With the difficult games on the docket for the division (this week), should any team have a particularly strong week, they have a very good chance to improve their standing against the other teams.
That's what I wrote last week. As it turns out, one team did in fact have a particularly strong week - unfortunately, it was the first place San Diego Padres.
That prestigious qualifier has been accurate about the Padres for ten consecutive Mondays now, so it really should not be so foreign. After taking a road series in Tampa against the stumbling Rays, the Padres managed to sweep the Marlins in Miami, even defeating Josh Johnson 2-1.
The result: the Padres extended their division lead by three full games - all the way to 4 1/2, the largest disparity in MLB during a time in which three divisions are separated by a half game. Is it time to take the Padres seriously?
Honestly, I don't know. I can't rationalize this roster winning a division, especially when David Eckstein has the 2nd most WAR in the lineup. Their most valuable pitcher (by WAR) is neither a starting pitcher or their closer. It just doesn't make sense for this team to continue what they are doing. It isn't as if Chase Headley has actually become a savior, or that Everth Cabrera has actually become Rafael Furcal in his prime.
Mat Latos has blossomed into a legitimate force in the rotation, and Clayton Richard has quietly put together a fantastic season. But even taking such performances into account, the Padres don't look like a playoff team.
But every so often, a team can continue to transcend all logic and reason for a full season. Look no further than the 2007 Diamondbacks vs. Pythagoras. If the rest of the NL West doesn't get it in gear, the Padres might just extend their lead far enough to win this thing.
AL East vs. NL West
Over the scheduling gauntlet of the AL East this week, the NL West went 16-14 overall, including 12-12 in interleague and 9-9 vs. the AL East. Nothing worth headlines, but it's a respectable showing that will go unnoticed among most out there, especially considering the three AL East teams faced were the cream of the crop.
Team capsules below the fold.
NL West Report
Arizona (30-46, 5th, W1, 15.5 GB)
Last Week: 3-3. 1-2 vs. Yankees 2-1 @ Rays. The last place team in the NL West just went .500 against arguably the top two teams in MLB. HA!
Divisional Change: Lost two games to first-place San Diego.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Yankees. 3 game road series @ Rays.
You Should Know: Despite the disaster this season, the Diamondbacks didn't hit the 15GB mark in the division until last Wednesday, game 73. That mark was reached in game 64 in 2009.
News: Obviously, the biggest news from Arizona was Edwin Jackson's 8-walk 1-HBP 149-pitch no-hitter. Jim McClennan broke down the performance in great detail at AZSnakePit. Of course, Jackson's no-no came at the expense of the Rays, his former team. His former teammate, James Shields, sent Jackson some Dom Perignon.
#36 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Sep 09, 1983
|2010 - Edwin Jackson||5-6||17||16||1||1||0||0||107.0||103||56||55||10||45||85||4.63||1.38|
"[Haren]'s not at the top of anyone's list, he's just another name."
Transactions: Recalled OF Cole Gillespie and optioned UT Ryan Roberts.
Injuries: Kris Benson was given a second cortisone shot for his shoulder on June 23 and could return in 1-2 week. Leo Rosales was cleared to walk without a boot for the first time without a boot from his foot stress fracture. He is due back very soon after the All-Star Break.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (40-35, 3rd, L1, 5 GB)
Last Week: 2-4. 1-2 @ Angels, 1-2 vs. Yankees.
Divisional Change: Lost three games to the Padres.
This Week: 3 game series @ Giants. 3 game series @ Diamondbacks. Chad Billingsley is due to return from the disabled list today to start. If he is successful, he will pitch in both series for Joe Torre.
You Should Know: The Dodgers won their first two interleague games (against Detroit) and won two of their last four. In between, Los Angeles lost nine consecutive interleague games. That's a 4-11 overall interleague record, worse than every team sans Pittsburgh and Houston.
News: Ken Rosenthal has been busy on the Dodgers this week. He quotes an unnamed GM as saying "It's becoming pretty clear that they're not going to be able to add pitching before the [trade] deadline." Part of the issue is that the Dodgers' valuable prospects aren't close enough to the majors to satisfy Seattle. They will still try to add pitching, but Rockies fans should be happy, as it doesn't look like they will add anyone of significance over what the Rockies might add, especially if Jorge de la Rosa is considered.
