Results tagged ‘ San Diego Padres ’

Expect Big Things in 2013 From the San Diego Padres

So the Major League Baseball season ended about 48 hours ago. Big Deal. It is never too early to look ahead. For baseball fans like you and me, the offseason wheeling and dealing is just as fun as watching the games and their highlights.  So here goes the first prediction for the 2013 season.

Watch out for the San Diego Padres.

Expect Chase Headley to repeat this scene many times in 2013. Image: http://www.cbssports.com

OK, so you look at the final 2012 standings and see the team finished 76-86, fourth place in the National League West.  Plus, you know that this team has not won a playoff series since 1998.  You would be missing some important details about the Friars.  Their record was 17-35 on May 31st; from that point on they were 59-51, including 18-10 in August.  As a blogger for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they were more than a nuisance; the Pads have some really good young players.  San Diego will need all of them as their division boasts the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, the big money Los Angeles Dodger$ and the aforementioned D’Backs.

If you haven’t heard the name Chase Headley get used to hearing about him.  All he did was establish himself as one of the best if not the best third basemen in the National League batting .286 and leading all NL 3B’s in home runs with 31 and RBI’s with 115.  All of these numbers came with him playing in notoriously pitcher-friendly Petco Park, which is scheduled to have its fences moved in next year.  First baseman Yonder Alonso excelled during his first full season in San Diego and will be helped by the shorter dimensions.  Turning 26 in April, expect him to put up more than the nine homers he hit in 2012.  Catcher will belong to Nick Hundley or Yasmani Grandal, a rookie last year who homered four times in his first six at-bats, including both sides of the plate in the same game.  Two-thirds of the outfield is set with Carlos Quentin in left field and Cameron Maybin in center.  Quinten, when healthy, is a force as he proved with 16 HR’s in only 284 at-bats.  Maybin is a highlight reel every night and he too, will benefit from the move of the fences.  He also hit one of the longest home runs in 2012.

As for the pitching,  I kept telling friends that play fantasy baseball that if Clayton Richard was available, they should grab him.  Vastly underrated because of where he plays, he has registered two 14 win seasons on teams that have finished below .500.  Last season, the ERA was a little on the high side at 3.99 but he did throw almost 220 innings.  He is not a bona fide ace but that does not mean he will not be a consistent 15 game winner the next five years or so.  People forget that Edinson Volquez started the All Star Game for the National League in 2008 mainly because an arm injury derailed his career shortly after that season.  He won 11 games last season and may not reach the heights that seemed possible five years ago.  Still he has good stuff as his 176 strikeouts in 188 inning can attest.  The bullpen will be anchored by Huston Street who saved 23 games in 24 opportunities last season with a tidy 1.85 ERA.  Injury is always a concern for Street who did notch his 200th career save on September 23rd.  Fortuantely, the Padres also have Luke Gregerson coming back in case Street falters.  The righty pitched in 77 games and had nine saves in Street’s absence to ago along with a 2.39 ERA.

These will not be the same old Padres.  The nucleus is promosing and unlike in the past, they seem willing to spend money.  Extensions last season were given to Qunetin, Maybin and Street.  Headley is arbitration-eligible so don’t be surprised if the team does try to avoid that by giving him a long-term deal.  Starting pitching is a must and there aren’t many pitching parks better than Petco.  I am not prediciting a division title for the team, just a vast improvement over their 76 wins a year ago.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

Cameron Maybin Slowly Becoming Noticed

His team plays in San Diego and is 17 games under .500. That is two reasons why Cameron Maybin  has flown under the radar.  Another is  that .221 batting average.   Still only 25 years old, the Padres still think he has tremendous upside and showed it with a 5 year, $25 million dollar contract extension through 2016.

Maybin was originally drafted by the Tigers in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft out of Roberson High School in Asheville, NC.  He (along with Andrew Miller) were the centerpieces of the deal for the Marlins in the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.  Maybin was the starting Center Fielder for Florida in 2009 but was sent down to the Minors only a month into the season.   Surprisingly, the Marlins quickly ran out of patience with Maybin and shipped him to San Diego after the 2010 season. 

In his first season with the Padres, Maybin was selected as the team MVP in a season which he stole 40 bases and was named the San Diego nominee for the Hank Aaron Award, given to the top hitter in each league.  Maybin’s power output of 9 home runs and 40 RBI’s in 2011 was slightly skewed because he plays in spacious Petco Park.  His value is more on defense because he plays Center Field in San Diego, where he is asked to cover an awful lot of ground.  He is on pace to at least match his 2011 offensive  numbers and he continues to produce highlight reel plays every night.  Although Maybin has only four homers in 2012, he hit one almost 500 feet earlier this season in Arizona.  Check out the mammoth blast here

Cameron Maybin has all of the tools to remain one of the building blocks as the Padres continue to rebuild.  Considering he was once the 10th pick in the country, you have to believe he will eventually be a .260 hitter.  That along with his blazing speed and superior defensive skills will make him one of the best Outfielders over the next ten seasons.

