Friday, September 30, 2011

What's next?

Padres execs previewed the upcoming offseason; here's my story on it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Familiar move

Randy Ready's dismissal today was as surprising as a sunny day in San Diego, and that's not a knock on Ready. As I wrote here, Ready is the fifth Padres hitting coach to lose his job in the last five-plus years.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Moneyball and Fuson

Reading or watching Moneyball, you would think Grady Fuson drafted Curly, Larry and Moe, not Hudson, Mulder and Zito for the Oakland A's.

You would've thought statistical analysis drove Oakland's improbable success, less so the three frontline pitchers Fuson chose from colleges in the South, Midwest and West after drawing on scouting reports and some statistical profiles.

If the characterization bothered Fuson, who worked for the Padres from 2005 through 2009, I've never sensed it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guzman, Blanks, Rizzo


On merit, Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks should be one-two on the Padres' depth chart at first base going into the winter.

Anthony Rizzo?

I've seen no improvement since his second callup from Triple-A. Scouts say his swing is still too long. They also look at his spotty timing and pitch recognition and wonder if he's too tense. No one is writing him off, but Rizzo, a .126 hitter after 119 at-bats as a Padre, needs to figure out a few things.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mo and Boch


My favorite Mariano Rivera story is really a Bruce Bochy story. I've told it many times, perhaps once here, and apologize for retelling it, but it came to mind on Monday when Rivera, the greatest reliever of them all, supplanted Trevor Hoffman as the save king.

Scene: Jack Murphy Stadium, Game 3 of the World Series in 1998.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hoffman on Rivera

The man whose save record soon could be broken by Mariano Rivera says he is in awe of the Yankees closer.

"His consistency is a marvel to me," Trevor Hoffman told this blog today. "He definitely makes it look easier than it is."

With his next save, No. 601, Rivera will match Hoffman, the longtime Padre who retired after the 2010 season and had his jersey No. 51 retired by the club last month.

Hoffman plans to watch tonight's Yankees-Mariners game from his home, "in between homework" being done by his three sons and "getting to and from things."

"I'm just happy for him, man," Hoffman said. "I think it's a great thing. Obviously he's been a great closer and a great teammate for a long time. He's stayed healthy and been able to continue to roll. I'm pretty proud of him."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gunslinger's triumph

Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated lays out why Kevin Towers should be Executive of the Year. On top of everything Heyman points out, Towers sent a needed message to Arizona's players when he shopped potential superstar Justin Upton last offseason. The Gunslinger believed a culture of entitlement had taken root within the Diamondbacks. One prominent Padres player who is close to Towers saw it that way, too, telling me last September that if Arizona had the same chemistry as those Padres, it, not San Diego, would've been leading the National League West.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zzzzz


Padres fans must be getting good sleep this year and not only the impudent punks who nod off the moment they hear Dick Enberg.

Against all of their rivals, the Padres turn in dull at-bat after weak at-bat after foggy at-bat.

Zzzzz.

"They're very easy to pitch to," a Padres rival told me in May.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Mixed feelings"

The Diamondbacks are marching toward the National League West title.

Meantime, Josh Byrnes is preparing to scout Padres minor leaguers in San Antonio.

San Diego's V-P for baseball operations, Byrnes admits to "mixed feelings" as Arizona advances toward the playoffs because he was the club's general manager for five years.

"It's definitely bittersweet," Byrnes says. "I know a lot of the people there -- a lot of the people there I'm rooting for, but the goal is to compete against them."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Broad appeal

The Padres and their fans aren't the only ones excited by Cameron Maybin's breakthrough season.

 Visiting broadcasters tell their listeners it's fun to see Maybin glide across the outfield or zoom on the basespaths.

Even opponents like how the 24-year-old flavors up a ballgame with his super-athleticism.

"I'm happy for him," Giants outfielder Cody Ross told this blog. "He deserves it. He works hard, he's a good kid and he plays the game the right way. I like seeing guys like that succeed."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fun with Adrian

Adrian Gonzalez was worth about 15 victories to the Padres last year, agent Scott Boras told this blog recently. "For a team like the Red Sox, he's worth about seven victories," Boras said.

Fifteen victories? Ten would make for a better debate here.

Not that Boras has to convince us that "Gonzo" made the Padres a lot more capable.

When the Padres traded Gonzalez in December, I wrote the Padres were raising the white flag on the 2011 season and predicted stardom for him in Boston.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Liri"

For reasons unknown to this blog, the baseball gods decided long ago to jinx your Padres.

How else to explain the Dominican Drought?

All the other baseball clubs went to the Dominican Republic and found ballplayers who grew into big leaguers. Heck, the Garden Snakes hadn't played a major league game when they pulled Jose Valverde out of the D.R. in 1997.

Somehow, the Padres fell from the boat yet always missed the water.

They've gone 0-for-the-D.R.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Snapshot: 2012 Draft

Lose most of your games today, draft a star tomorrow. It worked for NBA teams such as the Cavs, Spurs and Magic, who drafted instant stars LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard first overall. Top-end draft picks in the NBA aren't gold, they're platinum, even if Clippers fans say otherwise.

In baseball, not as much. There's no need for an NBA-style lottery to discourage teams from tanking in quest of a higher draft slot. Now and then, a celestial amateur comes along -- say, an Alex Rodriguez or a Ken Griffey Jr. -- who inspires awe among nearly all scouts. Even those two spent two years in the minors, however.

The Padres (60-77) would draft seventh in June, their highest slot since they chose Donavan Tate third in 2009. This blog queried two non-Padres scouts about the star potential of next year's draft.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

DePodesta, scouting

While Brad Pitt and friends filmed Moneyball, Paul DePodesta roamed America, far from his computer and his famous past.

You could find DePodesta at ballparks in cities, suburbs and country towns, eyeing ballplayers at high schools and colleges. Flesh and blood ballplayers, he surveyed, not their statistical lines.

If you wanted to agitate him to Billy Beane levels -- OK, Beane on a good day -- you told "DePo" what the potential draftee's on-base percentage was. Or his WHIP.

"Most of the time when I go to the park," DePodesta told this blog last month, "I try not to look at the stats until after the fact, and then see whether or not what I saw with my own eyes agrees with what the page says."

DePodesta, a former power broker with the Padres and still a La Jolla resident, soon will finish his first year with the New York Mets as vice president of player development and amateur scouting.