Two weeks ago, I surrendered the division to the Padres, finally buying in to whatever elixir is being put together at PetCo these days. Since then, San Diego is 2-10, losers of ten straight, with the Giants just one day from tying the division lead. In other words, San Diego has done exactly the opposite of what I have expected all season long.
Evidentally, I don't know much about baseball, or at least the Padres.
Or, I could offer an alternate explanation which you may or may not believe. The night before I wrote that column two weeks ago, David Eckstein came to me in a dream. I looked down on him and laughed. Empowered by grission, he returned to my dream at sundown sitting upon Chris Young's shoulders. His persistence and large shadow forced me to listen.
Eckstein told me that every Padre reads Purple Row's NL West Report every Monday, and the lack of belief therein in the Friars inspired them to win. So when I woke, I wrote of my belief in the Padres. That night, Eckstein/Young returned and thanked me for finally believing. Then Young's shoulder snapped and McGrission toppled over on his head. The Padres have not won since. The power of reverse psychology is mine!
Whatever...this game is weird. Here is what you need to know:
NL West Standings
The Giants are just a single game out of first place but have seven games on the road this week. The four at Petco this coming weekend offers the Rockies a golden chance to catch up on someone if they can take care of business against Arizona, a task made more possible with the news that Barry Enright and Dan Hudson will not pitch in the series.
The division is up for grabs again, and I am glad for it.
Team capsules after the jump.
NL West Report
All playoff chances are taken from Baseball Prospectus.
Arizona (56-81, 5th, L2, 21.0 GB)
Last Week: 4-2. 3-0 vs. Padres, 1-2 vs. Astros. Mr. Gibson, you have a gift basket co-signed from a Mr. Tracy and a Mr. Bochy. Still, their loss yesterday guaranteed a non-winning season for back-to-back years.
You Should Know: Mark Reynolds' development is going the wrong direction. He strikeout rate has increased every year of his career, peaking this season at 41%. That dwarfs the rest of MLB, as second place Adam Dunn is just 34.9%. Despite that, he is on pace to fall 3 K's shy of his career-high of 223 due to decreased playing time from minor injuries, but if he is healthy down the stretch, it is a record he can quite easily attain.
Divisional Change: Gained four games on first place San Diego.
Playoff Chances: 0%. They are not mathematically eliminated, but their chances are just that small.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Giants. 3 game road series @ Rockies. Ian Kennedy is set to go twice this season, though I'm sure Rockies fans are thrilled to know Barry Enright and Dan Hudson will not come to Coors Field and will instead throw their rookie magic at the Giants.
News: Mike Hampton is adjusting to life as a reliever. Here's a scary thought - Kirk Gibson has suggested that while he plans to use Hampton as a situational lefty, he might use him in late inning situations as well. That bullpen down there has been bad.
#21 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Sep 09, 1972
|2010 - Mike Hampton||0-0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.00||.00|
Brandon Webb was disappointed in his simulated game Friday, as he severely lacked command. Despite this, Webb's agent is asking for $7.5mil in base salary, comparing him to Ben Sheets and Tim Hudson. Nick Piecoro suggests that Chien-Ming Wang is a better comp.
AZSnakePit scored an interview with surprising rookie pitcher Barry Enright. Jim McLennan picked a good time to post the interview, a day after Enright beat Mat Latos. Enright has come a long way in a short time, as Dontrelle Willis was the preferred call-up over him at one time.
Arizona's other wildly successful rookie starter, Dan Hudson, granted a feature interview with USAToday's Bob Nightengale. Hudson was named NL Rookie of the Month for August.
Jerry DiPoto's post as GM seems tenuous, as CEO Derrick Hall proclaims money not to be a factor in choosing their next GM.
Tim Dierkes profiles the five surprises for the Diamondbacks, who have fallen a long way from rebound hopefuls this five months ago.
Speaking of surprises, there is apparently a Diamondbacks friendly bar in downtown Denver, according to an AZSnakepit community member. How can we have allowed this infiltration?
Transactions: Recalled LHP Zack Kroenke, RHP Carlos Rosa, IF Tony Abreu and 1B/OF Brandon Allen.
Injuries: Mark Reynolds is day-to-day with a swollen right hand but should be back in the line-up today. Justin Upton has missed five consecutive starts with an irritated shoulder. Kris Benson suffered a setback in rehabbing his shoulder and is now out for the rest of the year. Activated RHP Leo Rosales from the 60-day DL.
