Tuesday, June 9, 2009

San Diego Padres: Jake Peavy, the Draft and Other Random Thoughts

With all the trade talk that surrounded 28 year old right hander Jake Peavy, not only during the offseason, but the recent rumors that he was headed to the White Sox, the last thing you would expect is to see a column by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com saying he'd be surprised if Peavy was traded before this offseason.

But, that's exactly what Rosenthal has on his mind in his column this morning. Though I respect Rosenthal and his opinion, I doubt that the Padres are done looking for suitors for the ace of their staff. If the White Sox came calling, don't think the Dodgers, Angels and Cubs won't come calling as well, not to mention the Yankees if Andy Pettitte continues to falter. Any of you Padre fans interested in the Yankees sending Pettitte back in a deal that included Jake Peavy?

I've gone back and forth on the Padres trading Peavy. I've been upset about it, but then when Jake takes the ball, knowing full well that he wasn't 100% and was battling the flu, I want to rip his head off for never giving his team a chance to win even before the threw a single pitch. I know he wants to get the ball every fifth day, but he needs to know when he's not going to do this team any good.

Moving on to today's MLB Amateur Draft, set to get underway at 2:45pm PST. There's no drama about who the first pick in the draft is going to be as the Nationals have made it clear that they are set to take San Diego State right hander Stephen Strasburg. The question that everyone has on their mind about his selection is, will the Nationals have him in the majors before this year is out? Make no mistake about it, that would be the worst decision the Nationals could ever make as a franchise.

Can he pitch in the majors right now? Absolutely, the problem is, he's already had a full season playing for San Diego State. Do you really want to chance him suffering a serious injury in 2009? I believe the Nationals are going to be smart and let Strasburgh sit and watch the remainder of the 2009 season and join the team when spring training opens in February of 2010.

As for the San Diego Padres, they will have the third pick overall and that has been a subject of contention thus far. The Padres' front office has kept tight lipped about who they are going to select, but reports have them interested in Donavan Tate, a high school third baseman who has already committed to play football and baseball for the University of North Carolina as well as current Tar Heel first baseman Dustin Ackley.

There are two problems with both of the players they are interested in. If they select Tate, they may not get him because he's already committed to play two sports for North Carolina. As for Ackley, the Padres have to hope and pray the Mariners pass on him, but that's unlikely. To see the draft preview for the San Diego Padres, you can click here and see other players the Padres could be interested in as well as previous top picks and where they currently are.

Now onto my final thoughts and we'll close with this. The Padres have a few important decisions to make come the end of this season. They need to figure out if they can or want to re-sign Adrian Gonzalez long term, something I believe they need to do.

They need to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff and move Chase Headley to third base which is his natural position. The Padres may have already had calls on Kouzmanoff but have not had the right deal brought to them.

You can hang on to Kouzmanoff and trade him at the end of this season and that will allow top prospect Kyle Blanks to have a full season at Triple-A Portland, especially getting experience in left field. Doing that will allow the Padres to see his progress during spring training next February and possibly have him as the starter in left field come Opening Day 2010.

The next move that absolutely needs to be done is signing second baseman David Eckstein to at least a two year deal, because he's shown just how much of a spark he can be, especially after hitting a game tying three run home run on Sunday in the bottom of the ninth. The Padres really don't have a better option in their minor leagues, so I can't see why they wouldn't do that.

They need to take a good look at their pitching staff because decisions are going to need to be made. I don't expect Chad Gaudin or Kevin Correia to be back in 2010, nor would I expect Cha Seung Baek to return to the team. The guys they need to look at are Josh Geer, Wade LeBlanc, Walter Silva, Josh Banks, Will Inman and Cesar Ramos. These are guys that are going to be the future of the Padres' rotation, three of six guys could fill out the last three spots in the starting rotation next season.

Lastly, I don't expect Brian Giles to be back next season. I just can't imagine that the Padres will bring him back for another season, especially since we're almost half way through the third month of the season and he has still not gotten his batting average over the Mendoza Line (.200). That being said, look for Drew Macias, Will Venable, Vincent Sinisi and Scott Hairston to battle for the center and right field spots, assuming Kyle Blanks will be in left.

It's going to be a busy offseason for this team, one that could be a whole lot more interesting than we've seen in years past, especially with new ownership. Does that mean this team will spend more money? I wouldn't be so quick to think that and I wouldn't be so quick to just start spending wildly. I would sign the right players that will make an impact on this team and have the right role players. Doing that will make this team competetive in 2010, especially if they make the right draft picks during the 2009 draft and their farm system continues to maek progress.

Padres-DBacks: Padres, DBacks Split Four Game Set

The last time we saw Jake Peavy, he was battling the flu and only lasted one inning in a 10-5 loss to Philadelphia on June 2nd. The Padres gave their ace an extra day to recover from not only that but to also give his ankle an extra day to heal.

It looked like the extra time did Peavy well as he struck out eight Arizona hitters through seven innings of work, giving up two earned runs in a 6-3 Padres' victory. With the win, Jake Peavy (6-6) tied Randy Jones for second place all time on the franchise's win list (92), just eight wins back of the all time leader Eric Show.

The problem for San Diego has been the lack of protection in front and behind first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Teams have started to figure this out and have been pitching around Adrian, knowing that the guys around him aren't going to hurt them. But, on Monday night, Kevin Kouzmanoff made Arizona pay twice for walking Adrian in front of him. Kouz had a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run double in the seventh, accounting for four of the team's six runs.

After the team's 18-inning affair on Sunday afternoon, having to use shortstop Josh Wilson as a pitcher in the 18th inning, having run out of pitchers. With that in mind, the Padres recalled Edwin Moreno and Wade LeBlanc from Triple-A Portland, optioned left hander Joe Thatcher to Portland and activated right hander Mike Adams from the 60-day disabled list, well before anyone thought he'd be ready.

