Preaching Padre religion one post at time

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Help Us Jake Peavy, You're Our Only Hope

There is only one positive aspect to the Frair's 163rd regular season game in the 2007 campaign - and that's Jake Peavy. The Padres had two chances to put the season and Wild Card title away and couldn't make it happen. They only needed one more strike... Alas, it didn't happen and the Padres now must travel to Denver, Colorado to play extend the regular season one more game to decided which team faces off against the Philadelphia Phillies. Fortunately, Bud Black can send Jake Peavy to the hill. The future Cy Young award winner has posted a 1.29 ERA against the Rockies in 2007. The red hot Rockies, winners of 13 of their last 14 contests, counter with Josh Fogg, or "Dragon Slayer", as he has been called in the Rockies clubhouse. In 2007, Fogg has 6.28 ERA against San Diego.

Peavy would have to allow 9 earned runs without recording an out to lose the National League's pitching Triple Crown (as the game's stats count toward regular season tallies). He currently has it wrapped up with a 2.36 ERA, 19 wins and 234 punch outs. It would mark the second time he's lead the NL in ERA and strikeouts in his five full seasons. Besides bringing his pitching prowess to the game, Peavy also adds a vaiable bat to the lineup. His .229 batting average tied with Marcus Giles and was ahead of Terrmell Sledge (.210). Peavy also was second on the club with 8 sacrifices (one behind Greg Maddux).

FF is putting its hopes and prayers behind Jake. May the Force be with him - always.


Black Sunday II

The Padres lose, not taking advantage of the opportunity to control their own destiny while keeping Jake Peavy lined up to open a Division Series. The Chargers go to 1-3 by generally stinking. I don't have anything left in me to write about this.

Message to both teams: Your fans want their last two Sundays back.

Seriously, I feel violated.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wild Irony Costs Padres Spot

With the post season just 1 strike away the Padres Hall Of Fame closer, Trevor Hoffman, faced off against Mr. Padre's son Tony Gywnn, Jr. Hoffman's 1-2 change up was laced down the right field line for a game tying triple, and the quest for the second season included extra innings.

In the bottom half of the 11th the Padres turned to ex-Brewer Joe Thatcher (for the 3 consecutive day) to face the heart of the talented Brewers line up. Rookie of the year favorite Ryan Braun doubled to lead of the inning with MVP candidate getting the intentional walk to put 2 on with no outs. After a brief meeting on the mound the young lefty coaxed a sacrifice fly out of Hart, and faced Vinny Rottino with 1 out and runners on the corners. One pitch later the champagne was taken off ice for at least one day as the young Brewer ended the game with a single to left field.

Break What Tie?

The Arizona Diamondbacks have officially won the NL West with the Padres loss.

The Rockies are still alive in the wild card hunt with a win tonight against the Dbacks. A loss Saturday or Sunday or a Padres win Sunday eliminates Colorado from the post season.


The Mets and Phillies enter the last game of the season in a dead heat and are both in contention for both the NL East and Wild Card titles. If one wins and the other losses the winner is the NL East champion. If both win or both lose they will have a 1 game playoff to decide the division winner (if they both win and SD loses then the wild card is still an option for the playoff loser).


Win Sunday and they are the wild card winners. Friars also can clinch with Phillies, Mets, Rockies losses.


Tie Breaker Schedule

If: Padres lose Sunday while the Rockies win Saturday and Sunday and the Phillies and Mets both win then...a lot of weird things happen! FF will publish the possibilities as they apply.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

756* to be Branded with an Asterisk

Mark Ecko, who bought Barry Bonds' 756th* home run ball at an auction, will brand it with an asterisk before sending it to the Hall of Fame. FF supports the asterisk in all its glory.


Friar Wild Card Tie Assured

Khalil Greene continued his torrid RBI rampage Friday night as he led the Friars to a 6-3 win with a trio of RBI. By collecting just 4 more RBI, he would become the first Padre to reach the century mark since Phil Nevin's 105 RBI in 2004; as it stands, Greene's total is the most by a Friar since the 2004 season. His 6th inning double drove in Adrian Gonzalez, who had also doubled, putting Bud Black's club up for good. In the 8th, Padre fans were reunited with their old friend, Scott Linebrink, who promptly served up a 2 run opposite field bomb to Greene, bringing back memories of games he had pitched for San Diego just a few months earlier.

Greg Maddux pitched 5 innings to earn the win while Cla Meredith had the fire and stuff of his '06 campaign in stifling the Brew Crew for 1 2/3 while also picking up Joe Thatcher. Heath Bell allowed a walk and plucked a batter to make things interesting in the 8th, but ultimately rallied to keep a zero in the box score. Trevor Hoffman looked as good as FF can recall in striking out the side with pitches that looked more like whiffleballs than baseballs.

The Mets ineptitude continued as they fell into the wild card bracket with a loss and a Phillies win. Coupled with the Padres win and the DBacks victory over Colorado, the Padres remain 2 back in the NL West while gaining a two game lead in the Wild Card. With just a pair of games to go, the club is now assured of a share of the Wild Card title.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Frairs Take Advantage of Brewer Errors

Jack Cassel lasted just 4 2/3 innings, but the Padres took advantage of five Brewer errors on the way to scoring 4 unearned runs to win 9-5 Thursday night. Joe Thatcher pitched an impressive 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Scott Hairston continued his hot streak with by adding 3 RBIs while Khalil Greene took over the team RBI lead by knocking in a pair to bring his season total to 93. Kevin Kouzmanoff's 20 game streak of reaching base came to an end.

The victory kept the Friars 2 back of DBacks in the NL West and a game up on both Colorado and Philadelphia in the Wild Card.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Peavy Domination Tour Makes 19th Stop; Cy Young Next

Jake Peavy closed out his final scheduled start of the 2007 campaign with another masterful performance, treating Friar fans to an 11-3 spanking of the Giants for his 19th win. The probable NL Cy Young award winner and certain Pitching Triple Crown winner tossed 7 innings of 2 run ball, allowing just one walk against a single punch out. He also went 2-4 to raise his season average to .229 (26 points higher than Terrmell Sledge). Peavy hugged Barry Bonds after Bonds' final at bat in the game, a transgression that FF is willing to overlook - but just this once. With one more win, the 26 year old Peavy will tie Padre legend Eddie Lee Whitson for 3rd on the franchise's all time win list at 77 victories.

