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San Diego Slides Away
Posted by Ted Rossman at 9/25/2007 9:44:00 AM
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Four days ago, the San Diego Padres were riding a seven-game winning streak and cementing their playoff hopes. Now, they have lost four in a row and are clinging to a wild card tie with Philadelphia as the Rockies and Braves lurk within striking distance. It's only a matter of time before the Padres are eliminated, in my opinion.

Milton Bradley's eruption on Sunday led to one of the most bizarre sports injuries in recent memory, as manager Bud Black's tackle tore Bradley's ACL and could sideline him for all of 2008. Starting center fielder Mike Cameron is also out for the rest of the regular season after colliding with Bradley earlier in the game. The Padres' problems, however, started long before Sunday.

Since June 7, the team is only 49-48. No. 2 starter Chris Young hasn't won since July 19, No. 3 starter Greg Maddux's back is acting up and the team's Nos. 4 and 5 starters are Brett Tomko and Jack Cassel. How did the Padres let this happen?

General manager Kevin Towers started playing roster roulette in late July, dealing important set-up man Scott Linebrink and angering many veterans in the process. Towers later designated David Wells for assignment -- perhaps he'd like to take that one back now? He brought in a revolving door of cast-offs, including the volatile Bradley and Michael Barrett, plus spare parts like Scott Hairston, Brady Clark, Morgan Ensberg and Rob Mackowiak. Towers has made a lot of good trades over the years, but he will end up costing the Padres a 2007 playoff spot. Not only did his frequent additions fail to help the team, but they seriously disrupted the club's chemistry.

San Diego isn't a very good team right now, partially because of injuries but partially because of bad decisions. Where is this team going? It has two glaring holes in its rotation heading towards 2008 and its lineup is awful. Cameron will probably leave as a free agent, which means that the only starting position players under contract for next year are Josh Bard, Brian Giles, Adrian Gonzalez, Khalil Greene and Kevin Kouzmanoff. The bullpen has uncharacteristically struggled during the second half and all-world closer Trevor Hoffman is showing signs of slowing as he approaches 40 years old. San Diego's farm system is a wasteland, so don't expect much help there, and the Padres' roster is getting old in a hurry.

I don't think the Padres will make the playoffs this year and they could find themselves looking up at the entire NL West next season if they don't overhaul their roster this winter.

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