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San Diego Padres: Cold Bats Key to Slow Start

There’s no way around it or no easier way to put it.  A lack of offense has resulted in a lack of wins for the San Diego Padres.

It was a welcoming site when Will Venable singled up the middle to put a run on the board in the Padres’ 3-1 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies and Roy Halladay Sunday.  Halladay fanned 14, coming within one out of their third shutout of the Padres during a four-game sweep at PETCO Park.

The Padres have scored just three runs in their last 32 innings and besides scoring five runs in the second game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, the Padres have scored just four runs in their past six games.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Padres (8-14) are last in the MLB in runs scored (62) and batting average (.214).

To put those numbers into perspective, the Cincinnati Reds have scored 114 runs and the St. Louis Cardinals lead MLB with a .295 team BA.

What is most frustrating about the inept offensive numbers is the production the club is getting out of the pitching staff—without a fully equipped Mat Latos.

In the midst of losing six of their last seven games, the Friars’ staff hasn’t allowed more than four runs in a single game.  On the season, their starting pitching ranks second with 15 quality starts and also have an MLB’s second-best team ERA (2.94).

A prime example of the Padres inefficiency at the plate is the curious case of Dustin Moseley and his 0-3 start.

Moseley has turned in four quality starts, an ERA (1.40) good enough for third best in MLB, but has a 0-3 record to show because the Padres have given him just one run in support.

Aaron Harang (1.87 ERA) has been just as good in his return to his hometown, with a win in each of his starts.  The only difference is the Padres have provided Harang with 19 runs.

The only every day starter batting above .300 is Nick Hundley (.309). As a result, Bud Black has been changing the batting order on his lineup card daily.

The most recent move was the flip-flop of Will Venable (.172) with Cameron Maybin (.260) at the top of the order.  

Besides Maybin and Hundley, no other Padre starter is batting above .250: Jason Bartlett (.242), Orlando Hudson (.229), Chase Headley (.227), Ryan Ludwick (.194). 

Jorge Cantu and Brad Hawpe, who platoon at first base, are batting .145 and 1.04, respectively. 

“We’ve got to keep working, and we’ve got to grind through this,” Padres manager Bud Black told   “We’ve got to keep doing our work in the cage and watching video. We have to keep working our [rear ends] off to get to where we need to be.”

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Opening Day 2011: San Diego Padres’ New Faces Propel Opening Day Victory

After ending last season with a bad taste in their mouth, the San Diego Padres opened the 2011 campaign against the team that ended their last two playoff runs.

Despite having only one win in their last 13 meetings in St. Louis, the Padres got off on the right foot against a familiar foe.

After three forgettable at-bats out of the eighth spot in the Padres’ lineup, offseason acquisition Cameron Maybin tied the game with a two-out solo home run in the ninth inning. 

Maybin then grounded a single that led to the go-ahead run in the 11th inning on Thursday in the 5-3 victory.

“We fight, we claw, we hang around,” Maybin told the Associated Press. “We find a way to do it.”

One huge reason why the Padres were able to hang around was because of their ability to shut down Albert Pujols (0-for-5), who grounded into a career-worst three double plays and left five men on base.

Compare that to Pujols’ Opening Day in 2010: 4-for-5, two home runs and three RBI’s. 

The Cardinals grounded into five double plays in total, and it was the Padres’ new middle infield combination of Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson who looked like it wasn’t their first time turning two together.

Padres General Manager Jed Hoyer—now entering his second full season, signed Barlett and Husdson to two-year contracts in the offseason.

One of his more recent signings, former Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Pat Neshek, worked his way around two walks in the 10th inning on Thursday and earned his first win since 2007.

Heath Bell needed just 10 pitches to close the door for the save.

The turning point in the game came when, with two outs in the 11th and the game tied at 3-3, Chase Headley singled off Bryan Augustein (0-1).

Maybin followed with a single through the right side that Theriot bobbled off right fielder Jon Jay’s bounced relay back to the infield.

Headley kept running and made a headfirst slide to beat the throw home.

