Pitching, Payroll, and… I Need a Third Thing That Begins with ‘P’

The Padres somehow extended their National League West lead by 3 1/2 games in the nine days I was out on the road. Like everything else this season, it’s kind of stunning. Not that I’m complaining, but shouldn’t the pitching falter at some point? The list of top ERA+ so far this year blows my mind:

Giants: 126
Cardinals: 125
Rays: 122
Padres: 121
Rockies: 120

Here’s how those same teams did in 2009:

Giants: 123 (#1)
Cardinals: 113 (#5)
Rays: 104 (#12)
Padres: 85 (#27)
Rockies: 109 (#8)

The Padres have turned a glaring weakness into a strength. That’s a nice little trick, if you can swing it.

Sure, Jon Garland pads the ERA by inducing his defense into an error-producing coma, but even still, he’s pitching better than expected. The same holds true for the rest of the rotation except Kevin Correia. As for the bullpen, the Padres have the best OPS against in baseball (opponents are hitting .209/.268/.326 off of San Diego’s relievers).

On offense, it’s nice to see Will Venable rejoin the party. Maybe Scott Hairston can follow suit. Meanwhile, Randy Ready’s next project should be to get Chase Headley to stop hitting like David Eckstein.

What else happened while I was gone? Or didn’t happen? Adrian Gonzalez didn’t get traded. Neither did Heath Bell.

The Padres must be bugging the heck out of those “payroll is everything” folks who believe that something must be done to fix whatever they think is broken. Imagine how much better they would be doing if they had invested an extra $50 million in players this year. Why, they might be as good as the Astros:

Padres: $37.8M, .600 WPct
Astros: $92.4M, .382 WPct

Yes, I’m cherry picking, but isn’t this fun?

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12 Responses »

  1. I have the third thing you are looking for that begins with “P”: Playoffs.

  2. Hahaha, poor Astros. Great article!

  3. How about “profundity”? Ducksnorts puts the “fun” in “profundity” :-)


    Welcome back!

    So … when do you project the pitching to falter? Surely Correia qualifies as faltering … which makes him a candidate to beat Ubaldo tonight :-)

    I’m enjoying our 3 sophomores (Latos, LeBlanc, Richard) … and realizing that they are not likely to be able to duplicate both their IP and ERA+ in the second half … so hoping that Stauffer and perhaps Webb can pick up some of that slack … and I’m counting on the FO boyz to make a couple of acquisitions (a bat and a starter) …

  4. Maybe the third P can be for P Luke Gregerson – he of the 0.51 WHIP and 17:1 (!) K/BB ratio. (It’s a pretty tenuous “P”, I know.) Got his second career save yesterday. I know the All-Star Game usually excludes middle relievers, and I’d like to see Luke get a few days off, but can we agree this is one of the most dominating relievers in baseball right now? And was a throw-in on the Greene trade to boot! From the hated Cardinals for extra boot!

    And yes, Geoff – this is fun. If Gwynn and Venable start heating up, it will be even more fun.

  5. The third “P” is pitching. It seems to be that important.

  6. Third P: Prognostication?

    I love that the Padres are looking for more pitching. Can’t expect it to be a top-tier arm, but the need to be careful with Latos and the chance of regression by other pitchers makes the rotation a serious potential problem.

  7. I think the Padres have benefited by a longer than usual June Gloom, which keeps temperatures low, humidity high, and makes Petco play even larger than it normally would. Plus, it’s impressive how much the pitchers believe in their abilities now. Maybe in August when the ball starts flying out of Petco that’ll change, but for now it’s time to enjoy it.

    Plus, looking at the NL West, I think the Padres have a real chance to go all the way. The Giants have great pitching, but it hasn’t been as good as the Padres, and their hitting isn’t significantly better than the Padres. The Dodgers have great hitting, but pretty bad pitching – their run differential is around +2 (as opposed to +60ish by the Padres and Giants). The Rockies and Diamondbacks may be able to pull something out of the hat, but we might just pull this off.

  8. Question: What is Padres’ ERA+ since trading away Jake Peavy?

    We may not yet have a team that has all the tools necessary to win a playoff series, but they sure seem headed that direction!

  9. And for all that, the Padres get to face Ubaldo Jimenez tonight.

    A couple of thoughts:
    - Padres have scored 1 fewer run than the Cubs and 19 fewer than the Cardinals. Who’d have thought that the offense is about comparable to those two teams going into the season. I don’t mean that the Padres’ offense is nearly as good as those two teams on paper, it’s that as badly thought of as the Padres’ is, those two teams are way underperforming offensively.
    - The pitching is amazing even with some correction; heck, let’s trade for Cliff Lee. Except, of course, he’s the biggest commodity out there, the demand for his service is high, and the Padres may not have what Seattle is looking for.

  10. And that pitching has been achieved without its ostensible #1 starter in Chris Young for most of the season. Remarkable!

    Garland is a trip. He has 7 unearned runs; the entire remainder of the staff have a total of 7 unearned runs between them.

  11. For the third “P” how about ‘pluck’? It’ll work if you enunciate clearly. I remember reading about S.S. Kresge, the founder of the department store that later became Kmart. He once said “I don’t believe in luck, but if you put a “P” in front of it, you’ll have something”.

    Also, if you can name the Padres’ starters at the beginning of last year, and the two replacements whose names start with “G”, you’ll know how the staff ERA improved so much.

  12. How about “Padres, Pitching, and Payroll”?