NL West Report: The Three Team Race

So you have found yourself in a relationship with someone a little out of your league.  You have no idea how you reeled them in, but eventually the fire sputters out.  Without knowing how you got there in the first place, you have no idea how to get that person back.  You watch in terror as it all slips through your fingers.  If you have ever experienced that, you may know how the Padres are feeling right about now.

On August 22, San Diego led the Giants and Rockies by 6 and 11 games respectively, and just 21 days later, those two leads have shrunk to 0 and 1.5 respectively.  It has spiraled completely out of control, and there doesn't seem to be anything they can do about it.  Mat Latos couldn't save them.  The offense is no more capable than the Portland Beavers these days.

Naturally, everyone is jumping off the Padres bandwagon.  Despite technically still being in first place, the Giants and Rockies are expected to win the division more than San Diego in a recent MLB TradeRumors survey.  Is there any reason to disagree with this?  Well...no.

Team Home Gm Away Gm        Remaining Opponents Rec. vs Rem. Opp. Opp. WP
Giants        12        6 LAD, MIL, CHC, COL, ARI, SDP            37-31     .484
Rockies         9       10 SDP, LAD, ARI, SFG, LAD, STL            37-27     .581
Padres         7       13 COL, STL, LAD, CIN, CHC, SFG            31-26     .522

No wonder the Giants are favored down the stretch by fans.  They have three consecutive weak opponents in conjuntion with the best home/road split through the end of the season.  The Rockies are certainly hot, though they have by far the most challenging schedule.  If Colorado is to make the playoffs, they will earn it.

After exorcising their demons against the Padres this weekend, it is unlikely the Giants will be too concerned with San Diego as it currently stands.  But regardless of the schedule, the Rockies loom just 1.5 games back, and make no mistake, the Giants know Colorado is charging in the rear view mirror.

 

Team capsules after the jump.

NL West Report

All playoff chances are taken from Baseball Prospectus.


Arizona (57-86, 5th, L3, 23.5 GB)

Last Week: 1-5. 1-2 vs. Giants.  0-3 @ Rockies.  

You Should Know:  The Diamondbacks appear to be mailing it in.  They have scored just 15 runs in the last seven games.

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

Playoff Chances: 0%.  

This Week:  4 game road series @ Reds.  3 game road series @ Pirates.  Barry Enright and Dan Hudson will pitch twice this week.

News:   Kirk Gibson wants to return next year as manager.  Well of course he does.  How many interim managers openly suggest they don't want to return whilst still managing games?  Who finds that newsworthy enough to share, really?  Anyway, it is slightly of note that Gibson claims not to have discussed 2011 with Arizona's brass yet.

As for Arizona's prior manager, AJ Hinch is going to join San Diego's scouting department.

Ken Rosenthal reports that Kevin Towers has moved to the top of Arizona's wishlist for GM next season.  AZSnakePit reacts.  While Jed Hoyer has made some nice moves, the real architect of this year's surprising Padres' team was Towers.  Of note, Jake Peavy has a 1.7 fWAR this year, compared to 2.4 for Clayton Richard, one of four players acquired in the Peavy trade.  That note is from Matt Klaassen.

Given his experienced resume, Towers will be widely sought after, driving up the price.  In two separate tweets, Buster Olney reports that, while Arizona won't throw out a lot of money, they will likely pay what Towers wants if they decide he is their guy.  Nick Piecoro breaks down the top three candidates, which stand now as Towers, interim GM Jerry DiPoto and Logan White.

Buster Olney reports that Arizona absolutely wants to bring back Kelly Johnson.  He is under team control already, in his last year of arbitration, but given his solid season, a large raise could theoretically be unattractive to a a rebuilding team.

Kelly Johnson

#2 / Second Base / Arizona Diamondbacks

6-1

205

L

R

Feb 22, 1982

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Kelly Johnson 137 520 81 142 36 5 20 60 72 129 11 7 .273 .362 .477

Nick Piecoro writes that the team is thinking of installing a humidor in Reno, first-year home of their AAA team.  If they can put one in Reno, we can put one in Colorado Springs.  That is all I will say about that. 

Justin Upton has been dealing with a lingering injury, and so has Mark Reynolds.  Jim McLennan wonders why Reynolds is playing while Upton is resting in yesterday's game thread.

Barry Enright didn't even pitch in Denvergwqa this weekend, but good news for Rockies fans:  it appears Coors Field is already in the stud rookie pitcher's head:

My First time to that yard and you can see why they say it's not too pitcher friendly...De la Rosa throws 95mph from left side with a nasty changeup and sports a 4+ era. There's Something wrong with that.

