A battle is a battle, right? Even if it's for last place?
That could be the end result for the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres this season; 19 heated games to decide who doesn't finish in the cellar. Or, maybe bigger things will be at stake for these two young-but-talented squads. That's the beauty of baseball: You never really know.
For now, though, the Rockies seem to have the upper hand. Somewhat ironically, a lot of that is because they're the healthy team at the moment. The Padres are missing several key players due to injuries, the most important being Chase Headley, who was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2012 while hitting .286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs. Headley could be out for another couple of weeks while recovering from a broken thumb.
San Diego missed Headley in its opening series against the New York Mets, although his presence probably wouldn't have mattered in the first two games, in which the Mets put up 19 runs on Padres pitching. Still, the Friars only mustered up eight runs in three games, and only avoided the sweep because former Rockie Eric Stults tossed a gem on Thursday in a 2-1 victory.
Despite his effort, Stults probably won't last in the rotation, as Gaslamp Ball's own Darklighter notes in a friendly Q&A session below. Darklighter also talks about what needs to happen for the Padres to tread water while Headley and Yasmani Grandal are out. Read on...
Purple Row: The Padres have been pretty active in the trade market over the last couple of years, but this offseason was certainly an exception. What do you make of Josh Byrnes seemingly standing pat?
Gaslamp Ball: There's an infamous 36 minute YouTube "documentary" that's been making the rounds since February that a lot of disgruntled fans agree with, and the gist of it is "The Padres are cheap." Which is true to a certain extent, but there's more to it than that. With the extension of Carlos Quentin, all the pieces that led to the Padres' great second-half performance were sticking around for 2013. What really needed improvement was the starting rotation, which was destroyed by injuries last year. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to go around this offseason. The Dodgers were going to outbid everyone on Greinke and there were concerns about Haren's back (and he probably wasn't in the budget, either). Edwin Jackson wanted a three year deal, and that's hard to justify when there's big expectations for San Diego's loaded farm system in the next year or two. Standing pat doesn't get anybody excited, but I don't think Byrnes was crazy to do it.
PR: After a few years of speculation, the fences at Petco Park have finally been moved in. Do you think this will have a more positive or negative effect on the Padres in the short-term future? Or will it even have much of an impact at all?
GB: I don't expect it to change much at all. We'll see a couple more home runs, but not enough to make a real difference. And the way the Padres rotation looks right now, the opposition doesn't need any help driving them out of the park.
PR: Matt Holliday is called out at the plate in the 2007 NL Wildcard Tiebreaker. What happens?
GB: The Padres score a dozen runs the next inning, get their act together in the postseason and win it all. Well, I think that's what we'd all like to believe. The harsh reality is that the Padres didn't deserve to win that game. It was as sloppy as every other game down the stretch. The '07 Padres just didn't have the postseason in them.
PR: Sorry about that; it was Troll Tuesday when I initially wrote these questions. Anyway, Andrew Cashner should have earned a spot in the starting rotation to begin the season, right?
GB: Maybe if he'd been the one holding the knife instead of his buddy this past December, but with the injury to his hand, there wasn't enough time to stretch him out enough for a rotation spot. I think we're likely to see him in the rotation sooner rather than later, though. He pitched a good 2.2 innings after Clayton Richard's disastrous start yesterday, and nobody really wants to see Eric Stults in the rotation for long.
PR: The Padres are missing some key pieces -- and notable Rockies killers -- in Chase Headley (injury) and Yasmani Grandal (suspension). What needs to happen for the club to have at least a respectable record while these two guys are out?
GB: Jedd Gyorko needs to get his Rookie of the Year campaign off to a hot start. He was supposed to be starting at second base, but with Headley, Logan Forsythe, and James Darnell all injured, our options at third are Gyorko and Cody Ransom, who was embarrassing on Opening Day. Nick Hundley needs to make the most of Grandal's suspension and look more like he did in 2011 than he did in 2012. Hundley's shown some great things offensively and defensively, but he's been plagued by injuries. This is his chance to remind the organization why they signed him to an extension last offseason. If Hundley and Gyorko can live up to their potential and the rest of the lineup plays like they did last August, the Padres might make it through April and May looking pretty good.
Game 3: Sunday, April 7 at 2:10 p.m. MT (ROOT Sports)
Edinson Volquez (0-1, 18.00) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (0-0, 1.35)
* - 2012 stats
+ - 2011 stats