Preaching Padre religion one post at time

Monday, March 31, 2008

Peavy & Mates Blank 'Stros In Opener

The 2008 Padres campaign opened with a familiar sight as the Friars cruise to a 4-0 shutout victory over the visiting Houston Astros. The season opener is always a special occasion, however, with good friends and great hurlers Jake Peavy and Roy Oswalt squaring off there was more allure around game 1 of 162. The reigning NL Cy Young award winner found himself in his tightest spot in the first inning after a leadoff single (and stolen base, who knew), and an one out walk; a couple of harmless infield pop-ups later the Friars were in their dugout taking their cuts versus Houston ace Roy Oswalt.

From that point forward Padres ace Jake Peavy took control of the game with his electric right arm and his bat. After the Friars wasted a 1 out double by new 2nd sacker Taditho Iguchi and a Kouzmanoff laser off Oswalt's hip in the first, the Pads took a 1-0 lead in the second inning via a Peavy sacrifice fly to left. San Diego's second run came courtesy a line drive single over the head of Astro shortstop Miguel Tejada by, you guessed it, Jake Peavy.

The Friars ace tossed 7 shut out innings while surrendering only 3 hits and striking out 4 on his way to his first win of the '08 season. From there, the Padres pen took care of the rest with Heath Bell working the 8th and Cla Meredith facing the minimum thanks to a great Scott Hairston throw nailing an over aggressive Tejada trying to stretch a single into a double to leadoff the 9th. All said and done, the Padres totaled 14 basehits in route to a typical 4-0 victory to begin the 2008 season.

San Diego Short Hops:

5 Padre hitters had a 2 or more knocks; Adrian Gonzalez, Khalil Greene, Josh Bard, and Paul McAnulty collected two hits apiece while Tad Iguchi swatted two doubles and a single to endear himself to the San Diego crowd early in the season.

The Padres played flawless defense after a questionable spring scattered with errors. It was a pleasant surprise for FF and Pads fans worldwide.

San Diego native and Aztec alum, Tony Clark, wasted little time getting in the Padres scorebook as he smashed the first pitch he saw in Padres colors for a RBI single.

Tuesday night features All Star starter Chris Young after his offseason workouts that centered around his larger midsection.



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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Multiple Moves Provide Clarity

The Padres are a decision away from officially announcing their 25 man opening day roster. The Friars cleared up some confusion earlier this week by optioning Chase Headley, Shawn Estes, and Oscar Robles to AAA. It appears that non roster invitees Glendon Rusch and Jody Gerut have made the club as their contracts were purchased from Portland on Wednesday. That same day, the Padres added a player to the mix when they traded for Justin Huber of the Kansas City Royals. In exchange the Padres sent the infamous player to be named later or cash. The right handed 25 year old Australian is out of minor league options and will be on the roster to provide manager Bud Black with a right handed bat off the pine.

The Huber move forced Padres brass to option infielder Luis Rodriguez to AAA, leaving only Callix Crabbe to back up at 2nd, 3rd, and short. The official 25 will be known when the Padres figure out what they are going to do with the recovering Jim Edmonds, who played in a minor league game today with success at the plate (couple of hits, including a HR). Assuming that Edmonds needs a little more time to fully heal his calf strain the Friars will break camp with a surplus of outfielders including Brian Giles, Scott Hairston, Paul McAnulty, Jody Gerut, and Justin Huber (Callix Crabbe can also play OF). FF wonders who will be the odd man out once the veteran center fielder returns; besides the possibility of a trade the Friars would only have Jody Gerut with any minor league options left.

The pitching staff is a much easier puzzle to piece together. The starting rotation is now set with Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, and Justin Germano. The bullpen battle raged until late in the spring, but FF has seen Kevin Bass get sent down to Portland Tuesday followed by 2007's feel good story, Rule V draftee Kevin Cameron, join him Wednesday. The Friars will also begin the season with 3 relievers on the 15 disabled list in Carlos Guevara (groin), Clay Hensley (shoulder strain), and lefty Justin Hampson (shoulder tendinitis) . Coming out of the left-center field bullpen for the Padres this year will be all time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, set up men Heath Bell, and Cla Meredith. The back end of the pen will be joined by southpaws; Glendon Rusch, Wil Ledezma, and Joe Thatcher. The bullpen will be rounded out by right handed Enrique Gonzalez, who was a long shot to break camp with the big boys.

