So this is what a slump feels like …
The headline is a little misleading because, well, I know exactly what a slump feels line. I’m not so far removed from the 2008 season that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to watch these Padres lose more than they win.
As a journalist, of course, we have to be objective. Really, it matters little to me if the team wins or loses. My job is to tell the story of how/why it happened. I will say, though, that I much rather watch good baseball than bad baseball.
I don’t think any of us (myself included and the fans) ever had any grand illusions (delusions?) that this team was ever going to keep up that early-season pace where they went 9-3 and everything went their way …. strong bullpen work, timely hitting, scoring in bunches.
I was asked yesterday on 1360 AM about what’s a bigger disappointment: The failures of the bullpen recently or the lack of timely and situational hitting. As bad as the bullpen has been in this fitful stretch, you’re dealing with guys like rookies Edwin Moreno, Luke Gregerson, Luis Perdomo who have never pitched at this level before and others like Edward Mujica who don’t have vast Major League resumes.
And while a handful of these guys pitched well early, you have to be able to show you can do the job over the long haul. These guys aren’t there yet. I imagine is a daunting proposition for these rookies, pitching for their jobs, trying to get acclimated to facing Major League hitters. I don’t imagine that’s easy.
I think the hitting, or lack thereof, is the bigger disappointment. As I sit here Tuesday, these Padres have a lineup that has Brian Giles hitting .153, Kevin Kouzmanoff hitting .227, Jody Gerut hitting .230. Nick Hundley (.238) and Luis Rodriguez (.237) are also struggling, but in the case of Giles/Kouzmanoff/Gerut, there’s a history there that shows these guys have/can do better.
The lack of production with runners in scoring position has been obvious. It certainly was in a four-game sweep (the wrong end of a sweep, I might add) against the Dodgers last weekend. The team simply can’t win if they’re 4-for-29 with runners in scoring position, no matter how good the pitching is (and it was, with Jake Peavy and Chris Young).
What can we expect moving forward? For starters, more lineup juggling, trying to find the right combination. Don’t expect to see Giles sit for any prolonged periods of time. It’s just not going to happen. It’s a track record thing and, of course, a contract thing (he’s owed $9 million this season).
I would expect to see reliever Greg Burke up from Triple-A Portland at some point, possibly sooner than later, to help a bullpen that needs it. Gabe DeHoyos is another interesting name but he’s walked seven in nine innings and the last thing the Padres need is another reliever who has a tendency of putting runners on base.
In short, the best fixes, the most immediate fixes, are in the clubhouse already.