MadFriars Blog April 7

Now that the San Diego Padres have shown they have an offense – at Coors Field – let's see if they can bring the bats back to Petco Park.

The Padres had a .480 on base percentage on Wednesday. Brian Giles appears to be ready for a great season. He already has eight RBI's after two games – driving in five on Wednesday. He also drew two walks, another great sign for the on base machine.

Ramon Hernandez walked three times – the first time he has ever walked that many times in one game.

Now the fun begins. Can the offensive onslaught sustain the trek down the hill and down to sea level?

Ryan Klesko had the day off so there is no whining excuse about the ballpark dimensions. He should be plenty rested to get those extra five feet and over the wall.

A slow start at the plate this weekend could linger through the year – and we are talking team-wide.

The crowd should be jamming this weekend with Jason Bay and Oliver Perez coming back to town – but more importantly is Jake Peavy on the hill. He is the catalyst the Padres need to take their game to the next level.

The season has begun and the San Diego Padres left a promising start in the clouds of Mile High.

Adding insult to injury, four Padres' minor leaguers were suspended, two of which were released by the team.

Trevor Hoffman was 41-for-45 in 2004 and his 393 saves ranks third on the all-time list, 85 behind leader Lee Smith.

His .8911 save percentage entering the year trailed only Eric Gagne's .9620 and John Smoltz' .9167 as the best in all of baseball.

So when he blew a save in the opening game on Monday against the Colorado Rockies, it was quite a shock.

"This is an important win, the first game out of the chute," Hoffman said. "We have to nail that one down. That part of it is frustrating."

And the Padres are in the hole 0-1.

At least the Friars have Xavier Nady. What took so long to figure it out?

MadFriars Farm Report:

Thirty-eight players were suspended for violating "Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program" against performance-enhancing substances (steroids and steroid precursors).

In total, 925 tests were conducted at the Minor League camps in Arizona during the 2005 Spring Training and includes one positive test from off-season testing. Random unannounced testing will continue to be conducted throughout the Minor League season.

Four members of the Padres organization were suspended and two have been released.

Right-hander Clay Hensley was let go after a superb spring, according to one Padre official. He was slated to begin the year in Portland.

Jacobo Meque, a left-hander signed recently, was released before making his debut in the system.

Kervin Jacobo, re-signed after being waived by Seattle, will miss 15 games after being suspended. He was slated to begin the year in Lake Elsinore.

Nate Sevier, a promising right-handed reliever slated for Mobile, was replaced on the roster by lefty Craig Breslow. He will miss 15 games while he serves his suspension.

The Padres open the season in Colorado, two days after the Rockies lost to their minor league affiliate, Colorado Springs. That has to be a sign, right?

The Friars were 9-10 versus the Rockies last year, going 6-3 at Coors and 3-7 at home. All-time, they trail the series 85-90, going 39-46 in Colorado.

But this is a different year, right? Colorado can't even beat their minor league affiliate. If the Padres lose, they are therefore not pennant worthy and worse than Colorado Springs - by rationale that only I can imagine.

Woody Williams will take the hill on Monday, marking the second time he has been the opening day starter for the Padres (2001). Irony indeed.

Williams is hoping to reverse the trend of Padres' openers. They are 16-20 to open the year, 7-12 on the road.

The right-hander, acquired via free agency, went 11-8 with a 4.18 ERA last year for St. Louis.

If the Padres are serious about pennant aspirations, they need everything Williams has and more.

Adam Eaton will get the nod in game two, after an off-day. He has faced the Rockies more times than any other opponent (18 starts). He went 1-4 against Colorado in 2004, allowing 28 runs in 29 innings of work.

A year older and a year wiser?

Eaton is the key to the season from a rotation standpoint. He has the talent of a 20-game winner and it would be nice to see him blossom this year.

It wasn't even fair. Lake Elsinore vs San Diego. The Storm vs the Padres. In another city, they were saying the same thing. Colorado Springs vs. Colorado. While the Friars dispatched the Storm 15-4, Colorado Springs beat the Rockies 5-1.

Bring on the opener! And we aren't talking about cans either - unless it is a cold one.

