Friday Links (29 Feb 08)

Happy Leap Day. If you haven’t participated in the Opening Day Roster contest, what’s up with that? The winner receives a copy of the Ducksnorts 2008 Baseball Annual.

Meanwhile, we’ve got links:

  • SI.com reports that Brian Giles is feeling good. So is his surgically repaired right knee. [Kevin]
  • John Walsh at Hardball Times is searching for baseball’s best pitch. The fastballs of Heath Bell, Chris Young, and Jake Peavy get some love, as do the slider of Peavy and Young (!). [Masticore317]
  • Rich, Sully, and friends are doing their annual Two on Two over at Baseball Analysts. As always, their commentary makes for an entertaining read, and this year’s take on the NL West is no exception. The gem here comes from Rich:

    See I believe San Diego’s offense is nearly as underrated as the pitching is overrated. The infielders can flat out hit. Adrian Gonzalez is perhaps the most under appreciated hitter in the league. He blistered the ball on the road (.295/.358/.570 with 20 HR) and during the second half (.302/.356/.538). Kevin Kouzmanoff improved his OPS from .673 in the first half to .890 in the second half. While a liability in the field, Kouz should rank as one of the best offensive third basemen in the NL this season. Khalil Greene has been needlessly dissed for far too long. Throughout his career, the four-year veteran has hit .228/.288/.370 at home and .280/.335/.515 on the road.

    Whoa, enough of the crazy talk. Someone should write a book with this sort of thing in it. And people should buy that book. Lots of copies, even. [Jim Parish]

  • Baseball America has released its list of Top 100 prospects for 2008. Two Padres are represented: Chase Headley at #32 and Matt Antonelli at #50. [Tom Waits]
  • According to the U-T, Paul McAnulty is getting some work at third base again this spring. Further down, there’s a little blurb on first-base prospect Kyle Blanks, who homered at Petco Park when the Storm played a game there last summer. Punch line: That was Blanks’ first trip to a big-league ballpark. [LynchMob]
  • Jason at sdpadrefan.com examines the spring training position battles. He likes Tim Stauffer as the #5 starter. Gutsy call there.
  • John Sickels compares Padres right-hander Mat Latos and Angels right-hander Jordan Walden. Speaking of gutsy calls, Sickels rates Latos as the 46th best prospect in all of baseball. [LynchMob]
  • Tim Sullivan at the U-T talks about Chris Young’s desire to make greater use of his change-up this year. That’s great, but what interests me is this tidbit from GM Kevin Towers:

    At the A-ball levels, that is the one pitch that we’re adamant about our pitchers learning. It is truly the equalizer. There are pitchers in the major leagues who have a below-average breaking ball — (Greg) Maddux — who win on fastball command and a change-up.

    It’s a difference-maker. Guys who are able to throw a change-up in the big leagues and command their fastball can be successful with those two pitches.

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone who follows the Padres and their emphasis on disrupting a hitter’s timing. I wonder if other organizations are as aggressive about teaching their young pitchers to change speeds? [Phantom]

  • Rookie left-hander Wade LeBlanc is being mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the #5 spot. You guessed it, he’s got a killer change-up.
  • The guys at MadFriars chat with Matt Eddy, who wrote the chapter on the Padres in this year’s Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Speaking of the MadFriars, I’ve got a Q&A with Denis and John scheduled to run early next week. You won’t want to miss that.
  • Herija Green at Bugs and Cranks thinks the Padres are a “fourth-place” team. How original.
  • Someone in Chicago doesn’t hate Mark Prior. Presumably he’ll be run out of town as well.
  • Don’t look now, but the Padres have a tough interleague schedule. We’ll see what impact this has on the race.
  • Former Padres shortstop Bill Almon has been nominated for the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Almon was the first pick overall in the 1974 draft, when the Padres took him ahead of Dale Murphy (#5), Garry Templeton (#13), and Lance Parrish (#16), among many others.
  • Tom Krasovic at the U-T takes a good look a the Padres left field situation. Krasovic gets extra bonus points for working in a Bill James reference.
  • I’m rooting for Jody Gerut to make the club. From a recent U-T article:

    Gerut majored in history at Stanford, with an emphasis on Russian history in the 20th century. “My thesis was on Soviet patent law, which is a contradiction in terms.”

    I’m pretty sure “expertise in Soviet patent law” qualifies as an intangible.

  • Brock for Broglio interviews Tom Tango. Closer to home, MB at Friar Forecast chats with Padres front office staffer Chris Long. Good stuff.

Catch even more links at del.icio.us.

Enter the contest.

Buy the book.

Dup dor a’az Mubster.