After Peavy's seven innings, reliever Greg Burke pitched a perfect eighth inning and Heath Bell came into the game in the ninth to close it out for his Major League leading 17th save in 18 chances.

Before the Padres can focus on the first of a two game set against the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers, the Padres and their front office will turn their focus to the Amateur Draft that gets underway at 2:45pm PST this afternoon.

According to reports, the Padres, having the third pick in this year's draft, have two players on their radar and both players have ties to the University of North Carolina. The first of those is Donavan Tate, a high school third baseman who has committed to playing football and baseball for the Tar Heels. The other is current Tar Heel first baseman Dustin Ackley, who the Seattle Mariners have a strong interest in with pick number two. If the Mariners pass on Ackley, look for San Diego to jump on him.

Then, at 7:10pm PST, the Padres will start their first of two against the Dodgers. Right hander Chris Young (4-4, 4.46) will take the mound for San Diego while the Dodgers will counter with their right hander Chad Billingsley (7-3, 2.59).

This is a great chance for the Padres to gain at least a little ground on the Dodgers, though there's only so much they can gain in two games, but every little bit helps. Manager Bud Black has not announced who will start for San Diego on Wednesday as Chad Gaudin was called upon on Sunday to pitch two innings of relief and may not be made available for the start tomorrow night. The Padres could go with Josh Geer or even left hander Wade LeBlanc who was just called up from Triple-A Portland prior to Monday night's game.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

San Diego Padres: Weaknesses, Inconsitencies Plague 2009 Squad

Not every team is perfect, not every team is completely flawed, most of the teams in Major League Baseball have a little bit of both in 2009. The San Diego Padres, however, seem to have more flaws than perfection this season.

As the season began, it looked the Padres were going to be one of the more surprising teams in baseball, especially after getting off to a 9-3 start through their first 12 games. Then, for whatever reason, the Padres forgot what made them so successfull and they ended up dropping 18 of their next 22 games, seemingly losing sight of the front running Los Angeles Dodgers and and nixing any chance of a comeback.

After a skid that dropped the home attendance, during one home game, to under 14,000 fans, the lowest in team history, there needed to be changes in the roster, a shakeup was needed and general manager Kevin Towers jumped into action.

Unfortunately, the action was too little too late. Yes, the team rattled off 10 straight wins and 11 of their next 12 games but since then, the team has gone back into hiding, dropping seven of the their last ten games including being swept by the Philadelphia Phillies and losing two of three to the Colorado Rockies.

What needs to be done, at this moment, is for the front office to turn their attention to the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft coming up this Tuesday, June 9th. They need to address the needs of this team going forward and draft the appropriate players that will help make this franchise successful again. Whether that's offensively, defensively, starting or relief pitching, whatever the need is, that's where the decisions need to be made.

There's nothing that they can do to help the team that's on the field now, short of calling up the likes of Kyle Blanks and bringing back Drew Macias to give protection to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. That's the biggest reason this team isn't winning consitantly, opposing pitchers are walking Gonzalez two and three times per game because they know the guys in front and behind him aren't going to do any damage.

I know you fans are going to get on me for this opinion, but you may as well deal with it now. Bringing up Kyle Blanks this season is not going to do this team or Blanks any good. Give him a full season with Triple-A Portland, give him time to get used to playing the outfield and then let him earn his spot during spring training in 2010. If you do it that way, he's more hungry to prove that he can perform at the big league level and is ready to be an every day contributor.

If you're wanting me to make changes to this team right now, I think making any changes to this team right now is a lost cause, but if you're putting me in Kevin Towers' seat and asking me to change this team, then here are my calls.

First, I'd put Brian Giles on the trade block and see if you get any bites. If you do, the team interested needs to take on all if not most of his $9 million salary remaining on his contract. If you can't trade him and he's not helping this team, either release him outright and eat the contract, or make him a reserve outfielder to guys like Will Venable and Drew Macias.

Second, it's time to trade Kevin Kouzmanoff. I'm sorry to those fans who like him but he is not helping this team batting .219. There has to be teams out there that are looking for a young third baseman with some power, though he may be better suited for a DH role in the American League.

Third, the Padres need to take a serious look at Chad Gaudin, Kevin Correia and Josh Geer. These three guys have been the three most inconsitant starters all year long. They have great starts and it will look like they've finally figured things out, but then they'll give up five or six runs in their next start, making you scratch your head about their previous start.

Actually, the Padres will be forced to do something with one, two or all three guys when Walter Silva, Mike Adams, Shawn Hill and Cha Seung Baek return to the pitching core sometime in late June.

Lastly, and this is a long term change for the San Diego Padres, they need to re-sign Adrian Gonzalez, David Eckstein and Tony Gwynn Jr because these three guys can be the core of the 2010 squad. Adrian is, arguably, the best pure hitter in baseball right now, Eckstein provides leadership and that spark every team needs and Gwynn has been a pleasant surprise since the Padres acquired him from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Oh, and one more thing, and I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but it's time to trade Jake Peavy. I know Jake is a competitor, but when he knows full well that he's sick and isn't going to be able to perform at even 90%, he's got no business taking the ball because he cost his team doing that. I don't care that he wants the ball every fifth day, in this instance, he made a horrible decision. Not only did he give up four runs and last just one inning, but he made his bullpen pitch the remaining eight innings and they're strained enough as it is.

The Padres should waive the white flag on the 2009 season, not to say that I won't still support them for the remaining games on their schedule, because I will, but they need to start focusing on the years ahead of them and the changes that will make this team successful. If they don't, these losing streaks are going to continue for a long time to come.