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Padres Wisely Gambling on Mark Prior

Prior Wood CoverESPN, whose reporter Buster Olney wrote up the news of Prior’s agreement to a one-year, $1 million deal with San Diego, has a great graphic on Prior. In 2003, he won 18 games and finished third in NL Cy Young voting. In 57 starts since then, Mark Prior has won just 18 games. I don’t think anything else can better describe Prior’s downfall. Regardless of Prior’s lack of recent success, I agree with Obscure Sports Quarterly and think the signing was a wise gamble for Kevin Towers and the Padres.

With the rest of the NL West actively beefing up this offseason, San Diego needs to make some moves. They’ve acquired Jim Edmonds and signed Tadahito Iguchi and Randy Wolf. Their offense is so anemic they’ll need all the pitching they can muster. Even though he might not be able to pitch until June, should Prior give San Diego just 7-8 good starts before he gets hurt again, he’ll have been well worth the money.

Arizona is the defending NL West champ and they improved significantly by adding Haren. The Rockies re-signed Aaron Cook and added a few relievers. The Dodgers brought in Andruw Jones and Kuroda. The Giants signed Aaron Rowand (hehehe). With a small budget to work with, the least San Diego can do is gamble on a pitcher like Prior who has a high ceiling. For only a million bucks, the investment was well worth it and makes me wonder why no other team tossed out a few more greenbacks for the rights to Prior.

(Though this post has nothing to do with Kerry Wood, it has everything to do with the picture I selected. Oh the days, Cubs fans.)

Adrian Gonzalez Got a Death Threat

Crazy huh? When you think of ballplayers receiving death threats, you think Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson. You don’t think Adrian Gonzalez. But apparently he received one. Check it out at FanHouse, as well as some other recent stories:

Christian Ministry Complains About Padres Gay Pride Night

Yeah, I thought we were in the 21st century, in more progressive and tolerant times. I guess I was wrong. From FanHouse, along with some other recent works

I will be out all day consulting an NBA team for tonight’s draft, please act accordingly. And don’t miss me too long!

Baseball Preview: San Diego Padres

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

San Diego Padres (88-74, 1st in the NL West) -1 game

Get Crunked: It’s an awesome pitching staff, not just on name recognition, but on performance. These could be the best group of starters in the majors 1-5. Jake Peavy should be ready to embrace the ace role and be in Cy Young contention, Chris Young was awesome last year, Maddux is still made for 6 good innings, David Wells is a question mark, and Clay Hensley is very underrated. The bullpen is also fantastic. Trevor Hoffman proved last year he’s still an elite stopper, and good luck beating these guys if you’re down after the 6th inning, Cla Meredith and Scott Linebrink are pretty un-hittable.

Party Foul: The lineup doesn’t have a whole lot of pop. 20-25 homers will lead the team, and they’re not going to score a lot of runs. Kouzmanoff, Bard, Sledge, and Marcus Giles are all new-comers, but they’re not filling huge holes, so the Pad squad should still be OK.

Jake Peavy is filthy and prime for a huge year

What’d my GM do: It was a busy off-season for Kevin Towers. He signed Maddux for one year at $10 million in order to make another playoff push. He traded Josh Barfield to Cleveland for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown. The Barfield trade cleared a hole for Marcus Giles at 2B, who was extremely cheap at under $4 million and should be just as productive. He lost Mike Piazza in free agency, but Josh Bard looks like he can take over if last year was at all a sign. He also just locked up Adrian Gonzalez for four years, which is an excellent sign since Gonzalez is their best hitter.

Lay it on me Straight: The pitching is so good it will keep the Padres in contention all year long, and send them to the playoffs. The lineup might not be powerful, but it could surprise people since it’s doesn’t have too many glaring holes. They also play excellent defense which helps them win close games. It’s a very good club, built around pitching as it should be in that park.

So where my boys gonna finish right now: They’ll be right around where they were last year, but probably behind the vastly improved Dodgers. They’ll be one of the top teams in the league and in the wild card hunt at the least.

Can we be better than that: If the hitting truly comes around, like Kouzmanoff, Sledge, and the Giles Brothers, and everything else from last year stays the same, they could take the division with 90+ wins.