Saturday, March 3, 2007

Back To Back To Third Place

Dont you hate when work gets in the way of Baseball. So here is the late edition and look for 2nd and 1st place finishers in the NL West tomorrow.

3. San Diego Padres
4. San Francisco Giants
5. Arizona Diamondbacks

This franchise has a good young staff and a good line-up, which also features the best closer ever in MLB history. So why will the Padres finish in third? Take a look at the reasoning.

The rotation was bolstered with the addition of the 41 year old, 4-time Cy Young winner Greg Maddux. Maddux rebounded in the second half of 2006 and created a service for him and at $10 Million the Padres are hoping that he still has something left in the tank. Ahead of Maddux will be the young duo of Jake Peavy and Chris Young. These two young guns are 25 and 28 respectively and just about finished maturing. Peavy had a dismal year finishing 11-14 with a 4.09 ERA. Peavy was still able to rake up 215K’s in 202.1 innings but when Peavy was hit, Peavy was hit hard. This year his ERA will come down and should go back to at least a .550 pitcher while racking up over 200K’s again. Chris Young who almost threw a No Hitter twice last year is odds-on favourite to get the franchise’s first No-No. After finishing 11-5 expect almost a duplicate year while Young probably pulls down his ERA from 2006’s 3.46 mark and raises his K total to about 180. These two are the future of the franchise and will only get better under the tutelage of Greg Maddux. The fourth and fifth spot will be occupied by Clay Hensley and David Wells, probably not in that order, but will be solid none the less. Hensley’s first full season netted him a 3.71 ERA that earned him a 11-12 record. The rotation looks promising with the age and wisdom mixed in with the youth and high K totals.

The Bullpen is owned by the most Savingest Closer in the Big League’s who recorded NL Leading 46 SV in 2006. Hoffman is 39 this season and will be as dominate with his changeup and perfect location fastball. Scott Linebrink who is mentioned in every trade rumour is still around as the Padres hope he can replace Hoffman as the closer. Meredith has a deceiving side arm delivery and will be a good reliever. The Padres also picked up Heath Bell and Royce Ring in the off-season. Royce Ring was not very good with the Mets posting a 2.13 ERA in 11 games, but a new location and a new style of play could see those numbers shrink.

The big move that the Padres made to their everyday line-up is adding hometown product Marcus Giles after the Atlanta Braves let him walk free. Marcus Giles will most likely be hitting second in front of his brother Brian Giles who has seen the pop in his bat fading, but makes up for it by drawing a lot of walks. Leading off for the Padres and replacing Dave Roberts who now serves in a S.F. Giants uniform is Terrmel Sledge. The Left Fielder is expected to pick up his bat and hit for some power as that was the only thing Dave Roberts was not able to do within Petco Park. Adrian Gonzalez who surprised a lot of people with his power will be cleanup as his 24 HR lead the team and his 82 RBI was one short of the team league. Expect the 24 year old to improve his numbers to at least 25-90, as usual he will have a little slump but do not be surprised if he makes even 30 balls soar over the fence. Mike Cameron is the only real Gold Glover taking the field and his bat is staying steady but at the age of 34 expect some drop off. Expect young Josh Bard and Kevin Kouzmanoff to make their mark this year and be starters for years to come. Injury Prone Khalil Greene will be at the bottom of this line-up and it is basically what you see is what you get. If Greene can stay healthy he could be up for a Gold Glove, but the SS position at NL is a little tougher these days.

The Padres have all the making of a team to win their third NL West title but with the other four teams in the division beefing up it will be unlikely as they will be in the dreaded hunt for second place in the division. Maddux will pay off for Peavy who will rebound and also teach Chris Young a few things about pitching with your head, not just your arm. The young guns will mature both in the Pen and in the Field but this year will be tough for the Padres and will just miss out on second place in 2007.

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