Series Preview #50: Arizona Diamondbacks @ San Diego Padres

Yes, that's our former GM, Josh Byrnes, presenting a personalized surfboard to future PED suspendee, Everth Cabrera. Hahaha! - Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Pinch-hitting for a poorly ZM today: I think his brain probably rebelled at the thought of having to find something interesting to write about the San Diego Padres.

History

It'd be interesting to draw some kind of line-graph, charting how I've felt about our divisional rivals since I started seriously following baseball after coming out here in 2000. Initially, I think the Giants were probably the team I cared most about beating, mostly due to Barry Bonds. But since then, there has been a natural ebb and flow as rivalries rose and fell. Remember when we use to care about the Rockies? That was a memorable two weeks in 2007/08, wasn't it? However, even I struggle to recall when I felt...well, anything much about the Padres.

It's probably partly that they've not won the division since 2006, and looks like this season is going to be their third straight in the 71-76 win bracket. Such consistent mediocrity makes it difficult to generate any significant level of emotion: they're not a real 'threat' to the Diamondbacks pursuit of a pennant, and yet they don't suck hard enough to be worthy of particular derision. [Speaking of which, the Astros are now the first team to lose 105+ games in three consecutive seasons since the 1962-65 Mets.]

I think the last time I cared much in regard to them was probably April 2008, after Conor Jacksn got plunked, apparently for swinging too hard. If I remember, that set off what seemed like a major spat between ourselves and Padres blog, Gaslamp Ball, but it now seems more like the kind of jostling that occurs late night in a city-center bar, at the end of which all parties feel slightly embarrassed about it all. There was also the incident below between Mark Reynolds and Everth Cabrera in July 2010:


That probably marked the last time I gave a damn about San Diego. Unfortunately, Everth Cabrera is still serving his 50-game suspension for involvement in the Biogenesis scandal - yeah, I laughed when I heard about that too - so I can't even use him to generate any real sense of GAF for this series. The first two words there stand for "Giving" and "A". Work the rest out yourself. However, I'll probably watch more of the series than I have done for a while, mostly because we're going to be in San Diego for a couple of days, courtesy of AZDBACKR and Mr. AZDBACKR. They moved out there last year and have a charming guesthouse [ask about rental rates!].

Looking forward to that, and I'll get to cross Petco Park off my list of stadia - we have been to a game at the old Qualcomm Stadium, but the only time we were in San Diego since they moved for the 2004 season, the Padres weren't in town. The main thing I remember about the trip was finding about the last parking spot downtown (ComicCon was on, we discovered on arrival!), and Mrs. SnakePit taking 20 minutes to park in it, because it was roughly 0.3 inches longer than our car. S'funny what sticks in the mind, isn't it? Oh, yeah: that and the local real-estate prices, which appear to be some kind of attempt at absurdist humor.

This season

The Padres, despite being seven games back of us, have dealt rather well with us, and have a 9-6 lead in the season series going into this four-game set. The last series in Petco went particularly badly, as we were swept, being held to a total of six runs over the three games. After they beat the Giants in their next game, San Diego were just one game back on June 17, and a surprising run seemed possible. However, that proved illusory, and a streak where they went 1-14, beginning later that month,sent them back into their expected mediocrity, where they have nestled happily since.

It probably says something about them that Cabrera, who won't even hit 100 games for them this season [somewhere, Mark Reynolds is sniggering - unfortunately, in a Yankees uniform], is still second on the team in bWAR. Chris Denorfia leads them, at 3.1 bWAR, with Chase Headley and Will Venable the best of their other hitters. Or, at least, the best of their other hitters who aren't currently enjoying 50-game suspensions due to being the apparent customer of a highly-dubious PED clinic in Miami [yeah, I'll probably find some excuse to mention this in the previews too, so you might as well get used to it]

On the mound, we miss Andrew Cashner, their only starter worth more than one bWAR this season and who one-hit the Pirates, but has been shut down for the year. So, if you can only watch one game this series, as well as congratulating you on apparently having found something better to do, I'd probably recommend Wednesday's, as we get to see Ian Kennedy again. He has been consistently inconsistent since the trade, with his last start, against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, being his worst yet, as he was tagged for eight hits and six runs before the end of the fourth. He has been better in the capacious realms of Petco, so be interesting to see how Arizona handles him.

Park factors

Speaking of which. they moved the fences in at Petco for this season, but it doesn't appear the home team has noticed, since they are actually slugging five points lower than they did in 2012. However, it has helped visitors, who have seen their collective SLG increase by six points. I'm fairly sure this is not quite what Padres' management intended when they took the decision. However, what's particularly interesting, is the moves do seem to have adjusted the splits at Petco quite drastically: it used to be a place where left-handed batters went to die, but it's right-handers that have struggled far worse this season. More about that in today's preview,. I think.

Vague possible lineup

  1. Will Venable, OF
  2. Chris Denorfia, OF
  3. Jedd Gyorko, 2B
  4. Chase Headley, 3B
  5. Tommy Medica, 1B
  6. Kyle Blanks, OF
  7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
  8. Nick Hundley, C
  9. Pitcher

The Padres appear to use outfield dice to figure out who plays where, since they broke Carlos Quentin for the latest time. The past 12 games haven't seen any of the three spots there occupied by the same person three days in a row, which is why I'm opting for the carefully non-specific "OF" tags above. I like the pitching match-ups, and think we've got a chance to take the series. That wouldn't be enough to pull the season set back in our direction, unless we manage to sweep them, and even I can't claim that's likely. At this point, I'd happily settle for taking three out of four, and finishing the season having gone 9-10 against the Padres.

SB Nation site: Gaslamp Ball

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