Kyle Blanks, Jesus Guzman, Will Venable

What’s gotten into the Padres?


The Padres last night started their fourth options at first base and catcher, their third options at third base and in left field and their backup second baseman, yet scored nine more runs in a win over the Mets.

Their batting lines by month to date:

April: .211/.293/.308, 14 HR in 27 G
May: .249/.303/.363, 19 HR in 28 G
June: .249/.325/.351, 12 HR in 27 G
July: .223/.290/.316, 11 HR in 27 G
Aug: .292/.349/.454, 7 HR in 11 G

By month, they’ve averaged the following number of runs per game:

April: 2.85
May: 3.93
June: 3.63
July: 3.63
Aug: 6.50

And they’re doing it even though their best hitters from the months of April (Nick Hundley), May (Brad Hawpe) and June (Chase Headley) are all on the disabled list.  They’re also absent team home run and RBI leader Ryan Ludwick, who was sent to the Pirates prior to the trade deadline.

Ludwick may even finish the season as the Padres’ leader in homers and RBI.  He had 11 and 64 before being dealt.  Cameron Maybin is second on the team with six homers, one more than Chris Denorfia and Jesus Guzman.  Headley is second in RBI with 43, but now that he’s on the DL, he’s something of a long shot to overtake Ludwick.  Next best on the team is shortstop Jason Bartlett’s 32.

The Padres, though, are breaking in newcomers with increasingly impressive results.  Guzman has been a revalation at first base after taking over for struggling top prospect Anthony Rizzo.  Kyle Blanks, back from Tommy John surgery, has been red-hot in the outfield.  Luis Martinez, the aforementioned fourth catcher, has driven in nine runs in 11 appearances.  Aaron Cunningham also seems poised to make an impact in a limited role.

None of those guys are locks to turn into quality regulars for the Padres, but Blanks and Cunningham are still young enough to do so and Guzman could at least contribute against lefties going forward.  Maybin and Headley will also be back next year as the foundation of the San Diego lineup.  The team won’t keep scoring runs like this, but the future is looking brighter than it did a month ago.

Marlins granted permission to interview Larry Bowa

Larry Bowa
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The Miami Marlins, despite not having technically fired Dan Jennings, are actively interviewing for a new manager. Their latest target is a familiar name: Larry Bowa.

Jim Salisbury of reports on the coaching staff shakeup with the Phillies and, in the course of it, notes that the Marlins have asked and have been granted permission to interview Bowa, who is currently the Phillies’ bench coach. He has been offered a contract for 2016 by the Phillies, but he has never made a secret of his desire to manage again and has interviewed a few times over the years. Bowa, of course, managed the Padres in 1987 and 1988 and managed the Phillies from 2001 into the 2004 season.

As recently as a year ago it seemed unlikely that Bowa would get another look for a top job anyplace, what with baseball’s seeming eschewing of the crusty and feisty old managerial types in favor of young, inexperienced managers who had just recently retired from playing. But given how poorly that’s gone for most clubs — the Marlins included with Mike Redmond — this could be a winter in which we see a bunch of those old salty types returning.

Champagne after a loss? Why not?

Astros Wild Card

There was some hockey person last week arguing about how it was silly or untoward for baseball teams to celebrate clinching wild cards or other, less-than-championship-level accomplishments. Calling it bush league or lacking in act-like-you’ve-been-thereness or what have you. I can only imagine what he’d say about the Astros celebrating with champagne following (a) winning a wild card; and (b) losing the game which immediately preceded the celebration.

But screw him. Seriously.

I used to think that way. Indeed, if you search the HBT archives I’m sure there’s a post or two in which I disapprove of teams engaging in multiple champagne celebrations. But I was wrong about that and I’ve changed my mind on the matter over the past year or too. And on some other matters as well, all for the same reason: athletes are people just like us, not some avatars for our machismo and our fantasies. They’re people who have spent their entire lives devoted to their calling and do it under a lot of pressure and in the face of a lot of criticism and expectations from others. Why on Earth would anyone deny them their happiness upon the realization of an accomplishment?

This is even more true if you’re one of those misguided souls who erroneously believe that sports actually is separate from real life and believe them to be supremely and impossibly important. Even if you’re right — and you’re not — wouldn’t that give the athletes an even greater incentive to celebrate accomplishments? Funny how those people who who act as if sports is life and death would deny athletes their joy for defying death, as it were.

My view on the matter now is that if a guy hits a homer he should be able to celebrate it. If a pitcher strikes a guy out, he should be able to celebrate it. If a team makes the playoffs, no matter how low their seed and no matter the manner in which the accomplishment is achieved short of their competitors going down in a plane crash, they should be able to celebrate if they so choose.

So enjoy your hangovers this morning, Houston Astros.