Saturday, March 29, 2008


It's staying light longer, the Leafs are toast ... that can mean only one thing: We'll soon see the first halter top of the season. OK, two things: It's baseball season, that mystical, wonderful time of year where you commit to a team for six months, knowing full well they won't win. Here's a starting nine for the San Diego Padres.

  1. Move on: The '08 Padres seem doomed to join the detritus of teams who crashed after a crushing end to the previous season. Think of the 1986 Blue Jays, who were 10 games out before it even sunk in they had blown the pennant against Kansas City.

    What happened in the final three games of last season, losing twice to the Brewers and then the playoff game against Colorado, shouldn't really carry over for the Padres, logically. It's just more fun to imagine a team having a psychic collapse, not that it has an unproductive outfield or anything.

    Closer Trevor Hoffman, now he might need a little more time.
  2. The infield is a Tad better: No doubt at some point a TV announcer will point out that "winning teams just follow Tadahito Iguchi around." The second baseman was with the White Sox when they won it all in 2005 and he helped the Phillies stumble into a division title last season when the Mets imploded.

    The outfield's a big variable. The nicest thing you could say is that the Padres have a couple sleepers -- Justin Huber and Paul McAnulty. Scott Hairston is a solid Trot Nixon-type contributor. Brian Giles and Jim Edmonds are good at getting older.
  3. PETCO Peavy: There's only a handful of parks in organized baseball that help pitchers more than San Diego's stadium. That helps Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, who's projected to have the lowest ERA in the National League, but he's not a creature of habitat either. He can flat-out pitch. One of the biggest elements he has going for him is that his pitches are hard to pick up out of his hand; some coach long ago focused more on the results than the process and realized the Peavy's mechanics weren't nothing to mess with.
  4. They can pitch: It's only the fourth point since everyone knows about Peavy, Greg Maddux, Chris Young and the lefty, Randy Wolf. You probably know that in the bullpen, Trevor Hoffman set the all-time saves record last season and that Heath Bell and Cla Meredith are invaluable setup man.
  5. Come on everybody, we're moving to Portland: San Diego's two brightest hopes, second baseman Matt Antonelli (think Aaron Hill, but in a park more suited to gap hitters) and third baseman Chase Headley, are in Triple-A to play, but not to stay.

    Headley is actually playing left field while Kevin Kouzmanoff plays third, but most of the Seamheads were expecting the latter to change positions.
  6. $9 beer night is every night: The San Diego Union Tribune reported today that the Padres, at $8.50 a pop, earn up to $842 off a keg of beer, for a profit margin of 1,100 per cent.

    Bill James might have had a point many years ago when he argued that baseball stadiums should be open up to competition, just like a shopping mall.
  7. For what it's worth: The Walrus is taking the Padres to top the Angels in the World Series, but bear in mind the writer did refer to the Angels as "Anaheim," which they haven't been known as since 2004. That said, wow, what a ballsy prediction.
  8. Stay karmic, San Diego: Ducksnorts pointed out than not only did the University of San Diego basketball team win a NCAA Tournament game for the first time -- too bad Davidson's run to the Elite Eight makes Toreros gear less trendy -- but it had a pitcher throw a no-hitter within the same timespan. Hey, save that good fortune for the Padres, they could use it this summer.
  9. Need-to-know: The Padres' ERA at home last season was almost a run and a half per game lower at home than on the road; typically, teams are about a half-run better at home.

    The Colorado Rockies eventually figured out that they needed to focus on pitching in order to have a balanced team while playing half their games in a park tilted toward hitters. San Diego GM Kevin Towers has the exact opposite scenario since PETCO is an extreme pitcher's park.

    Building a balanced team probably won't come this season. San Diego will be in the playoffs in 2009 or '10. This year looks lke an interlude, unless Antonelli or Headley come up sooner and really start hitting. That's a thin thread.

1 comment:

Andrew Braithwaite said...

Dear Left Field,

Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, the baseball team we know as the Angels plays in the city of Anaheim. Thus ... (wait for it) ... the Anaheim Angels!

And the Jays don't play in the Rogers Centre, they play in the SkyDome.

Fight the power,
The Sportstrotter
Walrus Magazine