#27 / Center Field / Los Angeles Dodgers
Sep 23, 1984
|2010 - Matt Kemp||74||299||52||77||15||4||12||40||27||86||10||10||.258||.316||.455|
Rosenthal goes on to suggest that Ned Colletti get creative and trade Matt Kemp. With Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, Chad Billingsley, James Loney and Matt Kemp all signed through 2012, someone will eventually have to be moved, and Rosenthal nominates Kemp, who has fallen out of favor in Los Angeles in a whirlwind. His base-running has gone downhill and his defense has been terrible. In fact, Kemp has the worst UZR of any player, any position in MLB. That's the definition of selling low. Perhaps he's a stuck-up lazy punk who stays up too late with Rhianna, but if the Dodgers are selling Kemp, I'd be listening.
With the Dodgers and Yankees playing this weekend, Tyler Kepner points out that under today's rules, Alex Rodriguez would have been a Dodger. The Dodgers had one more loss than the Mariners the previous season, but at that time, the first overall pick alternated between the American and National League, and the Mariners were awarded the keys to the universal top choice.
Transactions: Activated SS Rafael Furcal from the bereavement list and optioned IF Ching-Lung Hu. DFAed RHP Charlie Haeger and called up RHP Jon Link. Signed P Jesus Colome, who was just released by Seattle.
Injuries: Cory Wade made his first rehab appearance Saturday.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (45-30, 1st, W3)
Last Week: 5-1. 2-1 @ Rays. 3-0 @ Marlins. I don't care who you are playing, a 5-1 road trip is exceptional.
Divisional Change: Extended their lead in the division by three full games. This is the tenth consecutive Monday that San Diego leads the NL West.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Rockies. 4 game home series vs. Astros.
You Should Know: Josh Johnson had his 8-game streak of 1 ER or less allowed snapped against the Padres Saturday, when he allowed two runs. The second run scored on a sacrifice fly by Jon Garland. It has been that kind of season for San Diego.....The Padres have the NL's fewest road losses at 14, just two behind Tampa Bay for fewest in MLB.
News: The Padres are where they are in large part due to their potentially record-breaking bullpen.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Padres' relievers are on track to be the first in Major League history to throw at least 50 innings in a calendar month, finish that month with an ERA below 2.00 and with a rate of 10 or more strikeouts per nine innings.
That said, everyone and their mother is calling for the Padres to add a bat to ensure their standing at the top of the division. Bill Center from the San Diego Union-Tribune seems to ask for anyone.
#1 / Right Field / Milwaukee Brewers
Mar 24, 1982
|2010 - Corey Hart||67||246||37||67||17||2||18||59||26||53||4||2||.272||.342||.577|
They might have their big slugger if only they played day games all the time. Will Venable was unstoppable in day games last year and terrible in night games. His girlfriend noticed the split and suggested he see an ophthalmologist. He did, and those splits....well...they didn't change whatsoever.
Still, the Padres might actually pursue rotational help instead, or in addition to a bat. A certain Oriole is very interested in re-locating:
"Yes, I'd love to play in San Diego," Guthrie told West Coast Bias, even before I could ask him. - Tim Krasovic, MLB FanHouse
Transactions: Called up IF Lance Zawadzki and C Dusty Ryan from AAA Portland when Yorvit Torrealba served his suspension. Swapped Ryan for Torrealba at the end of the suspension. Traded a PTBNL to Toronto for minor league catcher Kyle Phillips.
San Diego Padres Injuries
San Francisco (40-34, t-2nd, L2, 4.5 GB)
Divisional Change: Lost three games to first place San Diego.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Dodgers. 4 game road series @ Rockies. The Giants could do a lot to assert themselves as the Padres' greatest
You Should Know: The last time the Giants won a series against a team with a record currently better than .500 was April 30-May 2 against the Rockies.
News: The Giants' patience is wearing thin with Bengie Molina, whose production has slipped dramatically this season. I guess they are finally realizing he's not a very good hitter. As a result, Bruce Bochy might start playing Buster Posey more behind the dish. This will certainly be an insteresting development going forward into our weekend four-game set with San Fran.
#1 / Catcher / San Francisco Giants
Jul 20, 1974
|2010 - Bengie Molina||59||197||17||51||6||0||3||17||13||19||0||0||.259||.312||.335|
I polled about a dozen GMs and asked five questions about deal-making, including, Who is the toughest GM to make a deal with? The runaway winner was the Giants' Brian Sabean.
Transactions: Optioned RHP Joe Martinez to AAA Fresno and called up LHP Madison Bumgarner.
Injuries: Todd Wellemeyer is expected to return after the All-Star Break. Mark DeRosa elected to have season-ending wrist surgery. Activated IF Emmanuel Burriss from the disabled list and optioned him to AAA Fresno.