Puig pushes Dodgers past Padres

Two early home runs off Jered Weaver seals Dodger series win.

By Michael Cline

Yasiel Puig’s power, prevalent against Trevor Cahill a night ago, was on display again Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles.

A pair of two-run blasts from the 26-year-old outfielder set the tone for the Dodgers offense early, and the big flies proved to be Jered Weaver’s weakest link.

Weaver, making his Padres debut in a market he called home for the first eleven seasons of his career, was brought to San Diego as an innings-eater. Today, Weaver was confined to just five innings of work. In total, he threw 82 pitches, while surrendering five hits, three walks, and struck out the same number of batters as home runs given up: two.

All of Weaver’s four earned runs came off Puig’s two home runs.

Meanwhile, Brandon McCarthy, Weaver’s counterpart on the mound, stranded two Padre hits through five innings of work. His 6th inning proved to be a challenge.

After a Travis Jankowski single on a 3-2 count, Wil Myers slugged his first home run of the season, elevating a McCarthy curveball to center field. McCarthy was a pitch away from completing the frame. Instead, Myers cut the Dodger lead in half.

In the bottom half of the 6th, Jarred Cosart, in relief of Weaver, surrendered three walks, a pinch-hit RBI double by Enrique Hernandez, and, later, a double steal, with Hernandez taking home plate. Criag Stammen, in his return to the Majors after a pair of seasons battling injuries, relieved Cosart and got the final out of the inning.

Christian Bethancourt’s 7th inning of work is when the wheels came off for San Diego.

Bethancourt, who had pinch hit for Stammen, entered the game in relief. After a Chase Utley groundout, proceeded to walk the next four (and final) batters he faced.

Brad Hand inherited a bases-loaded jam, and Corey Seager continued his hot hitting with another double, scoring two of the three men on base. The third, Andrew Toles, used his speed to score after a passed ball later in the inning.

The Padres bats continued to stay cold, and aside from Hunter Renfroe’s 9th inning double, San Diego continued its lethargic offensive output.

Final score from Chavez Ravine: Dodgers 10, Padres 2.

San Diego completes its opening series on the road in Los Angeles, snagging just one win in the four game slate with the rival Dodgers. Up next is Petco Park’s Opening Day, as the Padres will play host to the San Francisco Giants.

Luis Perdomo, last year’s Rule 5 pick, has been fine-tuning his sinker, which will certainly be on display when the young 23 year old takes the mound tomorrow at 3:40PM. He’ll look to replicate the start by Clayton Richard on Tuesday night, where the veteran arm induced four double plays on the ground.

Perdomo will face off against veteran right hander Matt Cain.

Cahill solid, but Padre bats cold in loss to Dodgers

Limited offensive output favors home Dodgers; Cahill drops first game as a Padre.

By Michael Cline

Hunter Renfroe hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot to left off Dodger starter Rich Hill. It would be but a brief flash of offense for the Padres, and Hill’s only mistake throughout the evening.

Hill mixed his pitches, and made exceptional use of his breaking ball, missing bats en route to his first win on the young season.

The entire offensive output by both teams was limited to the first four innings. The Dodgers got to Trevor Cahill early, with back to back doubles from Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez, leading to the first run of the ballgame. Cahill looked to be out of a jam when Logan Forsythe grounded to 3rd, but Wil Myers committed an error while catching the throw from Ryan Schimpf.

In the fourth, Yasiel Puig launched his first home run of the season, when he crushed an 85MPH changeup from Cahill.

Cahill’s line was nothing to frown about: 5.2 IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 7K. Like Richard a night ago, Cahill too tossed 99 pitches. This, however, didn’t come in a winning effort.

Hill, though solid, exited the game before Cahill, only working 5 innings. He walked three men and gave up two hits, one of them being the Renfroe solo shot.

Arguably the best pitching performance came from the Dodger bullpen. Sergio Romo, Alex Wood, and Kenley Jansen threw a combined 4 innings of one hit, one walk baseball. Jansen also notched his first save.

Final score: Dodgers 3, Padres 1.

The series wraps up on Thursday at noontime. Jered Weaver returns to Los Angeles to face his former crosstown rival, this time as a member of the Padres. He’ll square up against Brandon McCarthy.

Richard masterful in Padres first win of 2017

Padres manufacture offense, while Clayton Richard throws a gem in game two.

By Michael Cline

The Padre bats got to Kenta Maeda early. San Diego manufactured a pair of runs in the 1st, forcing Maeda to toss 29 pitches before recording the final out. It turned out to a pivotal frame; grabbing the lead and setting the tone in the first inning of the ballgame.

