“In war there is no prize for the runner-up” – General Omar Bradley
San Diego Padres: 3-10 (4/19-4/22)
The Padres should be a welcome sight for the Phillies after they continued to struggle scoring runs in San Francisco. Petco Park is notorious for keeping balls in the ballpark, but the Friars pitching hasn’t been its usual stingy self. Their team ERA of 4.07 is respectable, but that stems mostly from solid relief pitching. Cory Luebke is the team’s only starter with an ERA below 4. The confluence of big ball park and two struggling offenses suggest another low scoring series.
The Padres shook up their lineup in a big way in the offseason when they traded away young ace Mat Latos to the Reds in a 5-player deal. The centerpiece coming back to San Diego was first baseman Yonder Alonso. The stout youngster’s gap-to-gap hitting seemed like a perfect fit with Petco’s spacious outfield, but he has turned out a meager .225 avg and 65 ops+. Facing the likes of Cole Hamels and Doc Halladay won’t help Alonso and the rest of the struggling Padres lineup turn things around anytime soon.
Player to Watch: 3B Chase Headly
Headly is the one player who is hitting for San Diego. The former second round pick of the Padres is starting to look like the player they hoped he’d would be at the plate when they drafted him. Headly’s first two full seasons were largely a disappointment, and he only managed to play in 113 games in 2011. If Headly can stay healthy the whole year he should be considered one of the top offensive third baseman in the league. He should be the team’s lone representative at the all-star game, but it will be a legitimate choice.
Most Hated Padre: Camouflage Jersey’s
There aren’t very many un-likeable players among the Padres young roster, but one thing about the team that is universally disliked is their day game camo uniforms. The team wears them on home day games in honor of the city’s large military community. While i have nothing but admiration and respect for our men and women who serve this great country, let them be the ones to where the fatigues. It makes the players look like their going out on a hunting trip rather play baseball. There is no strategic advantage for blending in with the outfield grass. Many other teams have followed the Friar’s example of wearing alternative jersey’s for day games (the Phillies included) but these have to be considered a swing and a miss.
Editiors Note: I discovered that these uniforms are universally loved in San Diego, so maybe it’s just me.
Fansided Perspective: I asked Chicken Friar’s editor Justin Hunter what the deal is with those camo uniforms, and some other less important questions.
1) How serious is the O’mally family’s bid to buy the team, and will they top the 2 billion dollar mark paid for the Dodgers?
At this point, I’m not sure any ownership group can be considered serious beyond exploratory. It’s so early in the process, I wouldn’t rule out anyone. I will say the Padres will not even come close to the $2 billion mark. Most people think the Dodgers were sold for more than they were worth, so the Padres shouldn’t come close to that. John Moores will stand to make more now than he did when he sold to Jeff Moorad’a group in 2009.
2) The day game camo jerseys have to be some of the worst in the league, do the players actually like them?
From what I understand, the players love them. The fans love them. I love them. I’m not sure why people dislike them so much. San Diego is such a big military town, and the team has such a close relationship with all branches, the uniforms represent something the players can be proud of.
3) April hasn’t been kind to the Friars, can the team score enough runs to make some noise in the division?
It’s been a disappointing start. The Padres have shown they can get on base, but in the first couple series, they couldn’t get timely hits. In the Rockies series the team finally showed they could get hits and score runs. However, their defense has been surprisingly bad. If that keeps up, no amount of offense is going to help them make any noise in the division.
Arizona Diamondbacks: 7-5 (4/23-4/25)
The D-Backs are out to do something no NL West team has done for quite some time; repeat as division champs. One player who has been white hot to start the year is outfielder Chris Young. He is hitting over .400, with 5 home runs, and 13 RBI. The only thing that can stop Young is himself. The seemingly super human outfielder just landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. I”m sure teammates and fans applauded his acrobatics crashing into the outfield wall, but he paid a big price. Good news for the Phillies is that Young is likely to be out for 2-3 weeks, and will miss the three game set against the Phightins.
Player to Watch: RHP Trevor Cahill
Cahill was acquired by the team after they stopped at the Oakland A’s offseason yard sale. The hard throwing righty has been an early success for the D-Backs, as he has posted a 1.35 ERA in his first two starts. Cahill’s weapon of choice is a sharp diving sinker that hitters can only hope to sneak through infielders. Cahill has one of the top ground ball rates in baseball, but he isn’t completely unhittable. The hard throwing righty can get wild at times, and a patient team should draw plenty of walks. Here’s hoping the Phillies can learn some patience before their series in the desert.
Most Hated Player: C Henry Blanco
Henry Blanco is like an itch that just won’t go away. A career backup catcher, Blanco has never wowed anyone at the plate. The only two things he does well are keep guys from stealing, and catching Greg Maddux. Blanco somehow turned catching Greg Maddux into a career, as he has played well beyond Maddux’s retirement. Apparently throwing out baserunners is a lost art, as Blanco continues to catch about 50 games a year. This is a lesson for all those catchers out there who have struggled to hit big league pitching. Find a future hall-of-fame pitcher and convince them they can’t win without you behind the plate.
Fansided Perspective: Christopher Czar at Venom Strikes graciously gave me the low-down on all the major issues with the D-Backs.
1) The D-backs have been bit by the injury bug early on, should the Phillies avoid the drinking water in Arizona?
It’s been really bum luck with the injuries. Young was hurt running down a ball into the wall, Upton sliding into a base and Geoff Blum in batting practice. I’m not sure how they can recover from the Blum injury–note the sarcism–but honestly, the Young and Upton injuries are unsettling. Oh, and I think you’re safe with the drinking water. Just avoid walls, bases and batting cages.
2) Does the team have enough to do what no NL West team has done in years and repeat as division champs?
I picked them before the season, but the Dodgers look strong so far and the Giants will be good. I think the Rockies are improved, as well. Chris Young was off to a phenomal start and if his injury turns into something long term, it will really hurt. It seems Upton will be OK, but his thumb has been lingering. Trevor Cahill and Paul Goldschmidt are a couple of guys who need to have good years if they’re going to repeat.
3) How long is the wait list for the pool in the right center field stands and how do i get a ticket?
It may be the coolest amenity at any ballpark. Are you a swimsuit model? I can get you in this weekend. I’m guessing not, though, so I’ll put your name on the list…but don’t hold your breath.