Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
And after every plan had failed
And there was nothing more to tell,
You knew that we would meet again,
If your memory served you well.

A further two weeks on, and the NL West shows signs of settling into the shape many of us expected it to take.

LA Dodgers	20	14	.588	 -	 9-5	11-9	178	164	
Arizona		20	15	.571	 .5	14-8	 6-7	149	164	
San Diego	19	16	.543	1.5	10-4	 9-12	160	161	
San Francisco	16	17	.485	3.5	10-10	 6-7	159	172	
Colorado	 9	22	.290	9.5	  7-7	 2-15	145	188	
1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers were having a nice couple of weeks until they visited Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals took three of four and generally pummelled the LA pitchers within an inch of their lives. C'est la guerre. St Louis is capable of doing that sort of thing to most pitching staffs - you can't get too upset.

The Dodgers staff has received some good news. Brad Penny has taken up his spot in the rotation, and is pitching well. Jeff Weaver seems to be getting his act together, winning his last two starts. The bullpen has been generally solid in Gagne's absence, and Brazoban has been better than that. The bad news is that they're still running Scott Erickson out there. He's now made 6 starts, pitched 31.1 IP, and struck out 5 (that's five) batters. He's given up 9 homers, and I think it's safe to say that no one succeeds as a major league pitcher if the hitters are roughly twice as likely to hit a home run as strike out.

The big news for the offense was the performance of Hee Seop Choi. Last time I noted that Choi was playing just well enough to stay in the lineup and that this was a good thing in itself. Choi had himself a big couple of weeks: he went 13-36 (.361) with 13 RBI and a nifty .806 slugging percentage. That ought to keep him in the lineup a little longer. Milton Bradley and Jeff Kent have cooled off a little bit, but are still playing well. JD Drew is scuffling - he's not hurting the team, but he hasn't got his bat going yet. Cesar Izturis drew 4 walks and hit 5 doubles in the last 12 games, which is... unexpected. And Ricky Ledee is having the year of his life so far in a part-time role.

The bad news is that Jose Valentin's BAVG dropped below the Mendoza Line just before he went on the DL with a sprained knee.

The Dodgers, curiously enough, are the only NL West team that has scored more runs than they've allowed. They're the only team in the division with a winning record on the road. They open a 9 game homestand tonight, which is good news as they've played well at home this year. The bad news is that the three visiting teams are the Braves, the Marlins, and the Angels. No soft touches there. After that, they stay out west with a road trip to San Francisco and Phoenix.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

It's early enough in the year that imbalances in the schedule are having a major impact on the standings. The Snakes have played 22 games at home, just 13 on the road. It's a large reason they're still hovering near the Division lead. They're given up 15 more runs than they've scored, but they're 20-15 anyway. This can not continue - for one thing, my credibility as a pundit ("this is a godawful team") is at stake.

Troy Glaus is still hitting the crap out of the ball, and there's a balance in his offense - he's hit 13 singles, 12 doubles, and 10 home runs. He's played all but two games - they are most definitely getting return on their enormous investment. So far. Luis Gonzalez has been pretty good as well. Shawn Green is doing for the D'Backs more or less what JD Drew is doing for the Dodgers. This is not a bad thing but still considerably less than either team was hoping for. And Craig Counsell, hitting a surprising enough .291, is on pace to draw 120 (!) walks this year. Why Counsell has scored only 16 runs in 32 games is another question.

On the hill, Russ Ortiz is struggling a bit but Javier Vazquez has suddenly rounded into form. With Webb, Halsey and Estes continuing to pitch well enough, this is actually a pretty decent rotation. Brandon Lyon continues to do outstanding work at the end of the game. The Snakes do have some issues getting the ball from the starter to Lyon - they have just added Kerry Ligtenberg to the bullpen, and Kerry instantly gave them one of his 2004 specials. If your memory serves you well...

The schedule ahead is nasty - the D'Backs have just set out on a 10 game road trip, which will take them through Denver, Houston, and Detroit. Then they return home to play the hottest team in the division. Although there are no guarantees that San Diego will still be the hottest team in the division two weeks from now...

