NL West Report: Okay, I Give Up - The Padres Will Win the Division

It is safe to say that 2010 has not gone the way any of us have thought in the NL West.  Well, mostly.  

The Dodgers have performed pretty much exactly to what I figured and Arizona didn't rebound, as I thought.  The Giants are doing alright.  Those things don't surprise me.  But that's all.

The Rockies have collapsed, leaving us speechless, to the delight of AZ SnakePit.  But obviously, the biggest surprise is the Padres.

Let's get this straight.  No one...NO ONE...predicted a division title for the Padres this season.  I will own up to my words before the season:

They just don't matter this year.  The offense is solid if not spectacular, the rotation is boring but has modest chances for improvement at the back end, and the bullpen is stout.   But they won't contend.

Yet this morning in late August, they lead the division by more than any team has in the division - six games, a larger margin than every division leader other than the Texas Rangers.  They are 25 games above .500 and are just three games behind the New York Yankees for the best record in Major League Baseball.


NL West Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
San Diego 74 49 .601 0 Won 1
San Francisco 69 56 .552 6 Lost 2
Colorado 63 60 .512 11 Won 1
Los Angeles 63 62 .504 12 Lost 1
Arizona 49 76 .392 26 Lost 1

(updated 8.22.2010 at 9:17 PM MDT)


It is an underdog story, and it has been undoubtedly irritating to watch that roster pile up the wins despite going 0-for-4 in series against the Rockies.  But let's face it.  They play the game the right way with no bad apples on the roster.  The same mysterious forces that have allowed the Padres the success they have experienced this season are also responsible for the Rockies' fairy tale end to 2007.  This kind of unpredictability makes this game fun to watch, admittedly much less so from the wrong end.

Lastly, I ask:  is there a better candidate for Manager of the Year than Bud Black?

 

Team capsules after the jump.

 

NL West Report

Arizona (49-76, 5th, L1, 26.0 GB)

Last Week: 2-4. 0-3 vs. Reds.  2-1 vs. Rockies.  The young rotation performed well over the weekend, as the Diamondbacks allowed just five runs to the Rockies over three games, led by Ian Kennedy, Barry Enright, and Dan Hudson.

You Should Know:  Adam LaRoche has 78 RBI.  That doesn't seem significant, but the Diamondbacks' franchise record for RBI by a 1B was set in 2004 by Shea Hillenbrand with 80.  No joke.  All jokes about the importance of RBI aside, it is one way of illustrating how spoiled Rockies fans are with Todd Helton.  Helton has had 80+ RBI in 11 of 13 career seasons as a full time starter, including last season with 86.

Divisional Change: Lost 2.5 games to 1st place San Diego.

This Week: 3 game road series @ Padres.  3 game road series @ Giants.

News:    The Diamondbacks have a horrible bullpen.  That is not a new development.  But one guy who has stayed in the pen all season long has actually had a decent season:  Aaron Heilman.  Of course, he is due to be a free agent this offseason, and Heilman is excited about being a FA.  Don't count on Arizona retaining their one valuable pen piece.

Aaron Heilman

#22 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-5

225

R

R

Nov 12, 1978

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2010 - Aaron Heilman 4-4 55 0 0 0 6 6 57.1 55 25 24 7 22 43 3.77 1.34
The Diamondbacks didn't sign their 1st round pick Barret Loux, but that doesn't mean Loux will go unsigned.  Bud Selig will allow Loux to be a free agent on September 1.  Weird.
Adam LaRoche cleared waivers and does not seem to be garnering much interest.  There seems to be mutual interest in a contract extension with LaRoche.  Don't think that the Rockies can poach prospect Brandon Allen though.  Arizona would push Allen into the LF picture under that scenario.  AZSnakePit Reaction.
Joe Saunders was thought to be a non-tender candidate after the season, but after going 1-3 with a 4.24 ERA with Arizona,Saunders hopes to return to the Diamondbacks next season.
The Padres have a problem limiting innings for Mat Latos due to being competitive, but Arizona doesn't have that problem.  Arizona is limiting Ian Kennedy's innings by design.
The Rockies contributed to a bullpen move for Arizona.  In Spring Training in 2001, Jerry DiPoto saw how competitive Mike Hampton was in spring training and remembered it.  Nine years later, DiPoto brought Hampton into the fold in Arizona in hopes of providing some veteran positive influence in the bullpen after a successful 60-pitch audition.  He will report to AAA Reno.
Ken Rosenthal quotes Derrick Hall as saying it would be "crazy" not to interview other candidates for GM and manager this offseason, though Jerry DiPoto is at the top of the list.  Rosenthal identifies the Damon Oppenheimer, Kevin Towers and Dodgers' Logan White as other GM candidates.

