Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

Wrote here about the Rockies mostly, but also touched on the Padres and their 10-game losing streak. You probably want to read a blow-by-blow of the losing streak as little as I want to write one. So, I'll limit this to a few observations.

* The only surprising part of the streak has been the shoddy defense, and only some of it. Part of why the Padres traded for Miguel Tejada was that Everth Cabrera was getting the yips with his throws and still struggling with his defensive timing. Tejada loomed as a defensive upgrade despite being slower afoot and rusty at shortstop. Indeed Tejada has upgraded the defense. When Jerry Hairston Jr.'s elbow pain became too much, though, Cabrera went back into the rotation of middle infielders. It wasn't surprising to see Cabrera's two miscues that opened the door for the third loss in Arizona (again, maybe David Eckstein should've gone in as a defensive replacement once the Padres went ahead by one run in the seventh inning). Saturday against the Rockies, the Padres rested Tejada, 36, and the ball found Cabrera, whose muff led to a key run. Cabrera was jumped from low-Single A to the majors a year ago. He missed vital development time, but the Padres weren't happy with their other alternatives. You buy the ticket, you take the ride.

* Other defensive miscues have been glaring. Such as Chris Denorfia losing concentration on a slow groundball, allowing a Rockies baserunner to go from first base to third on Sunday to set up a run. The runner had stopped to see if Carlos Gonzalez's liner would get past Eckstein. Then Chase Headley muffed a potential doubleplay grounder, bringing in the run. Earlier in the streak, we also saw Ryan Ludwick throw 10 feet wide of Adrian Gonzalez; and a passed ball by Nick Hundley that led to a key run. Hundley is playing more because of Yorvit Torrealba's balky back, and it hasn't been his prettiest stretch of catching. I wonder if Headley is running on fumes. He and Gonzalez are the only Padres who play every day. After his first full year in Double-A, Headley said he was gassed late in the summer. Ideally Tejada could spell Headley, but that became harder to do when Hairston got hurt. Bottom line, the Padres need to get back to playing clean defense.

* It's often said that the Padres aren't playing the caliber of baseball they had played in building up a 76-49 record. I agree with the substance of that view, but I think it gets overstated. Several times, probably at least 10, I watched the Padres win a game this year and thought they played a bad game. Their pitching was that effective, their opponents that lacking, and, to an unusual degree, I guessed, their luck that favorable. Some credit now goes to the opponents. The Diamondbacks aren't wretched any more. The Phillies pitched and defended well in the three games here. The Rockies match up well with the Padres.

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