Barring any additional moves the 2008 Padres appear to be set with 13 position players, 12 pitchers and 8 new Padres. While these are the Friars who will begin the season opposite the Houston Astros on March 31, FF knows this roster will not look too similar come October...And maybe not even a week from now!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Germano in Rotation for a Change

Big league pitchers need 3 solid pitches to be successful over the long run. In 2007, Justin Germano had a fantastic May, posting a 1.08 ERA, a 3-0 record and allowed a merger .515 OPS. He had two pitches and won just 4 games for the remainder of the season while posting 10 losses over that time. This spring, Germano has further developed his change up and has been inserted in the 5-hole of the rotation as a result. The development of this third pitch should go a long way towards keeping hitters honest - particularly given that it is a change up, thereby enhancing his fastball's effectiveness. Genmano's success may play a critical role in the 2008 campaign as the Friars boast a solid, but potentially fragile rotation, given the number of recovering and aging pitchers on the staff. With Randy Wolf and Mark Prior coming back from injuries and Greg Maddux not getting any younger, Germano may find himself bouncing throughout the rotation over the coarse of the year.

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This Bud's For You

The San Diego Padres extended the contract of manager Bud Black through the 2009 season on Tuesday. As a rookie skipper last season, Black lead the Friars to a 89-74 record, and earned a spot in a one game playoff for the NL Wildcard. Black provided longtime Padres fans a breath of fresh air last season highlighted by his handling of rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff, who got off to an extremely rough first month of the season; Kouz came on strong down the stretch and ended as the 3 hole hitter in the Friars lineup. In years past FF has continually seen ex manager Bruce Bochy stick with unproductive veteran players and bury the younger players on the bench (with the exception of Sean Burroughs).

Black made the transition from the American League (where he was the pitching coach for the California Angels of Anaheim in LA) to the NL and handled double switches and pinch hitting situations well. The former MLB hurler handled his pitching staff as well as could be expected while he and pitching coach Darren Balsley helped Jake Peavy realize his full potential and garner huge returns from Mets castoff Heath Bell.

FF is happy to see Buddy Black on the top step of the Padres dugout for a minimum of 2 more years. We are sure that many former big league hurlers are also excited as Black helped dispel the notion that pitchers do not make acquit mangers.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

ChAAAse HeAAAdley

It would appear that Padres top prospect, Chase Headley, will start the season in AAA Portland. The move will allow Headley to continue to learn his new position by logging as many innings as possible in left field. The switch hitter has proved himself to be MLB ready but finds himself in a log jam in the Padres outfield picture.

As FF has previously noted, Jody Gerut has not only played himself onto the opening day roster, but he is penciled in as the starter in left. Scott Hairston is expected to fill the shoes of Jim Edmonds in CF until the balky calf of Edmonds properly heals. With the extra spot for an outfielder (assuming Edmonds begins the season on the DL) the Padres are expected to break camp with Paul McAnulty for the 2nd consecutive year. PMac is out of options and can flat out swing the bat. Brian Giles continues to improve from his offseason micro fracture surgery and will start his final season in a Padres uniform in right (KT holds an option for 2009). Bud Black is expected to give the veteran more days off during the long 162 game schedule, and this year it appears that he will have the bodies to fill the spot (no Sledge types on this roster). The Padres will shock FF if they leave Arizona without Callix Crabbe, the speedy and versatile Rule V draftee who has had a great spring and can play both infield and outfield positions.

As the the sand begins to settle on another March in the desert, it appears the Friars roster is coming together and at this point it will not include their stud prospect Headley. The Padres will see him at some point this season roaming the Petco Park outfield, and his tenure as a full time starter is, at most, a season away (with the likely departure of the second Giles in 2 years). The larger question at this point circles around the health of Jim Edmonds, and what to do with the pure hitting Paul McAnulty when Edmonds is healthy.