On the flip side of the ball, the Padres collected 17 hits, led by Josh Bard's 4 knock night. Scott Hairston continued to relish his role as Giant-killer with yet another home run against the club (7th out of 10 on the season). For the 20th consecutive game, Kevin Kouzmanoff reached based. He has hits in 17 of those contests.

Most importantly, the win kept the Friars on top of the also victorious Phillies and Rockies in the Wild Card race. The Diamondbacks lost to bring the Padres withing a single game in the NL West with 4 games remaining the season.


Winters Done For Summer

MLB Umpire Mike Winters has been suspended by the league office for his actions in the Padres contest against the Rockies on Sunday. It was ruled that the umpire used profanities towards the Padres Milton Bradley who tore his ACL in the strange scene. Bradley is lost for the season and may have trouble returning at all. The question FF has is simple:
Is a 5 game suspension close to enough for this type of ridiculous action towards a player?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wild Win Gives Friars Wild Card Edge

The San Diego Padres pulled out a remarkable and memorable 6-4 victory in San Francisco on Tuesday night. The Friars put up 4 runs with 2 outs in the 9th to climb 1 game ahead in the wild card standings.

Following a 2 out RBI bloop single by Brady Clark (scoring Khalil Greene who doubled down the 3rd base line to lead off the inning), and a walk by Oscar Robles, struggling right fielder Brian Giles drilled a 2-0 fastball over the right center field wall for a game winning 3 run blast. This is, without a doubt, the biggest hit of the season for the Padres who were within 1 out of dropping their 5th straight game and into a 3 way tie in the wild card standings.

This game had the look and feel of many others n the past week until the 6th when a 1 out homer by Scott Hairston sparked the club. After Hairston smashed the Matt Cain offering to the seats in left, he flipped his bat and made his way around the bases; the bat toss got to the Giants starter as Cain chirped at Hairston the entire 360 feet around the infield. After the conclusion of the 6th Cain glared into the Pads dugout which seemed to anger a few players including last night's starter Chris Young and Brett Tomko who was toeing the rubber on Tuesday. The Friars continued to chip away at the Giants lead with a solo shot by Greene in the 7th. It seemed that the Friars saw their best opportunity pass them by in the 8th when Scott Hairston and Adrian Gonzalez struck out with 2 on. Enter Brian Giles in the 9th and the rest, as they say, is Padres History. Trevor Hoffman coaxed the Giants catcher Molina into a game ending double play to earn his 41st save of the season.

The Padres picked up a game on the Phillies who lost to Atlanta 10-6 to take a 1 game lead in the wild card with just 5 games left. The victory also kept them 1 game ahead of the white hot Colorado Rockies who beat the Dodgers in route to their 9th consecutive W. San Diego gained ground on the NL West leading Dbacks who fell to the Pirates, who won for the first time in their last 10 contests. If the Padres end up in a tie with Arizona, the Diamondbacks will win the division crown based on their head to head record (much like the Pads over the Dodgers last year).

Too Early To Say Goodnight:
TV cameras picked up Matt Cain (on the bench) waving good-bye after Hairston took strike three on the inside corner in the 8th. The Giles bomb in the 9th waved adios to what would have been a Matt Cain victory, too bad.

Rabbits Foot

Good news for Friar fans world wide...I am back home in Phoenix which means the Padres will get back to their winning ways. I was off to the beautiful state of Wisconsin to visit some friends and take in a game at the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field (I refuse to discuss that game, but the experience was second to none). I was also out of town prior to the Pads ripping off 7 straight to open their last home stand of the year. Superstition is huge in the game of baseball~ so, let the winning begin.

The bottom line is: When I'm out of town the Pads struggle when I am in town the Friars are somewhat dominant...lets all enjoy this home stretch and utilize the FF rabbits foot!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Padres Drop 4th Straight, Drop to Wild Card Tie

The Padres' problems grew Monday as the club dropped its 4th consecutive game 9-4 against the San Fransisco Giants . Young, who was staked a 2 run lead early, gave up 7 earned runs over five inning while walking more batters than he punched out. Cla Meredith was later tagged for a pair of runs - the last coming on a Bruce Bochy-called squeeze. Kevin Kouzmanoff had 2 hits and was hit by a pitch to extend his steak of reaching base to 18 games. He is now tied with Adrian Gonzalez - who added 3 hits of his own - with a .277 batting average. Only Josh Bard's .282 average is higher than the current 3-4 hole Friar hitters.

The loss dropped the Padres into a Wild Card tie with the idle Phillies. They have now fallen 3 games back of the Diamondbacks in the NL West with just 6 games to play.


Padre Outfield Devastated

Sunday proved especially devastating to the Padres who lost both Mike Cameron and Milton Bradley for the season - playoffs included - to ligament injuries. Cameron was injured chasing what would become a Garrett Atkins inside-the-park home run. As Cameron dove for the ball, Bradley stepped on Cameron's hand, tearing his ulner collateral ligament. Later, Bradley tore his right anterior cruciate ligament while arguing with first base umpire Mike Winters. Padres CEO Sandy Alderson, who formerly oversaw MLB umpires, has indicated that a complaint will be filed and that umpires should not "bait" players. FF has been upset by umpires who have become a central story to far too many games this year.

Scott Hairston is FF's pick to move into a permanent role in the starting lineup. Additionally, it is likely that Friar fans will be seeing more of former USD star Brady Clark. Kevin Towers also cut a deal with new Astros GM (who just left Towers' staff to accept this position in Houston) that brought Jason Lane to San Diego. Lane will likely see time in center field and will be heavily considered for a spot in the 2008 outfield with both Cameron and Bradley free agents that have the potential to leave America's Finest City.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Black Sunday

The Padres lose, not taking advantage of the Phillies loss nor the large lead the Dodgers had over the DBacks as of the time of this post. The Chargers go to 1-2 by not holding a lead with just under 3 minutes to play. I don't have anything left in me to write about this.

Message to both teams: Your fans want their Sundays back.


