This off-season The Nats Blog will be holding weekly interviews with blogs for all thirty teams. One site a week leading up to the start of the 2011 baseball season. Last week we concluded the “tour” of American League teams and we will now begin the second half of the series by starting in the NL West. This week I spoke with the guys from Gaslamp Ball, one of the top San Diego Padres blogs on the net, to talk about their unexpected success, disappointing collapse, and player movement this off-season.
TNB: What does the loss of Adrian Gonzalez mean to the Padres lineup and where will the power come from?
Gaslamp Ball: The loss of Adrian Gonzalez means the Padres lineup got a lot less "mopey." Also it means that if the Padres first basemen gets a hit or a walk it won’t take 3 consecutive extra base hits to get him home to score.
Padres GM Jed Hoyer is predicting a better and more balanced offense this season. They lost their power hitter in Gonzalez but picked up what he thinks will be a better offense up the middle with the acquisitions of SS Jason Bartlett, 2B Orlando Hudson and CF Cameron Maybin.
TNB: The Padres were in first place in the NL West for a majority of the season. What went wrong down the stretch?
Gaslamp Ball: A 10 game losing streak went wrong. It let just about every other team in the NL West back into the race. The last 40 games of the Padres season were miserable, the team played really poorly and stopped hitting. The defense that won them games all season all but disappeared.
TNB: Heath Bell said he would like to sign a multi-year deal with the Padres? How can both sides make this happen?
Gaslamp Ball: Heath Bell just signed a one year $7.5M deal for 2011. The Padres said they wanted to sign a one-year deal first and work on a multi-year deal later. For that to happen, Bell needs to prove that he can pitch with his ever-advancing age. The Padres need to stay in the race this year because otherwise they may ship him off to a contending team for prospects. The Padres would probably also have to increase their payroll.
TNB: Bud Black won the 2010 NL Manager of the Year. With the way the season ended did he really deserve the award?
Gaslamp Ball: Yes Bud Black deserved the Manager of the Year award. He took a team that was picked last by everybody. He gave the team confidence; convinced them they could win and then they won. No team looked less talented on paper than last years Padres, but Bud Black proved that they could win with small ball and defense. Even when the Padres sh*t the bed at the end of the season, he kept the team focused and kept them in the race until the final day.
TNB: What is the outlook and expectations for the 2011 San Diego Padres?
Gaslamp Ball: Honestly, I think this could be a more talented team overall than last year. It’s a little early to make predictions considering Spring Training has started but I think they have as good a chance as anybody taking the NL West.
TNB: How and why did the Padres acquire Jorge Cantu?
Gaslamp Ball: It's well known that Petco Park murders offense. It's become almost impossible for Padres GM Jed Hoyer to lure hitters into a place where the grounds crew chalks outlines of some of the league's best power hitters on the infield. That's why Hoyer goes after players who are a few years removed from a good season. He gambles on them, giving them a second chance, hoping that they have a bounce back season. It's the only way to get affordable hitters to play for the Padres. Jorge Cantu falls into that category. He's coming off a down year, but can be a utility infielder and a bat off the bench.