Saturday, April 28, 2012

Defense?

The scouting consensus entering this season was that the Padres had below-average defenders at shortstop, second base, first base and left field, so it is not surprising that the defense is off to a bad start. The hitting slump of left fielder Jesus Guzman improved the defense by giving more innings to Chris Denorfia, and center fielder Cameron Maybin's east-west skills remained an asset in the division's vast outfields, but Bud Black said the overall defense needed to improve. The team has made a league-high 24 errors and assorted other miscues. Three more errors Friday night increased the difficulty of the 5-3 victory over the Giants.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ascots

With hope comes humor, which for the Padres (6-14) means...ascots.

Not mascots. The Padres already have the O-Dog.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Volquez, Kotsay deliver

This blog gets a slice of the credit for Edinson Volquez walking only one hitter tonight, as Volquez remembers the free advice given him after his walk-filled loss on Opening Day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

PNP

Petco National Park has nurtured countless Padres pitchers. Today's beneficiary was rookie Joe Wieland, a 22-year-old who scouts say could become a No. 4 starter. The right-hander allowed two runs over six innings in San Diego's 7-2 defeat. Nationals manager Davey Johnson praised Wieland (0-3) for keeping the Padres close and said the righty showed a "good slider." But Johnson, whose team's ballpark favors pitchers, noted that his team hit several deep flyouts off Wieland and Padres relievers. "I know at least three balls would've been out in any other ballpark except here," he said.

Fencing again

The "Fence Debate" is an April rite in San Diego. For years, the Padres have studied the pros and cons of shrinking their ballpark's vast right-center field and in fact did lop off some 10 feet in the 2005-06 offseason. As I wrote last summer, Sandy Alderson wanted to further shrink Petco National Park's right field when he left the team in 2009. Alderson reduced the size of the Mets' ballfield this year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strasburg

One series after Cole Hamels passed through Petco Park, another former local pitching star arrived today, also wearing red. If a Padres fan wants to turn green, imagine both of them pitching for San Diego.

"Early on, I was a diehard Padres fan," Stephen Strasburg was saying from the visiting dugout, while wearing  No. 37 for the Washington Nationals.

Eckstein visits

Does David Eckstein miss playing baseball?

Five-second pause.

"Am I allowed to answer that question?" Eckstein told me this afternoon from Petco Park. "Baseball is my passion. I'm happy where I am. I am happy where I am right now."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Review and Preview

Cory Luebke is getting to know himself as a major league pitcher. That's my takeaway from Leubke's strong performance, which ranked as the No. 1 highlight for the Padres in their four-game split with the Phillies.

Ushering a turnaround

Were Padres players as spirited and upbeat as the Padres ballpark workers who awaited Josh Byrnes on Saturday afternoon, the team might not have been off to such a gloomy start. Ballpark ushers, several dozens of them, whooped it up when the general manager was introduced. They sat smiling, one level up from the visiting dugout as the Padres took batting practice. Not one of them asked Byrnes when he'd get some bang for the millions of dollars at shortstop or second base, or whether Padres hitters were being taught to take third strikes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cole Hamels, Padres fan

Cole Hamels talks about the Padres much as several longtime Padres fans I know talk about the Padres -- with frustration, sadness, even dismay.

Don't blame Joe

The bright spot in another dismal performance by the Padres was Joe Wieland's pitching. "He's poised," the Phillies' Juan Pierre told me Thursday night after the Padres lost, 2-0. "Quick arm," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who suggested the righty's arm action effectively quickened a low 90s fastball. Wieland, 22, was making his second career start. He allowed one run in six innings. "He impressed me," said Manuel.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Down below

The Padres are 3-10 going into tonight's series opener against the Phillies. Roster holes and fundamental mistakes are plaguing the Padres. In others words, it's a good time to talk about the farm system. Here, following, are a few nuggets from farm director Randy Smith.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kelly's MRI negative

Today's MRI exam of Casey Kelly's sore elbow revealed no ligament tears, said Padres farm director Randy Smith. Kelly, one of the franchise's better pitching prospects, will not throw for two weeks as part of his rehab at the Padres' training complex in Arizona.  "We will have him re-evaluated at the end of that time and determine the next course of action," Smith told this blog. "Usually guys will have throwing programs to match the time off before they begin game action."

Smith said Kelly, 22, developed the elbow soreness from "general pitching" rather than one particular pitch. A date for the righty's return to Triple-A Tucson hasn't been set. "We want to continue to be cautious and be conservative," Smith said.

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Kelly's elbow to be checked

Sorry to mar your Monday, Padres fans: Casey Kelly, one of the franchise's better pitching prospects, will be in San Diego tomorrow to have his elbow examined. Dan Hayes of the North County Times first reported the news. Here's what Padres farm director Randy Smith told this blog:

"Kelly had some elbow soreness after his last start, and for cautionary reasons we want our doctors in San Diego to examine him. I am sure we will do a thorough exam, which may include an MRI."

