Getting swept by the Dodgers over the weekend sucked almost as much as the fact that Petco Park has become a de facto second home for the team from Los Angeles. It’s a wonder that MLB doesn’t require them to bat last when they come to town.
On a brighter note, isn’t the National League West turning out to be fun? Except for the Diamondbacks, who appear to have boarded the wrong bus, each team has shown the ability to stick it to the others. That’s pretty cool. Maybe not as cool as having a team that can run away with the division or even draw its own crowd, but still pretty cool.
One of the problems so far in May is that the Padres offense has disappeared:
Mon G BA OBP SLG R/G Apr 23 .248 .325 .387 4.61 May 15 .217 .314 .304 3.13
Scott Hairston (.250/.380/.500 in 50 PA) and David Eckstein (.313/.411/.396 in 57 PA) are the only guys doing anything. Hairston is hurt, and do you really want Eckstein carrying the offense?
Still, the Padres are 8-7 this month because for as brilliant as the pitching was in April, it has gotten even better:
Mon IP ERA BA OBP SLG Apr 207.0 3.00 .232 .303 .360 May 139.1 2.13 .190 .268 .283
Such improvement is not only improbable, it’s unsustainable. That’s not a knock on the pitching staff, which is much better than anyone had a right to expect (remember that 85 ERA+ last year?), just an acknowledgment that their current 140 ERA+ is ridiculous. I don’t know what the all-time single-season team record is for ERA+, but here are the top five performances of the past 20 years:
Year Team ERA+ Wins 2002 Atl 133 101 1997 Atl 131 101 1999 Atl 129 104 1998 Atl 128 106 2003 LA 128 85
Unless you believe that Jon Garland, Mat Latos, Clayton Richard, and Wade LeBlanc are better than Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and my Aunt Ruth, there’s no way the Padres can keep this going. At some point they need help from the hitters. Otherwise, they may well end up like the 2003 Dodgers, who managed a 79 OPS+ and whose offense was basically [Brian] Jordan, [Shawn] Green, and nothing between. Replace Jordan and Green with Hairston and Adrian Gonzalez, and you’ve got a less snappy version of the same thing.
To the lightning round:
- I’ve preached patience but I’m starting to have concerns about Kyle Blanks. He is 3-for-34 with 17 strikeouts this month and hitting .157/.283/.324 on the season. Worse, he is missing hittable pitches. I still don’t know that he’s got much to learn at Triple-A, but there’s something to be said for letting a young player work out his troubles away from the spotlight.
- I recently said of Tony Gwynn Jr. that “I love what [he] is doing so far. I still have serious reservations based on his larger body of work, but he is proving to be a tough out.” I should have kept my mouth shut. He is hitting .130/.200/.174 in May and .194/.306/.269 on the season. That’s a far cry from our preseason guess of .264/.335/.353 (and even farther from my less optimistic personal guess of .253/.317/.313). In 820 career plate appearances, Gwynn now owns a line of .254/.330/.320. That’s roughly what Eckstein did last year at age 34.
- Reader LynchMob asked me to help Padres fans off the ledge after the weekend sweep. I don’t know about that, but here are a couple of questions to consider:
- Did anyone expect the Padres to have a .605 winning percentage 38 games into the season?
- Did anyone expect the Padres to survive 2010 without a single three-game losing streak?
Beyond the fact that the hitters aren’t doing anything, I don’t see a problem. I mean, that is a problem, but it’s nothing new. To be perfectly frank, I don’t see a ledge so there’s nothing I can do to help. Hope that helps.
Latos and Jonathan Sanchez square off again Tuesday night. Should be a good one.