January 2009

Interview and Trevor

I just wanted to point y’alls over to Tommy‘s blog to read the interview I did for him. It was a lot of fun to do, and the end result is pretty cool. Head over there and show him some love…http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/01/timeout_at_the_plate_2.html

The other thing I wanted to mention was that Trevor Hoffman is about to get signed by either the Dodgers or the Brewers. I am really leaning towards the Brewers, becaue it would be just sad for him to go to the Dodgers. Apparently, Trevor wants to get to 600 saves. I didn’t even know that! Anyways, the deal’s going to be done within the next 48 hours. I’m pretty sad, but I think I will get over it eventually. I just don’t want to think about it right now. I wish he could have finished his career here in San Diego, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I was watching a video of Trevor Time over at Happy’s blog and I just broke down. It’s going to be so crazy without him here! But it would be terrible if he signed with the Dodgers! Please, Trevor, please don’t sign with the Dodgers. Sign with the Brewers for the sake of all your Padres fans!!

Dalkowski: Fastest Pitcher Ever?

the code.jpgRight now, I am reading the book The Code: Baseball’s Unwritten Rules and Its Ignore-at-Your-Own-Risk Code of Conduct by Ross Bernstein. It’s a facinating book, very interesting. In this book, I discovered the story of a pitcher named Steve Dalkowski.

He was a minor league pitcher from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. He is considered by some to be the fastest pitcher ever. It was reported that his fastball reached 110 mph, but others think it was only 105 mph. Thing is, the radar guns back then were not that good, so there are very few accurate readings of him.

He was never able to get to the majors because though he was very fast, he was also very wild. In 1960, he had 262 strikeouts in the California League. But he also gave up 262 walks!

When he was first signed by the Orioles, he threw a pitch that took off a part of a hitter’s ear and gave him a concussion. He would stand 15 feet away from a wooden fence and throw a pitch through it. He also threw a ball over a fence 440 feet away.

Though he was insanely fast (many players were utterly scared of him), he was terribly wild. Some think that his confidence deteriorated because he was scared about killing someone with his pitches. Evidently, he hurt his arm in his first major league call-up, and never came back effectively. The rest of his story is pretty sad. He had major problems with alcohol. He was placed in Walnut Hill Care Center in 1994. He has since been able to stay sober, but is still suffering from the effects of his alcoholism.

He was certainly very fast, and he had a very interesting career. Here are some facts on Steve Dalkowski:

  • One time in a minor league game, he threw three pitches that went through the backstop.
  • When he was in high school, he threw a no-hit shutout…with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks.
  • One time, he struck out 27 batters but walked 16. He threw 283 pitches. (I think that was an extra inning game)
  • Another time, he got pulled out of the game in the second inning after throwing 120 pitches.
  • When he was in the Northern League, he threw a one-hitter but lost 9-8.
  • At Stockton, he threw a pitch that knocked an umpire back 18 feet, broke his mask in three places, and put him in the hospital for three days with a concussion.
  • In a game in the California League, he walked nine batters, gave up only 4 hits, and struck out 19. But he lost 8-3.

Some pretty crazy stuff there!

Padres’ Potential Problems

As we go into the 2009 season, we are coming off of a 99-loss season. It doesn’t seem like the Padres will be much better, but it’s going to be a very different team. As of right now, we still have a bunch of holes. Let’s see what could go wrong…
 

BULLPEN

I think our biggest problem right now is the bullpen, specifically the back end. We don’t have a real closer as of right now. If we can’t patch up things with Trevor, we are going to have Heath Bell as closer. Now, Heath has one career save, and he got it in the 10th inning after Trevor had already been used. We really don’t know how Heath will function in the full-time closer’s role. It would seem that he will adjust very well, but you never know. But if we miraculously get Trevor back, he will hopefully have a great season. I know that he’s getting older, and he’s been pitching for a long time, but believe me, if he has the oppurtunity to pitch again this year, he will be effective. Now, the rest of our bullpen is pretty much covered. We have added Chris Britton, and he could be the set-up man to Heath. As long as the pitching can stay healthy, I think we will be pretty well off. BUT we must improve with inherited runners. Last year, the bullpen allowed way too many interited runners to score.

