Coming off of an ugly sweep at the hands of the first place Dodgers, the Mets head a little south to begin a four-game set with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park this evening. The two teams squared off way back in April, the opening series of the year at Citi Field, and the Mets won two of those three games (remember Collin Cowgill's grand slam?). The Padres climbed to respectability with identical 15-13 records in May and June but a dismal July and poor start to August has dropped them to 12 games below .500 and they currently sit in fourth place in the NL West. Jbox from the Padres site Gaslamp Ball answered a few questions for us about the team.
Amazin' Avenue: The Padres sit in 4th place in the NL West with a 54-66 record. Give us some of your thoughts on the team and the state of the organization as we head into this series.
Gaslamp Ball: This feels like just another lost season, in a long line of lost seasons. New owner Ron Fowler has officially taken the reigns of the Padres this year and brought in a new CEO in Mike Dee. We'll see how that works out and what it means for the direction of the Padres. He seems to promise much more than he delivers even though he promised the opposite.
If I had to pick one positive development from this year I'd name Andrew Cashner. He was thought of as a fire balling reliever whose injuries would prevent him from ever succeeding as a starter. This year he's proven that he can be a viable starter and maybe that Padres GM Josh Byrnes might in fact have known what he was doing when he traded away Anthony Rizzo for Cashner.
AA: Chase Headley had a breakout year last year but hasn't been nearly as good this year. What's been the difference this year?
GB: I tend to think of the Chase Headley that we're seeing now in 2013 as the real Chase Headley. It's easier to digest as a fan than to expect him to be an MVP candidate and constantly be disappointed. This year's performance seems to more easily mesh with his career numbers while the two months last year where he went off came out of nowhere. So really the question might be, what was the difference last year? As Padres beat writer Corey Brock asked at the end of the season "How did it happen?" To my knowledge, no one seems to have come up with a good answer. My guess is it was a fluke.
AA: 33-year old journeyman lefty Eric Stults is having a career year this year. Is he coming into his own or is this a mirage?
GB: John Sickels wrote an article about this very question back in July and without a doubt has a better answer than me. He concludes that Stults' time in the Pacific Coast League taught him to deal with adversity.
"Stults also showed an admirable ability to overcome health problems, learn from his mistakes, make adjustments, and bounce back if he got blasted in his first exposure at a new level."
"Too often, guys turn around and look at the radar gun; they want to see how hard they can throw. I stopped worrying about that and just started worrying about executing pitches. "
AA: Everth Cabrera looked to be in the midst of a breakout year before his PED suspension. How big is his loss for the Padres and who has taken over for him at shortstop?
GB: Losing the team's lone All-Star in Everth Cabrera is a huge loss for the Padres. He was a spark plug at the top of the order. The first true leadoff man the Padres have had in a decade or more and probably the team's best defender. The manner in which the team lost Cabera is just as disappointing as the loss itself. Ronny Cedeno, Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista will all see time at shortstop in Cabrera's absence. None will perform as well.
AA: How have the new dimensions at Petco Park played this year? Have they provided the intended effect of boosting offense?
GB: I was just thinking about Petco's change in dimensions this weekend for the first time in a long time. Just the fact that fans haven't been talking about Petco Park being a black hole for offense means it's a success, at least to me. Earlier in the season the Padres record showed that they may have been able to find a way to win at home and finally have a home field advantage. As time goes on and they lose everywhere, that advantage may have dissipated.
Thanks again to jbox for giving us a preview of the Padres!