Thursday, April 23, 2009

Frustrating day for the Padres...

The Padres could not solve the second coming of Cy Young, Barry Zito. The game was not aired on Channel 4 San Diego but it did not have to be. The highlights could have fit inside Paris Hilton's A-cups. I saw Zito pitch at Petco Park this year and he didn't fare so well. On Wednesday, Zito was able to dominate throwing creme puffs for fastballs although he did have an effective curve ball working. Giles and Gonzalez both looked bad swinging and missing for two of the five strikeouts I watched on the worldwide leader's highlight reel. It was not the vintage 12-6 curve. It had more of a sweeping action left to right. I was surprised to see Giles swinging at that garbage because of the great eye he has at the plate but then again he is not doing so well starting out of the gate. I've heard that Giles is the prototypical "slow starter" excusing him from the horrendous April he is having. Not bad for $10 million a year right?

Chris Young once again threw a brilliant game going seven strong innings but to no avail. The only dark spot on his pitching line was the four walks he gave up. He only struck out three but gave up only two hits. That makes for a decent WHIP. Its a shame he did not get any run support. I hope that does not become a trend as the season continues. Luke Gregerson came in and spun 2 scoreless innings to keep the game a scoreless tie through nine innings striking out three.

Bud Black obviously sees something in Edwin Moreno because he keeps running him out there in critical situations. I believe mop-up duty is in Moreno's near future. You have to feel bad for Moreno while questioning the overuse of his change-up. Opposing hitters know its coming and they do not respect his fastball. The location was poor on the Raul Ibanez game-winning homerun in Philly on Sunday as he left it up in the zone. In the bottom of the tenth, Benji Molina went down and pulled it to left center winning the game for the Giants, 1-0. Moreno was the victim of the Padres' outfield playing in to attempt to cut the winning run down at home from second base. Had the outfield been at normal depth, Hairston or Headley would have camped under it for the third out. Moreno had success with the change-up early on but now opposing hitters are looking out for it. He is now a victim of the scouting report. If he wants to keep his spot on the roster, he will have to make adjustments or he soon will find himself on the Portland Beavers' roster.

Now back to Brian Giles and the outfield situation. I would rather see a Headley, Gerut, and Hairston outfield right now then see Brian Giles roll over on outside pitches. His insistence on pulling 90% of what's thrown to him angers me. He does not have the power he once possessed in Pittsburgh where he pulled every pitch over the wall to right. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of proven veterans but I believe that Gerut and Hairston have more pop and more speed than Giles and seem to make things happen quite regularly. Giles does bring certain intangibles to the table like solid defense and a hard-nosed old school mentality that simply cannot be taught but at the age of 38, his offensive skills are certainly on the decline. Headley goes without saying. He was on fire on the recent road trip in Philly and New York and I hope that he can continue hitting the ball with authority. By the way, that Jody Gerut homerun to christen Citi Field had me jumping out of my uncomfortable couch. That was sweet.

Padres have a day off today so hopefully they can wash the grime of the current three-game losing streak off and start fresh on Friday as the Pittsburgh Pirates roll into town. Hopefully the middle and back-end of the Padres' rotation can shut down a suddenly hot Pirates team that just swept the Florida Marlins. The Pirates' rotation already has four shutouts and leads the league in staff ERA at 3.04 compared to the Padres placing fifth with a 3.93 staff ERA. This should be a decent series between two small market giants.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Season Is Upon Us!!

So much has happened in the first two weeks of the year. Some of the happenings were truly heartbreaking. Nick Aydenhart's passing was truly tragic and I will be rooting for the Angels the rest of the year. Mark Fidrych dying in an accident in Northborough, Ma at his home hit the baseball world hard. He was only around a few years but Fidrych left an impression on all of us. Also losing Harry Kalas to death's grip after a life of service to the Philadelphia Phillies and baseball was a great loss. Also lets not forget NFL Films and the great work he did for them. He breathed life into the narrations describing the great moments in the NFL.

We also saw two new stadiums open up in New York. It's still mind-boggling to me to see one city open not only one brand new stadium but TWO new stadiums in the same year in this struggling and stagnant economy. I realize that the plans were in the works a few years ago but it still amazes me being a fan in small market San Diego, Ca. In San Diego, it took practically an act of Congress to get the funds approved for Petco Park in 1998. I believe had the Padres not had a World Series appearance that year, the Padres would no longer be in San Diego.

How about the surprises so far in this young season? The Marlins and their fast start definitely top the list. They currently have an 11-2 record as of April 21 and they are doing it by mashing the baseball and getting solid performances from a group of young pitchers led by Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco. We know they are going to be strong offensively but if their pitching holds up and performs, we could be looking at this year's Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets and Phillies are the favorites in the NL East but that's why the games are played. The Padres as well have surprised the city of San Diego with their current 9-4 record. Expectations are low for this team this year but if they can manage to play .500 baseball, it would be a pleasant surprise.

This season looks to be very promising as far as storylines go. Who will come out of the National League, aka the superior league? Can you tell I'm a huge NL guy by the previous statement? Will the Phillies repeat or the Dodgers get over the hump this year? How about the Mets? The Mets seemed to have fixed their achilles heel, their bullpen, with new acquisitions JJ Putz and K-Rod. Can the Yankees and their large payroll finally win a World Series again or will all that lavish spending be for not? Will the Rays do it again and overcome the Nation and the evil empire two years in a row? I guess we will find out in October...