Monday, April 18, 2005

P Stands for Punished, Pummelled, Putrid

Fortunately, I missed the first two games of the Dodgers-Padres series this weekend. Both losses. But unfortunately, I did catch yesterday's 6-0 Jeff Weaver shutout. A sweep in Chavez and the loss of Khalil Greene to a second broken finger suffered in LA in under 20 games dating to last season don't bode well for this season's San Diego ballclub.

While it's early, we've come to learn a few things:

1. The '05 Padres look disturbingly like the '04 Padres. Not a big shock given the lack of offseason movement, but this club remains absolutely miserable in RISP situations. X. Nady's good start aside, the Padres' run-producers just aren't getting it done. Brian Giles continues to look like he's on the downside of a fine career (Oh to still have Jason Bay and Ollie Perez *sigh*), a healthy Ryan Klesko has not recovered a power stroke a year into being off the juice, and Phil Nevin's penchant for attempting to pull down and away pitches yield far too many missed opportunities. The loss of Greene for 3-4 weeks further exacerbates the situation. The big hope would seem to lie with the impending return of Dave Roberts and a renewed focus on small ball. *Gulp* Meanwhile, Woody Williams has not looked like David Wells and Adam Eaton and Tim Redding just didn't get it done. Yesterday's performance by Redding had me yearning for the return of Ismael Valdes. Yeah.

2. Dogs pitching has surprised. Lowe's performance on Friday night appeared (from the boxscore, at least) to be dominant. While I am not a big believer in Lowe due to his lack of velocity, his heavy sinker could prove to be more effective in a pitcher's park like Dodger Stadium than in Boston. Weaver allowed only two hits after early trouble in a complete game victory yesterday. There's never been any doubting Weaver's stuff. It's always been his head that's been in question. If these two can pitch like they did over the weekend and join a healthy Brad Penny and Odalis Perez, the Dogs might be able to overcome some of their positional weaknesses. Then again, how much can you really read into their outings when they were going up against an offense as putrid as San Diego's? Jeff Kent's quick start isn't a surprise. The question will come when he hits his wall. I'm still not sold on Jose Valentin as a replacement for Beltre and we're certainly going to see some heavy defensive butchery out of 2B and 3B. Time will tell. One place you won't see butchery is at SS where Caesar Izturis is perhaps the best on defense in the NL. His play on Klesko's richochet liner yesterday was simply as good as it gets.

So where that leaves us is that it's still early, but the Pads look a little worse than expected and the Dodgers look a little better. Round 2 comes later this week in San Diego, I believe, so we'll have a good opportunity to guage how the teams respond.

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