Nick Hundley added an insurance run with an RBI single, plating pitch-runner Cedric Hunter.

“That’s how we have to play,” Headley said. “We’re a team built to pitch, play defense, get timely hits and run the bases hard. We won a lot of games that way last year. Hopefully, we can continue to do that.”

The Cardinals and Padres take the day off on Friday and return to action on Saturday at 1:10 pm. The Padres will send lefty Clayton Richard to the hill against Jake Westbrook. 

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San Diego Padres 2011: Five Friars Key to Success in San Diego

The Padres were in the National League West driver’s seat for most of the 2010 campaign.  As we all very well know, a 10-game lull in August and September paved the way for the San Francisco Giants’ run to the World Series title.

The Padres have a new look in 2011.  Their projected Opening Day lineup will feature six new faces, and Mat Latos will take the ball in an effort to solidify himself as a staff ace in his second full season.

It will take a full team effort for there to be postseason baseball in San Diego.  Let’s take a look at five players whose productivity will pay dividends in 2011.

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Cameron Maybin Puts a Fork in Panda Express, Padres Ownership

In Cameron Maybin’s defense, he hasn’t played an inning in a Padre uniform yet. But that inexperience didn’t keep him from making headlines Monday.

Because for all of the positives that social media represents, it also has its drawbacks. Unfortunately, Maybin found out about the drawbacks the hard way.

After dining at Panda Express, a fast-food style restaurant that serves Chinese cuisine, Maybin had an opinion about the food. So, he decided to do what every other athlete seems to be doing these days.

He took it to Twitter:

“Never eat panda express sh*ts had me feeling awful for 2 days back on my grind tomorrow, We got action…”

It didn’t take long for Maybin to remove that post after it was brought to his attention that Tom Davin, the CEO of Panda Express, also has part-ownership of the Padres.

Suddenly, this tweet appeared on Maybin’s feed:

“Man just got back on the wagon panda express was great today, now I’m ready for action…. Best oriental cuisine around… Let’s go…!”

Lesson learned: Think before you tweet—or at least pay better attention to your fortune cookie.

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San Diego Padres Ship All-Star First Baseman To Boston: Going, Going, Gonzo

It was a weekend of uncertainty, but Adrian Gonzalez was officially introduced as a member of the Boston Red Sox Monday.

It didn’t take him long to give the Boston fans what they wanted to hear.

“I’m very excited to be here in Boston and ready to beat the Yanks,” Gonzalez said in Monday’s press conference.

Next to playing for his hometown Padres, Boston was also always his second favorite destination.

“Ted Williams was from San Diego and played for Boston, “Gonzalez said. “We’re both left-handed hitters. I always felt I had a connection there.”

The trade signals the end of the discount days of the San Diego native’s services in a Padre uniform.

Gonzalez will earn $6.2 million next season in the final year of his contract, but there are reports that Gonzalez will eventually sign a seven-year extension worth more than $155 million, raising his contract to $162 million over the next eight seasons.

The Padres received four prospects: right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly (considered the top prospect in the Red Sox system), first baseman Anthony Rizzo (No. 3) and outfielder Reymond Fuentes (between sixth and 10th)—plus a player to be named later.

If you’re Boston, you’re elated. You picked up a 28-year-old, three-time All-Star first baseman without giving up a player on your major league roster.

If you’re San Diego—namely the Friar Faithful—there’s some frustration the Padres didn’t get a player ready to make an immediate impact.

“One of the things we wrestled with honestly was there were other trades we could have gotten that maybe included one major league player back,” Padres general manager Jed Hoyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “But the rest of the trade would have been weaker and not very deep. So I know there is a disappointment, I guess, that we didn’t get more major league players back.”

But if there is anyone that knows the Boston farm system, it’s Hoyer, who was the Red Sox assistant GM when the three prospects were drafted.

A deal wasn’t going to be done without Casey Kelly, the Red Sox 2009 Minor League Pitcher of the year. The Padres look for Kelly, 21, to be a fixture in the rotation.