3. San Diego Padres

But they're the hottest group right now. San Diego has played more road games than any of the NL West rivals. This has been good news for the division so far as the Padres have the best home record of all five teams. The Padres had a very nice two weeks, going 10-3. They swept the Rockies, took two of three from Arizona and Cincinnati, and most impressively of all, strolled into Busch Stadium and took three of four from the Cardinals. These guys are rolling.

That said, there are some issues. Like starting pitching. Adam Eaton has been good. Jake Peavy has been better than good, although he hasn't had much in the way of luck. But Brian Lawrence and Woody Williams have been mediocre to average, and Tim Redding (0-5, 8.76) has been even worse than Scott Erickson. Lawrence did at least pitch much better these last two weeks, but they clearly have to do something about the fifth starter. Which they realize: Redding went to the DL with a shoulder injury, and Tim Stauffer came up from Portland to pitch very well beating Cincinnati in his ML debut.

I like Stauffer - he was the Padres first round pick, fourth overall, in the 2003 draft. His honesty about a shoulder problem cost him almost $2 million dollars in bonus money when he signed, but it certainly scored him points for character and integrity. He's not an overpowering dominator - he throws strikes, mixes his pitches, and generally knows what he's doing.

The Padres bullpen has been sensational, and it was just like old times last week when Trevor Hoffman saved six games in eight days. He's getting tremendous support from a deep cast of relievers: Rudy Seanez, Chris Hammond, Dennys Reyes, Scott Linebrink, and Akinori Otsuka have all been good. Every one of them.

More good news - the bats finally show signs of waking up. Last time we looked, Sean Burroughs was leading the team with a .288 average and had managed just one extra base hit all year. Burroughs is now hitting .292, and has two extra base hits on the year. Whoop-dee-doo. But Mark Loretta went 19-55 these past two weeks and is poised to become the first Padre regular hitting .300 (he's at .299 right now.) Even better, Ryan Klesko bashed 6 homers in these last two weeks, and has now matched his entire season total from 2004. Better still, the bats of Brian Giles and Phil Nevin also woke up. This team is going to be very tough to handle.

They've got a 6 game homestand coming up against two of the NL East powehouses, Atlanta and Florida. They go on the road to Seattle and Phoenix.

4. San Francisco Giants

They're still hanging in there. Waiting for Barry. They went 6-6 while they were waiting. But the news from the infirmary could hardly be worse. First Armando Benitez was lost, probably for the entire season. Now Jason Schmidt, winless in five starts since April 10, is on the DL with a "sprained right shoulder."

The problem is in the back of his shoulder in the rotator cuff area, assistant trainer Dave Groeschner said.


The Giants had been getting better starting pitching, especially from Brett Tomko, and Kirk Reuter and Noah Lowry have been a little better as well (Lowry has in fact pitched much better than that ugly 1-4 5.49 would suggest.) But losing Schmidt and Benitez? Hard times may be on the way.

The surprise hitting star has been Jason Ellison, a 27 year old singles hitting outfielder who had exactly three major league hits coming into this season. Ellison doesn't do much besides hit singles, but he is hitting lots and lots of them - .394, to be precise. The chance of him continuing to hit like this is slightly less likely than the chance of my hair growing back, all thick and luxurious, picture of the day mojo notwithstanding. But the Giants will take whatever they can get these days.

Edgar Alfonzo came crashing back to earth these past two weeks, hitting .195 with 1 RBI. Pedro Feliz and JT Snow continue to play well, and Moises Alou got back into the lineup and did some hitting as well. Michael Tucker, Marquis Grissom, and Mike Matheny continue to be a drain on the offense, although Ray Durham is showing signs of life.

The Giants had been win a couple, lose a couple since the season began. They're 10-10 at home, 6-7 on the road. They did it a little differently these last two weeks. First they ran off 6 straight wins. Then they lost four in a row. And then it was back to win two, lose two. They have a 7 game road trip coming up through Houston and Denver. The pitchers should enjoy that. Then they come home to play Oakland and the Dodgers.

5. Colorado Rockies

Now that Tony Pena has resigned, Clint Hurdle surely becomes the overwhelming favourite in the ever popular First-Manager-To-Be-Fired sweepstakes. It's not clear what Hurdle could do to improve this sorry situation - nevertheless, the Rockies are 9-22, and someone's going to pay. Since last we spoke, the Rockies lost 8 in a row, stretching their losing streak to 10 straight before they rose up and smote the mighty Braves twice out of three at Coors.

