27 April 2007

Padre Preview: Petco 'Pen Perfectionists

Padres usual lineup of late, along with 2007 OBP:

2B -- M Giles -- 0.365
LF -- Cruz Jr -- 0.456
RF -- B Giles -- 0.356
1B -- Gonzalez -- 0.369
CF -- Cameron -- 0.276
SS -- Greene -- 0.326
3B -- Kouzmanoff -- 0.197
C -- Bowen -- 0.353

Sledge plays a bit too.

The pitching matchups are Hendrikson vs Hensley, Tomko vs Maddux, and Lowe vs Wells. I think the Dodgers should be able to take 2 out of 3 of these, and really they have a good shot at all three given the pitching matchups. But given their play of late, and the Padre pitching strength at home, including their great bullpen, the Dodgers may struggle to even avoid the sweep. The Dodgers had great matchups against the Giants and it got them nothing, even with the bad Giant bullpen. The Padre bullpen excepting one is still perfect at home, with only Michael Paul Thompson giving up any runs so far. The Padres have 9 pitchers with a 0.00 ERA at home.

And now, a capsule for every Padre regular and starting pitcher in the series.

Khalil Thabit Greene

A shortstop with an OPS of 0.847 the last three years: what's not to like?

Okay, that's his road OPS. At home he's Neifi Perez.

--------- Petco -- Road
OBP -- 0.306 -- 0.340
SLG -- 0.340 -- 0.507

The Dodger pitchers can't let him go all Bengie Molina on them and hit well, though. This time around they have to take advantage of the holes in the opposing lineup. And Vinny has to lay off that story about how Greene got his name. These are the two resolutions I want the Dodger organization to make.

Michael Terrence Cameron

He's not bothered by Petco. But he is bothered by April, especially the current one. If Hendrikson and Tomko can keep the ball down or away from him, or especially both, they should be fine. I imagine that in the scout meeting right now Hendrikson is being told he'll be fine if he can spot his curveball down and away to Cameron, to which Hendrikson replies, "Do I look like I have the career ERA of a pitcher who can reliably spot his curveball?"

Another player the Dodgers need to turn into an out machine.

Adrian Gonzalez

No middle name for him, I guess. He's a dangerous hitter, though he does take a small hit in his stats at Petco. Home OPS is 0.815. He likes the ball up. Lowe should do well against him; if he doesn't, then he'll likely have a bad Sunday against everyone because that means his sinker isn't working. Hendrikson and Tomko should probably just avoid pitching to him altogether.

Robert McClure Bowen

He's a backup catcher turned into starter because Josh Bard strained his groin. Is that a common catcher injury?

The important fact is he's a backup catcher. He should struggle at the plate, right? His career OBP is 0.312. But that's the sort of OBP Molina was carrying from last year and look what he did against the Dodgers good pitchers. What will Tomko and Hendrikson make of an OBP around 0.300, I wonder? Will they figure that 30% on base has to happen sometime, so it might as well be against them? Their answer may determine the fate of the series.

Kevin Kouzmanoff

I was looking forward to a cool middle name to go with "Kouzmanoff", but it's probably for the best that he's lacking one, since the temptation to go with all K's might have been too much for his parents to resist, and then his initials would be rather unfortunate.

He's never hit in the big leagues yet, in all of 112 at bats. I presume he's better than his 0.238 OBP, but let's not have him start showing it against a couple of crappy Dodger pitchers, please.

Kouz had an OPS of 0.992 in 2005. The bad part is this was in high A ball at the age of 24. He made three jumps in 2006, to AA, then AAA, then NL. He showed a lot of power in AA and AAA, and famously hit a grand slam off his first pitch in the bigs, but has done nothing in the NL since.

This is another hitter the Dodger pitchers should and must keep down.

Jose Luis Cruz Jr.

AVG, OBP, and SLG so far in 2007:

Cruz: 0.367 -- 0.456 -- 0.673 -- 0 errors
Pierre: 0.263 -- 0.283 -- 0.305 -- 2 errors

Sigh ...

Brian Stephen Giles

He should have signed with the Dodgers. He'd fit right in with all the other players who have seen their power decline.

Overall the last three years: 0.282 -- 0.390 -- 0.451
Against the Dodgers the last three years: 0.244 -- 0.338 -- 0.354
At Petco the last three years: 0.272 -- 0.377 -- 0.430

He takes significant hits against the Dodgers and at Petco. The Dodger stats include over 200 ABs, but there's no reason to think they have anything to do with how he'll do against Hendrikson and Tomko.

The Dodger pitchers need to pitch him down and in. If there's no one on base, I think the Dodger pitchers should really challenge him, not let him get the free pass he relies on so often.

Marcus William Giles

His OPS at home the previous three years was 0.849. On the road it was 0.725. Most of the difference came in his power numbers: he still got on base at about a 0.350 clip on the road.

Unfortunately for Marcus, home isn't Turner field anymore, so he's looking at those road numbers as his full season numbers now. Or it could be even worse if Petco hurts him. He is another who's never hit well against the Dodgers.

Clayton Allen Hensley

He's 27, and his K/9 has never been above 6 for a season. So far this year he's walked 11 and struck out only 8 in 20 innings. This is a pitcher the Dodgers should hit. And they should have hit Ortiz, and they did to some extent, but they could never put him away. I fear the same thing will happen against the Padre pitchers.

The Dodgers lack the will of the warrior. By which I mean, the Dodger lack the will of the home run hitter.

Back to Hensley ... his ERA is 9.45 this year. Of course he's not that bad. Last year he had an ERA of 3.11 at Petco. So it's not out of the question that he could turn things around and pitch a gem against the Dodgers. He likes to pitch down and away. The Dodgers need to lay off this pitch, even sometimes when it's a tough strike that would only be a weak little grounder if hit. Work some walks, get some good pitches to hit by forcing him to pitch from behind in the count, and maybe they won't even need the home run to score 6 or more runs. They've done it before without the long ball.

The Dodgers should punish any hitter who chases low and away garbage by locking him in a small room with Rick Monday for an hour. It's time the Dodgers turn their organizational weaknesses into strengths.

Gregory Alan Maddux

I wonder if he and Hensley ever argue over the proper spelling of "Allan".

He has a mediocre ERA, and there's no reason to think it will get better. To be sure, he is at 3.18 so far at Petco. Nevertheless, at this point he's basically Mark Hendrikson with more Cy Youngs in his closet.

Again, this is a Padre the Dodgers could take advantage of. But as they showed in the Giant series, they aren't taking advantage of opposing team's weaknesses much lately.

Nothing else to say about Maddux. We all saw him pitch last year, sometimes brilliantly, other times not. He won't last more than 6 innings, likely.

David Lee Wells

Like Maddux, he's struggled on the road, including once against the Dodgers, and done well at Petco.

The Dodgers should lay off his curveball at all times with less than two strikes, since opponents bat only 0.244 on the curve vs 0.319 on the fastball. ( According to espn.com )

Also like Maddux, "Diamond" Dave Wells doesn't go deep into games. At least one of these games may come down to the Dodgers' ability to break through against the Padre bullpen at home. I close my eyes and see homeruns hit off of Cla Meredith. A man can dream, right?

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