Kouz is Bud Black's Invention

We at FF find ourselves looking forward to Kevin Kouzmanoff's at bats more than any other Padre these days. His story is nothing short of amazing - especially in San Diego. Batting just .108 on May 10, Kouzmanoff would have certainly been relegated to the bench under former skipper Bruce Bochy. Sure, there was a time and place where we bought into the myth that Bochy was perhaps the best manager in the league; what with his 8 3/4 cap size, you almost have to think there's extra information floating around in his head. But in the last portion of his 11 year tenure in San Diego, FF beat writers realized a major flaw in Bochy's style was his massive preference for veterans over rookies (perhaps call Sean Burroughs Syndrome (SBS)?). We certainly aren't against trotting solid veterans out on the field when you have them, but at the same time you have to be able to inject some youth into your lineup. Since being traded from the club, there have been many occasions where Xavier Nady would have been a solid starter in left field. Sure - Mike Cameron came to the club for Nady, but GM Kevin Towers surely could have worked out another avenue to bring Cameron to the club. But KT actually did what he had to - moved a player that Bochy never seemed to care for and brought in the kind of player that fit his manager's style. You might point to Josh Barfield or Adrian Gonzalez as flaws in our "Bochy dislikes rookies theory" - okay, let's take a look:
  • Josh Barfield: If the '06 Friars hadn't been completely dysfunctional at 3rd base (i.e., if Mark Bellhorn had managed to bat above the Mendoza line), then Geoff Blum, Bellhorn or Todd Walker would have replaced Barfield, at least in a platoon relationship
  • Adrian Gonzalez: Don't recall how upset Gonzalez was at the end of Spring Training '06 that he was being passed over for Ryan Klesko? Had Klesko not been hurt, who knows how that would have gone down.
The only guy that might discredit the argument is Khalil Greene. But even Bruce Bochy could see that Greene could bat .100 and still be an vast improvement for the pitching staff in Petco - and that was before Bochy became afflicted with SBS.

So what's this have to do with Kevin Kouzmanoff again? Simply stated, Bud Black's patience has resulted in a .308 batting average since May 10th. Kouzmanoff has been the major cog in the Padres offense for many games this season. We at FF are glad to see a little faith from a manager into an overly-qualified front office and scouting staff whose opinions should be part of the daily decision making process. Playoffs or not - Bud Black's first season has been solid. We're not sold on his bullpen management at all times - but that's for another article...


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Padres Drop 2nd Straight, Bats Continue to Whimper

The Padres dropped their second consecutive game to Rockies, 6-2 at Petco Park Saturday night. Jack Cassel allowed 3 runs in just 2.1 innings before Bud Black yanked him in favor of Justin Hampson. Kevin Cameron later allowed run with Justin Germano giving up a pair of the unearned variety in the 9th.

Offensively, the Friars collected just 5 hits against 3 walks. The top 4 spots in the lineup accounted for just one walk. Khalil Greene hit his 24th dinger of the season while Josh Bard added 2 hits. Kevin Kouzmanoff extended his streak of consectuve games reaching base to 16 with a shattered-bat base hit with 2 gone in the ninth. Prior to his hit, Khalil Greene fouled a ball off his inner calf, warranting a visit by the trainer. He stayed in and grounded into a double play. The Padres potentially could have busted the game open, but instead left the bases juiced in the 5th.

The loss puts the Padres 2 1/2 games back in the NL West. With the Phillies winning, the Black's club now enjoys only a 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card. The offense will have to wake up in support of recent stopper Greg Maddux to put the skids on the current two game losing streak on Sunday. Black may need to really consider his placement of switch hitter Milton Bradley in the lineup as Bradley cannot yet swing from the left side of the plate.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Peavy Dominates, Padre Bats Whimper

Jake Peavy went 7 innings, recording 8 punch outs and allowing just one run on Friday night. That line itself invokes the assumption that the Peavy Domination Tour would make its 19th stop of the season - but the other half of the Friars game couldn't come up with 2 runs to support the NL's likely Cy Young Award winning, as the Padres lost to the Rockies 2-1 in 14 innings. The loss put an end to the club's 7 game winning streak and was countered by a DBacks win to push the Friars back a game in NL West while bringing the Rockies a game closer in the Wild Card race. The Phillies lost to remain 1 1/2 games out.

Bud Black choose to leverage favorite weapons Cla Meredith, Doug Brocail and Heath Bell for 2 innings apiece before turning to Joe Thatcher, who gave up the game winning bomb to Brad Hawpe. The move will likely strain the Padres bullpen over the next couple of days and force Black to go to less comfortable choices - something he has seemingly been uncomfortable in doing so far in 2007. Only time will tell how the Friars lack of offense affects their bullpen over the remaining 9 games of the season.

Milton Bradley returned to the lineup after sitting out nearly two weeks with an oblique injury. He was 0-4 while playing a solid left field.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

7th Straight Pulls Padres Within A Half Game

Kevin Tower has been called a sludge merchant in the past. When he jettisoned David Wells, we at FF considered it a wise move. But as time went by and it became clear that Towers had effectively traded Wells for NL West castoff and former Friar Brett Tomko - we had to cringe a bit. But this move has Towers looking like a genius once again - especially in light of Tomko's 6 inning, 6 strikeout performance in San Diego's 6-3 win on Thursday afternoon. Their seventh consecutive victory extended the Padres' 2007 campaign's longest streak and brought the club within 1/2 game of the Diamondbacks in the NL West race. Philly kept pace with a 7-6 win over the Nationals to remain 2 1/2 games back in the Wild Card. Offensively, it was the usual suspects of late doing the damage for Bud Black. Khalil Green and Scott Hairston each knocked in a run with Kevin Kouzmanoff pitching in a pair of hits and RBI. Michael Barrett also made a splash with RBI twins. The bullpen saw Doug Brocail, Heath Bell and Trevor Hoffman each silence the Pirates for an inning. Hoffman earned his 40th save of the season - extending his own MLB record for 40 save campaigns to 9.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Phil Nevin Returns?!?

Did anyone else see Phil Nevin at Petco? We sure did - Scott has been noting for many years that Phil Nevin is a spitting image of the Pirates' mascot. How has Mark Grant not made this connection?