FF wouldn't be surprised to see the Padres deal McAnulty to an American League team, simply because they do not have a position for him. With the Pads and Peoria Sports Complex roommate, Seattle Mariners, discussing a possible deal for CF Jeremy Reed, it is possible to see PMac in Peoria again next season; this time in the Mariners clubhouse.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gerut a Go?

FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Jody Gerut is likely to get the starting nod in left field in the likely event that Jim Edmonds not be available on Opening Day. Additionally, the article suggests that Gerut may be platooning with Scott Hairston should Edmonds be return to the lineup. Rosenthal goes on to link Seattle Mariner Jeremy Reed as a candidate to roam Petco's spacious center field, if needed.

This would mean that Chase Headley is headed to Portland to hone his defensive skills in left field, despite doing as much as anyone could possibly expect to push his bat into the lineup. The cautious road is probably the best bet for Chase. One has to wonder if Bud Black would be as tolerant of a Klesko-esque left fielder (could Headley even be that bad?) as he was of Kevin Koozmanoff's cold start at the plate in 2007. The Moneyball approach says yes, but Black may say no.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Cla Corrals Cactus Competition

Cla Meredith was nothing short of a phenom in 2006 while allowing 6 earned runs in 50 2/3 innings and posting 4-1 strikeout to walk ratio. He even managed to hold opponents scoreless for one out shy of 34 consecutive innings. Last spring, he responded by allowing 8 runs in 8 1/3 innings. Much was made of this precipitous decline, particularly that the dessert air affecting his sink, but all expected a rebound in the pitcher-friendly parks of the NL West. Then the season came and his ERA increased more than three-fold to a still respectable, but unspectacular 3.50, while his WHIP nearly doubled and his strikeout to walk ratio fell slightly to 3.47-1. The new year has Friar fans hearkening back to 2006 as Cla has rebounded to post a 1.80 ERA to go with a 9-1 strikeout to walk ratio and 0.80 WHIP. His 5 innings pitched is certainly a small sample size, but FF is encouraged by what could once again be a shutdown 7th, 8th, 9th combination in the '08 bullpen, with Meredith, Heath Bell and Trevor Hoffman, respectively. A rebounded Meredith will also take some pressure off of Bell, who logged more than 13 innings in excess of Cla on 2007, despite pitching in nearly the same number of contests. The 'pen will need to be sharp to help maintain the meager leads the offense is likely to generate.

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Estes Continues To Struggle, Rusch Stays Relevant

The Padres open audition for the 5th spot in their rotation remains a mystery. With the start of the season is rolling towards the Friars, it appears that one of the likely three hurlers is pitching himself not only out of consideration, but out of baseball. Lefty Shawn Estes continued his comeback attempt on Monday by lowering his ERA 5 points from 20.00 to 15.00; not good if you are trying to pitch your way onto a big league roster. Estes' struggles are being taken advantage of by other candidates Justin Germano (current front runner) and fellow come back lefty Glendon Rusch whose spring ERA is hovering close to a run per nine. Both Germano and Rusch have Major League experience in both starting roles as well as serving in a long reliever or swing man capacity. In FF's opinion, Shawn Estes is all but done pitching at the major league level.

Spring Rolls:
Callix Crabbe is inching closer to punching his MLB ticket as he had three more knocks Monday while showing his defensive versatility by playing the hot corner flawlessly.

Young star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is seeing his older brother Edgar's chances of making the team become more slim as Edgar's defensive consistency has been questionable, highlighted by an error on Monday.

Paul McAnulty struck out in both plate appearances Monday to see his batting average dip to .300; PMac still holds high hopes in making the opening day roster partly due to the fact that he is out of minor league options. The Padres (and FF) doubt the talented offensive player would pass through waivers.

Jody Gerut continues his push to make the squad as he powered up for the 3rd time this spring and deposited a ball into the RF bullpen.

