Thursday, October 28, 2010

Postseason

My, three weeks go by in a hurry when one is lucky enough to cover baseball's second season; to think, the World Series only started last night. As you probably know, the National League West champions are in the World Series, which seemingly adds weight to the Padres' performance this year as the Padres were in contention for the NL West title until the Giants defeated them in the 162nd game. Did San Francisco's success in the playoffs lessen the sting of losing out to them? I Tweeted that question and received several interesting replies from Padres fans. Here are a few:

* "It still hurts, but it feels good knowing that we took the season series from them." -- Chris Sullivan.

* "I'm still pissed about the Cubs series, losing three out of four killed us. Not sure (Bud) Black is right manager for the Padres after his chokes." -- Gxtvino

* "A little...until realizing that had they not caved down the stretch, they would have faced Reds and then Giants on way to WS." -- woedoctor.

Speaking of the Giants, manager Bruce Bochy is having a very good postseason. I wrote about Bochy going into the World Series.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WCB

West Coast Bias has tidbits on the Tattoed One, Bruce Bochy, Rockies, Dodgers.

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 review

The way I saw it, the Padres' achievements this year outweighed the Big Fade. Here's what I wrote. As for Padres ownership, more on their performance later. For now I give Jeff Moorad and his group an I for incomplete.

Bochy

Well, at least your NFL team enjoyed its Sunday, as I wrote. I'll soon post a Padres season review.

Congratulations to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who is back in the playoffs for the first time since he guided the Padres there in 2006, his final year with the club. Funny, every time I wrote something nice about Bochy this year, I heard from Giants fans who depicted Bochy as a buffoon. I consider him an above average manager. Not perfect. With the Padres, he sometimes allowed the lines of leadership to blur. That would work against him, perhaps more than he realized. I don't think he was at his healthiest for parts of the 2000s, including parts of 2006. I think going to the Giants may have rejuvenated him some, partly because he and GM Brian Sabean quickly meshed.

Know this: many people who work in baseball hold Bochy in high regard. His players tend to respect him. He's good at running a pitching staff. I like how he spotted Buster Posey at first base after Posey's promotion in June. Seemed a clever way to acclimate a young, raw catcher. Posey's bat certainly endorsed that approach. Trevor Hoffman used to say Bochy was great at "not being greedy," a way of saying that Bochy managed well for the long season and worked smartly to preserve his key pitchers. I thought he overworked Kevin Walker, perhaps hurting his career, but agree with Hoffman's gist.

Earlier this year, I quoted Carlos Hernandez, the former Padres catcher who has several friends on the Giants, saying that Bochy has strong support from many Giants players. Seems Bochy did a nice job of managing the team's stellar pitching staff. Bochy's fourth Padres team was the best in franchise history, and Bochy told me in April that this, his fourth Giants club, was his best in San Francisco.

The Padres, for their part, were pretty good to Bochy in his 12 seasons as their manager, which netted four division titles and one NL pennant. During the 2003 season, which would end in 99 defeats and was the franchise's fifth loser in a row, I quoted Padres owner John Moores saying there was "no chance' he'd ever fire Bochy. That kind of support is rare in sports. And in the real world.

On the other hand, Bochy's final months with the Padres were uneasy. Bochy wasn't fired by Sandy Alderson, then the CEO. But Alderson made it obvious that Bochy was welcome to leave. Which he did.

When the Giants won Game 162 on Sunday over the Padres, whose bats failed them again, Bochy got back to the playoffs before the Padres did, or, for that matter, before Alderson, who was displaced in March 2009 by Jeff Moorad's arrival as CEO.

San Francisco last reached the playoffs in 2003. Congratulations to Giants fans, who create one of the liveliest homes in the majors.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Padres still alive

Once again, Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse ably sizes up the NL West after another Padres victory over the Giants. For the Padres, it's shades of 1996, as I wrote about here. Of course, Bruce Bochy doesn't want to see that comparison play out.

Three-team race

Jeff Fletcher of AOL FanHouse brings us up to speed on Padres, Giants and Braves and the playoff scenarios.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Padres win opener

* Adrian Gonzalez's remedy seemingly was tonic for what ailed the Padres. Following Thursday's loss, the second 1-0 defeat to the Cubs in four games, Gonzalez said the Padres should swing hard and maybe they'd "run into something." Don't obsess with manufacturing runs, he added. Tonight the Padres ran into three Matt Cain pitches, and those three home runs led to the 6-4 victory.

* The grizzled baseball elders marvel at how athletic and powerful players are today, but they also marvel at how poor the baserunning is. Another example was the blunder by Freddy Sanchez that gifted the Padres with an enormous out in the ninth inning. In their dugout, the Padres were smiling, even chuckling at that one. And the Padres aren't especially smart on the basepaths themselves.

* Heath Bell is doing it again, shouldering a big load down the stretch. Feels a little like 2007. The Loveable Kook probably felt like hugging Sanchez in the ninth. Summoned with two outs in the eighth, Bell had a good curveball and threw four of them to get the first of his four outs. What he didn't have was fastball accuracy. With Sanchez on first after a leadoff walk in the ninth, the Giants' best hitter, Aubrey Huff, had figured out that Bell had to rely on his breaking ball. Huff then unloaded on an inside curveball. Looked like he hit it with a lot of top-spin, which allowed Will Venable to catch the ball in front of the wall. So it was a tricky read. Doesn't matter. Sanchez should never get doubled off base there. Heck, he was darn near third base. Did he realize the score was 6-4? Sanchez spent most of his career with the Pirates. Not to be snarky, that could help explain a blunder of that degree in a game with so much at stake.

* One of the broadcasters talked about how hard the Padres relievers have worked this season. Said their workloads were high. Well, sorry, I think it's pretty much the opposite when you compare their workloads to those of other frontline relievers. All things considered, it's remarkable that the Padres' better relievers don't have many more innings and outings on their ledgers. The broadcaster's comment was in no way a criticism of Bud Black and his pitching coaches. It's October, the seventh month of pitching for most of these guys. My point here is, Black and his pitching coaches have done an excellent job of manipulating the bullpen. The Padres don't have a workhorse in their rotation. No Roy Halladay to chew up 250 innings. They also play a lot of close games. Yet there's nothing alarming about any of their relievers' workloads. From what I was told, Mike Adams went on to the disabled list at mid-season largely because the Padres wanted him to have more fuel in the tank in September. Smart move. Bottom line, I think his deft bullpen management has allowed Black to go to the whip down the stretch, which he's had to do. It's part of why Black should be Manager of the Year. Sure, the relievers could use a breather now. That's a concern for the rest of the series. But their present fatigue owes to the calendar and the playoff race dynamics (and the offense fading over the last several weeks). Putting it another way, there are many managers who would've abused Adams, Gregerson and Bell. Across the board, a strong year in terms of bullpen depth, bullpen quality and bullpen management.

Going to San Francisco

Three games to go, and, as I wrote yesterday, the Padres are desperate for offense. You know it's not your day when Xavier Nady decides he needs to sacrifice bunt as the No. 5 hitter and that leads to the only run. I was there in 1996 when the Padres swept the final series in Los Angeles to win the NL West title. Those Padres had the inside track to the wild-card berth, giving them a safety net. The Braves all but took that away this week by sweeping the Marlins. Adrian Gonzalez said the Padres should swing hard and not worry about manufacturing runs. Why not? What do they have to lose? Earlier on Thursday, West Coast Bias visited the NL West, and revisited David Eckstein's career.