It’s been a while, but I’m back. This thing about April 15 and all…

What Was I Saying About that Starting Pitching?

Boy, this has been an abysmal first two weeks! Before coming into Los Angeles, they were 2-10, and not one of their starting pitchers had gone over 6 innings; their “ace,” Edinson Volquez, didn’t make it past the fourth inning in two of his first three starts! There is only one word for that: appalling.

Bill Center at the U-T has an interesting take on Volquez: last year, pitching coach Darren Balsley hammered it into Volquez’ head that he needed to start hitters off with strikes. Volquez obliged, and had a decent season. In 2013, however, instead of being at spring training, Volquez was with his native Dominican Republic team for the World Baseball Classic, and so he apparently went back to his old erratic ways.

But whatever the reason, Volquez has been a disaster: 0-3, 21 hits allowed in 12 innings, and the opposition is batting .356 against him.

And it’s not just him: Clayton Richard has a 5.20 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP, and Tyson Ross (1.60 WHIP) is coming off a disastrous 2012 season: 2-11, 6.50 ERA, 1.81 WHIP. Sure, he had a solid spring, but for this guy to win a spot in the rotation says a lot about how abysmal the Padres’ rotation has been.

So far, the only decent pitching has come from Jason Marquis (2.41 ERA) and Eric Stults (2 wins, 15 k’s, in spite of a 1.44 WHIP and .303 BBA). Does anyone think that the “success” of these two guys is going to last? Trust me: it won’t.

It’s only a matter of time before a change comes in the rotation. But who will be jettisoned first: Volquez, Richard, Marquis, Stults, or Ross?

Could we do away with all five? Please?

Seriously, though, it will probably be Volquez, then Marquis once his luck runs out. In their place, we will likely see Andrew Cashner. On that, let’s move to our next topic…

Cashner and Rizzo

A lot of fans were angry when the Padres traded Anthony Rizzo, the cornerstone of the Adrian Gonzelez trade, to the Chicago Cubs. Last year, they had good reason to be: in half a season, his line was .285/.342./.463 with 15 homers and 48 RBI. Not bad for a 23-year-old who was so quickly discarded by San Diego.

Fans were equally upset with Cashner, who was so-so in ’12: 33 games (5 starts), a 4.27 ERA, and 1.42 WHIP, which are terrible numbers for a set-up guy.

Could this be the second coming of the awful 1993 Fred McGriff trade?

Not so fast.

This year, despite hitting 3 home runs, Rizzo is batting .174 with one strikeout in just under every 3 AB’s. Meanwhile, Cashner has been solid, if not spectacular, as a long reliever. He will more than likely be the first guy the Padres go to when a rotation spot becomes available.

That’s fine by me, because I’m still high on Cashner. Don’t forget that he missed virtually all of 2011, and so we should expect his ’12 numbers to be so-so. He has also reached 100 MPH with his fastball, so he has the goods. Pitchers like this don’t come around too often.

All told, the Rizzo-Cashner deal is going to take a while to evaluate. Let’s check back on this in three years, shall we?

The Brawl

I’m a guy who rarely likes to assign all the blame to one person in a dispute. The Quentin-Greinke debacle is no exception.

Over his career, Carlos is 6-for-26 with 3 home runs against Zack. The latter has also hit the former three times previously.

But never before had Quentin charged Greinke. Was the beaning purposeful? We’ll never know for certain. However, Greinke is known for being direct to the point of rubbing others the wrong way. Apparently, he said something that got Quentin’s ire (getting hit by a 90 MPH was already bad enough!).

Even still, Carlos should have just taken his base. It’s called self-control. Besides, pitchers go inside all the time, and Quentin has a reputation for leaning way into the batter’s box.

Kudos to Carlos for taking the suspension like a man, and to both teams for behaving themselves as they honored the late great Jackie Robinson.

Reasons for Optimism

Sure, the Padres are 4-10. But I think the worst is over. Why? Here’s 10 reasons:

  1. Chase Headley will soon be back, which means…
  2. Cody Ransom will soon be gone.
  3. Cameron Maybin has nowhere to go but up (more on him as the season progresses).
  4. Chris Denorfia and Nick Hundley have been terrific at the plate.
  5. Everth Cabrera has a .361 OBP to go with his exceptional speed.
  6. The Padres are finally starting to use Jesus Guzman more. While he can’t field, he is a solid hitter who needs to play. I say, put him out in right field (with Will Venable serving as a late defensive replacement) while occasionally spelling Quentin in LF, at first base against some lefties, and at DH in AL parks.
  7. Quentin’s suspension will soon be over, and he will have gotten to rest his knees a little.
  8. While Jedd Gyorko has been so-so, he is still figuring things out, and will only get better as the season goes along.
  9. Only 36 more games until Yasmani Grandal is eligible to play (and here’s hoping he has learned his lesson!).
  10. The bullpen, as always, is pretty solid.

All that to say, this is not a 4-10 team. Don’t forget, starting the season with Gyorko, Ranson, and Alexi Amarista swapping 3B and 2B was literally “Plan D.” With Headley back, Gyorko moves full-time to second base, so he will no longer have to worry about being “gyorked” around and just concentrate on his hitting.

Once we get Logan Forsythe back, watch out!

I’m still holding out hope for a decent starter; after all, the Padres have the bait with Luke Gregerson. Who wouldn’t want him in their bullpen?

Even if that doesn’t happen, Corey Leubke figures to return in July, and that should provide a big boost.

Now, if only they didn’t have to play against Clayton Kershaw…


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