By Blake Chadwick
On Opening Day, if I asked who you thought would be leading the NL West at the All-Star break, most would say either the Dodgers, Rockies, or Giants. Hell, even the Diamondbacks might come up a few times. All of those answers are wrong. The San Diego Padres are the cream of the West crop at the halfway point with a three game lead. This is a truly amazing feat. Let’s go through the lineup. It looks like a Spring Training squad mixed with veterans, prospects, and Triple-A lifers.
The heart of this team is clearly 1B Adrian Gonzalez. Arguably the most underrated player not only at his position, but in the entire game.He is a former #1 overall pick to the Florida Marlins back in 2000, and in four and a half major league seasons has become a force. He has 17 HR’s and 54 RBI’s with .302 avg and .929 OPS at this point of the season. He is the only player on the team with more than 8 HR’s and 32 RBI’s. He is joined on the roster by such players as Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, Chase Headley, David Eckstein, Tony Gwynn Jr., Oscar Salazar, the list of mediocrity goes on and on.
The one truly consistent point this season for the Pads has been their pitching. The rotation has a bunch of no-names ever since Jake Peavy left town and Chris Young has been injured. Jon Garland is perhaps the most well-known of this bunch. But they get the job done. 4 of the 5 guys in the rotation boast a 3.56 ERA or better including Mat Latos and his lights out 2.62 with an equally nasty 0.96 WHIP. Talk about a fantasy sleeper. Also, no names like Clayton Richard and Wade LeBlanc have more than proved their worth with 20 Quality Starts between them.
If the Padres want to make that second half push into the postseason, they will need to pick up their bats a bit. With balanced squads like the Rockies, Giants, and Dodgers all nipping at their heels, the offense will need a shot in the arm. Will the Padres actually be buyers at the deadline? That remains to be seen. For now, however, Petco Park is a party and everyone is invited. Unless your in the NL West.
By Blake Chadwick
Usually when I order chinese take-out it doesn’t take this long, but the Kung Fu Panda’s slow delivery might have me scrounging for left overs. After tearing through the NL West in his first full season in 2009, Pablo Sandoval has fallen flat this season. Maybe this is his rookie wall. Either way, he was a top 50 pick and an expected cornerstone of one’s fantasy lineup. Miss out on D Wright, Longoria, or Zimmerman? Kung Fu was expected to be in that same mix in 2010. After a 330/25/90/.943 year that included catcher eligibility, you would think this guy is ready to breakout. Thrown in his jovial personality, and this guy is a fantasy owner’s dream.
Well as the month has turned from May to June, the Panda is still hibernating (do they hibernate)? He sits with 4 HR and 23 RBI hitting a mere .283 and an OPS of .763 in the middle of a putrid Giants batting order. The addition of a player such as Aubrey Huff who can also play both corner infield spots has limited Sandoval’s production. So my dilemma as we head into the dog days of summer, how long do I wait for this blue chip bopper to turn things around? He will certainly get swiped in my 8 team rotisserie league due to name value alone. I will let it haunt me all winter if this guy bounces back. So as I let other top prospects such as Adam Jones and Gordon Beckham fall to waivers, I am more reluctant on the guy who won 7th place in NL MVP voting in his first full season. Things need to turn around quickly or I am canceling my order on Kung Fu.