While the Brewers head west for the first time in 2013, Dex from Gaslamp Ball was kind enough to answer some questions about the Padres to help us get ready for tonight's series opener.
BCB: The Padres got shut out by Barry Zito and the Giants on Sunday to fall to 5-13, and now have the NL's second-worst record. What's gone wrong to drive them to this point?
GB: This is likely the playing out of all the things that we were worried about during Spring Training. If the Padres were healthy, the team would have some good depth, but we're still recovering from five or six injuries to the starting rotation that our forcing us to use Edinson Volquez as an opening day starter and Tyson Ross as one of our most effective arms. We knew that with Chase Headley and Yasmani Grandal out, we'd potentially have trouble with offense, but the offense has been relatively decent, just in spurts. Carlos Quentin's suspension didn't help anything, and I would be remiss to point out Bud Black's weird habit of sacrifice bunting in the first inning of just about every game so far this season. So basically, lots of stuff.
BCB: This is the Brewers' first visit to Petco Park since the fences were moved in a bit this summer. Has there been a noticeable difference in offense at the park in the first few games since the change?
GB: Not taking into account any psychological factors, the fences may or may not have helped the opposition a bit more than the home team. To be totally honest, I doubt the fences have had much to do with anything except bring out the internet arguments whenever a home run is hit, regardless of whether the home run is hit to to right-center (where the move happened) or left field (where no fences were touched). Just looking at home runs, there have been 16 total hit at Petco in 6 games played there so far as opposed to 9 home runs in Petco Park's first 6 games of 2012. Fun with small samples!
BCB: Through three trips through the rotation the Padres' best starter has been Jason Marquis, who enters his scheduled start Monday with a 2.41 ERA. Is his status as the team's best pitcher a testament to his work to this point, or a condemnation of everyone else's?
GB: It's honestly both. Marquis won his spot in the rotation fair and square amidst an entire hospital wing's worth of injured Padres pitchers. He's been around the league a while now so he knows how to pitch. Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard and Eric Stults have been uneven, which is really why none have really been considered aces in their careers. On the flip-side, we've had flashes of great potential from Tyson Ross, but also young pitcher mistakes being made and Yet Another Sore Arm. When it comes down to it why not Jason Marquis?
BCB: Second/third baseman Jedd Gyorko was the Padres' top prospect entering the season but comes into this series hitting just .210/.296/.258 in his first 17 major league games. How confident are you in his ability to bounce back?
GB: Super confident. Jedd Gyorko was being groomed for the middle-infield and then forced back over to third base with Chase Headley's injury. In an ideal scenario, with a healthy lineup, as a rookie, he really should not be having to bat higher than 7th... Yes, even on the Padres. If we were forecasting out from last September, the start of the lineup looked pretty well established with some combination of Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin, Yasmani Grandal, Everth Cabrera and Yonder Alonso. Headley and Grandal (and later Carlos Quentin) have forced the hand and made Gyorko a fixture in the 5th spot of the lineup. Nick Hundley has started the season looking more like the Hundley of 2011 and once the lineup features both Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley, I think Gyorko will be moved down in the lineup to a spot with less pressure and potentially more room for improvement.
BCB: Finally, unless I'm mistaken Tuesday will be Carlos Quentin's first game back following his suspension for his actions after being hit by Zack Greinke almost two weeks ago. What's your take on the incident?
GB: I'm sure there are probably some Greinke fans leftover in Milwaukee, and I'm obviously a Padres homer so feel free to take my thoughts with a grain of salt. First off, for as much as Greinke shouldn't have been "trying" to hit Quentin in that at-bat, he also positively wasn't going to groove a pitch over the plate for Quentin to crush with a full count. So I'm of the mind that there's always a chance he was perfectly find trying to get the ball hard and inside regardless of what Don Mattingly or Matt Kemp might think of any "Baseball IQ". Secondly, if he wasn't trying to hit Quentin in that spot, he sure didn't seem upset that he did. Watching it live and seeing Greinke stare Quentin down, eagerly throw his glove to the ground and lower his shoulder honestly had me thinking that both guys were looking for a fight. And yes, I believe Quentin when he says that he wouldn't have rushed the mound if Greinke had just turned away or put his hands up or just looked at his feet. Maybe that's naive. My guess is that if Greinke hadn't broken his collarbone, both guys would've been suspended. Grain of salt.
Thanks to Dex for taking the time, andcheck out Gaslamp Ball for more on the Padres!