Transactions:  Activated RHP Juan Gutierrez from the 15-day DL.  Optioned RHP Rafael Rodriguez to AAA Reno.  Signed LHP Mike Hampton and assigned him to AAA Reno.

Injuries:  Leo Rosales has not allowed a hit in two scoreless innings in his AAA rehab with the Reno Aces.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brandon Webb shoulder 03/26/2010
Leo Rosales foot 04/29/2010
Star-divide

Los Angeles (63-62, 4th, L1, 12.0 GB, 8.0 GB WC)

Last Week:  3-4.  0-1 @ Braves.  2-1 vs. Rockies.  1-2 vs. Reds.  The Rockies must have left their disease at Dodger Stadium.  Over the last seven games, the Dodgers have alternated wins and losses.

You Should Know:  Clayton Kershaw has not had a 1-2-3 first inning yet this season in 26 starts. Hat tip to Eric Stephen.

Divisional Change:  Lost 2.0 games to San Diego and 1.5 games to Philadelphia in the wild card.  

This Week:  3 game road series @ Brewers.  3 game road series @ Rockies.  The Dodgers are one of six NL teams with fewer road wins than the Rockies.

News:  The big news out of Dodgertown is the return of Vin Scully in 2011.  He had been contemplating retirement.  One of the reasons he cited for returning was Eric Young Jr.'s defensive play against the Dodgers last week.  This from TrueBlueLA:

Scully said he went home that night, still excited that baseball can make him feel this way. So remember that, Dodger fans, if you ever want to boo EY2, think twice.

Scully then quipped a classic:  "Now That They Have Rod Barajas, That Was The Clincher."  The catcher was claimed off waivers from the New York Mets earlier.

Matt Kemp has been a polarizing figure in Los Angeles.  TrueBlueLA has an interesting discussion about Kemp in this fanpost.


Matt Kemp

#27 / Center Field / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-3

225

R

R

Sep 23, 1984


Manny Ramirez won't retire after this season according to Jon Paul Morosi.
Vin Scully won't be retiring, and neither with Mannywood, but another grizzled veteran in Los Angeles might be.  Morosi suggests manager Joe Torre will be done after this season.  He reached the NLCS in consecutive seasons with the Dodgers, the first time Los Angeles had done so since 1988.  In that regard, his tenure was successful.  But the Dodger faithful sure hoped for more than zero pennants and zero World Series championships with Torre in town.
Speaking of Torre, the manager thinks that September callups can create an unfair advantage.
Eric Stephen's weekly Week in Review column.

Transactions:  DFAed SS Juan Castro and claimed C Rod Barajas off waivers from the New York Mets.

Injuries: Activated OF Manny Ramirez and RHP Jeff Weaver from the 15-day DL.  SS Rafael Furcal received a cortizone shot Saturday in an attempt to return to the lineup soon.  Placed RHP Travis Schlichting ton the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation.  Vicente Padilla was placed on the 15-day DL 8/19 with a bulging disk in his neck (ouch!).  Chad Billingsley tweaked his calf after grounding out Saturday but went on to pitch five more innings.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

Probable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chad Billingsley calf 08/22/2010

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Rafael Furcal lower-back 08/03/2010
Russell Martin shoulder 08/04/2010
Vicente Padilla neck 08/19/2010
Travis Schlichting shoulder 08/22/2010

Star-divide

San Diego (74-49, 1st, W1)

Last Week: 5-2.  4-0 @ Cubs.  1-2 @ Brewers.  Over the last four weeks, the Padres are 1-7 on Fridays and Saturdays.

Divisional Change:  Gained 2.5 games on San Francisco.

You Should Know:  So much for regression.  The Padres had not led the NL West by more than four games all season, but they extended their streak to 6 games, representing the second largest division lead of any division leader in MLB.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks.  3 game home series vs. Phillies.  Wins in either series will clinch season series wins against both opponents.

News:  San Diego Padre set an MLB record this week, and you probably even forgot he was on the team.  Matt Stairs clubbed his 21st career pinch-hit home run, passing Cliff Johnson.