Travis Jankowski opened the ballgame with a hard-fought walk. After Wil Myers blooped a single to shallow center, Yangervis Solarte, mirroring his efforts on Opening Day, singled up the middle to score Jankowski.

Ryan Schimpf earned his second RBI of the young season when he hit a sacrifice fly to LF, scoring Myers.

Solarte continued his hot hitting in the Opening Series when he crushed a Maeda changeup to right-center field. The solo shot pushed the Padre lead to 3-0.

It was all the offense Clayton Richard needed to work deep into the ballgame. Richard kept the ball down in the zone, and the ground-ball game worked to perfection. The Dodger offense hit into four double plays while Richard was on the mound.

Richard tossed eight shutout innings, a far cry from the pitching performance the Padres put on display just one day ago. The double plays helped Richard scatter the five Dodger hits and two walks he surrendered. In his first start of the 2017 campaign, Richard threw 99 pitches.

Kenta Maeda didn’t fare as well as his Padre counterpart. The veteran righty of the Nippon league in Japan, Maeda, in his second season with the Dodgers, labored through five innings, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks. Pinch hitter Scott Van Slyke lined out for Maeda in the 5th, ending his evening on the mound.

Luis Avilan gave Dave Roberts and the Dodger faithful a perfect 6th inning, and Ross Stripling followed with a solid seventh inning. Stripling, however, gave up back to back hits to start the 8th, and Manny Margot scored on a Myers single to opposite field, notching another run on the scoreboard.

After Richard’s masterful performance, Brad Hand entered the game in the 9th, and made quick work of the Dodgers 1-2-3 hitters, securing the first win of the season for San Diego.

The Final from Chavez Ravine: Padres 4, Dodgers 0.

The Padres and Dodgers continue the series tomorrow at 7:10 PM. Trevor Cahill will take the mound in his first start with the Padres, opposing veteran lefty Rich Hill and the hometown Dodgers.

Padres Opening Day Spoiled by Kershaw, Pederson, and Co.

Opening Day 2017 at Chavez Ravine was oddly reminiscent of last season’s dreadful start.

By Michael Cline

In 2016, the Dodgers absolutely routed the Padres in San Diego. Over the course of three games, the Padres failed to register a single run. This time around, it was the Padres who would strike first, but the Dodgers had the last laugh.

Clayton Kershaw took the mound in front of a sell out crowd at Dodger Stadium. After setting down leadoff hitter Manny Margot on strikes, Wil Myers reached 2B on an error, advanced to third after a Kershaw pitch got away, and scored on Yangervis Solarte’s soft ground ball that barely passed by the infield.

In one inning, the revamped, youthful Padres lineup did what the 2016 squad couldn’t accomplish in 3 games.

1-0 San Diego.

Hope.

That hope would be dashed. Quickly. By the likes of Joc Pederson.

Pederson helped even the score in the bottom of the second frame, when he elevated a Jhoulys Chacin pitch so far into RF, that even Adrian Gonzalez was able to tag and score the first Dodger run of 2017.

His offensive efforts didn’t end there. Just one inning later, with the bases full, Pederson hit a laser to the RF corner. It was fair, and it was gone.

1-5 Los Angeles.

Hope dashed.

Yasmani Grandal followed Pederson with a HR to right of his own. Back to back big flies completely changed the ballgame.

Chacin continued to unravel in the 4th, giving up a double down the line in left to Justin Turner that scored opposing pitcher Kershaw. Even after leaving the game, Chacin surrendered two more runs, after Christian Bethancourt, pitching with runners charged to the Padres Opening Day starter, threw not one, but two wild pitches that tacked on a pair of runs for the Dodgers.

If a 9-1 deficit to Los Angeles half way through the afternoon wasn’t bad enough, Corey Seager reminded the Padres that it can always get worse. Seager hit his first HR of the 2017 season, a laser to CF off Bethancourt that scored three more.

1-12 Los Angeles.

Embarrassing.

An emotion the Padres know all too well when facing Kershaw on Opening Day.

In a bright spot for San Diego, Ryan Schimpf flashed the power that helped elevate him to a major league starter when he took Kerhsaw deep in the 7th inning. It broke a string of 19 straight retired Padres by Kershaw.

In the 8th, Manny Margot notched his first hit, double, and RBI of the season, in what was a two out rally against reliever Chris Hatcher.

The Dodgers would get those two runs back in the bottom of that frame. Grandal, for the second time against his former ballclub, smashed a two-run homer to left, from the opposite side of the dish, capping off a offensive domination of San Diego pitching.