Anthony Rizzo, 21, is a power-hitting first baseman who had 20 home runs and 80 RBI in less than a full season for Double-A Portland. Rizzo should slug his way to Triple-A in 2011.

Fuentes is the youngest of the three prospects that the Padres acquired in the deal. He is also the fastest. The 19-year-old Puerto Rican swiped 42 bags in 47 chances this past season at Single-A Greenville.

It’s the second major trade the Padres have made in as many seasons, including the deal that sent former ace Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox for Clayton Richard and three other prospects.

Richard downright outperformed Peavy in 2010, and the three prospects are progressing in the farm system.

The Gonzalez deal, however, differs from Peavy’s in the sense that Padres didn’t get a major league-ready player like they did with Richard. But building a solid farm system in all facets is Hoyer’s mission.

If you’re Adrian Gonzalez, you’re also elated. While the San Diego native likely would have preferred to stay in his hometown if financially possible, he is now batting in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park as opposed to the spacious PETCO Park.

Now that the deal is done, look for Hoyer and Co. to be active in their pursuit of a first baseman and other key free agents.

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MLB Playoff Predictions: Padres and Giants Collide for NL West Title

The pendulum of momentum has swung in the National League West.

San Francisco squandered their second chance in a row to close the division’s door Saturday.  The Padres have a chance to break that door down Sunday in the regular-season finale.

The Padres left San Diego en route to AT&T Park with one mission and one mindset after dropping three of four to the Chicago Cubs: sweep the series in San Francisco

Sweeping the series was the Padres only chance at making the postseason.

With three games to play, the Padres were three games behind the Giants (91-70) in the NL West and two games back of Atlanta in the Wild Card race.

To say things have played out optimally over the last 48 hours would be an understatement. 

On the brink of sweeping the Giants and with Atlanta (90-71) on the brink of being swept by Philadelphia, San Diego’s 4-2 win Saturday shaved the Giants’ lead to one game and also puts San Diego (90-71) in a tie with Atlanta for the NL Wild Card.

The 162-game haul has come down to its final game.

Ace Mat Latos (14-9) will take the mound Sunday for San Diego against Jonathan Sanchez (12-9), who is 2-5 lifetime versus the Padres but also threw a no-hitter against them last year.

In August, Sanchez guaranteed a three-game sweep of the Padres but San Francisco dropped two of three.

“We’re going to play San Diego, and we’re going to beat them three times,” Sanchez told The San Francisco Chronicle.  “If we get to first place, we’re not going to look back.”

Last week it was Mat Latos’ comments that made headlines and provided bulletin board material, when he criticized the rival Giants for their in-season offensive overhaul, accomplished largely by picking up second-hand goods from non-contending teams.

“Baseball works in funny ways,” Latos told “The only way I could honestly put it is, we could be like the Giants and go and change our whole lineup, put guys with ‘San Francisco Giants’ across their jerseys. We didn’t.

“We added two guys Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick. We’ve been the same team all year. We haven’t just gone and grabbed guys from other teams.”

The Padres have won 7 of 8 in San Francisco this year.  With a win Sunday, the Padres will be playing beyond the end of the regular season.


Possible Playoff Scenarios:

–If the Giants win, they take the NL West crown.

–If the Padres win and the Braves lose, the Padres and Giants would tie for the NL West title, but the Padres would get the NL West’s top seed in the playoffs (13-5 head-to-head record vs. SF), and the Giants would be the wild card. The Padres would also have the home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Cinicinnati Reds because the Padres won their season series 4-2.

–If the Giants win and the Braves win, Atlanta would take the wild card and San Diego’s season would be over.

–If the Padres and the Braves both lose, San Diego would travel to Atlanta for a one-game playoff Monday to determine the NL wild-card winner.

–And the most complicated scenario of all: If the Padres and Braves both win, meaning all three teams end the season with the same record, the Padres and Giants would battle it out in San Diego on Monday for the NL West title. The loser would then travel to Atlanta for a game Tuesday to determine the wild-card winner.