INFIELD

Right now, we don’t have a major-league proved middle infield. We’ve got Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff at the corners, so we’re covered there. But the big concern right now is second base and shortstop. We have many candidates for second: Edgar Gonzalez, Travis Denker, Matt Antonelli. I think Edgar is the most likely candidate. He’s been in the minors for 8 years, and he had a great season at second last year. Travis is a new addition this offseason from the Giants. I think he will get a good look during Spring Training, and he might have split time with Edgar. I think Matt needs more time in the minors, I really do. He’s a young guy, and he had a lot of problems with his hitting last year. I think he needs to go back to the minors and get some more seasoning. Maybe he can come back up in September. At shortstop, we have Luis Rodriguez. But I think we need another guy. Khalil left a huge hole to fill, and I hope we can get a guy who can do that effectively. 

CATCHERS

We have a rookie, Nick Hundley, who looks to be the Opening Day catcher. But the Padres want a veteran catcher who can mentor him and give him a rest once in a while. Josh Bard was amazing at mentoring Nick last season when Bardo was hurt, but Josh has moved on to the Red Sox. So, the Padres are still talking about Brad Ausmus. We need a veteran catcher. Get it done, Padres!!!

STARTING PITCHERS

So far, our rotation looks like this: Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Cha Sueng Baek, Josh Geer, and Kevin Correia. Actually, the last two spots are up for grabs in Spring Training. I think that Geer and Correia have the biggest chance, but we’ll have to see. The biggest thing that we need from the starters this year is long outings. We can’t have every pitcher going only 5 innings. We need them to go deeper to save the bullpen. We also obviously have to keep away from injuries. Peavy, Young, and Baek got hurt last year. We need heathly pitchers.

BENCH

We don’t have many real bench players right now. Scott Hairston is probably going to end up there, but he’s not really a bench player. What we really need is a guy who can pitch-hit and get hits, do something with his at-bats. Someone like Tony Clark. Bud Black deserves a deeper bench.

OUTFIELD

We have Jody Gerut, Brian Giles, Chase Headley, Scott Hairston, and Will Venable for the outfield. This is probably one of the toughest decisions. Jody and Brian are guarranteed a spot, but the left field is kind of iffy. I think the Padres will have Chase here. He’s the top prospect, and he can play up here. But what to do with Will Venable. The guy can certainly play here. He was stellar in center field, and not too bat with a bat, either. But they are not going to have him up here to sit on the bench. Thing is, Jody has his position covered. We’ll just have to see what the Padres decide. These guys need to stay away from injuries too.

Obviously, the whole team needs to stay healthy. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, but I really hope this team becomes better. I hope they can give their fans something exciting to watch. I hope we can win this year.   

Chargers Win!!

On Saturday night, the Chargers did it. It wasn’t easy, but they got it done.

The Chargers weren’t favored to win this game against the Colts. Even some of the Chargers fans that I know weren’t sure if San Diego could pull it off. But the stadium was packed on Saturday night, and the fans were the 12th player.

The game was incredible. The Chargers had a few leads, thanks to touchdowns by the injured LaDanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles. LT left the game soon after his touchdown. But the Colts came back and took the lead, 17-14. In the second half, the Chargers were not doing well. They were making fumbles and bad calls and plays. As the end of the 4th quarter neared, it seemed unlikely for the home team to come back. But then the Chargers hit a good field goal, and the game was tied. It went into overtime soon after.

Six minutes and twenty seconds into overtime, Darren “little big man/lightning bug” Sproles had the ball. And he had a path to the end zone. He dodged a few guys and blew by them, running 22 yards to win the game, 23-17.

This guy has just been incredible. He’s only five-foot-six, and he weighs 181. But he can run, and he has really been stellar as LT’s backup. He did have a fumble in the fourth quarter, right next to the end zone, so you know he was really for redemption. And he got it. 

It was very exciting. I listened most of the game, trying again to figure out what was going on. But I got it. The Chargers won. It still seems kind of unbelievable that they actually pulled it off. They are moving onto the next round, after beating the team that was considered one of their biggest obstacles in the playoffs. And let me tell you, the Chargers are really hot right now. They are on a 5-game winning streak. They just seem to get even better game after game. I don’t see how anything can stop them, even without LT.  