Matt Stairs

#16 / Left Field / San Diego Padres

5-9

210

L

R

Feb 27, 1968

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Matt Stairs 57 73 11 15 5 0 3 12 7 27 2 0 .205 .272 .397
San Diego's plan for limiting Mat Latos' innings has begun to manifest.  Rather than exaggerating an injury or legitimately shutting him down, they are taking advantage of each offday, pushing him back for extra rest while the rest of the rotation stays on regular rest.
The Padres have signed Jody Gerut.  There are two angles of irony here.  First, Gerut was a Padre last season but was traded for Tony Gwynn Jr, who just went on the disabled list. Second, it is the second time in the past 12 months that San Diego has re-acquired an outfielder they traded away within the last year (Scott Hairston).
First round pick Karsten Whitson did not sign on Monday despite being offered up to $2.1million.  They had previously verbally agreed on $1.953million earlier in the day.  Keith Law suspects Whitson won't beat the Padres offer in 2013.
MLBTR discusses the Padres rotation going into 2011.

Transactions:  Recalled RHP Ryan Webb, then re-optioned him two days later to recall OF Luis Durango.  Optioned SS Everth Cabrera to AAA Portland.  Signed OF Jody Gerut and assigned him to AAA Portland.

Injuries:  Activated 2B David Eckstein from the 15-day DL.  Tony Gwynn fractured a bone in his hand on August 19 but should return this season.  That wasn't supposed to happen, but since the Padres will be in the playoffs...  In other news, Chris Young threw 38 pitches in a simulated game Saturday and is still attempting to return next month.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Kyle Blanks elbow 05/18/2010
Tony Gwynn Jr. other-excused 08/19/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Chris Young shoulder 04/07/2010

Star-divide

San Francisco (69-56, 2nd, L2, 6.0 GB Div, 2.0 GB WC)

Last Week: 2-4. 1-2 @ Phillies.  1-2 @ Cardinals.  The Giants have been outscored 45-19 over their last 7 games.

You Should Know:  According to Andrew Baggarly, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum are 3-8 with a 4.38 ERA after the All-Star Break.  Good luck making the playoffs if that continues.

Divisional Change: Lost 2.5 games to San Diego, falling for 2 GB to 6 GB in the last two weeks.  Lost wild card lead and now trail by two full games.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Reds.  3 game home series vs. Diamondbacks.  ESPN2 is carrying the Reds/Giants game tonight at 8:05 MDT.  The Reds are 36-26 on the road.

News:  The Giants were awarded a waiver claim on Florida OF Cody Ross.  Ross will join an already full veteran outfield of Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, Jose Guillen, Aaron Rowand and Nate Schierholtz.

Cody Ross

#12 / Center Field / Florida Marlins  San Francisco Giants

5-10

195

R

L

Dec 23, 1980

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Cody Ross 120 452 60 120 24 3 11 58 30 100 9 1 .265 .316 .405
The move on the surface is quizzical, as Ross' main position - center field - is clearly covered by Andres Torres.  Moreover, the outfield is already quite full.  Of course, it would all make sense if the Giants put in a claim on Ross just to block the Padres from winning the claim on Ross.  It isn't at if that's a new idea regarding the Giants.  Rumors abounded earlier this week that the Giants were trying to block the Cardinals and Braves from acquiring a third baseman.
With Tony Gwynn going on the disabled list, the Padres could have used a center fielder.  However, the Padres apparently never had interest in Ross.  It sounds like posturing to me that just didn't work.
It is truly funny how much the Giants fans hate facing the Padres.  It is so much so, Grant from McCovey Chronicles satirically opines that making the playoffs isn't worth it, as it would result in a painful Padres-Giants NLCS matchup at best.
The MLBTR series on 2011 rotations reached the Giants.  San Francisco figures to be more set in their rotation than any team in Major League Baseball.  Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner are all under contract for 2011 and fit within the budget.  Really, outside of injury, the only way that San Francisco doesn't open with that rotation is if they pull off a Matt Cain-Prince Fielder type trade this offseason.
Dontrelle Willis has been moved from AA to AAA Fresno, putting him in position to be added as a lefty option out of the bullpen when rosters expand in September.

Transactions:   Released RHP Todd Wellemeyer.  DFAed IF Matt Downs to make room for Cody Ross.

Injuries:  Chris Ray was placed on the 15-day DL last week with a strained intercostal.  Juan Uribe is day-to-day with a left foot injury.  Dan Runzler has begun his rehab assignment.  Activated LHP Jeremy Affeldt from the 15-day DL.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Dan Runzler knee 07/09/2010
Chris Ray strained intercostal 08/18/2010
Edgar Renteria left biceps 08/11/2010
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