Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hope springs Eternal - Padres 2007

Ah, spring is here and the sights, sounds and smells of baseball are in the air - green cut grass, gypsum chalk, glove oil, sweat, and tobacco juice.

My San Diego Padres have won the National League Western Division championship the last two years, but have faltered in the playoffs. This year, the hope is that they can go to the World Series.

How good will they be? Will they win the division again? Who will be the stars? Who will be injured or ineffective? Here are my predictions:

1) The Padres will win 88 games, and lose 74 games. They will win the NL Western Division again, but it will be close. I foresee the Dodgers winning 85, the Giants winning 84, the Diamondbacks 81 and the Rockies 77 games, respectively.

2) The two "new" faces from last year are Kevin Kousmanoff at 3B and Marcus Giles at 2B. I think Kous will have a decent rookie year - hit 0.270, 25 homers, 90 RBIs with decent defense. I think Marcus will be the lead off hitter, but will struggle with a BA of 0.260, only 10 homers, and few stolen bases.

3) The biggest unknown defensive position is Catcher (Josh Bard and Rob Bowen - can they do the job?). Injuries to the catchers or Khalil Greene or Mike Cameron would be devastating.

4) The pitching staff looks great on paper. Peavy, Young, Hensley, Maddux and Wells at their best are all-stars. But Maddux is 40 and Wells is 43. Peavy and Hensley have injury histories. I doubt that Wells will be effective for long - his diabetes and injuries will probably limit his innings. The bullpen has experience, but Trevor is 39 and may falter. Can Meredith work the same magic as 2006? If Trevor falters, can Linebrink pick him up? There are no left handed relievers on this club.

5) Buddy Black is a rookie manager. By all reports, he knows the game, communicates well, etc. We'll see. I think he will do OK, mainly because he has veteran coaches to help him with game situations and defensive switches.

We have a 20 game package this year - Monday, Thursday and Saturday - so we'll see those in person and watch the rest on TV . We will be there opening night 4/6 against the Rockies, then Saturday 4/7, and Monday 4/9 against the Giants.

So - hope springs again in April. We will see. I will try to provide reports every 10 games on the progress of the team.

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