Peace through victory - the American way.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

No Way For Padres To Pass LaRussa In 2007 Playoffs.

The San Diego Padres can't get past Tony LaRussa in the playoffs. At the recent season-ticket holder's rally, Padres management implored the fans to withhold judgment for now. Both Sandy Alderson and Kevin Towers pointed out that the core players who led the Padres to victory in 2006 didn't join the team in trades and free-agent signings until January.

With that in mind, Towers better have some blockbuster deals in the pipeline. Today's San Diego Union-Tribune has an article that floats a trial balloon about that has Termel Sledge starting in left field and batting leadoff. (Here.) So much for going after a power-hitting outfielder.

This is the lineup that's supposed to get the Padres past LaRussa and the first round of the playoffs:

1. Termel Sledge, LF
2. Marcus Giles, 2B
3. Brian Giles, RF
4. Adrian Gonzales, 1B
5. Mike Cameron, CF
6. Kevin Kouzmanoff or Russell Branyan, 3B
7. Josh Bard, C
8. Khalil Greene, SS

This trial balloon won't fly.

Sledge may have success in the minor leagues as a leadoff hitter but he hasn't duplicated that success against major league pitching. Moreover, what the Padres really need in the lineup is a right-handed power-hitting outfielder. Alderson admitted as much at the season-ticket holder rally last month.

Marcus Giles is fine batting second but his brother is no longer a number 3 hitter. He doesn't drive the ball the way he used to and he doesn't move people along on the bases. He takes lots of walks and is an OBP machine. He should be leading off.

Gonzalez does not have the homerun pop to bat fourth but on this team no player does. If the Padres did what is necessary and went out to get a true homerun hitter, Gonzalez would be batting third.

Cameron, Kouzmanoff/Branyan and Bard are fine where they are. Greene belongs batting eighth, if for no other reason than he can't be relied upon to play an entire season. No sense putting him up in the meat of the order and really missing his bat when he inevitably goes down for a month or so. Fortunately, we've still got Geoff Blum to step in and play major league shortstop.

This team is shaping up as a disappointment. There are some really good players on the team but there are still plenty of question marks. First among them is why isn't the team spending the money management said had been freed up to sign a star performer. Instead we get rumors of interest in yesterday's superstars like Randy Johnson and David Wells. Given the Padres track record, I'm predicting that Sammy Sosa will be starting in left field and batting cleanup when the season begins.

-tdr

Republished once for editing.

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