Brian Giles saw his first spring action in a big league game while getting two at bats (no hits) and logging time in right.

Chase Headley adds another hit and continues to show that he has nothing to prove in the minor leagues.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

China Experiment Underwhelming


MLB's exhibition excursion to Wukesong Baseball Stadium, Beijing, China this weekend has been met by a series of yawns at FF. The idea seemed interesting at first, but has been more of a distraction than a fantastic opportunity. We're certain that the experience was a great chance for players, their families and members of the organization to head abroad an soak up a foreign culture. But was it a great opportunity for baseball? We doubt it.

Two games in played in Beijing will quickly fade into memories as two sellouts crowds of 12,224 seats at Wukesong baseball stadium total less than the average number of fans at a home Padre game in 2007 (34,445). Don't think so? If they don't fade now, they certainly will by the time the Olympics roll through China in August. In fact, the upcoming Olympiad will represent the last medal-bearing competition for baseball. Starting with the 2012 London games, baseball will be a demonstration sport - at best. Even so, the game seems more likely to sprout up near new military posts around the world rather than in China (i.e., Central Asia and the Middle East). A quick look at the 16 countries that have played Olympic baseball tells an important tale - proximity to the USA or an America military base have a prominent impact on the popularity of baseball, as does the country's political leanings (13/16 countries). The following map shows those Olympic baseball countries which also have at least one prominent US military base in red, those in close proximity in yellow and those that are fervently pro-American in green. The remaining blue countries are outliers to these statuses.


Baseball will mostly grow via new generations who play early and often. To this end, MLB is sponsoring many youth camps in China and elsewhere. As for the current strategy, it would make more sense have their exhibition games happen in the offseason as have been traditionally played in Japan. Sure, the Chinese number in the billions of untapped potential baseball fans, but the World League of Football has proved that potential doesn't necessarily translate into commercial success for a sport. Let's also not forget that China has been granted a spot in the 2008 Olympics baseball competition that could have gone to a country that actually does embrace baseball.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Giles Sees 1st Game Action Of Spring

Padres starting right fielder, Brian Giles, saw his first live action on Friday in a minor league game. This is one of the final steps on his road to recovery from offseason Micro fracture knee surgery. Giles drew 2 walks and singled in the action.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sutcliffe Diagnosed with Colon Cancer

Former Padre announcer and pitching instructor Rick Sutcliffe has been diagnosed with a treatable form of colon cancer. Fortunately, ESPN reports that he is expected to make a full recovery. Sutcliffe becomes the second former member of the organization to publicly disclose a bout with cancer in 10 days, along with Davey Lopes. FF wishes both well and hopes for a speedy recovery.

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Trade Front And Center For Padres

The Padres couldn't or wouldn't come to an agreement to retain their free agent center fielder Mike Cameron this offseason and instead turned the position over to former All Star and Gold Glove winner Jim Edmonds, who was acquired in a trade with the Cards. Immediately following this trade, questions regarding the age and health of the Friars CF (Edmonds) and RF(Brian Giles) accompanied the questions about the lack of a starting left fielder. Through the first week of Cactus League play the Padres Edmonds and Giles have combined for 1 base hit, granted Brian Giles has yet to lace up his spikes due to his recovery from offseason knee surgery ~ but then again, that in itself is a problem. Edmonds is now on the shelf for 2-3 weeks due to a calf strain he suffered while in the batters box in a game this week.

The only left field clarification to date is that Jody Gerut , Chase Headley, and even Paul McAnulty have all proved that they can hit enough to compete for playing time with incumbent Scott Hairston, who himself has never been an everyday major league starter. So, lets toss in the huge hole in center created by Edmonds' calf muscle and the Padres have a tough situation with few in house fixes.

On Friday Kevin Towers reported that he had talked with the Boston Red Sox regarding Coco Crisp, it is suspected that the Sox would want top prospects Chase Headley or Matt Antonelli ~ and the Pads are not giving those 2 away for almost anyone at this point. So, may the Friars see yet another aging player passed their prime sporting the sand and navy in FA Kenny Lofton? Or would the Pads give up top talent to bring Tony Gywnn, Jr. back home from the Brewers? Something will have to happen, because the season is drawing ever closer and the Pads outfield is getting older each inning that passes.