On Saturday, five Padres hitters had two or more hits with Sean Burroughs pacing the club with four. Mark Sweeney and Brian Giles were perfect on the day, 3-for-3 apiece.

The Storm players, meanwhile, had their moments.

Peeter Ramos, Steve Baker and Fernando Valenzuela Jr. each had two hits and the team left 12 men on base.

Superstar in the making, George Kottaras, homered in the fourth inning off Jake Peavy and Brett Bonvechio also homered off Peavy.

Keep an eye on California native Leo Rosales. He was the only pitcher not to allow a baserunner to the parent club.

Edgar Huerta, however, allowed four runs in one-third of an inning.

It is good to see Javier Martinez back on the mound. He is one of the more talented prospects in the system that you may have forgotten about. He missed all of 2004 due to injury.

It was a surprise to see Clark Girardeau on the Fort Wayne roster. It seemed a certainty that he would begin the year in LE. He should be back with the Storm soon enough.

Fabian Jimenez has loads of talent and is still only 18 years old. Seeing on the Fort Wayne roster will be a challenge and the Padres believe he can excel at it. He struggled some last year but the front office is very high on him.

The outfield in Fort Wayne may be one of the best defensive outfields assembled. Ruben Mora and Yordany Ramirez sport the top two outfield arms in the system.

Edgar Huerta was supposed to be challenging for a bullpen spot in San Diego. Health problems shelved him several times last year and the closest he will be to San Diego is Lake Elsinore.

Wilmer Villatoro got caught in a numbers crunch it appears. The Mobile bullpen is looking stellar and Villatoro will be with the Storm again after a dominating 2004. A definite surprise.

No surprise, but Kervin Jacobo is back. The Mariners tried to convert him to a pitcher but it appears he will be heading to third base. The one issueis Brett Bonvechio plays third as well - so that poses a problem.

R.D. Spiehs isn't happy. That is what I think. He had a great year in Mobile and is back in Double-A this year. He will anchor one of the best bullpens the Padres' minors has ever assembled.

The Mobile team should have plenty of power, but little speed. They have four players that could hit 20 homers or more.

Like the dirt that Adam Hyzdu is munching on in this day's story picture, we have again been fed talk without substance.

Johnson batted .400 in his time with the Friars this spring. He was annointed as an up and comer but he will be in Portland to begin the year, clearing the way for Hyzdu, a 33-year old righty with 190 career games and a .233 career average.


At least Darrell May showed some backbone with a great outing - but too little, too late and into the bullpen he goes. Outside of Hoffman, Linebrink, Otsuka and Seanez, here is to hoping no one else gets the ball.

The spring was a success. Kevin Towers says so:

"It's one of the better springs we've had. Knock on wood - we haven't had any really major injuries, just more minor things, and that's good."

Actually, after two losing springs in 2003 and 2004, the Padres are back on the winning side, going 17-14 this spring.

See you in Lake Elsinore!

One start does not make a career, but the signs were encouraging on Wednesday. Tim Redding went six innings and allowed two runs on six hits to get the victory in his debut performance for the Padres.

The victory ensured Redding will be penciled in as the fifth starter in the rotation. For now, his name will remain in pencil, as has many a fifth starter over the past year in San Diego.

"They came to Houston and plucked me out of there," said Redding. "I'm grateful for that. I'm going to try my best, like I always do, but there's just a little extra motivation because it's a brand-new start here."

Redding has been enthusiastic about the trade and has already warmed to San Diego without actually being in San Diego.

A reason the Padres have brought back players who grew up in the area in recent years is because of the exuberance to show their best at home and Redding seems to already have that fire, even if he is from New York.

Perhaps I should go grumble in a corner over the prospects being overlooked. I can always come out when Redding has a rough outing.

Speaking of San Diego, the Friars hosted the Aztecs on Wednesday and Woody Williams looked like a number one starter, albeit against a college team. He allowed two hits in five innings of work.

Nady continues to pour it on, driving in two runs with a single. The one disappointment was the size of the crowd, perhaps half full for the exhibition game.

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