Thursday, May 26, 2011


* The National League West is a weaker place than it was a week ago.

First, the Rockies lose their best pitcher, Jorge De La Rosa, to a ligament tear in his elbow; then the Giants lose their best player, catcher Buster Posey, to a broken leg. Worse for the Rockies, they'll have to pay De La Rosa $10 million next year while he's on the disabled list per the two-year, $21.5 million contract they gave him last winter. He was 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA this year. The Giants, meantime, weren't scoring much (3.54 per game) even before losing Posey, who was heating up. Does this division look imposing to you? Didn't think so.

* Trevor Hoffman is still helping the Padres.

Like the time three weeks ago when he sought out Mat Latos and encouraged him to be a good teammate, saying that rooting for his teammates helped Hoffman get through lean times by taking his mind off his own troubles. With a career save rate of about 90 percent, Hoffman didn't have many slumps like the one that Latos pulled out of Wednesday, but the message made sense.

"It's always cool talking to a legend," Latos told me. "Unbelievable guy. Great guy. Good guy to have around a ballclub. He's a knowledgeable, smart guy. Knows baseball. You can't even put into words how valuable it is to have a guy like him around. It's always good to be able to go pick somebody's brain who's been in the game for as long as he was and did what he did." Latos said he already was bent on being a good teammate before hearing from Hoffman. One thing he likes to do is shag flyballs in early batting practice so the regulars don't have to expend energy in the outfield.

* While Will Venable is in Triple-A, he should try to get comfortable with sliding feet-first. Did you see him go headfirst into home plate against the Rockies? If you read Dusty Baker's comments on this blog last month, you know why that was a bad idea.

* I'm repeating myself here, but Venable's performance in April was the most disappointing of several by a host of Padres, not that it was shocking. Venable will be a lot more fun to watch if he can find one hitting stance and stick to it.

* Scouts are saying Orlando Hudson has lost a step defensively. Hudson wasn't moving great even before he suffered the groin injury Wednesday.

* Ryan Ludwick would be a good fit for the Phillies, who could use some thump from a corner outfielder and have a home ballpark that would please him. Wallets have a way of loosening up in crunch time, but I'm hearing the Phillies would balk at absorbing that amount of money, even pro-rated. Ludwick's salary is $6.775 million.

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