Sunday, April 6, 2008

One Week In, 25 to Go

If you follow me on Twitter then you may have been aware that this weekend I was in Las Vegas. Now, while it happened to be Final Four weekend, that had little to do with why I was in Vegas.

Now, I thought I would pass along the Sports Book at the Stratosphere line on the Padres winning the World Series. Vegas has them at 22-1 to win the World Series, with NL teams such as the Cubs, Mets, Dodgers, D-Backs, and Phillies with better odds. Just an FYI.

I was able to catch some of the Padres game on Saturday and boy am I glad I did. Peavy looked unbelievable on Saturday with a biting slider and from what I read 18 change-ups.

Now, am I excited that Peavy went all 9-innings? Of course. Last year coming out of the All-Star Break the bullpen got rocked and part of that I think can be attributed the amount of innings they have on their arms. That said, I'm not sure how to feel about a 116 pitch inning from the ace of the staff in the first week of April. I lived in Chicago for 3 years while Dusty Baker was the manager and I watched him overwork two of the greatest young pitchers in the NL at the time: Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. There are literally dozens of stories of pitchers that "could have been." In recent years, injury issues involving Francisco Liriano and Felix Hernandez are most notable to me.

This isn't to say that I think Peavy is going to join that group. There is a school of thought that says that pitch counts are over-rated. Supposedly, Dice-K threw 300 pitches IN BETWEEN starts in Japan. So maybe this is nothing. Let me just say that 116 pitch outing in early April on a young arm makes me nervous.

The other Peavy issue from Saturday was the mysterious "smudge" on his hand. Here is a pic of what I'm talking about:
This reminds many of the infamous Kenny Rogers World Series "smudge." Here's what Peavy had to say about it:

"I laughed, to be honest with you. Anybody that wants to check me, feel free. There’s nothing on my hands that’s not supposed to be. I thought it was funny that it was such a big deal. I’ve got no problems with anytime anybody needs to check me.

"I can’t imagine my hands being that dirty. That being said, your hand doesn’t look clean when you’re out there. Obviously I pick up rosin, pick up dirt, I do hit. I found it hard to believe my hand was that … there’s no way. I laughed.

"There’s no way you could have a foreign substance on your hand that’s black. I don’t know what you could put on your hand. My whole hand was covered, the picture I saw. Wouldn’t that come off on a ball? How could you throw a ball with pine tar on your hand?

"I’m not out there cheating, that’s the bottom line.''

Hoffman Issues

The Padres ended up dropping two of three from LA despite tremendous pitching performances by CY on Sunday. Hoffman was tagged with the loss on Sunday by giving up a lead-off walk to Russell Martin, who advanced to second on a ground out and scored on an RBI single without a run.

A lot can be said about this game. Giles costing the Padres a run on a base-running gaffe, taking advantage of runners in scoring position with less than 2 outs. But I would be lying if I said I'm not concerned about Hoffman. His stuff I have faith in. The change-up looks as filthy as it ever did and his fastball looks to have a few more MPH on it. At this point, I'm beginning to wonder how his psyche is holding up. Hoffman has always been one of if not the best closers at moving on from a blown save. However, in the last 6 games (dating back to last year's series in Milwaukee) Hoffman has blown 3 saves and was tagged with the loss on Sunday (in a non-save situation).

Next to Tony Gwynn, Hoffman is my favorite All-Time Padre and I refuse to lose faith. That being the case, it is very hard as a fan to watch one of your favorite players struggle like this. If Hoffman's psyche can stay in tack, I firmly believe that Hoffy will still save 40 games and be the closer by the end of the season. But right now, you have to wonder what his head space is like right now.


For those who aren't aware, San Francisco was awarded a Double-A team and they are called the Giants. The Padres go to visit them for three games starting Monday and then, mercifully, the Padres will get a day off on Thursday.

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