Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Series Preview: More San Diego
2006-04-17 15:25
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Oh, but I am weary of these early-season divisional matchups. A few days ago in a roundup I wrote that San Diego isn't very good. I stand by that. What else is there to say, really? You've heard all the little speeches about how miserable the division was last year. You've heard the little pep talks regarding the Rockies' opportunity to make a cheap playoff run given the continued weakness of the NL West. If you're a glass-is-half-full type, you've already concluded that the long sting of divisional games means that many extra opportunities to heckle Barry Bonds. Me, I'm looking at the schedule and dreading how long it is until the Rockies have home games against the Mets, Cardinals, or even the A's. Do we really have to wait until midsummer to see whether the team is any good or not?

The Padres are 4-7 and they're in last place in the NL West. They're isn't a hot hitter in their lineup right now besides rookie first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Khalil Greene has a couple of homers but is hitting .190. Brian Giles is off to a .242/.435/.364 start, with only two extra base hits on the young season. New old guys Vinny Castilla and Mike Piazza are not hitting. Three of the five NL West teams fill the three bottom rungs of the major league OPS table, with Arizona 28th, San Francisco last, and San Diego at 29th. The D-Backs and Giants have gotten a litle bit of pitching, though. San Diego is 23rd in ERA. Bruce Bochy gave the hapless Dewon Brazelton the quick hook out of the rotation after two disastrous starts, but the Padres profoundly lack better options. Colorado will see three guys they can definitely hit in this Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday series: Chris Young, Clay Hensley, and Chan Ho Park. The Rockies will counter with the also unremarkable, but more affordable trio of Jeff Francis, Josh Fogg, and Zach Day. With Aaron Cook and Jason Jennings pitching as well they have, a resumption from Francis of his first-half 2005 form would go a long way towards legitimizing the exotic concept of an over-.500 Rockies season. Fogg has given Colorado more than they could have asked for in his first few outings. Zach Day is merely marking time until Byung-Hyun Kim rounds into form in Colorado Springs. However, he is not making more in salary this year than the entire Florida Marlins roster, as Chan Ho Park is. So there's that.

The last time the Rockies faced the Padres, they creamed them in three straight games at PetCo Park. They've yet to show such offensive consistency in their home schedule. San Diego pitching could be just the panacea. I have little to no faith in Zach Day, but the other pitching matchups are favorable enough for me to tab this matchup for Colorado's first home series win of the young season. And really, if the Rockies could just start winning home games one of these years, all their problems would be solved.

I've read in a few places that Jason Jennings credits his unusually hot start to beginning his offseason workout program far earlier than was his custom. If you want proof by negative example, look at Sun-Woo Kim, who became ill early on in the World Baseball Classic and scarcely pitched at all this March. Whatever Jennings did, so far so good, but I feel compelled to note that due to his finger injury Jason didn't pitch at all in the last few months of the 2005 season. How's he going to look in the second half? Oh, no, I freaked myself out.

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