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Bochy for N.L. Manager of the Year
It's really amazing, when you think about it, that the Padres are in position to earn a playoff berth if the season ended today. Manager Bruce Bochy deserves a lot of credit for shepherding this bunch of misfits towards October. He has not used the same lineup more than five times this season, and has had to deal with a host of injuries and poor performances by veterans.

Bochy is plugging holes right now with the likes of Geoff Blum, Russell Branyan, Mike Piazza and Cla Meredith. These guys were all on the scrap heap not too long ago. Sure, the Padres' opening-day payroll was a respectable $69.9 million, but look at where that money was spent (or perhaps more accurately, wasted).

Outfielder/first baseman Ryan Klesko hasn't played all season, yet he is earning $10 million. Starting pitcher Chan Ho Park has been sidelined for over a month with intestinal bleeding, and was not effective when he did pitch this season (7-7, 4.68 ERA). He is making $15 million. Even Brian Giles, the Padres' supposed star in right field, is having the worst full season of his career. He is currently hitting .266 with 12 homers and 67 RBI. Hardly the stats the Padres expected from their $9 million investment. In those three players alone, the Padres have committed $34 million of their $69.9 million payroll (48.6%) to players who have given them very little in return.

This team is not dominating, by any means. Their offense has scored just 617 runs, the second-fewest in the N.L. Their pitching staff leads the N.L. with a 3.99 ERA, but their ace, Jake Peavy, is 8-14 with a 4.31 ERA. Bochy has effectively managed his bullpen, and has squeezed enough out of his starters. He has mixed and matched his offense successfully enough to squeeze out enough run support more nights than not.

Bochy has been criticized in the past for consistently producing mediocre teams, but I contend that this 73-67 team is not mediocre. They are the kind of team that, should they qualify for the postseason, could pose all kinds of problems. The Padres shape up better in a winner-take-all scenario than they do in the 162-game marathon that is the regular season. Bochy deserves a lot of credit for putting the Padres in that position. He isn't writing Beltran, Delgado, Reyes and Wright into his starting lineup every game. He isn't putting Pedro and Glavine on the mound. He is making do with a patchwork group, and doing it quite well.

Posted by Ted Rossman at 9/8/2006 11:37:00 PM

Comments (0)

Rotation
It's looking more and more like the Dodgers' losing out on the David Wells sweepstakes could come back to haunt them. Wells had a very good August (2.65 ERA in five starts) and had a solid debut for the Padres (1 run in 6 IP). Meanwhile, the Dodgers are considering the likes of Mark Hendrickson, Hong-Chih Kuo, and Eric Stults as the #5 starter AND are dealing with Chad Billingsley's oblique injury. Sure Wells is old and sure the Padres paid a high price to rent him, but this could come back to haunt the Dodgers.

Posted by Dave Regan at 9/7/2006 10:55:00 AM
Comments (6)

Michael Barrett's Unpleasant Injury
The Cubs have placed catcher Michael Barrett on the disabled list with an intrascrotal hematoma after he was hit in the groin with a foul tip. While it's certainly not one of the weirder injuries (remember Glenallen Hill's spider nightmare, Ricky Bones straining his back watching TV in the clubhouse, and Marty Cordova cooking himself in a tanning salon), it does sound like one of the more painful, non-life-threatening, non-bone-breaking injuries I've heard of in sports. What else can compare, falling into the aforementioned category of injuries?

Posted by Bret Cohen at 9/5/2006 10:23:00 AM
Comments (7)

Those Improbable Marlins
When the Marlins started the season at 11-31, it was pretty much what everyone expected from a team that consisted of Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis and 23 unproven kids (more or less).

On Sunday, the Marlins evened their record at 68-68 -- not only staying solidly in the wild card race, but becoming the first team since the 1899 Louisville Colonels to reach the .500 mark after digging themselves a 20-game hole.

This from a team whose manager and owner apparently can't stand each other, whose prize home-grown hitting prospect (Jeremy Hermida) is fizzling, and which features a starting pitcher in Scottie Olsen who gets into fistfights with his teammates.

Major league baseball went the entire 20th century without seeing anyone accomplish what these Bad News Marlins have done. And Jeffrey Loria's eyes must be lighting up thinking about all the money he isn't going to have to pay to all these pre-arbitration youngsters.

Kind of puts the "rebuilding" efforts of the likes of the Royals and Pirates to shame, doesn't it?

Posted by Erik at 9/5/2006 7:39:00 AM

Comments (2)

Messing with the Baseball Gods
The White Sox will not make the playoffs this year.

They can blame A.J. Pierzynski for this. It's Pierzynski's fault. It always is. The biggest instigator on the White Sox and probably in all of baseball committed baseball's cardinal sin.

As a Cubs' fan, mentioning cardinal and White Sox in one sentence is messin' with my own baseball karma but since there's nothing left to jinx this season, I feel ok with this.

What did Pierzynski do? Well if you watched the Red Sox come-back win over the Chi-Sox, you may have noticed this. Boston tied the game in the 9th, and with two outs, Pierzynski ran to the backstop and then over near the wall directly in front of the Boston fans to catch a foul ball.

He caught the ball in his over-sized catcher's mitt and then with his over-sized ego, took the ball out of his mitt, stretched out his hand and the ball to a fan. And then yanked it away.

This is unforgivable. And the Baseball Gods will punish accordingly.

I know Pierzynski will come up with some excuse if he's asked about the incident. He's good at playing the victim. During the Michael Barrett punching controversy he gave his best, 'Who me? What did I do? I was just going for my helmet.'

Tell me. Have you ever seen a major leaguer retrieve his own helmet?

I'm not going to assume that the other White Sox players, or Ozzie Guillen, will defend Pierzynski and his behavior. But if they want to do right by the Baseball Gods they're all going to have to do some serious atoning.

I've got just the right punishment: They must wear Cubs' hats during batting practice. I believe the Baseball Gods will look favorably upon this gesture and so will I.



Posted by Karen Anderson at 9/4/2006 10:31:00 PM

Comments (4)

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