After less than three hours, the Dodgers earned their first W of the season, an absolute slaughter of their NL West foes, in a 14-3 Final.

Not much went right for San Diego on 4/3. They’ll regroup after a dismal performance from Chacin (3.1 IP, 8H, 9ER, 2BB, 2K, 24.30 ERA), and send southpaw Clayton Richard to the mound for game two of this series. Richard and the Padres will face off against Kenta Maeda.

First pitch is 7:10PM from Dodger Stadium tomorrow night.

Padres 25 Man Roster Features Many Surprises

Andy Green brings three Rule 5 Picks, four Catchers, and no reserve Outfielders to Los Angeles for Opening Day

By Michael Cline

In a surprising move, the San Diego Padres have retained all three Rule 5 Draft players, and will take four catchers (including hybrid player Christian Bethancourt) to Chavez Ravine for the opening series against the Dodgers.

The Padres acquired the top three picks from last winter’s Rule 5 Draft, and each one survived the final round of cuts. Shortstop Allen Cordoba, Catcher Luis Torrens, and reliever Miguel Diaz have all been retained by the Padres. If San Diego had failed to keep any of these players on their Major League Roster, they would have to offer each player back to their original team.

Equally surprising, the Padres opted to option Jabari Blash and Cory Spangenberg to AAA El Paso. Both were seen as a potential fourth outfielder. Blash showed tremendous power throughout March, yet lost a potential starting job in the OF and will begin 2017 with the Chihuahuas. Spangenberg, who missed all but 14 games last season due to injury, was blocked by Yangervis Solarte and Ryan Schimpf at Second and Third Base. He will see consistent playing time and a healthy amount of plate appearances in his first year back from an extended stay on the DL.

Instead, San Diego chose to keep four Catchers, including Hector Sanchez. Austin Hedges, who won the Opening Day job behind the plate, will be supported by Torrens and Sanchez.

Christian Bethancourt, a Catcher turned Outfielder, turned Pitcher, will be a hybrid option for the Padres in 2017. Bethancourt will see time as a reliever and pinch hit option for Andy Green. Moving Bethancourt to a unique late innings role frees up ABs for Hedges, who will catch on a daily basis for the first time in his career.

Could Buy-Low Candidate Trevor Cahill be AJ Preller’s Next big Flip?

Trevor Cahill has earned a spot in the rotation. How good can he be for the Padres?

By Michael Cline

Last season, the San Diego Padres managed to flip Drew Pomeranz to Boston, in exchange for prized young pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza. After a half season of Pomeranz in San Diego, AJ Preller succeeded in turning Yonder Alonso into MLB’s 21th best prospect entering the 2017 season.

Preller acquired Pomeranz from the Oakland Athletics in December of 2015, while the main asset sent to the Bay Area was Yonder Alonso. Alonso, plagued by lengthy stays on the disabled list, never lived up to the potential that came with his arrival in the Mat Latos blockbuster deal. The Athletics, filling a need at First Base, dealt Pomeranz, who spent considerable time working out of the pen, back to the NL West.

Pomeranz was elite in his work on the mound starting for San Diego in the first half of the 2016 campaign. Pomeranz made 17 starts in a Padre uniform, notching 8 wins with a 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. His 115 K through 102 IP cemented Pomeranz as an All Star, representing San Diego when Petco Park played host to the Midsummer Classic last July. Two weeks later, the Padres front office moved Pomeranz to the Boston Red Sox.

While General Manager AJ Preller didn’t pull off the type of trade to net a player like Pomeranz this past offseason, he did manage to ink a handful of veteran hurlers to lead the first four rotation spots. Trevor Cahill may be the arm for which the Padres were searching.

This spring, Cahill has thrown well enough to earn a starting job in a crowded contest. Cahill’s ERA of 3.26 is decent, but his average against (.155) and WHIP (1.14) stand out among a lackluster Padre group. Cahill has also missed bats, striking out 21 during the month of March. And while spring numbers don’t necessarily translate to regular season success, Cahill has shown signs of rebounding back to the performer he once while a starter with Oakland and Arizona between 2010-13.

Since a disastrous 2014 with the DBacks, splitting time between the rotation and bullpen with 69 earned runs and 123 hits through 110.2 innings of work, Cahill bounced around the minor leagues. Cahill also made brief appearances in the Majors with the Braves and Dodgers. Both stints were unsuccessful, leading Cahill to become a free agent.