Hairston Hammers Home Victory (Again)

Scott Hairston seemed like a Kevin Towers reach when he was acquired on July 27th - but he came through HUGE yet again - this time striking a 3 run walk off home run with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth off Pirates closer Matt Capps - powering the Friars to a come-from-behind 5-3 win. It was Hairston's second walk off home run since joining the club. Understandably, the Padres' post-game telecast gave viewers the choice for player of the game between Scott Hairston, Scott Hairston or Scott Hairston.

Chris Young pitched 6 innings, allowing 3 runs. Another Towers mid-season pickup, Joe Thatcher, dominated in two innings of relief, seeing the minimum of 6 batters while punching out a pair. A resurgent Cla Meredith tossed perfect ninth to earn the win. In winning their 6th consecutive contest, the Friars set their season mark for more back-to-back wins.

The Friars kept pace with the Dbacks, who pulled out a victory against former skipper Bruce Bochy's woeful Giants while gaining a half game on the Phillies. The Dodgers lost again to the Rockies, ending there season for all intents and purposes.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Friars Roll to 5th Straight Victory

The Padres remained perfect on their home stand, winning their 5th straight contest with a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Greg Maddux survived a 2 run first and lost his walkless streak just one out shy of 60 innings. But the Padres immediately rallied, plating a trio of runs in the bottom of first to permanently take the lead. The first 5 batters in Bud Black's mix-n-match lineup had at least 2 hits, with Khalil Greene recording 3 knocks and a pair of RBIs. Kevin Kouzmanoff once again manned the 3 hole with Brian Giles getting the night off against tough lefty Tom Gorzelanny. In the leadoff spot, Scott Hairston filled in admirably with Brady Clark recording another triple while manning right field. The bullpen boasted 3 scoreless appearances by Cla Meredith, Doug Brocail and Trevor Hoffman, respectively. Hoffy recorded his 2nd save in as many nights and now stands just a single save short of 40, which would surpass his own record for the 9th such season in his career.

The DBacks won to remain a game ahead of the Pads in the NL West. Meanwhile, the Dodgers lost a doubleheader to the Rockies, pulling both teams even at 4.5 games back of the Friars in the Wild Card. The Phillies won in extra innings to remain 1.5 games back.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Pads Win 4th In A Row With 20 Shutout

Four Padres pitchers combined to scatter 10 hits in shutting out the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0. Rookie Jack Cassel (1-0) earned his 1st big league win by tossing 6 flawless innings changing speeds and hitting his spots. Doug Brocail, Heath Bell (who has appeared in 4 straight games), and Trevor Hoffman each threw a scoreless frame in the victory. Hoffman notched his 38th save with his perfect 9th. The Friars got a run in the first after Mike Cameron's double scored Brian Giles who reached via a walk. Khalil Greene topped off the scoring with his 23rd bomb of the year ~ a towering blast that reached the seats in left.

Blank You:

The Padres set a franchise record with their 20th shutout of the season. The eye popping 20 goose eggs is especially impressive when considering the Padres have turned in only 1 complete game (Greg Maddux). This mark shows the quality and depth the Pads have to toe the rubber.

NL West:

The Giants got to the Dbacks bullpen late scoring 5 runs with homers by Pedro Feliz and Randy Winn. The Arizona loss (their 4th in 5 games) has them up only 1 game over the San Diego Padres.

Wild Card:

The Friars 4th straight keeps them 1.5 games ahead of the Phillies who held on the beat the Cards 13-11. The idle Dodgers drop to 3 games back of the wild card.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Peavy Domination Tour Makes 18th Stop

The Jake Peavy Utter Domination Tour made its 18th stop on Sunday and was kind enough to bring out the brooms to formally clean up the San Francisco Giants with a 5-1 win and series sweep. Peavy was once again masterful, striking out 10 against 1 walk and 4 hits over 7 1/3 innings on the way to his 18th win of 2007; it has been 9 years since Kevin Brown tossed 18 victories for the World Series-bound Padres. Heath Bell and Cla Meredith tidied up for the Friars' 81st victory of the season.

Kevin Kouzmanoff occupied the 3 hole for the first time in his career as Mike Cameron drew an off day. I have been privately urging this move to FF insiders for a while, so his 3-4 performance was gratifying on a number of levels. Also notable was Josh Bard's 2 hit day - including one crushed homer batting left handed, his less-apt side of the plate.

Practically assured of 2 more starts (perhaps three), Peavy has a shot at winning 20 games. Even if he stands pat, Peavy is clearly FF's choice for Cy Young. He continues to be positioned to win the NL's Pitching Triple Crown by leading the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Sunday's win kept pace with the Diamondbacks while adding a game lead in the Wild Card race over the Dodgers. The Phillies also won to stay 1.5 games back.


Tomko Impresses, Frair Hitters Produce

The Padres pitching has been struggling of late - but Brett Tomko put forth an exceedingly solid effort, allowing just 4 hits over 6 shutout innings with 5 punch outs and zero walks, pacing the Friars to a 6-0 triumph. Brought in to start the 7th, Doug Brocail nearly reversed all of Tomko's work, loading the bases while recording just one out. Bud Black lifted Brocail in favor of sidewinding lefty Joe Thatcher, who promptly induced an inning ending double play. Heath Bell and Justin Hampson each tossed scoreless innings to close out the Friar's 19 shutout of the season, besting the '85 club's former record of 18.

On the flip side of the ball, the Padres managed 6 runs on 7 hits. Highlights were a 2 run Mike Cameron blast in the Padre bullpen and an Adrian Gonzalez triple (yes, you read that correctly), aided by uncalled fan interference and Barry Bonds tweaking his leg. The injury eventually forced Bonds to leave the game an inning later. Geoff Blum added a pair of doubles and Khalil Greene notched another 2 bagger to assist the Friar's slugging onslaught. Cameron also set a 37 year old franchise mark with his 151st strikeout of the campaign.

The wins proved big for the Friars. The Dodgers had already defeated the DBacks, so the Padre win pulls them back within 2 of the NL West lead. In the wild card, the win kept the Dodgers and Phillies each 1.5 games back.