The Rockies are last in the division in runs scored. This is deeply alarming - these guys can't even hit at altitude. We already knew they couldn't pitch at altitude (well, who can?) but the fact that they can't score runs is extremely worrisome. The team ERA is 6.05, which is bad even by Rockie Mountain Standard. Jeff Francis and (especially) Shawn Chacon have been very good in the rotation, and Brian Fuentes has done a fine job out of the pen. The next best pitcher on the team has been (gasp! shudder!) Jose Acevedo.

Yes, these guys have the GM out trying to find John Wasdin's agent.

The good news - Clint Barmes is still putting up a hitting line that looks like a highlight from Rogers Hornsby's career. How on earth did this happen? Todd Helton's mighty stick is coming around. Brad Hawpe is still playing well.

Alas, Matt Holliday, who was off to such a nice start, went 2-28 these last two weeks. Which is how you drop your batting average from .321 to .255, and it's hard to get it done any quicker than he did.

The Rockies open a 7 game homestand against Arizona and the Giants before heading out on the road to play Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. Will Clint Hurdle still be on the job next time I check in? Stay tuned.... same bat-time, same bat-channel.

Padres On Fire | 10 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
alsiem - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 09:06 AM EDT (#116546) #
Since Kerry was mentioned in this article, I'll post in this thread. Are the Jays off the hook for any of the 2 or so million that was owed now that he has signed with another team?
Mike Green - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 09:11 AM EDT (#116547) #

Rudy Seanez? Rudy Seanez? Roughly a dozen years after Bill James proclaimed him roughly the worst pitcher in baseball, he's still around and making millions and pitching well. Mama, let your children grow up into LOOGYs.

Pistol - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 10:08 AM EDT (#116550) #

Wow, the Rockies are on pace for 115 losses.


Ryan Klesko has been interesting so far - he's hit 9 HRs this year. Last year? He hit 9 HRs. Apparently the shoulder problems he had are over now.

He had surgery on his right shoulder in September 2003 and felt pain in his left shoulder this spring, but said it's OK. He was able to spend four months in the gym in the offseason, and has gone back to the heavier and longer bat he used two seasons ago. "Last year I had to swing a bat that was two ounces lighter than the bat I was used to," he said. "It's nice. I'm just trying to get that feeling back, driving the ball."

Brett - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#116551) #
Strangely enough, Rudy Seanez is right-handed.

my credibility as a pundit ("this is a godawful team") is at stake.

Well, last year I picked Arizona to win the division, and they lost 111 games. Lesson learned: don't make predictions about the Diamondbacks.

sweat - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#116552) #
No. Him being on a another Major League roster means the Jays are off the hook for only the league minumum. Probably pro-rated league minimum at that.
mathesond - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 10:16 AM EDT (#116553) #
I had been under the impression that if AZ claimed Kerry on waivers, they were responsible for the entire contract (a la Tony Batista in Baltimore), but if no claimed him on waivers and then he signed with AZ, the Diamondbacks were only responsible for the (preo-rated) major-league minimum, and Toronto was on the hook for the rest.
The Bone - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 12:21 PM EDT (#116563) #
Magpie, fine work - but your comments re: John Wasdin lead me to believe you have former Reds and current Rockies pitcher Jose Acevedo confused with our old friend Juan Acevedo
Craig B - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 12:43 PM EDT (#116565) #
Ligtenberg had been unconditionally released, so the D-Backs are responsible only for the major league minimum portion of Ligtenberg's salary, $317,000 which I believe is pro-rated to his time in the majors (i.e. since May 5). It's a drop in the bucket, but a nice-sized drop if he sticks all year there.
Magpie - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 05:17 PM EDT (#116583) #
You're right - I definitely had my Acevedos mixed up. And man, is that painful.

I suppose I should withdraw the gasp and the shudder?

Gitz - Friday, May 13 2005 @ 05:39 PM EDT (#116586) #
Man, the poor Giants. If they win 75 games this year, Felipe Alou should be manager of the milennium. Imagine the Jays without Carlos Delgado or Roy Halladay! Oh, wait . . .
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