Cahill’s 2016 efforts showed signs of a career rebirth, working out of the bullpen for the Chicago Cubs. He made 50 appearances, surrendering just 20 earned runs and 49 hits in 65.2 innings pitched. He also averaged just above a strikeout per inning. Though Cahill didn’t pitch in the Postseason, his regular season work was enough to make it back to the mound as a starter.

It seems highly unlikely that Preller flips Cahill for an Espinoza caliber prospect. However, San Diego should still be a potential trade partner come July. The Padres are poised to field a strong bullpen, and should veteran arms in the rotation like Cahill exceed expectation and perform well, the front office will likely listen to a number of offers. Depending on how the market develops, Cahill could be a target for contending teams, specifically if he continues to strike opposing batters out. In a rebuilding year, keep an eye on veteran pitching as San Diego looks to fortify its young core and developing farm system.

San Diego Padres Offseason in Review

San Diego Launches Rebuild as Major League Team Shows Youth

By Michael Cline

Greetings! If you’re reading this, you’ve stumbled upon a start up blog about the San Diego Padres. This blog will cover what’s sure to be a tremendous year across the world of baseball. As spring training wraps up in Arizona and Florida, teams have begun to announce opening day starters and lineups, while fans are preparing for fantasy baseball with mock drafts and season projections. 

The Padres front office has been hard at work in recent months, attempting to assemble a farm system with international assets and prized prospects from within the draft and through dealings with other clubs. After a series of deadline deals during the 2016 season, the Padres completed their fire sale, officially restarting the rebuilding process in San Diego.

The Padres’ 2016 efforts ended with a walk off loss in Arizona, and since the 68-94 season, the team has been exceptionally quiet this offseason. General Manager AJ Preller, known for his aggressive approach to acquisitions, has made little contact with other front offices since his month-long suspension in September, stemming from a controversy surrounding withheld medical information of trade chips by the front office.

The lack of deals this season could be attributed to a number of issues: the Padres are simply out of trade pieces to move, AJ Preller’s reputation has been sullied since his suspension, or the front office has refocused its interest in the international market and development within their own farm system, which has been buoyed by the likes of Anderson Espinosa and Adrian Morejon.

Preller managed to make a deal that was long overdue. In early December, the Padres moved on from C Derek Norris, moving him to the Nation’s Capital (Norris has since been released by the Nationals, and signed with Tampa Bay). On the free agent market, the Padres moved to sign or claim a number of veteran arms to compete for the starting rotation: Jhoulys Chacin, Clayton Richard, and Jered Weaver (all of whom are set to lead the Padres Starting Rotation this year), along with Trevor Cahill. They joined Jarred Cosart, Christian Friedrich, and Luis Perdomo in search of a spot in the rotation.

Preller’s biggest offseason accomplishment came in mid-January, inking Wil Myers to a six year extension. Myers will anchor the Padres infield after a breakout year, notching career highs in AB (599), H (155), HR (28), RBI (94), and SB (28), representing the Padres at the All Star Game held at Petco Park. After his 2015 season was cut short due to injury and subsequent surgery to repair his wrist, Myers has emerged as the face of the Padres franchise.

Ryan Schimpf and will join Wil Myers and return to the infield, after a breakout year of his own. Schimpf slugged 20 home runs in just 89 games, though his low batting average and high strikeout rate remain concerns entering 2017. Yangervis Solarte, who received a two-year contract extension of his own, will slide to 2B after spending the past few seasons at the hot corner for the Padres. After signing Erik Aybar to compete with Luis Sardinas for starting duties at Shortstop, Manager Andy Green opted to grant the role to the veteran Aybar.

Outside from free agent acquisitions in the rotation and at SS, the front office will rely heavily on young players in 2017. Austin Hedges will take on full-time duties behind the plate, with young outfielders Hunter Renfroe, Manny Margot, Jabari Blash, Travis Jankowski, and Alex Dickerson all set to play significant time.

The Padres have a plethora of options in the OF. Players like Cory Spangenberg and Rule 5 pick Allen Cordoba, jockeying for a roster spot, could give added versatility to the lineup, both in the infield and outfield. Furthermore, C/OF/P Christian Bethancourt will be one of the more exciting storylines to watch, as the Pads find new roles and situations for him.

As of today, the 25-Man roster has yet to be set, nor has the starting lineup and defensive organization for the Padres. Jhoulys Chacin has been announced as the Opening Day hurler, who will face three-time Cy Young Award Winner and perennial All Star Clayton Kershaw, and the defending NL West Champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Analysis of the complete 25-Man roster will follow when the San Diego Padres trim the roster and complete player options to the minor leagues.