Springtime Storylines: Will Adrian Gonzalez finish the season with the Padres?

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Between now and Opening Day, HBT will take a look at each of
the 30
teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally
breaking down their chances for the 2010 season.  Next — and last — up: The Padres. And there is no significance to me using the old logo this time. I just like it better than that Love Boat looking thing they use now.


The
big question: Will Adrian Gonzalez finish the season with the Padres?

This is kind of like the Diamondbacks/Webb question in terms of obviousness, but it has far more important competitive consequences for everyone involved, so I don’t have similar angst about asking it. Anyway:

You know the drill by now: San Diego still has him under contract for two more seasons at a
combined cost of just $10.25 million. That makes him simultaneously tradable and affordable, which puts the Padres in something of a bind. If he made $10 million this year alone it would actually be easier for them. As of now, the team may want to trade him and could get max value for him, but your average fan who doesn’t think too terribly much about long term contracts and baseball economics will view the move as the team being cheap and hopeless and stuff.  And it doesn’t help that Gonzalez is from San Diego, is invested in the community and seems to truly love it there.

Thankfully for the Padre fans who do pay close attention, Jed Hoyer seems like the kind of guy who will make decisions based on long term competitive concerns and not the whims of columnists, dilettantes and sentimental ballplayers.  As hard as it may be to do, I think they’ll trade Gonzalez this year, I think he’ll realize a hefty return for him and I think that, eventually, everyone is going to be happy. Gonzalez because once he’s freed from his home run killing park he’s going to put up frighteningly good numbers and make himself nine figures. The Padres and their fans because the trade will bring back talent that will be part of the next good Padres team.  In the meantime, the weather is nice there and the fish tacos are excellent, so let’s just enjoy it all, shall we?  

So
what
else is
going on?

  • With Jake Peavy gone the rotation is rather anchorless. Jon Garland will eat innings, as they say, and beyond that are a lot of very tall question marks. Chris Young gets hurt a lot, but if he can recapture his 2007 form he’d be a poor man’s ace (if I could recapture 2007 form I’d be drinking too much and wondering how injured I’d have to be before I could claim disability payments and not have to practice law anymore. How about you?).  Mat Latos represents a lot of promise but growing pains are inevitable. That describes half the roster, of course.
  • The Padres have gone all-in on Hairstons, but the offense is going to be pretty ugly. If Gonzalez is traded the team can probably save money by turning off the lights on the home half of the scoreboard.
  • Lest Padres fans despair at the loss of Gonzalez, at least they have Kyle Blanks to look forward to. He’s 6’6″ and pushes three bills. He’s had a great spring and as a power source he ranks somewhere below the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and somewhere above the Grand Coulee Dam.  Once Gonzalez goes, Blanks will likely rumble over to first base as God and nature intended (note: God did not intend for there to be DHs, so 1B is the best He can do).
  • My Padres expert of choice is Geoff Young, who notes something in his Padres preview at The Hardball Times that I never would have noticed: the new owners, led by Jeff Moorad, are doing a lot of fan-friendly things such as lowering the price of beer and changing the start time of some game to make things easier for everyone.  Given how much attendance has taken a hit in San Diego these are some smart moves.

So
how
are they gonna do?

What’s going on in San Diego is the dictionary definition of rebuilding. But as is the case in Pittsburgh — and is not the case in Houston — rebuilding can be a nice cleansing exercise if you choose to have the right attitude about it. At least in San Diego the process isn’t going to take 18-20 years and, hey, didn’t I mention the weather and the fish tacos already?

Prediction: Fifth place in the NL
West, but tomorrow will be a better day.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.