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Every Four Years: San Diego Padres 2B David Eckstein’s Time To Win World Series

What do you think of when you read or hear “Every Four Years?” The Presidential elections?  The Olympics?  World Cup Soccer?

Nope, not if you are a fan of the San Diego Padres‘ infielder David Eckstein.

“Every Four Years” means David Eckstein wins a World Series.

In 2002, the biggest little man in major league baseball helped lead the then-Anaheim Angels to a World Series championship over the San Francisco Giants. The 5’7″, 175 lb. Eckstein led the majors with three grand slams that season.

In 2006, Eckstein was named World Series MVP for the champion St. Louis Cardinals.  Following a 1-for-11 start at the plate in the first two games of the World Series, Eckstein finished 8-for-22 with four RBI and scored three runs.

The World Series victory with the Cardinals placed Eckstein in elite company as one of few starting shortstops who have won a World Series in both the American and National Leagues.

Flash forward to 2010. It just so happens to be four years since Eckstein’s last World Series title, and the Padres are in the midst of an NL West pennant race.

As Dick Enberg put it in last Wednesday’s broadcast against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez has been the Friars’ Most Valuable Player, but Eckstein has been the team’s most clutch player, while also mentoring younger players with his outstanding work ethic and hustle on each and every play.

Eckstein is the only infielder in major league baseball this year with at least 80 games played and no errors.   Despite missing 28 games because of a calf strain, Eckstein has played in 105 games this season and provided near-flawless defense.

In a recent poll of 313 major league players conducted by Sports Illustrated, Eckstein was chosen as the player who had gotten the most out of his talent. He got 25 percent of the votes, well ahead of the 13 percent earned by Boston‘s Dustin Pedroia.

In this new-age style of baseball, reliant on power numbers and jaw-dropping statistics, Eckstein has relied on another outlet to get the job done: his heart. 

Wherever David Eckstein has played, winning has followed. 

Entering the final week of the 2010 regular season a half-game behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West, Eckstein and the Padres are on a collision course for a pivotal three-game series in San Francisco this weekend. 

If Eckstein can help bring the city of San Diego its first professional championship, he might have to consider taking his “Every Four Years” regime from the playing field to politics.

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San Diego Spotlight: Miguel Tejada Reviving His Career with the Padres

Miguel Tejada is playing grown man baseball at a grown-up time for the San Diego Padres.

Tejada became the 129th player in MLB history to reach 300 homers Wednesday evening against the Los Angeles Dodgers. But that isn’t the only milestone the 36-year-old veteran is looking to accomplish this season. 

It has been seven years since Tejada has played in the postseason. Both he and the Padres are in search of their first World Series ring.

Acquired the day before the July 31st trade deadline, the Padres’ acquisition of Tejada didn’t resonate throughout the MLB headlines for long.  Yet, it is tough to argue in favor of any other deadline pickup having more of an impact.

Tejada has eight homers in 194 at-bats for the Padres after hitting just seven in 401 at-bats for Baltimore earlier this season. He is also batting .273 with 28 RBI in just 49 games.

The Padres initially acquired Tejada for his veteran bat and presence. While he has surprised Padres management with his glove, he hasn’t surprised himself.

“We discussed the options [when Tejada was acquired]: left field, third base, second,” manager Bud Black told the San Diego Union-Tribune.  “Then we put him at shortstop and we watched just to see what we had.”

What the Padres saw was a 14-year veteran, six-time All-Star, and 2002 MVP with serviceable range that has committed just two errors in 49 games.

“I feel like I can get to any ball that anybody hits.” Tejada told the Union-Tribune. “I really had it in my mind I could still play short, my natural position. I was training in the off season to keep my legs really strong, to keep in good shape just in case somebody needs me to play short.”

Eligible for free agency at season’s end, Tejada would prefer to stay put. Given the uncertain future of Everth Cabrera and the free agency of David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston Jr., the Padres may be in need of multiple middle infielders next season.

