Friday, June 22, 2007
My Enemies Enemy is My Friend
A big weekend in Petco and a ton to get to so let's get right to it. First things first, the Padres are going into the Boston series on a small slide, losing two in a row to the Orioles. Yesterday, Orioles ace Erik Bedard shut down the Padres, recording 9 strikeouts. Bedard is a money pitcher with a unique side-arm, nearly slingshot left handed delivery. Very tough. The biggest story from yesterday's game though may have been the money ball (pictured, Padres ball girl picking up dollar bills). Supposedly, a fan in the third base suite threw money on the field, brining a strip club feel momentarily to the game. The fan was thrown out and all in all, a bizarre moment. (No word on whether Jose Cruz Jr. kept the couple bucks he picked up in left field).
Now, the Red Sox series. The Red Sox are an interesting team as far as fandom goes. Three years ago everybody was a Red Sox fan, helped mostly because of their unbelievable comeback against the Yankees (down 3 games to 0, yada yada yada). Since "my enemies enemy is my friend" and the Yankees are everybody's enemy (sorry Gabe!) everybody jumped on board. Cut to the 2004 off-season. Books, appearances, endless "I can die now" stories, and of course a romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore. Frankly, I was done with the Red Sox and the backlash was on. Then the Red Sox became the Yankees North in terms of payroll, culminating in $52 million to TALK to Dice-K's Japanese team (note: no idea how to spell his name, so Dice-K it is). Hard to be a feel-good story when your spending more than most countries gross national product.
Boston fans, while emphatic, are unbelievably annoying. Sitting in Qualcomm this January when the Patriots came to town to play the Chargers hammered this point home. They are cocky and lack respect. Now they are "taking over Petco" and nothing beats an annoying Red Sox fan (well...maybe an annoying Yankee fan, but frankly, who can tell the difference these days). So, what does this series mean? It's a regular season series in June, interleague at that. That said, its a benchmark series. The Padres carry the best record in the National League thanks in large part to their pitching staff. But this staff has not dealt with an offense like this. Manny, Ortiz, Youklis. This team can hit. This weekend, in the large picture, means very little. But with San Diego relatively healthy, its a great chance to see how good the Padres really are.
Now to the games. Pound for pound you cannot beat these pitching matchups.
Game 1: Dice K vs. Maddox - 300 game future Hall of Famer against the "future" of pitching and the perhaps fictional gyro ball. Interesting side not, Petco is the park in which Dice K pitched Japan to a World Baseball Classic championship and earned MVP honors. In watching Dice K, his era is not great and he leaves a lot of balls up in the zone but he does strike out a ton of batters. He has 7 different pitches, all of which he can throw for strikes, and for teams facing him for the first time it has been a long day.
Game 2: Tim Wakefield vs. Chris Young - Chris Young is quietly having an All-Star season (6-3, 2.26 ERA) and will be pitching for the first time since his boxing match against Derrek Lee. Most notably, this will be first time the Padres have faced a prominent knuckleballer. As the National League does not have a starter that throws primarily knuckleballs, it will be interesting to see how the Padres hitters deal with that. Most notably of course, this game will mark the return of "ex-Padres" Doug Mirabelli. Doug Mirabelli infamously came to San Diego from Boston in the Mark Loretta trade and supposedly was upset when later that winter the Padres signed Mike Piazza. Mirabelli famously said to Padres GM Kevin Towers to take him out of a game against the Dodgers “because I'm not focused on the game . . . ” Towers replied, “I said, 'What?' ” Towers continued. “He said, 'My boys, the (Red) Sox have been calling me. I got to tell you, it's all I watch on TV; all I think about is the Red Sox. Do me a favor and you guys a favor (and make a deal).' ”
KT made the deal and brought Cla Meredith and Josh Bard here. No one here misses Mirabelli and should be an interesting reception he receives this weekend. By the way, Mirabelli is hitting south of .200 right now.
Game 3: Jose Beckett vs. Jake Peavy - The jewel of the weekend for pitching matchups between what could be both leagues Cy Young winners. Josh Beckett (10-1, 3.14) has the most wins in the Majors, certainly helped by the Boston offense as evidenced by his ERA. Jake Peavy is having a career year, earning his 9th win on Tuesday to move to 9-1 with a 1.98 ERA. Jake has giving up 3 earned runs in 3 of his last 4 games, although that stat is off-set by errors (2 runs on Tuesday scored on a scoring error but were credited to Peavy). This game could be a 1-0 game before it's all over.
Is this series a World Series preview? To early to tell. It's only 3 games in June, so why does it feel like 3 games in October?
Starting Pitching: Edge - Padres
Numbers don't lie, the Padres ERA is superior to Boston, even if the records are not.
Offense: Edge - Boston
It's a video game lineup in Boston, scoring more than 50 more runs this year compared to San Diego.
Bullpen: Edge - Push
Boston's other Japanese import, Hideki Okajima may also be the better of the two, setting up for Papelbon who has been as good as anybody in the last season and a half. San Diego carries the best bullpen in baseball in ERA but has been hit a bit the last two days with Bell giving up 2 runs yesterday and Meredith being scored on again. If San Diego can get to the 9th though, they do have the only 500 save closer in baseball waiting for Boston
Defense: Edge - Padres
The unspoken hero to the Padres ERA is the outstanding defense they play, anchored by Khalil Greene at short and Cameron in center. The Padres are 6th in the majors in fielding percentage while Manny is cutting off balls in Left Field.
Overall: Padres take 2 of 3, winning Saturday and Sunday and dropping to Dice K on Friday.
NOTE: Here's hoping for a sweep though! =)
P.S. Big thanks to Gabe (who, as a Yankee fan becomes a honorary Padres fan this weekend) for the promotion of the site. Big thanks to Greg as well, whose F1 podcast (http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheRampageRacingReport)
inspired this blog and he continues to help me spread the blog across the web.