Follow me on Twittr @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com

Houston’s Harrell and Mills Combine for One of 2012′s Best Moments

One of the best moments of this season took place in Houston earlier this week.  Rookie Lucas Harrell threw a complete game for the Astros as Houston defeated the Padres 1-0.  However that was not the most remakable part of the story.  The fact that Manager Brad Mills  let Harrell finish the game even after he loaded the bases in the 9th inning is something you do not see today.  Ever.  Just about every pitcher  today, from star to journeyman, would have been pulled after a leadoff hit.

As we all know, complete games by pitchers these days are not that common.  James Shields’s  11 complete games in 2011 were certainly the exception.  Rookie pitchers going the distance is even more rare.  Organizations tend to baby young arms to the point that it can be detrimental to the pllayer.  He will not be able to work out of his own messy situations if he is conditioned to look for his skipper at the first sign of trouble.  In the case of Harrell,  San Diego had runners on first and second with one out in the 9th.  The Padres”s Logan Forsythe  then singled but teammate Alexi Amarista was thrown out at home by J.D. Martinez.  Mills still left Harrell in the game even after he walked teh next batter, Mark Kotsay.  The game ended when Harrell got Nick Hundley to strike out swinging.  Mills showed a lot of guts leaving his rookie starter in the game and Harrell will no doubt benefit from this experience.

After losing 105 games last season, the Astros have been playing some decent ball.  They have been under the radar as another they seemed destined for another losing season.  For one night, however, their manager and their first year starter gave us one of baseball’s most memorable memories for this season while hopefully giving the rest of the teams in the game something to ponder in how they handle their pitchers.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

The Midnight Massacre and Other June 15th Trading Deadline Stuff

My buddy Doug reminded me not too long ago that the Major League Baseball trading deadline used to be June 15th.  He figured that would make for an interesting post.  Guess what?  He is absolutely correct.   With the date only two days away, now would be a perfect time to reflect on some major happenings that took place at the old deadline. 

The biggest June 15th deal took place in 1977 and it became known as the Midnight Massacre, considered by many Met fans to be the darkest day in the history of the franchise.  Tom Seaver  had been in a feud with Met management over the issue of (what else?) money.  Seaver had been critical in the press of ownership not spending the dollars necessary to keep the Mets from sliding toward mediocrity.  Dick Young was a writer with the New York Daily News who continually took the side of the organization even calling Seaver “greedy”.   It is worth pointing out that Young’s son-in-law worked in the organization.  Things came to a head in the June 15th edition of the Daily News  in which Young stated that Seaver was jealous of the contract of  Nolan Ryan  received from the California Angels, even dragging Seaver’s wife and Ryan’s wife into fray.  That night, Tom Terrific demanded to be traded and the Mets obliged sending him to the Reds  for Steve Henderson, Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn and Dan Norman.  Not only that but slugger Dave Kingman was dealt to the Padres, also over a contract dispute. The Mets lost their two best players on the same day, June 15th, 1977.  Check out Bill Madden’s column  for even more background on this historic deal.

June 15th is also a date Cubs’ fans would like to forget as a trade was made that has gone down as one of the most lopsided deals of all time.  In 1964 the Cubbies dealt Lou Brock  to the Cardinals for pitcher Ernie Broglio.  At the time, it didn’t look so bad as Broglio was 18-8 the prior year and in 1960 led the National League in wins with 21.  Other than his .315 batting average in 1963, the speedster Brock was basically a .255 hitter.  Who knew that Brock would go on to the Hall of Fame while Broglio would post seven wins in his two and a half seasons in Chicago, retiring after the 1966 season? 

In 1976, Charlie Finley, having already lost Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson, decided to sell off more players who were instrumental in the A’s three consecutive World Championships.  On June 15th, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers were sent to the Red Sox while Vida Blue was sent to the Yankees all for cash.  Commissioner Bowie Kuhn rejected the deals, citing “the best interest of baseball clause”.  Finley tried suing Major League Baseball as well as Kuhn but ultimately lost.  Fingers and Rudi left after the season and Blue was traded before the 1978 season.

