Blog Ambassador: Padres

To help get us ready for the Padres series, I had the pleasure of asking Geoff Young a few questions about Milwaukee’s present foe. Young has operated Ducksnorts.com, a popular San Diego Padres blog since 1997. In addition to his own site, he writes for Knuckle Curve, is a regular contributor to both The Hardball Times and Baseball Digest Daily and he maintains Padresblog.com. In addition to his Web experience, Young has published two Ducksnorts Baseball Annuals. Thanks a lot for your offering, Geoff. 

Your Pads were just a one game playoff from reaching the postseason last year, but currently sit in last place in the NL West. Was this fall from grace something you or other fans could foresee coming into this season or were expectations high?

I had the Padres at 85-86 wins coming into the season, so I guess my personal expectations were pretty high. From a talent standpoint, this year’s team didn’t look much different from last year’s, and I didn’t see any one team dominating the NL West. Some folks I talked to felt that was a reasonable guess, others thought I was a tad optimistic. I don’t know anyone who expected them to make a serious run at the #1 draft pick in 2009.

The Brewers (who were already out of contention) played spoiler last season, winning the last two games of the season against the Padres to force their eventual playoff. Do you have any bad blood when it comes to Milwaukee for this, or do you tend to take a more introspective look into coming up short?

Not really. The Padres had numerous chances to take care of business before that series and failed. That’s got nothing to do with the Brewers, who were doing their job, which is to try and win ballgames. How can anyone begrudge them that?

As you know, Tony Gwynn Jr. played a huge role in the Padres’ final loss of the regular season. Speaking for the general Padre fan consensus, what is the opinion of him? Is he hated, or would fans still go bananas to have him at Petco? 

I don’t think he’s hated. Vinny Rottino bugs me more because… well, who the heck is Vinny Rottino? I still have fond memories of watching Anthony play at SDSU, and of course, his dad pretty much owns the city.

Would you explain to our readers, many of which are in bed by the time the Padres take the field, exactly how good Adrian Gonzalez is? Why do you think he seems to be overlooked in conversations of great NL first basemen?

If Gonzalez played half his games in Miller Park, he’d hit 40 bombs a year. He’s also a Gold Glove caliber first baseman. As for why he’s overlooked, I think the fact that many of your readers are in bed by the time the Padres take the field may have something to do with it. The media in this country is pretty focused on the East Coast, which is fine, because that’s where the money is, but it means that folks who don’t live around here tend not to be as well informed about what’s going on in our corner of the world.

Understand that I say this without any bitterness; it’s just a fact of life. Let me put it to you this way: When I went to Cooperstown last summer to see Tony Gwynn inducted into the Hall of Fame, I was surrounded by Orioles fans who were there to see Cal Ripken. Several of them expressed their surprise to me on learning just how good Gwynn had been. Not that Gonzalez is the player that Gwynn was, but I expect he’ll continue to be ignored by the masses so long as he remains in San Diego. It goes with the territory, and he seems to understand that. 

Brain Giles was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, but he elected to stay in San Diego. Do you respect his decision to stay loyal to his squad in thick and thin, or would have preferred the salary relief and prospects garnered in his departure?

I’m less interested in salary relief than in having the best possible players on the roster. Giles is one of our three or four best players, and he’s got an option for $9 million next year. He would have been difficult to replace, so I’m glad he’s still here.

How do you think your team faired in the Randy Wolf deal? Were the prospects/money saved worth letting him go?

Right-hander Chad Reineke came over from Houston in that deal. He doesn’t appear to be anything special, which is a pretty accurate description of Wolf as well. Seeing Greg Maddux traded to the Dodgers bothered me a lot more, although we don’t know yet who the prospects coming back in return are.

You’ve seen former/current Brewers prospect Callix Crabbe play more than most of us when he was claimed by San Diego in the Rule 5 Draft. He scuffled in his time there (was returned to Milwaukee when demoted), but do you think he can contribute anything at the big league level if given another shot?

Crabbe has some nice on-base skills and can run, but he was miscast as a utility player. Given his defensive limitations (he really can’t play shortstop), I don’t see him having much of a career, although I always hope I’m wrong about such things. 

What does a quality supporting cast like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jody Gerut, a player who hasn’t logged any Major League service time since 2005, mean to the future success of this team?

Kouzmanoff is a solid young third baseman who should have a long career. Gerut has been an absolute revelation. When he was signed to a minor-league contract in January, I didn’t think anything of it, but the guy can play. Now that he’s finally healthy, he’s hitting like he did as a rookie and playing a terrific center field. His numbers this year are almost identical to those of Mike Cameron, who is five years older and making 10 times as much money. Unless one of them gets traded, I imagine that both Kouzmanoff and Gerut will be integral parts of next year’s club.

With all due respect, the playoffs are pretty much out of the question – but what are some goals you as a Padres fan have for the team for the remainder of the season? 

Let’s be honest, there is no respect due, although I appreciate the gesture. The main goals at this point I think are to stay healthy, figure out which of the kids can play, and maybe knock a team or two out of the playoff picture.

What do you consider to be San Diego’s primary offseason priorities? 

Pitching, pitching, pitching. Petco Park causes people to mistakenly believe that hitting is the weak point of this team, but it isn’t. Right now, there are about four reliable pitchers on the staff — five if you count Chris Young, who hasn’t been healthy for most of the season. You don’t win championships with a four-man staff; as we’re finding out, you’re lucky to win 60 games with that.

Predictions for the series? 

Any of the games that Jake Peavy doesn’t start will be ugly. I hope your field goal kicker is ready.

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4 Responses to “Blog Ambassador: Padres”

  1. Here, There, and Everywhere Says:

    [...] to the present, the good folks at Right Field Bleachers have taken the time to chat with me about the Padres as they prepare to take on the [...]

  2. D'Amico's one good year Says:

    Did they call up Matt Antonelli?

    He was excellent when I saw him in the Minors, playing for the Eugene Emeralds…

  3. Tyler Says:

    From what I saw, he’s not… but I don’t know. The official site doesn’t list him on the 40-man roster.

  4. Tyler Says:

    Nevermind, I guess he was called up. This article mentions he’s been given a shot.

    http://www.bugsandcranks.com/san-diego-padres/herija-green/hollow-men/

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