Now they will play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. I don’t know if they can win that game. It is very unlikely that they will have LT to play, but Sproles seems to be doing a good job in his place. Besides, they can win without LT. We’ll just have to see how they do.

In other news, the Padres website has a new article: Quiet Padres are not done reloading!! Well, what do you know?? I think lots of people are desperate for something new. So, they just take old news and try to apply it to right now. That article was basically restating that Kevin Towers said that they will be getting players in late January to early February. So, we will still be making moves! How exciting. I am really ready for baseball. Go Padres! and Chargers!    

A New Owner????

Today the Padres have confirmed that Jeff Moorad is in exclusive negotiations with them to buy the team. Moorad is a former player agent, and until yesterday, he was the chief executive officer of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He actually resigned from that job to fully pursue the Padres. The Padres said that if anything gets done here, it will be done in the first quarter of 2009.

This is really exciting. From the article on padres.com, I get the sense that this guy really wants the Padres. And that’s pretty exciting. He looks like he’s ready to buy this team and make it better. And it really looks like the deal’s going to get done.

It is exciting, to have the hope of a new guy, someone who was in control of the Diamondbacks when they got good. Apparently, this guy really helped Arizona out of their debt. “…the D-Backs now find themselves on much more sturdy financial footing than they faced nearly five years ago.” If that’s what this guy is about, I’d say we could be like that in five years or so. It’s pretty cool. I think this guy can do great things for the organization.

If he does anything, he will bring hope to the San Diego Padres fans. We will have a new fire when we go to the ballpark, knowing that we might get better in the next few years. The cloud has been lifted over the ballpark. If this deal gets done, we won’t be under the dreary ownership of the Moores family anymore. We’ll have a new, exciting owner who knows how to win. I’m excited. Even though it’s literally raining here in San Diego, the sunlight’s already peeking through. With this new owner comes hope. We Padres fans need that.

Looking Ahead to the 2009 Padres

Welcome to 2009! I think this will be a great year in MLB. It will just be great to have baseball back! And I’m sure Spring Training will be here before we know it! I am very excited.

So, last night the MLB Network launched. It’s really exciting for the world of baseball fans. But not so much for me, because I don’t have cable, and as a result I don’t get to watch ANY baseball on TV, not to mention the MLB Network. So, am I less of a fan because I can’t watch baseball 24/7….just kidding. If I did have it, I would be glued to the TV 24/7 and my family and friends would hate me. It would also wear severely on my education, and I don’t think my parents would let me do that. Oh well.

But anyways, 2009 is here. The Padres this year are going to look a lot different than the team last year. I would like to look at some of the players who were on the team last year, and how different it will be this year.

 

year in review bud black st.jpgBUD BLACK, MANAGER

Last year, the second year manager was going into the season after a 89-74 record the year before. His team had been one game away from the playoffs. But last year, something went horribly wrong. He was put in charge of a team that lost 99 games. I really do not think it was his fault. He has the ability to coach a team far into the postseason, if he has the right pieces. He doesn’t have enough pieces here, though. In 2009, he’s going to have to lead a team made up of mostly rookies. Let’s see what he can do with them.

year in review catchers.jpgJOSH BARD AND MICHAEL BARRETT, CATCHERS

Josh Bard went into 2008 with a fairly good season under his belt. He was at one point in 2007 our best player with runners in scoring position. But 2008 was not so great for Bardo. He was riddled with injuries for the majority of the season. He did have a few good games, but he was not that great in 2008. Michael Barrett was not our guy. In 2007 and 2008, he was plagued with injuries, and in the time he did play, he was bad. He was very frustrating to the fans. He just never turned on. Josh Bard is going to the Red Sox for 2009. That will be very interesting, but very exciting for me. I love the Red Sox and I love Bardo, so it works out. I don’t know where Barrett will end up. Maybe he can go somewhere and have a good season. We’ll see.

year in review cy st.jpg

CHRIS YOUNG, STARTING PITCHER

Last year, CY came into Spring Training after a frustrating oblique strain in 2007. He was able to regain his old form for part of the season, but was never the same after he got hit in the face with a batted ball. He was able to salvage a bit of the season though. Going into 2009, he will be the #2 starter behind Jake Peavy. Hopefully he will be able to stay injury-free this season. This guy is a good pitcher, and he’s a solid part of our rotation. If he can stay healthy, he will be a positive part of this rotation.