Tonight the Peavy Domination Tour looks to bring out the brooms on the Bruce Bochy's lowly Giants. It also seems that only Peavy, Chris Young and Greg Maddux are assured of making their starts for the rest of season, as Black moves to a "fluid" rotation.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Pads Open Homestand With Dramatic Walk Off Win

The San Diego Padres pulled out a 5-4 win over the division dwelling Giants in 10 innings. Khalil Greene hit the Padres 3rd bomb of the night to send the natives home with smiles on their faces. The Padres slugging shortstop was mobbed at the plate after his 1 out shot ended the game (we are waiting to see a different camera angle to verify the rumor that Khalil actually broke a smile). San Diego scored 2 in the 9th via a wall scrapping homer by Scott Hairston and a 2 out game tying double by Geoff Blum. The Pads came close to winning in their half of the 9th when both Brian Giles and Mike Cameron just missed clearing the wall. Rookie third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff continued his torrid hitting doubling in his first at bat and sending a blast over right center field wall to even the game at 2 in the 4th.

Chris Young pitched well allowing 3 runs through his 7 innings of work. Young had his velocity up in the low 90's throughout the game and looked more like the All Star hurler rather than the second half model we have seen in the second half. Having Young healthy down the stretch will be enormous for the Friars.

With the Phillies winning and the Dodgers winning at time of post the Padres will remain 1.5 games ahead of each while gaining a game on the Rockies who dropped their contest with the Marlins. The Dodgers win means the Pads do pick up a game in the NL West and climb to 3 back of the Snakes.


Slump Buster:
Adrian Gonzalez broke out of his 0-18 slump with a broken bat single ahead of Kouzmanoff's 2 run shot in the 4th.

Old Threads:
Trevor Hoffman and Doug Brocail both wore the Padres throwback unis while with the club in the late 1990's. The pin stripe blue and orange must have made them feel younger as they both tossed scoreless innings, Hoffman getting the win


Future Friars Honored

The San Diego Padres have named their minor league players of the month on Thursday. Both players were high draft choices in left-handed pitcher Wade LeBlanc and outfielder Kellen Kulbacki. The 23 year old LeBlanc, who was a second round pick out of the University of Alabama, went 3-1 record and a 2.67 ERA (8 ER/27.0 IP) in five starts for Double-A San Antonio. He struck out 29 batters and issued only eight walks, while holding opponents to a .198 batting average (19-for-96). LeBlanc was promoted to San Antonio on July 4, posting a 7-3 record and a 3.45 ERA (22 ER/57.1 IP) in 12 games (11 starts) for the Missions.

The 21-year-old Kulbacki batted .356 (32-for-90) with five doubles, two triples, six home runs, 19 RBI and 16 runs scored in 25 games for Short-A Eugene during the month of August. The outfielder earned Northwest League Player of the week honors from August 20-26. For the 2007 season, he hit .301 (68-for-226) with 13 doubles, three triples, eight home runs, 39 RBI and 33 runs scored in 61 games with the Emeralds. Kulbacki, San Diego's first pick in the compensation round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft (40th overall) out of James Madison University, was Co-Player of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Association and a First-Team All-American in 2007.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Maddux Mastery Mystery

Much has been made of Greg Maddux's walkless inning streak - and why not, 54 1/3 walkless innings is nothing if not impressive. What might be even more amazing is that he's still two complete games from his personal record of 72 1/3 innings, set in 2001. That said, is this walkless inning streak responsible for Mad Dog's sub-3 ERA over the last month and half? Turns out that it isn't. As you can see from the following graph, Maddux's monthly WHIP (Padre blue line) and monthly H/IP (Charger powder blue line) are nearly identical for the season (he's only walked 21 batters in the 2007 campaign). Notice that his monthly ERA (Padre sand line) drops precipitously, and at a higher rate than his lowered WHIP, over the last quarter of the season.

Greg Maddux's monthly ERA(Padre sand),
WHIP (Padre blue) and H/IP (Charger blue)

So what is responsible for his fantastic pitching of late? I'm really not sure - nothing sticks out statistically. From my observations, Maddux simply seems to be hitting his spots better. During the first half of the season, Mad Dog took an inning or more to dial in his darting fastball. Recently, his balls have just been seeking the strike zone from the get-go. In this way, his walkless inning streak may be indicative of his improved control, but certainly isn't the cause of his improvement.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Greene, Kouzmanoff Cannot Lift Padres

Despite collecting 3 hits each out of the 5th and 6th spots in the order, Khalil Greene and Kevin Kouzmanoff didn't get enough support to power the Padres past the Dodgers. The 6-1 loss pushes the Padres 3.5 games back in the NL West and shrinks their lead to 2.5 games in the Wild Card over the Rockies, Dodgers and Phillies. Kouzmanoff has now gone 6 for his last 6 with pair of walks, giving him a season high .262. batting average. Mike Cameron may be due a day off after striking out 5 times - a career first; his inability to drive in a run was hardly unique Wednesday night with Adrian Gonzalez, Michael Barrett and Terrmel Sledge all coming to bat with at least 4 men on base with nary a productive at bat to show for it. For the umpteenth times in recent games, the Friars managed just a single extra base hit. To make matters worse, the Dodgers teed off on starter Justin Germano. He allowed 6 runs (5 earned) over 5 innings.

Tomorrow, the Padres will look to ultra-hot Greg Maddux to tame LA. The big question is which Padre offense will show up to play with him...


Lowe scratched, Billingsley to start tonight!

XX Sports Radio has just confirmed that Derek Lowe will miss his start tonight from a stray baseball that hit his pitching hand in warmups last night.

Chad Billingsley will be pushed up to the hill tonight and the Friars will face David Wells tommorrow!

Great news as Lowe usually gives our hitters fits at Chavez Ravine!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Peavy Domination Tour Makes 17th Stop

Jake Peavy rebounded from his worst outing of the season in fine fashion, pitching the team to his 17th victory of the season as the Padres topped the hated Dodgers 9-4. Peavy, who continues to distance himself as the de facto NL Cy Young candidate, recorded 5 strikeouts against 2 walks while allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. He was helped out along the way with 4 big flies. Brian Giles yanked a dinger to right field in the second on 3-0 pitch - continuing his recent power surge. In the third, Khalil Green and Kevin Kouzmanoff supplied back-to-back jacks to push the Friar lead to 4. Finally, Geoff Blum became just the 17 hitter in the history of Chavez Ravine to hit a monstrous-enough bomb to reach the lodge seats. Kouzmanoff would finish 3-3 with a walk and a pair of RBI, raising his season average to .257. He has quietly hit around .290 since his slow start to the season.

