrendered consecutive base hits without recording an out, Black and one of the Padre trainers went to the mound and ultimately determined that Corey had some kind of a physical ailment. Enter Clay Meredith — another one of the Padre relievers who has fallen on tough times. Garret Atkins hit Meredith’s first pitch into the left-field corner for a double, sending one runner to the plate and another to third base. That made the score 8-3, Padres, and there were still no outs. Meredith then proceeded to walk the next batter to load the bases, thus creating a save situation. An exasperated-looking Buddy Black, who had already worn out a path between the visitor’s dugout and the pitcher’s mound, then yanked Meredith and brought in his closer, Trevor Hoffman. With the tying run in the on-deck circle, Hoffman struck out the first Colorado batter he faced and got the next one to line into a double play — thus preserving Maddux’s 353rd career win while earning his 25th save of the season.
The Padre bats ended Aaron Cook’s dominance of San Diego by touching him up for 10 hits and 6 runs in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Luis Rodriguez and Kevin Kouzmanoff had 3 hits apiece and Chase Headley contributed 2 while knocking in a pair of runs. Even Maddux got in on the act when he drove in a run by laying down a perfect bunt with two outs in the top of the sixth.
In the series finale today, the Padres send Chris Young (4-4, 4.06) up against Livan Hernandez (10-8, 5.48), who’s making his first start for the Rockies since being acquired from Minnesota in a waiver deal.
Is it just me or did Jake Peavy appear to lack his normal fire last
night? Okay, there was a rather lengthy rain delay that could’ve been a factor in his performance. Still, he did not look like the same Jake Peavy (8-8) who won the NL CY Young award in 2007. During his 6-inning, 97-pitch stint against Colorado, he uncharacteristically walked 5 batters while striking out only 3. Stewart’s home run in the second inning was the big blow, but it was the walks that ultimately did him in; 2 of the 5 runners who walked eventually scored.
The Padre bullpen certainly didn’t help the cause. In only 2/3 of an inning, Cla Meredith and Wil Ledezma combined for 3 walks; 2 of them scored. Clay Hensley did a fantastic job of bailing them out in the seventh. However, due to a “miscommunication” between Brian Giles and Scott Hairston on a ball hit to right center, Hensley was charged with a double when it should’ve been a routine out. Being the kind of guy his is, Giles took responsibility for the blunder. But, from where I was sitting, it was Hairston’s ball to catch.
Kevin Kouzmanoff led the offensive attack with 3 hits, while Scott Hairston and Chase Headley collected 2 apiece. Giles hammered his seventh home run of the year in the losing cause. Adrian Gonzalez, whose average has slipped to .274, is looking a little tired and may need a rest.
Bottom line: Padres lose another game in which they looked like the Keystone Cops on the field. And, wasn’t Glendon Rusch on our team earlier this year? I thought so. Not that he’s bore any resemblance to Sandy Koufax since joining the Rockies. But he is 5-3 and did limit the Padres to 2 runs over his 6 innings of work.
Tonight it’s Greg Maddux (5-8, 4.17) vs. Aaron Cook (14-7, 3.68). The Padres have never beaten Cook in Colorado. That’s why I’ll be watching the exhibition game between the Chargers and Dallas tonight instead of the Padres.