Look for the Pads to also speak to the Angels, who have too many bodies in their outfield - some who are out of minor league options. FF believes (or wants to believe) that the Friars will find a way to get younger, healthier, and faster in the outfield prior to the March 31st opener.

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Aged Outfield Doubts Spring Forward

Brian Giles
Frair fans have feared that 2008 would require the bulk of the outfield to maintain a RICE diet. While news that CF Jim Edmonds has only suffered a calf strain (likely to sideline him for 2-3 weeks), an injury at this early date of season is a harbinger of things to come. The other senior member of the outfield, right fielder Brian Giles, has yet to participate in a game and is now slotted to get his first action as a designated hitter in March 15. The additive nature of these reports doesn't bode well for the opening day lineup. On the plus side, these injuries should provide an extra-long look at Chase Headley and Jody Gerut, among others. General Manager Kevin Towers will have plenty of information upon which to act or hold tight within a couple of weeks...

A calf strain is defined by Wikipedia as:
A torn calf muscle happens when the calf muscle is pulled apart from the Achilles tendon. Severe pain is felt by the victim – you may think you've just been hit in the leg and hear a "pop." Sudden pain is felt around the leg.

This injury happens during acceleration or changes in direction. The torn calf muscle may spasm, and contract forcefully. The toes will point down. Bruises can show up in the leg, foot and ankle due to pooling of blood from internal bleeding. It may take some time for the bruises to occur, from hours to days depending upon where the tear occurred. The circumference of the leg will most certainly increase.

This injury may take several months to heal. Its important not to continue the exercise if muscle is torn as internal bleeding is taking place. See a doctor immediately after muscle is torn to get you on a rehabilitation routine.

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Edmonds Leaves Game With Leg Injury

That sound you hear is the San Diego Padres front office holding their collective breathes. Newly acquired, and well seasoned Jim Edmonds was taken out of the Padres 10-3 win over the reigning NL champion Colorado Rockies. The 37 year old center fielder is disappointed and stated that his calf felt very tight.

It would be nice if FF could say that this wasn't expected, I, for one had accepted my chilled glass of Kool Aid and was gulping it down when hearing of Edmonds' feverish off season workouts led by a SWAT officer. The ex-Cardinal center fielder was said to be in great shape and prime for a career renaissance. The scariest part is - the reason the Friars brought Edmonds in was because there were no in house solutions to the vast grounds at Petco. If, in fact, this injury is a sign of more to come from the experienced legs of Edmonds and right fielder, Brian Giles, then the Padres might be in for a very long season.

Jump The Gun

This calf injury will most likely prove to be nothing more than a strain, however, if it leads to a long absence of a CF where would the Friars turn? FF sees few (neither solid) options already in the Peoria clubhouse being Scott Hairston, and Callix Crabbe. Neither has logged many innings in center and let us not forget where the Pads play 81 of their games...Players available in the trade market or free agency are either old or expensive ~ a few examples would be the 40 year old Kenny Lofton (who is still looking for a job, and playing for the Padres would, unofficially, be his 75th team), or the Dodgers Juan Pierre who signed a ridiculous contract last year and is expendable with LA's signing of Andruw Jones, and young Andre Ethier fighting for more AB's.

Hold your breath Padres fans, our outfield is huge and the legs roaming it are close to expiration!

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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Padres Are Not Crying Wolf

Randy Wolf, the free agent pick up and likely #4 starter in the San Diego rotation this season had his second straight rough outing this spring. The southpaw recording only 2 outs while giving up four runs in both his Cactus League outings. The veteran is not panicking as he exclaims that this has been typical throughout his career. With the first 3 spots ironed out for the Friars heading into the 2008 season (Peavy, Young, and Maddux) the club is expecting Wolf to give them quality innings in the 4th slot and have a stop gap type hurler to keep the recovering Mark Prior's seat warm for the final spot in the rotation.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Clark to Mets?