Arizona Diamondbacks Injuries
Los Angeles (69-68, 4th, L2, 8.0 GB, 9.5 GB WC)
Playoff Chances: 0.53% playoffs (0.38% division, 0.15% wild card). Change from last week: -1.90%
You Should Know: The Dodgers will reward 1B John Lindsey with a major league callup today. Lindsey is a 33-year old who has spent 15 years in the minor leagues without a single MLB callup, yet he has clinched becoming the oldest player to win the batting title in the Pacific Coast League.
Divisional Change: Gained two games on 1st place San Diego. Lost three games to Wild Card leader Phillies.
This Week: 3 game road series @ Padres. 4 game road series @ Astros. Vicente Padilla and Clayton Kershaw get two starts each, none more important than Padilla's draw tonight against Mat Latos and the Padres.
News: The McCourts are in trouble, big time. Bill Shaikin of the LA Times shed full disclosure on the McCourt's finances last Wednesday. I fully recommend the long read, as it truly puts in perspective just how difficult it will be for the Dodgers to move on and contend as long as Frank and Jamie are officially the owners. Some highlights:
In a June 2009 financial statement, Frank McCourt valued all of his assets at $965 million and valued the Dodgers - the team, the stadium and the surrounding parking lots - at $859 million. (In court papers, Jamie McCourt argued the Dodgers' value should be much higher, based on the possibility of increased future revenue from broadcast rights and development of the parking lots.)
According to that financial statement, if Frank McCourt liquidated his assets, he would be subject to $113 million in currently deferred taxes and would be left with about $163 million after paying off debt and taxes.
(if) the team were to be sold based on the numbers on Frank McCourt's financial statement, each of the McCourts would get half the proceeds - or little more than $80 million.
Consider that the McCourts bought the Dodgers for $430mil in 2004 and have $433million in debt as of 2009, according to Shaikin. Ouch. Both McCourts testified in court last Friday. They can be saved if a high revenue television station can be set in motion quickly, but that seems about as likely as the Dodgers making the playoffs. Octavio Dotel knows their philosophy.
Andre Ethier claims that the McCourt divorce is not a distraction and has not led to Los Angeles' poor play. Of course, that's what he is supposed to say.
Joe Torre's job must not be very fun these days, as he is trotting out a .500 team, seeing his ownership torn apart and his superstars falling flat on their faces. Now, Torre has vowed not to put Jonathan Broxton into any more save situations. Broxton's fall from grace is certainly surprising, which leads me to Tim Dierkes' compilation of the 5 biggest Dodger surprises in 2010. I just don't see any reason for Torre to want to return to this situation in 2011, which means Los Angeles will need a replacement.
In other news, former Dodger and AAA Albuquerque manager Tim Wallach wants an MLB job in 2011. Is there a situation that could possibly make more sense here?
#29 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers
Jan 04, 1976
|2010 - Ted Lilly||5-1||7||7||1||1||0||0||45.1||31||16||16||8||8||43||3.18||.86|
Ken Rosenthal reports there is "mutual interest" in Ted Lilly returning to Los Angeles next year. That development may make the trade for Lilly more palatable, though there is no guarantee that the difference in adding him to the 2011 roster was his tenure this season.
The Dodgers will also be looking to add a big bat and a catcher this offseason, which will be difficult enough to do financially even if lilly is not retained. Russell Martin's decline really hurt the team in that regard. Don't be surprised if Rod Barajas is back in Dodger blue next season.
One move Los Angeles will NOT do this off-season is trade Matt Kemp, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. It's disappointing. I would not have minded a very talented young affordable player to leave the division.
TrueBlueLA is starting to think what I have long-suspected: that James Loney is not a good choice as an every-day first baseman. He has never had much power, and it hasn't developed any further. That lack of power has annually placed him among the least productive first-basemen in the game, and he is 26 now.
MLB.com's Sarah Morris suggests that the Dodgers should retain Hiroki Kuroda. The money doesn't add up whatsoever, but Kuroda is woefully underrated and would be an asset for any team.
Transactions: Recalled C AJ Ellis. Assigned 1st round pick Zach Lee to Rookie League Ogden Raptors. Recalled RHP Ramon Troncoso. OF Manny Ramirez claimed off waivers by Chicago White Sox. Called up IF Russell Mitchell, RHP Jon Link, IF Chin-Lung Hu and 1B John Lindsey.
Injuries: Activated RHP Vicente Padilla and SS Rafael Furcal from the 15-day DL.
Los Angeles Dodgers Injuries
San Diego (76-59, 1st, L10)
Last Week: 0-6. 0-3 @ Diamondbacks. 0-3 vs. Rockies. Um...booya. Regression is a dirty word.