year in review jake throwing.jpg

JAKE PEAVY, STARTING PITCHER

Jake went into the 2008 season with the NL CY Young award and a new contract extension. Things did not go very well for Jake, though. He was out with an injury, and his offense couldn’t score runs for him. He did do a fairly good job, considering, but he finished the season with a 10-11 record. You know that Jake was not happy about that. After enduring trade talks for the past few months, hopefully he is here to stay for the 2009 season. Believe me, we need this guy in our rotation. He brings so much to the team, and it would be a huge blow to give him away. Hopefully he can return to his form of 2007.

year in review adrian.jpg

ADRIAN GONZALEZ, FIRST BASEMAN

Adrian was really good in 2007. He was amazing in 2008. He was such a positive on this horrible team, it was incredible to see. Adrian’s all about teamwork, the team effort, but he had a wonderful season induvidually. 36 home runs, 119 RBIs, and he won a Gold Glove. I don’t think he had a game off during the season. He doesn’t complain, he just goes out there every day and plays baseball. He’s very humble, and he does a lot of charity work. It’s pretty amazing. This year, he will be the first baseman. He’s almost becoming a veteran on this team of young guys!

SCOTT HAIRSTON, OUTFIELDER                                                                         
year in review scotty bp.jpg

Last year, Scotty was fighting for a spot in the outfield. This year, he will be doing the same thing. He will probably be on the bench (again), but he’s not a bench player. He does a lot better when he can play every day. Unforunately, our outfield situation is pretty much locked up with Chase Headley, Jody Gerut, and Brian Giles. But we’ll see. Hopefully Scotty can find a spot on this team. He really is a great player; he’s hit 4 or 5 walk-offs for us in the last two years. Plus he can play a wonderful center and left. He filled in very nicely when Jody Gerut needed a day or two last year.

year in review edgar at.jpg

EDGAR GONZALEZ, INFIELDER

Last offseason, Edgar was signed to a minor league deal with the Padres. This was pretty exciting because 1) He has grown up watching the Padres, and 2) he would be joining his younger brother Adrian. Edgar didn’t make the Opening Day roster, because Tadahito Iguchi had his position of second, but when Iguchi went down with an injury, Edgar was called up. He made his major league debut after 8 years in the minors. How incredible is that? And doing it on his younger brother’s team no less! He was really good with us, too. This year, he looks to be the starting second baseman.

year in review trevor st.jpg

TREVOR HOFFMAN, CLOSER

Last year, Trevor was coming off a heartbreaking blown save. He did get a little cleanup surgery for his elbow in the offseason, and he was as good as new going into 2008. He wasn’t the best record-wise, but he was so sharp mechanics-wise. In fact, his stuff was the best it’s been in years. But the Trevor-bashers were out in hordes. A blown save, and they screamed to kick him off the team. It was pretty sad. Trevor finished pretty well. He had 30 saves. He is the best closer of our time, with 554 saves in his career. It’s pretty amazing. After bad negotiations with the Padres, he is now a free agent. Maybe the Padres will still be able to get him back. We’ll see. The fans would really like him back!!

year in review heath knievel.jpg

HEATH BELL, PITCHER

Last year, he was just getting ready for his role as set-up man to Trevor Hoffman. This year, he might have to replace Trevor Hoffman. How do you replace a guy like Trevor Hoffman? Heath has 1 career save; Trevor has 554. Heath has the closer’s mentality. He’s said that he would be willing to replace Trevor someday…but only if Trevor handed off the role to him. I’m sure Heath would be content with staying in the set-up role if Trevor was able to come back. But right now, it looks like Heath will be the closer for this team. That’s pretty sad. I mean, it’s great for Heath, but the Padres have had 1 closer for 15 years. We want that closer back.

Many other players have taken different directions, are doing different things. This team will be very different. But general manager Kevin Towers has said that the majority of our signings will be late January to early February. We could still have a great team. And I think it will be a pretty good year of Padres baseball.

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