Padres: A Week in Review, 4/11/10 …
Happy Sunday from Coors Field in Denver, where the Padres are getting set to complete their season-opening, six-game road trip.
On Monday, the Padres return to PETCO Park and — apparently, weather-permitting — will face the Atlanta Braves at 3:35 p.m.
A quick note about the blog. We’ll recap the week, I’ll give some thoughts and observations. But with our new Padres Beat, a daily notebook with newsy items and such, we’ll use the blog as a way to talk about the week, in a big picture sense.
So, about the week at was …
I think it’s safe to say the National League West Division will be every bit as competitive as everyone, including the Padres, thought it would be. I really like this Rockies’ lineup and with Jorge De La Rosa and Sunday’s starter, Ubaldo Jimenez, I have to think they’re the favorites to win the division.
I’m not so sold on the Diamondbacks. I like Dan Haren at the top of their rotation. We saw a few 98 mph fastballs from Edwin Jackson, but couldn’t sustain his stuff as the game wore on. I think Ian Kennedy, with his fastball/changeup combination is going to be fine. I still think they’re going to have trouble scoring runs.
As for the Padres, if you’re a fan, you have to like the way Chase Headley is swinging the bat. The same goes for Adrian Gonzalez, who is getting pitches to hit, which is never a bad thing. Headley looks very comfortable and has been using the entire field. I questioned how moving back to his natural position was going to help him offensively (as he surmised that it might in Spring Training). Well, hey, it’s working.
A word on Headley’s defense. Give him time, he’s going to be fine. He had a couple of errors earlier in the week but has made up for it with a few night plays, especially a few back hand plays. His footwork looks pretty good and his throws have been strong and true.
A few of the young players, young on service time, that is (Kyle Blanks and Will Venable) have struggled early. Blanks looks like he’s having trouble tracking the ball. The breaking ball down is giving him fits and it appears he’s having trouble recognizing it out of the hand. This is still a young guy with raw power who is going to take some lumps as we move forward.
As for Venable, he had a big 3-run triple last night but also came up empty in several critical situations in the game (he personally stranded 10 guys on base). I like his swing and I think there’s more power in his game. Like Blanks, he’s going to have to show that he can hit on a consistent basis.
Five games, of course, isn’t much of a sample size at all. But I can see that scoring runs is still going to be a chore at times for these guys. The guys at the top of the order have to find a way to get on base. That’s not happening.
On the pitching side, I was really impressed with Mat Latos on Saturday. We saw the life on the fastball (95 mph) and the changeup that was offered at a 10 mph differential from his fastball. Manager Bud Black talks about having a 8-10 mph differential between those pitches and Latos certainly did that. He really made one location mistake (the home run to Iannetta). For me, I’m really looking forward to watching this guy pitch. The stuff can be electric and he has a good approach for someone who is just 22.
How about Tim Stauffer? He has twice saved the Padres in the opening week with long relief stints (two innings in Arizona, three last night). I’ll be honest, I didn’t see a spot for this guy on this team early in Spring Training. But he pitched well and earned a job. Now his long relief has saved the bullpen and given the Padres a lift. Consider that the Padres still had Heath Bell ready for the 14th inning to close the game out. That was because of Stauffer. His velocity looks good, as does his breaking stuff.
Other observations: Chris Young is fine and, I expect, will pitch here in the next week. The team is being cautious and, because of two off-days, can afford to bring him back slowly. He said there’s no pain in the shoulder. Sure, this is worth watching as we move forward. I just don’t see overwhelming concern on the part of the Padres. Lefty Cesar Ramos has been very good. He’s retired all four hitters he faced and had two big strikeouts on Saturday. The Padres will face an interesting decision when Joe Thatcher is ready to come off the disabled list.
Corey Brock, MLB.com