The win gives the Friars a 3.5 games lead in the Wild Card race over both the Dodgers and Rockies, who lost beat the Phillies on Tuesday night. The Phils now sit 2.5 games back. The Diamondbacks also lost, bringing the Padres within 2.5 games of the NL West lead.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Last day off of 2007!

Even though the Friars are 2-4 on the current road trip through the NL West, they have only managed to slide one game in the Wild Card. The Wild Card is becoming a battle as 6 teams are 5 or less games off the lead.

As of now, the D-Backs have 18 games left in '07 and unfortunately, none against the Padres. If the snakes were to play .500 baseball, the Friars would need to go 14-6 in their final 20 matchups to win the west.

Peavy & the boys will enter Chavez Ravine tomorrow for their final three games against the Dodgers and then will return home to Petco for their last home stand of '07 (10 Games - 3 against SF, 4 against Pitts & 3 against Col).

War @ Dodger Stadium (Padres 9-6 in 2007 meetings)
All games are 7:10 first pitch!
Tuesday - Peavy (16-6, 2.43) vs Loaiza (2-0, 2.49)
Wednesday - Germano (7-9, 4.38) vs Lowe (11-12, 3.80)
Thursday - Maddux (12-9, 3.68) vs Billingsley (10-4, 3.22)

**Double your pleasure!
The Friars have hit 277 Doubles this season, just 27 off the 2004 record that was set in Petco's first season. The Padres have 20 games left to hit 28 more two baggers.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Young Stung Early, Padres Drop Series

Chris Young looked closer to his old self on Sunday, but was stung for 3 runs with 2 outs in the 1st inning, as the Friars dropped the rubber match of the series to the Rockies 4-2. He cruised through the next 4 innings, amassing 8 strikeouts against 3 walks. Unfortunately, the Padres offense wilted, once again stung by baserunning blunders that have plagued the team over the entire 2007 campaign, scratching out just 2 runs on 9 hits and 6 walks. Marcus Giles, possibly the team's best baserunner, returned from the DL and had a pair of hits with a couple of walks on the side. Like last night, the Padres managed just one extra base hit. They will get a needed night off on Monday, then play through the remaining 20 games without an off day. The Phillies picked up a game in the Wild Card race on the Friars, while the Dodgers remained 2.5 games back, with the Rockies popping back within 3 games. Meanwhile, the Diamonbacks picked up a game and now lead the NL West by 3.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Greg Maddux is The Stopper

Greg Maddux continued his string of excellent pitching, halting the Padres' losing streak at 3 games by leading the Padres to a 3-1 win over the Rockies. It took Maddux just a hair over 11 pitches an inning to tame the Rockies, using just 67 bullets over 6 innings. He allowed just 3 hits en route to extending his streak of walk-less innings to 54 1/3. Doug Brocail and Heath Bell each posted solid relief performances to earn holds; Trevor Hoffman looked like his pre-August self, notching his 37th save with a perfect inning with a pair of strikeouts. His first strikeout marked number 1000 in his storied career.

Khalil Greene brought the lone Friar extrabase hit, a double, and an RBI to the party. He also supplied a fantastic play in the field at shortstop in the 8th to save a run for Heath Bell. The screamer took a nasty hop and appeared to be head hunting the young shortstop. Greene conjured images from the Matrix as he seemingly stopped time, changed his body's axis and deftly snagged the ball. His throw was a little late at first, but simply fielding the ball held the runner at third. Kevin Kouzmanoff added an RBI.

  • Brady Clark started for Milton Bradley, who is listed day-to-day with a strained right oblique.
  • Adrian Gonzalez's ninth inning knock marked 11 consecutive games with a hit.
  • Scott Hairston was activated from the Disabled List, but wasn't quite ready to start Saturday night. He is available for pinch hitting and running. Marcus Giles is expected to be activated Sunday.
  • Arizona snuck past the Cardinals 9-8, maintaining their 2 game lead in the NL West.
  • The Padres win dropped the Rockies to 4 back in the NL Wild Card race. The Dodgers and Phillies both won to keep pace at 2.5 and 4 games back, respectively.

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Pitching Falters Again, Pads Drop 3rd Straight

The Padres dropped their 3rd straight contest Friday night in familiar fashion, with starter Justin Germano tagged for 5 runs over 3 innings. Kevin Cameron and Cla Meredith combined to allowed 5 runs over 2/3 of an inning in the 8th, padding the Rockies lead to the final score of 10-4. The bad news for the club is that they have now allowed 28 runs over their last 3 games. Who could have possibly guessed 3 games ago that Chris Young's line 5 ER of 4 innings would be the best effort a starter would put forth over that span - but it was. No starter has surpassed 12 outs over that span. In fact, the starters have surrendered 6 doubles, 1 triple and 5 bombs in those games; add another 5 effective doubles if you include the times second base was swiped, extending a single or walk.



Tap the Rockies - Preview

After a disappointing loss to AZ on Wednesday, the Friars arrive in Denver with an agenda at hand...reclaiming the NL West.

The Padres have six more games on the road (3 @ Col & 3 @ LA) until settling back at Petco with a healthy 10 game home stand, the last of the year. There is only one more off day this season, Monday the 10th. After that, it is 20 straight days to decide the fate for '07.

COLORADO SERIES - Projected Pitching matchups
Germano (7-8, 4.11) vs Dessens (2-2. 7.39)
Maddux (11-9, 3.75) vs Francis (15-6, 4.12)
Young (9-6, 2.63) vs Fogg (8-9, 5.01)

The Padres need to get to Dessens early as he was knocked around the park in his last start. In Dessens last start (last Saturday against the D-Backs) , he was sent to "shower time" before getting out of the second inning. Elmer (sweet name) gave up 7 runs in 1 1/3 innings in a losing effort.

Germano, on the other hand, needs to have a well pitched game to soften his lifetime #'s against the Rockies. Germano is 0-2 in 4 lifetime starts with a inflated 8.15 era. Germano's last outing was decent as he gave up 1 run against the Dodgers last Sunday in 6 innings, although we did end up losing 5-0. Justin has also not given up a long ball in his last six outings.