Since we started with a depressing story about the Mets, how about a good one for the Amazins?  It was June 15th, 1983 when the Cards traded Keith Hernandez to the Mets for Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey.  The two pitchers combined for a 21-22 record for St. Louis while  Hernadez trade helped restore some badly needed credibility.  His arrival set in motion a chain of events that resulted in the team’s second title three years later.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

Adam Dunn and Big Homer/Big Strikeout Guys of Years Gone By

Image: sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Adam Dunn belted his 14th home run this season on Sunday, clearly demonstrating he is over his nightmare 2011 season.   He has struck out a league leading 60 times and also checks in with a batting average of .243.  For his career,  he has slugged nearly 400 home runs, whiffed almost 1,900 times and owns a career bating average of .243.  He reminds me of many of the high power-high strikeout-low batting average guys from the 1980′s.  These players never get confused with the greats of the game but for a while they were certainly feared because of the home run potential they possessed.  In fairness to Dunn, he has had a much more prolific career than most if not all of them.  For five consecutive seasons, he finished with 40 or more dingers and 100 RBI’s or more six times.  In no particular order,  here are some of my favorites from the go-go 80′s.

Image: bleacherreport.com

Gorman Thomas: “Stormin Gorman” led the American League in home runs twice with 45 in 1979 and 39 in 1982,  the year of Milwaukee’s only World Series appearance.  Two is also the number of times he led the AL in strikeouts with 175 in 1979 and 170 in 1980.  While most people think of these types of players as lumbering First Basemen or Designated Hitters, Thomas was actually a pretty good Outfielder.  He ranked in the top three in putouts by a Center Fielder four times and ranked fifth in assists in 1982 with nine.  He finished his 13 year career with 268 home runs, 1,339 strikeouts and a .225 batting average.

image: chinmusik.net

Dave Kingman:  Kong thrived for seven different teams over the course of his 16 year stay in the Bigs.  He paced the National League in homers twice with 48 in 1979 and 37 in 1982.  While his overall batting average was a paltry .236, he did hit .288 in 1979 while also leading the league in Slugging and OPS that season.  1979 would not have been complete unless he also led in K’s which he obliged, fanning 131 times.  He also led the league in strikeouts two other times, 105 in strike-shortend 1981 and 155 in 1982.  My favorite Kingman stat has nothing to do with hitting.  In 1977, he became the only man to play for a team (Mets, Padres, Angels and Yankees) in all four divisions in a single season.   The final numbers are an impressive 442 homers  and a gigantic 1,816  strikeouts.

Image: bleacherreport.com

 

Steve BalboniThe Yankees sent “Bye Bye” to the Royals before the 1984 season for reliever Mike ArmstrongThis was a classic George Steinbrenner bone-headed decision, one of many, trading young, promising talent for a middle-of-the-road player who does nothing in New York.   Balboni immediately paid dividends for KC by launching 26 homers to go along with a healthy 139 whiffs.  Although the career numbers are not as gaudy as Thomas and Kingman, he does own something the other two do not:  a World Series ring.  In 1985 he led the club in round-trippers with 36 and the rest of the American League in strikeouts with 166 as the Royals took home their only World Championship.    Balboni eventually did play for the Yanks at least on a part-time basis in 1989 and 1990.  The 1990 campaign was his last as a semi-regular player and in typical Bye Bye fashion he deposited 17 balls into the seats in only 301 plate appearances.  Of course he also struck out 91 times and batted a robust .192.

I could spend all day reviewing the careers of these guys and men like Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia and Tony Armas. If any of you can think of other players both past and present, I would love to hear about them.

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com

MLB Extra Innings Worth Every Penny

For the 2012 season, I am going to make a first time purchase, something I probably should have done years ago.  For the low price of $179, I am going to order MLB Extra Innings which will allow me to see as many baseball games as humanly possible for the next seven months.   

Since I have been able to watch the New York Yankees and the New York Mets, Sunday night games on ESPN and since 2009 games on MLB Network, I really didn’t feel as though there was a need to get the Extra Innings package.  However, since I now write a blog about the Arizona Diamondbacks at www.venomstrikes.com, I feel I should watch (at least three or four innings given the time difference) the team I cover.

Another great reason to order Extra Innings can be summed up in two words:  Vin Scully.  Now entering his 62nd year covering the Los Angeles Dodgers,  Scully remains a national treasure and a joy to listen to even if he only broadcasts games west of the Rockies.   Dick Enberg announcing games for the San Diego Padres is also a treat for baseball fans.  I look forward to catching a glimpse of every team every night of the week from now until October.

Hopefully, I have done good job of selling you on the merits of ordering Extra Innings.  I have already convinced my pal Anthony M. to pick it up for another season.  He was on the fence but after I told him how much I was going to enjoy it for the first time, he got it for 2012.  I’ll check back periodically to give an opinion on other teams’ television announcers as well as my overall satisfaction with Extra Innings.  Until then, enjoy Opening Night.

 

Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and at www.venomstrikes.com

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