Geoff Young, who runs the erudite, witty and entirely rainbow unicorn-free site Ducksnorts, wrote me last week - we agreed to exchange questions and answers about each other's teams, in advance of the weekend series against the Padres. His Q's and my A's about our team can be found here; below, his highly-informative answers about the Padres. Thanks to Geoff for his efforts: I imagine sitting through a 22-inning game provides plenty of time to go into some depth! :-)
1. Trevor Hoffman ended 2007 for the Padres and has had some rocky
appearances at the start of 2008. Is this too small a sample size to be
concerned, or has he finally lost his edge? Do you think he will still
be your closer at the end of the year? If not, how will the club handle
the situation, and who would likely replace him?
The laws of nature dictate that at some point Hoffman won't be able to survive on guile alone. It's probably wise to be concerned, but at the same time, it's too early to react and make a silly decision that gives greater weight to the last three weeks than the previous 15 years. Right now it's tough to tell whether this is a blip or the beginning of the end. That's the same line I've been using for the past several years whenever Hoffman hits a rough patch, and I'm not prepared to abandon it just yet (although it's a bit scarier to watch him pitch now than it was a few years ago). As for the long haul, Heath Bell would be the logical replacement.
When the time comes, it's hard to say how the Padres will handle the transition from Hoffman to Bell or anyone else. With luck, they'll have full cooperation from Hoffman, who is an institution in San Diego -- as much for his community work as for anything he's ever done on a baseball diamond. I don't envy anyone in the organization who might have to tell him they no longer need his services. I'm also hoping desperately that Hoffman figures it out first and does the right thing. But again, I don't think we're there just yet, a few shaky outings notwithstanding.
3. The Diamondbacks appear to be moving into "win now" mode, concentrating their resources into being challengers over the next three seasons. Looking forward over the same kind of time-frame, whereabout do you see the Padres in the cycle of baseball life? Coming up, going down, or holding steady?
4. Kevin Towers has now been the Padres' general manager since 1995, making him the longest-serving GM with one club in the majors (if I'm not mistaken). What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses over that time? Also, for the first decade, he worked with only one manager, Bruce Bochy. Has last season's change to Bud Black affected things at all? And must all Padres managers HAVE the initials BB?
5. At time of writing, the Padres have the best ERA in the league - that's probably no surprise. However, the Padres are ranked second in the NL for BA, a sharp improvement on last year's 15th-placed finish. Is that just the small sample size? Or does the team project to have a significantly-improved offense?