Monday, March 9, 2009

'Time Out' with Todd Kaufmann

Taking another TO

Todd Kaufmann
Beat Writer for Planet Padres

Ok, so this is supposed to be my weekly article where I tell you what’s going through my baseball driven mind. Last week, I took a shot at the Dodgers and it turns out they ended up signing Manny Ramirez after all. Following that, I gave advice to A-Rod and in a cruel twist of irony, he could be on the shelf until May with a torn labrum in his hip. Not to rub salt in the wound there A-Rod, but when you decided to go from playing for Team USA in 2006 to the Dominican Republic in 2009 because you thought it gave you a better chance at winning, karma bit you in the ass. Let’s not get this twisted, though, noone on Team USA is going to miss you, you performed as well for them as you do for the Yankees in crunch time.

Ok, now that my usual, ‘un-Padre’ rant is out of the way, let’s get to them Padres shall we? I’m going to start with something I’ve tried to do in the past and I realized just how ridiculous it was to even attempt it. What is that thing you ask? Making pre-season predictions based on last season’s numbers. Don’t tell it’s based on more than that, because it’s really not. Yes, teams make trades, free agent signings, but then you look at those players on new teams, you look at their numbers last season, then guess at how they’ll do on their new teams, add a few wins here and there or perhaps a few losses, tally all that up and put a number out there. One problem, pre-season predictions are just like pre-season college football polls, they’re not worth their grain in salt. The reason I bring that up is, everything I read from fans and “experts” say the Padres will lose more than 100 games this season. Well, no offense to the bandwagon jumpers and guesstimators, but how many times have the Yankees been predicted to win the World Series the past nine years and not even made it out of the first round of the playoffs or even sniffed the World Series?

Call me a homer if you will and maybe that might be true, but here’s a fact that I haven’t heard many bandwagon jumpers bring up. The Padres’ big two in the rotation, Chris Young and Jake Peavy, combined for just 45 starts in 2008, down from 64 combined starts in 2007, that’s 19 fewer starts last season. If the Padres win, let’s say, 10 of those 19 starts, they lose only 89 games in 2008. I know it’s still quite aways under .500, but then you can pick apart the one and two runs games they couldn’t put away and you can gain wins there as well. There are things that a lot of people aren’t taking into account for this 2009 team that will be important to their success. Chase Headley has one more year of experience, they have a veteran 2nd baseman in David Eckstein who should give them speed on the base paths, another full season of Adrian Gonzalez who you know can give the Padres 30 HR’s and 100+ RBI’s and another year of experience from 3rd baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. The two unknowns for this team are going to be the back end of their rotation, since the last two spots are still up for grabs, and their bullpen. There ushering in a new era with Heath Bell taking over the closing role, Cla Meredith will slide into the setup role and from there it’s all up in the air. Guys like Mike Adams, Justin Hampson, Mike Ekstrom, Joe Thatcher plus a few others make this a relatively unknown bullpen around Major League Baseball.

The success of the 2009 San Diego Padres hinges on those unknown names as well as possibly putting a lot of pressure on young right-hander Josh Geer and left-hander Wade LeBlanc, two guys who could round out the back end of the rotation. If they can come out and give the Padres 5-6 good innings per start and keep the Padres in the game, it could very well give them a chance to stay in the thick of the NL West.

So, while a lot of people will continue to say the Padres will finish dead last and lose over 100 games, I hope those same people are big enough to admit they were wrong and take the criticism for those of us who still “KEEP THE FAITH.”

And lets not forget that 2008 saw a franchise record # of days spent on the DL......and yes while every team goes through injuries, not every team breaks a record for them. So I think it can be said that it's not an excuse, but was legitimately part of the problem.

Nice job again Todd ! Thanks for stopping by.

Play Ball !!!

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