Playoff Chances: 64.62% playoffs (57.42 % division, 7.20% wild card). Change from last week: -27.07%
Divisional Change: Lost 4.0 games to second place San Francisco and 3.5 to 3rd place Colorado.
You Should Know: The Padres are only the 2nd team in MLB history to have a 10-game losing streak as a first place team. The first (Pirates) accomplished the feat before Franklin D. Roosevelt ever held office at the White House.
This Week: 3 game home series vs. Dodgers. 4 game home series vs. Giants. This weekend could help the Rockies out significantly if the Rockies take care of business against the last place Diamondbacks at Coors Field.
News: GasLamp Ball worries "something might be seriously wrong" after the Padres lost their tenth straight yesterday. jbox is annoyed at the ribbing from opposing fans, considering the Padres were so far ahead that a 10-game losing streak did not bounce them from first place.
Chris Young had a successful rehab start last Tuesday, and Bud Black was encouraged by Young. He made his second start yesterday, throwing 3.1 hitless innings, throwing 69 pitches in AAA Portland. It remains to be seen whether he can return this season, but if he could make an Aaron Cook-type return to start in the playoffs (playoffs?), Black is sure to welcome back a veteran to the staff.
In light of the struggles, particularly at the top of the order, Bud Black juggled the lineup yesterday, with no great results.
USAToday profiled the Padres issues this morning, noting that Bud Black's first season in San Diego saw the Rockies storm past them in September in 2007. Only Heath Bell, Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Hairston remain from that team, but it is a nice story, at least for Rockies fans.
Whether the Padres completely collapse or rebound to make the playoffs, the end result will be a surprisingly successful campaign. As most Rockies fans here have noted, the seeds were planted last August and September when San Diego was quietly building up momentum with wins. Buster Olney recommends you pay attention to the Astros, who are doing the very same thing. It seems to me to be a vogue pick for predicting a nice surprise with loose ties. The NL Central is weak, but not weak enough for the Astros to lead the division at any point after April in 2011.
When the waiver trade deadline came, the Padres were actively looking for starting pitching. According to Jon Heyman, San Diego claimed several starters on waivers, but no trades could be worked out.
Mat Latos isn't the only young starter whose innings need to be limited. The Padres have reshuffled their rotation again to skip Wade LeBlanc, who was supposed to pitch against the Rockies this past weekend. He will not pitch in the Dodgers' series either, as he has been pushed back to the weekend series with the Giants.
Transactions: Recalled OF Aaron Cunningham, OF Oscar Salazar, LHP Cesar Ramos, RHP Adam Russell and RHP Ryan Webb. Called up LHP Cory Luebke and C Chris Stewart. DFAed RHP Cesar Carillo. Optioned RHP Luis Perdomo. Outrighted C Dusty Ryan.
San Diego Padres Injuries
San Francisco (76-61, 2nd, W2, 1.0 GB Div, 1.5 GB WC)
Last Week: 4-2. 2-1 vs. Rockies. 2-1 @ Dodgers. I am starting to think the Giants are the Rockies' biggest threat to postseason dreams.
Playoff Chances: 42.80% playoffs (33.52% division, 9.28% wild card). Change in last week: +18.47%
You Should Know: Barry Zito has not won a road game since May 5. He has lost five straight outings and seven straight decisions.
Divisional Change: Gained 4.0 games on first place San Diego. Made up no ground on Wild Card leader Philadelphia.
This Week: 3 game road series @ Diamondbacks. 4 game road series @ Padres. Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum will go twice for San Francisco this week.
News: Aubrey Huff is enjoying the hell out of his time with the Giants, which is probably less surprising than if I reported that Pablo Sandoval was overweight. I absolute hate that Aubrey Huff has had such a fantastic season for San Francisco. They should have gotten their fill of unexpected offensive prowess with Andres Torres.
#17 / First Base / San Francisco Giants
Dec 20, 1976
|2010 - Aubrey Huff||132||478||83||137||31||4||22||77||71||67||5||0||.287||.382||.506|
The right-hander's hair remains long enough for him to wear it in a ponytail, as he sometimes does in the privacy of the clubhouse. - Chris Haft, MLB.com
Timmy is a shy boy.
Lastly, Grant of MCC delivers as only he can the current outlooks in the NL West. A must read.
Transactions: Recalled OF Darren Ford from AA Richmond.
Injuries: Activated Chris Ray, Dan Runzler and Edgar Renteria from the 15-day DL. Guillermo Mota should return on September 8.