At spring training's end, Kelly received praise in the Pink Pony Scouts Chat. The righty was off to a fast start with Triple-A Tucson, striking out 14 with no walks and three runs allowed in 12 innings. Kelly, 22, came to the Padres in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

TV stalemate

The message to Padres fans is clear:  No one is looking out for you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Gunslinger's vision

Kevin Towers saw a winner, where others saw a last-place team. Inspired by what he believed the Diamondbacks could soon become, the former Padres general manager proposed having two of his future salaries become guaranteed only if the team won a lot more often. Towers was interviewing for Arizona's general manager's job late in the 2010 season, the same job for which he interviewed in 2005 only to lose out to Josh Byrnes. The Diamondbacks were cemented to last place and soon would finish 65-97, yet Towers seemed sure that he could turn them into a winner and also build for later years.

"I kind of put my neck out there and said, 'Yeah, I think we can be good and if not, you shouldn't be married to me,' " he said.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

McHenry leaves FSSD

Britt McHenry's time with Fox Sports San Diego was brief. The sideline reporter for Padres telecasts has returned to D.C. to take a job at a TV station. I'm told McHenry was homesick and that the gig here wasn't working out for either side.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Padres ownership Q&A (III)

The Padres are up for auction but you won't find them on eBay. If you're an interested buyer, don't bother scrounging under the couch cushions for coins. Team owner John Moores fessed up today that he's ready to sell the team and has retained two brokers tasked with extracting top dollar. The Texas tycoon talked like an oil man whose remote property, not to be judged by tumbleweeds and dry gulches, sits on a big geyser.

What follows is another round of questions and answers concerning Padres ownership.

Sale of the Padres

John Moores and two brokers talked to the press today about Moores's plan for the sale of the Padres. For the early updates, you'll want to check my Twitter feed @tomkrasovic.

Here's a summary of what was said: It takes about nine months to a year to sell a ballclub, but a deal could happen sooner. Moores and the brokers suggested that soaring TV rights fees and the sale of the Dodgers will inflate the price of the Padres. The club's 20-percent equity stake in Fox Sports San Diego will be part of the sale. It's unclear, Moores said, whether some of Jeff Moorad's limited partners will be among the bidders. Moores said he was kept "out of the loop" about the objections to Moorad within the industry. Moores also said the league's Web site incorrectly reported that Moores bought a 51 percent stake in FS San Diego.

Asked why he's selling, Moores said, "It's time. This is my 18th season. I'm clearly on the long end of ownership."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Review and preview

I thought the Padres' defense terrible in the first half of 2011. Four games into this season, the defense has four bad performances in the book. For the series I graded the defense an F. I took into account the pleasant weather and familiar ballpark.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Padres ownership sequel

If you've followed Friars Follies long enough, nothing under the San Diego sun will surprise.

Surely, you ask, the ownership transfer that never happened, from John Moores to Jeff Moorad, was like nothing else in Padres history.

No, boys and girls, save a wrinkle or two, in our kooky corner of the baseball universe it qualified only as somewhat odd.

Paying attention

On the Philadelphia scale, the booing tonight at Petco Park registered an 0.9 or a 1.7, which is only a few decibels louder than a hot dog vendor in the City of Brotherly Vocals.

On the San Diego scale, however, the booing hit a 3.8 or a 4.6.

Padres fans almost never boo the home team, and when they do, they sound guilty or self-conscious two seconds into it. The boos tonight, in response to a flurry of defensive gaffes, set an unofficial record: I can't recall ever hearing a Padres team booed as loudly, if at all, only two games into the season. I don't make much of it. Following six months of waiting for the season to arrive, Padres fans are still waiting for their team to show up. 

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Newsstand

Two days ago, I wrote a lengthy article about how Jeff Moorad's bid to become control owner of the Padres fell apart. Here's the story. As I wrote last night, John Moores took over negotiations on the TV deal with Fox Sports San Diego and restructured the agreement. Moores shared details of the new TV pact with mlb.com in this story today. For Padres fans, the good news is the TV negotiations are done and with Moorad out of the picture, the deal has MLB's approval.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Padres lose opener, 5-3

Opening Day arrived for the Padres, and I tried to tune out the calliope playing Friars Follies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pink Pony Scouts Chat

I created the Pink Pony Scouts Chat last year to pass along what scouts were telling me at spring training's end. The Pink Pony, a Scottsdale bar and steakhouse, is a favorite hangout of baseball people during the Cactus League season. The late Phil Collier frequented the Pony during his days as a baseball writer. I think that Phil, a friend and mentor to me, would enjoy knowing that the Pony's spirit is still alive. What follows is the second Pink Pony chat, which again leans toward the West Coast and the National League West. As a reminder, the scouts quoted below don't generally talk about their club's players, unless it's to confirm something told me by an outside evaluator.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Stay tuned

Yes, that sound you hear is approaching hooves. The ever-popular Pink Pony Scouts Chat will soon return to this blog. It's a chance for you to learn what several of the game's sharpest observers saw in spring training, from not only the Padres but their rivals and even a few others. I'll post it before Opening Day.