The Padres will be doing their share of "scoreboard watching" in the next few weeks as the race for the NL West is tight. As of now, it looks as if the NL West should send two teams to the playoffs, 1 as NL West Champs and the other by virtue of the Wild Card. The West is the best division in the National League and every game is crucial in the weeks to come.

Rockies are 5 games out of the division and 4 off the Wild Card. The Friars lead the Wild Card and are 1 game back from the West lead.

Cardinals @ Diamondbacks - Wainwright vs Webb
Dodgers @ Giants - Billingsley vs Sanchez

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Yakult Swallows - Friar Forum's Official Japanese Team

Earlier this year, Scott and I had the opportunity to take in a game in the Japanese Central League where the Yomiuri Giants visited the Swallows at Meiji Jingu Stadium. We had a fantastic time and soaked up the experience - which was much different than your standard night at the ballpark. From the food to the playing style - not much was what we expected. We started off by grabbing some food - sushi and edamame - and some draft beer. The beer was attached to a woman with a keg strapped to her back! (don't believe me - check out the slide show below)

The pace of the game itself was pretty quick. As soon as the home pitcher finished up his half of the inning - he came over to the side of the dugout and started tossing on the side with a bench player. We thought this was a little odd - but it continued throughout the entire game. One of the next most noticeable aspects was the split cheering sections in the outfield. The home team had half of the outfield bleachers while the visiting team was allocated the other half. The entire time each team was at bat, their cheering sections went wild with organized cheers, drums and flag waiving. The closest thing I've ever seen is an NFL game. As soon as the Swallows scored on the Giants (who are effectively the Yankees of Japan), the home crowd went wild, waiving transparent umbrellas all over the place (see the slide show below). Later, we found that each home run hit resulted in a huge Swallow stuffed animal being gifted to the hitter upon touching home plate.

This description just scratches the surface of this truly enjoyable experience. Try it yourself if you have the chance. Getting tickets is a little complicated, but, run by Bob Bavasi, son of original Padre GM Buzzie Bavasi, is of great help.

Check out our slide show for more pictures!


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Padres Struggle, Peavy Allows 8

The Padres had a rough night in Phoenix on Wednesday, dropping the game 9-6 to fall out of a first place tie in the NL West. Jake Peavy was roughed up for 8 runs over 4+ innings, striking out 4 while walking 3, despite cruising through the 2nd and 3rd innings with a total of 14 pitches. On the flip side, the Friars scratched out 6 runs on dingers from Adrian Gonzalez and Khalil Greene.

It's unclear what was more disturbing about the game, the loss or having to listen to the Arizona telecast. On a fly ball out just barely to the warning track with Padres on base with 2 outs, the broadcast team called the out as if someone climbed the wall and leap an additional three feet to make the grab, BaseballStars-style. Maybe that flies on the radio, but the rest of us watching know a can of corn when we see it.

In other Padre news, AA San Antonio catcher Colt Morton was a surprise September call up for the Friars. He will add a bit of catching depth during the stretch run.

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Padres Allowing 90% SB Success Rate

This isn't a shock to anyone who has watched Padre baseball this season - teams run wild on the Friars. How wild? Try 155 stolen bases this season - 55 more than the next closest NL team. It would seem likely that Bud Black's club should at least throw out more running than other clubs, given all the stolen base attempts. Wrong. The Friars have a NL low 10% rate of catching runners (just 18 on the season). Let that sink in for a moment.

No big deal you might say, we've heard all season how only 18% of those baserunners score. That may be true, but on the season that would erode 40% of the Padres run differential over opposing teams, on average, from just over .50 runs per game down to about .30 runs per game. That's still a positive differential - but it sure isn't providing much room for error.


Triple Crown On 3 Days Rest

Padres ace, Jake Peavy, will toe the rubber for Bud Black's Padres Wednesday night versus the Diamondbacks. The Cy Young front runner is going to start after just 3 days rest in the rubber game that will determine who goes into Thursday's off day in first place of the National League West. The Padres say that their All Star pitcher feels great and with 2 off days in the next week, it was easy to grant Peavy's request to get the start.

Jake Peavy is currently leading in the 3 main statistical categories for pitchers. He has 16 wins, only two other pitcher's in the NL have 15. His 206 punchouts is 26 more than the Reds Aaron Harang. His 2.10 ERA is the best in baseball with teammate Chris Young next in line at 2.38.

Although the Triple Crown in pitching happens a little more frequently than the offensive Triple Crown, it is still extremely rare and special. Since 1940 there have been just 9 pitchers to achieve such heights as compared to just 4 Triple Crown winning hitters.

With Petco Park being the best pitcher's park in the league, its Peavy's numbers away from San Diego that reinforce his dominance. Along with his 8-0 record he is allowing over a run per contest better in the sand away unis.

Jake Peavy has had some great success against Arizona this year posting an eye-popping 16 strikeout game at Chase Field in Phoenix. He boasts a 1.71 ERA against the Dbacks while his 45 K's is more than twice as many as any other opponent this season. He is 1-0 in his 5 year career when making a start on short rest. Wednesday night's showdown will have an electric, playoff type atmosphere ~ and this is exactly the guy who the Friars want to have going!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

1st Place Friars Add Tomko

The 1st place Padres added RHP Brett Tomko on Tuesday for their stretch run. Tomko struggled with the Dodgers this year prior to being released by the LA club to make room for Pads cast off David Wells. It is, at this point, unclear whether Tomko will pitch in the back end of the rotation or come in for relief. This is the second stint with the San Diego Padres for the veteran hurler.