I could go on a long rant about de la Rosa's walk rate, home/splits (he's better at Coors), and Chase Field's comparable park factor, but I'll just let him stay hot and bothered about our homefield.  After all, a poor mentality goes a long way in fostering poor results at Blake Street.

Brandon Webb threw a bullpen session Saturday at Coors Field.  He is trying to return this year, but it would likely be only a couple innings in relief at most.  That makes it difficult to decipher what Webb is worth, but Jim McLennan and AZSnakepit attempt to answer that question.

In case you missed it last week, The Onion reported that 16,000 D-back fans were killed at Chase Field.

Transactions:  Acquired P Matt Gorgen as a PTBNL to complete the pre-deadline trade of Chad Qualls to Tampa Bay.  Recalled OF Cole Gillespie

Injuries:  Justin Upton had been suffering from shoulder irritation, but an MRI revealed no damage in Upton's shoulder...  Brandon Webb apparently had his best bullpen session to date on Saturday.

Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Brandon Webb shoulder 03/26/2010
Star-divide

Los Angeles (71-73, 4th, L1, 10.0 GB, 11.0 GB WC)

Last Week:  2-5.  0-3 @ Padres.  2-2 @ Astros.  The Dodgers seem to be in full end-of-season destruction mode a la 2007.  Unbelievably, the Astros are only 2.5 games away from pulling ahead of Los Angeles.

Playoff Chances:  Less than one-tenth of one percent, or less than one in one thousand odds.

You Should Know:  The Dodgers have gone 12 straight games without scoring more than four runs, the last time being at Coors Field on August 29, when the Rockies defeated Ted Lilly 10-5.  These three tweets from Eric Stephen at TrueBlueLA last Wednesday do a better job chronicling Los Angeles' offensive woes more than I ever could:

There is some BABIP noise here but since AS break: Ethier is .148/.221/.279 vs LHP (68 PA); Kemp is .199/.258/.331 vs RHP (151 PA). #Dodgers...Since the All-Star break, Andre Ethier is hitting .233/.305/.389 & Matt Kemp is hitting .233/.299/.364

In 2008 "black hole" period between Furcal's injury & Manny arriving, #Dodgers scored 3.66 runs/gm; in 2010 since ASB LA has 3.27 runs/gm. (Wed Sept 8)

Divisional Change: Lost two games in the division.  Lost 1.5 games to Wild Card leader.

This Week:  3 game road series @ Giants.  3 game home series vs. Rockies. Clayton Kershaw pitches twice this week, once vs. Barry Zito tomorrow and once Sunday against Jeff Francis.

News:  MLB FanHouse reported that Brewers owner Matt Attanasio was interested in buying the Dodgers.  Less than an hour later, Tom Hadricourt reported that a "very good source" claimed that report was not true.

Joe Torre initially put 16-year minor league veteran John Lindsey in as a pinch-hitter, but Torre then changed his mind and went with Andre Ethier after Lindsey was announced.  That gave him the unique distinction of debuting in a game without actually appearing.  Lindsey finally got his debut Thursday, and he flied out.

John Lindsey

#35 / First Base / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

245

R

R

Jan 30, 1977

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - John Lindsey 5 6 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 .167 .167 .167

There was a rumor that Hiroki Kuroda would play in Japan next year, but Kuroda refutes that.  Eric Stephen uncovered an interesting note - that Kuroda is 2nd in the NL in intentional walks.  The only thing stranger than that is that the league leader is reliever Brandon Lyon.

Transactions:  DFAed Ronnie Belliard, a year after he chased Orlando Hudson from the starting lineup with a white-hot September.  He was hitting only a handful of points ahead of his weight.  Called up OF Trent Oeltjen

Injuries:   A week after being re-activated, Vicente Padilla has been shut down for the season with a bulging disc in his neck.  If Los Angeles is to play spoiler, it won't be with Padilla's eephus pitch.  The torn labrum in Russell Martin's hip will not require surgery.

Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries

15-Day

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Travis Schlichting shoulder 08/22/2010

60 Day DL / Out for the season

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Russell Martin shoulder 08/04/2010
Star-divide

San Diego (80-62, t-1st, L1)

Last Week: 3-4.  3-0 vs. Dodgers.  1-3 vs. Giants.  Padres' fans have to be panicking now. Their apparent early season hex on San Francisco was completely obliterated, and there is no more buffer from here on out.  Frankly, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if today is San Diego's last day in first place until 2012.

Playoff Chances:  46.55% playoffs (-18.07% Last 7).   34.05% division (-23.37% Last 7).   12.51% wild card (+5.31% last week).  San Diego's playoff chances have dropped from over 90% to under 47% in just two weeks.

Divisional Change:  Lost 1.0 game to second place San Francisco and fell into a tie for first with the Giants.