“He’s been valuable,” Bud Black said of Tejada. “I think (keeping him) is definitely worth discussion as we move into the winter.”

“I would love to stay here,” Tejada said. “I love to play with the young guys. I love this team. Right now, I’m enjoying the moment. I enjoy the situation right now and I try to take it one day at a time.”

Tejada has a negative image in the court of public opinion due to previous alleged steroid allegations and pleading guilty to one count of perjury on Feb. 11, 2009 for lying to Congress.

Those will be interesting facts in building a Cooperstown Hall of Fame case for Tejada someday.

By the time he’s eligible, he’ll likely rank second or third all-time for homers by a shortstop and somewhere between fifth and seventh in RBI. He also won an MVP award and amassed a very impressive consecutive games streak—162 games in six straight seasons from 2001-2006.

It’s safe to say a World Series ring in 2010 would bolster his Cooperstown resume. 

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San Diego Padres-Colorado Rockies: Friars Win Another Nail-Biter, 7-6

After being swept at home by Colorado in the midst of a near franchise worst 10-game losing streak, the Padres are returning the favor at Coors Field.

The Padres hung on to beat the Rockies 7-6 Tuesday night, behind a 16-hit effort to win the second of a pivotal 10-game road trip.

In a search to find a leadoff hitter, manager Bud Black inserted Aaron Cunningham at the top of the order. Cunningham responded with three hits, including a double, and two runs scored.

Trade deadline acquisitions Miguel Tejada and Ryan Ludwick each added RBI singles in the first. Tejada has now driven in five runs through two of the three games in this crucial NL West matchup.

No hit was bigger than pinch-hitter Matt Stairs’ two-run homer in the eighth, to put the Padres up 6-3.

San Diego relievers Mike Adams and Joe Thatcher couldn’t silence Colorado in the eighth. With two on and two out, Thatcher gave up a run-scoring single to NL MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez.

In the top of the ninth, the Padres got a huge insurance run off a sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley before Heath Bell converted a shaky four-out save.

Bell gave up an RBI double to Melvin Mora after Todd Helton led off the inning with a double. Jay Payton later singled in a run as well, making it a 7-6 game.

But Bell got Eric Young Jr. to ground into a game-ending double play to earn his 29th straight save and 42nd overall.

A sharp John Garland (14-11) put an end to a three-game slide of his own, allowing three runs—one earned—and four hits. He also helped his own cause at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a walk and a double.

Just when you thought you’ve got the National League West a little more figured out, forget about it.

The Padres (82-62) now have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Giants (81-64), who lost 1-0 to the Dodgers despite giving up just one hit.

The Rockies (79-66), who had their 10-game winning streak halted Monday night, dropped to 3 1/2 games behind San Diego.

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Padres Look to Ludwick for Protection in Lineup

Take a glance around the league and you will likely see most successful teams have a solid cleanup hitter penciled in behind the player batting third to prevent the four-finger salute.

Mark Teixeira enjoys the services of Alex Rodriguez. Albert Pujols has Matt Holiday. Chase Utley knows opposing teams would prefer him not be on base with Ryan Howard coming to the plate. 

In long search of a right-handed bat to protect All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez the Padres (65-46) hope to have found their power source and security blanket in Ryan Ludwick.

Ludwick, acquired from St. Louis in a three-team trade on July 31, hit his first two homers with San Diego Tuesday night, reaching 100 for his career and leading the Padres to a 4-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was the best offensive showing from Ludwick in a San Diego uniform so far. 

In his first eight games, Ludwick was 5-for-28 and admitted he was putting pressure on himself to perform.

“I think anytime you come to a new team, you want to impress,” Ludwick told “You don’t want to mess anything up. They’ve had a good thing all year long. I’m just trying to fit in and be a good teammate.”

The win, coupled with the Giants loss to the Chicago Cubs, widened the Padres lead in the National League West to two and a half games over San Francisco as the division frontrunners gear up for a weekend showdown in San Francisco.

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