In other player movement news, the Padres were disappointed to learn that catcher Pete Laforest did not pass through waivers as he is now property of the Philadelphia Phillies.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Milton Bradley vs. Mark Teixeira's Ken Rosenthal discusses which mid-season pickup was better - Milton Bradley or Mark Teixeira. He suggests that Bradley has been at least as good, if not better as a mid-season add-on, particularly for the price. Much of the piece surrounds Bradley's status as a free agent-to-be and how his past issues will impact that. FF sincerely hopes to see Bradley resigned by the Friars. Bud Black, Kevin Towers, the clubhouse and the excellent training staff only compliment the low key atmosphere that makes San Diego an ideal place for Bradley to sit back and have himself a career, as we have suggested in the past. And let's be honest - the guy is one hell of a ballplayer.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dodgers Avoid Sweep With Shutout

Chad Billingsley (10-4) was outstanding Sunday striking out a career high 9 Padres who fashioned a Sunday lineup that featured Terrmel Sledge in left, Morgan Ensberg at the hot corner and saw the return from the DL by catcher Michael Barrett. Justin Germano (7-8) mixed his pitches well over his 6 innings of 1 run baseball. However Germano's effort wasn't enough as the Dodgers took the game over in the 7th against rookie Kevin Cameron, who struggled and did not record an out in the Los Angeles 4 run inning. Los Angeles' 5-0 win allowed the Dodgers to avoid a 3 game sweep.

The Padres did have their chances in the 8th inning as they loaded the bases for Mike Cameron, who had hit a Grand Slam the night before. Different day different story as Cameron struck out swinging on a high fastball. With 2 outs Adrian Gonzalez went down on strikes to leave the bases loaded.

Wil Ledezma pitched a perfect 9th inning striking out 1.

90 feet:
Padres catchers continue to struggle throwing out baserunners as the Dodgers went 4-4 on Sunday.

Rockie Mountain Refreshment:
The Colorado Rockies helped the Friars Sunday by beating Brandon Webb (14-10) and the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3

First Place Show Down:
The Friars open an important 3 game set against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix Monday, where Greg Maddux will look for his 3rd career victory when he and the Padres face Micah Owings

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Peavy Domination Tour Makes 16th Stop

Jake Peavy was dominating Saturday night - even for Jake Peavy. He allowed just 2 hits to go with 9 punch outs over 7 innings. Along with a Mike Cameron grand slam, the Padres sailed to a 7-0 win over the Dodgers, staying a game ahead of the Diamondbacks in the process. The staff's 18th shutout of the season is the high water mark in the Majors over the last 5 years. A 19th shutout would tie the franchise record, set by the '85 club. Jake Peavy lowered his league leading ERA to 2.10 - but, according to, Peavy stated, "...once again, wasn't as sharp as I wanted to be". We at FF can't wait to see what he does when he is sharp by his own standards.

Cameron's bomb came after Dodger starter Derek Lowe walked Brian Giles to load the bases. In the second, Adrian Gonzalez slugged a 430 foot HR to right center, while Greene padded the lead later in the game with an RBI single. While the team lacks a big hitter already at the 100 RBI plateau, Gonzalez, Greene and Cameron do have 78, 75 and 73 RBI, respectively. With 27 games remaining in the regular season, it conceivable that one or more Padre could end up reaching the mark.


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Padre Baserunning - The Ugly Truth

Padre baserunning has made FF cringe all season. Friday night provided a couple examples with Padres getting tossed at third twice when they would later score, thereby losing potential runs. So how do the Padres fair on the bases when we look at the stats? Bad, real bad. According to 2006 statistics supplied by sabermetrics inventor Bill James in "The Bill James Handbook 2007", here are 6 factors that we can look at to get the gist of a player's baserunning capabilities:
  1. Taking 3rd from 1st on a single (Mike Cameron excels at this)
  2. Scoring on a single when at second
  3. Scoring on a double when at first
  4. Taking advantage of defensive miscues (balks, wild pitches, defensive indifference, etc)
  5. Making outs while baserunning
  6. Percentage of time scoring runs when on base
James' system will give the average baserunner a score of 0. Positive numbers are above average, negative numbers below. Only players who reached base at least 50 times are listed in James' book. Here are the current Padres listed, ranked best to worst, by James' system:
  • Marcus Giles +16
  • Mike Cameron +12
  • Geoff Blum +3
  • Milton Bradley 0
  • Morgan Ensburg -1
  • Rob Mackoviak -3
  • Josh Bard -7
  • Brian Giles -8
  • Michael Barret -9
  • Khalil Green -14
  • Adrian Gonzalez -24
For a little context, the top score in the entire league was Chone Figgins at +28 while the bottom score was -30 Josh Willingham (Gonzalez was second worst). Baserunning certainly isn't the most important aspect of baseball. But it is an opportunity to put your team in position to squeeze out extra runs. These stats might give us a clue why Marcus Giles transforms the team when he's getting on base. Of course, these stats, as James recognizes, are not the perfect measure of baserunning. For instance, FF recognizes that Brian Giles breaks up a double play as well as anyone, even though he grades out well below the average MLB baserunner.

One other interesting note is that Bud Black doesn't appear to be blind to these stats. He's routinely had the top baserunners at the top of the lineup - and we thank him for that. Now if the team could manage to be a bit more average rather than weigh in at a -3 as a team.


Cassel Pitches Padres to W, Hoffman's Struggles Continue

Jack Cassel's major league debut was impressive. Changing speeds and tossing a whiffle ball-like pitches, Cassel wasn't hit hard as we allowed 3 run over 5 2/3, pacing the Friars to a 6-4 victory over the hated Dodgers. Mike Cameron, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Josh Bard each collected to two hits. The Padres would likely have scored more than 6 runs had it not been for a pair of base running mistakes that led to outs at third base. More on the ugly truth of the Friars base running later today. Doug Brocail and Heath Bell each had strong outings in relief, while Trevor Hoffman earned a save despite allowing a run.

Hoffy allowed runs in 6 of his 14 August appearances (43%) after making just 6 appearances in all of July. This lack of work in July is hopefully behind his rusty August. Perhaps of greater concern are his 6 walks, 8 multi-hit games and 8 earned runs allowed over that time frame. For comparison, the future Hall of Famer had only 7 walks, 4 multi-hit games and 7 earned run allowed from April through July. Hoffy had only allowed 1 earned run over the the May-to-July time frame. It appears that he's not getting as much action on his change up as late. The Mets, for one, seemed to take the approach of sitting on his change piece as a result. Overall, Hoffman's strikeout-to-walk ratio is down to 2.6, from 3.9 in 2006, 4.5 in 2005 and 6.6 in 2004. The trend of this favorite stat of the Front Office is both obvious and disturbing. Hopefully Hoffy can make an adjustment and tightening things up over the rest of the season.


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