ESPN's Buster Olney has speculated that Tony Clark could be one possible option for the Mets should Carlos Delgado's recent injury prove worse than expected. While this is certainly possible, FF doesn't put a lot of stock in the possible option. One major concern from the Padres' perspective was the overuse of Adrian Gonzalez in 2007 ; Clark was largely brought in to mitigate this risk in 2008. Toss is the fact that Clark is a major factor in clubhouse on a team that places a lot of stock in chemistry and you end up with a unlikely rumor. This doesn't even delve into Kevin Towers' affinity for players from San Diego, but that's another post...

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Headley & Gerut Continue To Pound Pitching

The main storyline in Padres camp this spring is, has and will continue to be their left field situation. Two of the three prime candidates continue their torrid offensive attack on Monday against the Brewers. Jody Gerut and Chase Headley each collected 2 more hits while avoiding any defensive miscues. Paul McAnulty, whose name resides further down the depth chart came into camp in great shape, after shedding some 20 pounds, circled the bases after drilling a 3 run homer in a 6 run Padres outburst.

Scott Hairston is still the safest bet to assume the starting position, but the gap may be closing with each base knock by Gerut and each 440 foot bomb that exploded of Headley's lumber. This battle is heating up with the Phoenix heat index, and doesn't figure to be decided anytime soon. FF hopes that this is not the most exciting aspect of the Padres season!

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Davey Lopes Diagnosed With Cancer

Davey Lopes who is currently on the Philadelphia Phillies coaching staff has been diagnosed with Prostate cancer. Lopes spent the majority of his 16 year playing career with the Dodgers and was the first base coach for the Padres both before and after his stint as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers. Lopes has also coached with the Washington Nationals in recent years. Davey Lopes is one of baseball's true gentlemen and FF wish him a full and speedy recovery.

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Predicted Padres Pitching Prowess

The Friars are keeping the faith that their vaunted pitching staff can carry the team. That said, we thought it would be interesting to check out how the Bill James Handbook 2008 projects the staff to perform. For the club's presumed optimal starting rotation, the Handbook breaks it down as follows (Pitcher - W/L/ERA/IP/WHIP/K):
  • Jake Peavy - 15 8 3.23 212 1.17 217

  • Chris Young - 13 8 3.34 186 1.18 166

  • Greg Maddux - 13 9 3.60 200 1.20 121

  • Randy Wolf - 5 6 4.32 100 1.37 81

  • Mark Prior - 5 4 3.60 75 1.23 85

Immediately striking is the similarity that the projections have in rotation spots one through three. Nobody appreciates Maddux's low walk rate more than FF, and we don't want to take anything away from him, but he hasn't posted a sub-4.00 ERA since the 2003 season. Peavy's numbers seem overly skewed by his injury-marred 2006 campaign while the projection ignores Chris Young's iterative, season-by-season improvement trend (see graph below). Friar fans will have to hope for better returns than those suggested by the Handbook if they are to remain competitive in the NL West.

ERA Comparison
Graph from FanGraphs.com

A big part of the team's success will likely depend on the performance of the bullpen. Nobody puts together a better 'pen than Kevin Towers (if only he could do the same for right-handed power hitters, but I digress). Once again the projections seem a little high, this time looking at player - ERA/S/IP/WHIP/K per 9:
  • Trevor Hoffman - 2.80 39 61 1.07 8.26

  • Heath Bell - 3.10 1 83 1.16 9.70

  • Cla Meredith - 3.51 0 82 1.22 6.91

  • Kevin Cameron - 3.90 0 60 1.47 7.65

  • Joe Thatcher - No Handbook project listed

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Gross Rumor Idle Speculation

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Brewers Blog reports that Kevin Towers has not discussed Gabe Gross with Brew Crew GM Doug Melvin. As our prior discussion on the topic had alluded, FF is pleased with this news as adding another lefty into the outfield mix seems to ignore the realities of Petco Park.

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