Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Oh Brother, It's The Padres
by Alex Ciepley
Sea and foam and sand. The Padres and their J.Crew uniform colors are visiting Wrigley for a three-game set. Drawn to their uniforms and new ballpark, San Diego was one of my late-nite viewing favorites last season on my boob tube.
Derek and I turned to the guys at Gaslamp Ball with some questions about this year's Padres team. Dex and jbox give the scoop.
Derek: If I could build a team around any pitcher in the National League, it just might be Jake Peavy. Do you think he'll contend for a Cy Young this year? What's the thing he most needs to improve to solidify his chances?
Dex: He'll totally contend. Last year was a sort of a get-to-know-you year. This year, the buzz among casual fans outside of San Diego will be more like, "You don't know who Jake Peavy is?" He also doesn't have the flashy personality that, for whatever reason, gets taken into account. If you combined Dontrelle Willis' look and attitude last year with Peavy's numbers, I guarantee you more Cy Young votes than the zero Peavy got.
If he bumps up one or more of the glamorous stats like wins or Ks, and stays dependable in what he does, he'll be right up there contending with Pedro and Jason Schmidt in the end.
Derek: Mark Loretta had a nice power boost when he came to San Diego in 2003, but nothing compared to the explosion Padres fans were treated to last year, fueled mainly by a huge increase in doubles. What in your opinion brought this fairly sudden improvement, and will he be able to consolidate his gains in the immediate future?
Dex: It sounds corny, but I think it was having a team around him that believes in him. When ESPN.com called him the best hit-and-run guy around today, they mentioned that he was, for a long time, never regarded as being that great of a hitter. While with the Brewers, they had him at DH, at first base, off the bench... he was basically a utility man, and you're not gonna get much of a chance to show your stuff when you're a utility man.
With the Padres, he's thrived on the added responsibility of batting second, and he's also not the type of person you expect to physically break down any time soon. I wouldn't be surprised if his power numbers go up a little more before starting to decline.
Alex: When Dorothy clicked her ruby-sequined heels together, she ended up in Kaufmann Stadium, a nice little hitter's park. When Ryan Klesko clicked his cleats together, he got a stadium in which he hit 3 home runs all of last year. PETCO may be a problem for the hitters, but is it really a problem for the Padres?
Dex: You take the added bench depth, the fact that they know how the park plays after a full season, and mix in a healthy Ryan Klesko, and I don't think Petco should be a problem. If anything, it's psychological.
(Did you just call Klesko a Dorothy? Well, then Nomar is Glenda the Good Witch. How about that?)
Dex: A secret source tells me that Bruce Bochy's sons have even larger heads than Bochy himself.
I'm really distracted thinking about Bochy's head so jbox will answer the question.
jbox: Bochy seems like he's getting tougher on his players as time goes on. I think he works well with all types of players and seems pretty respected by everybody. I've never heard a player say anything bad about him.
But his shortfall is he needs talent on his team. I don't think he develops talent as well as others. If he has a talented player he gives them the opportunity to succeed.
Dex: And I totally agree with that. I think, however, Bochy can get the most out of older players who know how good Bochy is (Greg Vaughn, Steve Finley, Rickey Henderson) and younger guys with a good head on their shoulders (X. Nady, Khalil Greene), but not younger guys who are blinded by thinking they're the poop (Matt Clement, Ruben Rivera).
Cub Town: Your prediction for the series?
Dex: I'll give you three:
Nomar will corner Klesko and Hyzdu and force them to reveal their hair secrets.
Zambrano will heckle Woody Williams with "We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher". This will result in Zambrano's second ejection of the season.