You Should Know:  The Padres have scored just 24 runs in 11 August games and 33 in their last 16 games.  Even with Petco Park and some of their pitchers, that won't get it done.  Seems some of those young bats are gripping the bat a little tight as their lead has dwindled.  

This Week:  3 game road series @ Rockies.  4 game road series @ Cardinals. Could this be the end of the Cinderella story?  They have seven games on the road against two contending teams as the end of a 17-games-in-17-days streak.

News:  The Padres are doing what one would expect in their situation, rationalizing that this disaster of a freefall isn't so bad.  Of course, they don't have any answers for reversing their fall.

"We're still in the race. We lost 10 in a row and we're still in first place. Whether we're sharing it or not, we lost 10 in a row and we're still in first place," Latos said.  "That right there can make a statement, being that if we just keep playing and we keep winning, if we keep winning the series like we always try to do ... we should have no problem winning the division." - via Corey Brock, MLB.com

I'm not sure Latos could be reassuring himself any more than he is.  Bud Black is stating the same line, but jbox at GasLampBall is fully aware of how much trouble the Padres are in.

It certainly doesn't help that Ryan Ludwick has been a disappointing acquisition as the big bat at the deadline.  Ludwick was dropped to 7th in the batting order.

Ryan Ludwick

#47 / Left Field / San Diego Padres

6-3

220

R

L

Jul 13, 1978

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Ryan Ludwick 39 137 14 29 6 0 4 16 17 35 0 1 .212 .304 .343
For reference, that .647 OPS is worse than Clint Barmes this season and every Rockie except Paul Phillips. Ouch.

Finally, we will be able to go multiple months without hearing about Adrian Gonzalez, as Jed Hoyer said concretely that A-Gone won't be traded this offseason.  Of course, he could be traded midseason if the Padres play in 2011 like they have the last three weeks.

Tonight's starter Cory Luebke has been aided with the addition of a change-up.  He has only pitched two games, but it is already his most valuable pitch so far.  Watch for it tonight.


Transactions:  Recalled OF Luis Durango.  RHP Cesar Carillo was claimed off waivers by the Phillies and LHP Steve Garrison was claimed off waivers by the Yankees.

Injuries:  Activated Jerry Hairston Jr from the 15-day DL.  Chris Young felt good after his third rehab start Saturday.  Tony Gwynn won't be back this season from a broken boke in his hand.

San Diego Padres Injuries

15-Day

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

60 Day DL / Out for the season

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

Star-divide

San Francisco (81-63, t-1st, W1, 1.0 GB WC)

Last Week: 5-2.  2-1 @ Diamondbacks.  3-1 @ Padres.  Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the Giants got a 5-2 week on the road.  After all, they have more road wins than any team in the National League.

Playoff Chances:  55.60% playoffs (12.80% Last 7).   42.70% (+9.18% Last 7) division, 12.90% wild card (+3.62% Last 7).  Change in last week:  +18.47%

You Should Know:  After a terrible August, the real Tim Lincecum seems to have returned, as he notched 200Ks for his third straight season.  Timmy is a blistering 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA in September with 29 Ks and 2 BBs in 21.2 IP.

Divisional Change:  Gained 1.0 games on first place San Diego.  Made up one half game in the wild card stanings.

This Week:  3 game home series vs. Dodgers.  3 game home series vs. Brewers.  Tough break for Padres and Rockies fans, as the Giants get to face two teams who are focusing on 2011, at home.

News:  Grant at MCC notes that not only has Lincecum's results seemed to have returned, but Timmy's velocity is back consistently to 94-95mph.

One huge blow to the Giants' playoff hopes is the loss of leadoff hitter and sparkplug Andres Torres to an appendectomy.  

Andres Torres

#56 / Center Field / San Francisco Giants

5-10

190

B

R

Jan 26, 1978

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2010 - Andres Torres 131 479 81 129 43 7 14 60 54 122 23 7 .269 .346 .476
It was originally reported to be a ten day loss, but beat writer Hank Schulman suggests it is very likely that Torres will be out for the rest of the regular season.  While Torres has struggled in September, losing him will be a huge blow defensively and even offensively.
Grant notes that the Giants had three tremendous drafts in a row from 2006-08, at least in the first round, when they netted Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner.  Of particular note, he notes that a balk-off loss from Armando Benitez in 2006 could have made the difference between the Giants getting Posey and the Marlins being moved up to take him. 

Transactions:   Recalled IF Emmanuel Burriss, IF Eugenio Velez and IF Ryan Rohlinger.

Injuries:  Other than Torres' appendectomy, there isn't much injury news from San Francisco.  They did activate RHP Guillermo Mota from the 15-day DL. Mark DeRosa ran and threw a couple weeks ago.  He still won't return until 2011.

San Francisco Giants Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Andres Torres appendix 09/12/2010
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