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A weblog covering the San Diego Padres.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Hope Springs Eternal...

I'll get to the topic I've been waiting all weekend to discuss in a moment, but first, some Padre notes culled from several news sources:

-Phil Nevin injured his shoulder Sunday, on the exact same day he injured it last year (March 7). Reports said he buried his head in his hand afterwards, and refused to talk to reporters. He is having an MRI today in San Diego to determine the extent of the injury. Comments from Towers, Bochy and the trainer Hutcheson were all vanilla, but this doesn't sound anywhere near as serious as last year's injury that kept Nevin out for all but 59 games.

I was particularly humored by this quote from the skipper:

"I can assure you he will not play on this date next year."

-The Pads have signed Jose Nieves to a minor-league contract. Sounds like he's AAA Portland bound. Not a bad pickup, as he could have played SS in a backup role last year. This is disturbing to me that the Padres could sit through six years of pathetic shortstop play and just now get around to getting an interesting mix of guys who can field well (Ordonez) and hit well (Greene), and a nice utility guy (Vazquez) who is even nicer as a bench player instead of a starter. There's no Alex Rodriguez here, but at least I'm finally comfortable with the shortstop situation.

-Lastly, the Padres lost both games Sunday. The Angels defeated the Friars 6-3 and the Mariners won in a romp, 16-5.

Now, onto my weekend fascination: 800 runs. The North County Times got Padres GM Kevin Towers to predict that the 2004 offense will score 800 runs. I'm not super-aware of how many runs a baseball team needs to score in a season to be a potent offense, but I think 800 runs is probably a good estimate.

My initial reaction, after a subconscious burst of giddiness, was skepticism. Last year's offense stunk, and while the Padres added some terrific offensive talent and depth in the offseason, they're also moving into what many consider to be another pitchers' park. I started looking at last season's offensive statistics for the Padres as well as the MLB, and here is some of what I found.

Padres offense 2003: 678 runs scored. Based on EQA they were expected to score 701 runs. Right now, Towers is hoping a revamped lineup and a new ballpark can coax another 122 runs out of the offense. Sounds like a lot. But if Nevin is healthy for a full year, Khalil Greene plays everyday and hits a little, and Giles gets in a full season of work at cleanup, who knows. I also loved the addition of Jay Payton at CF and Ramon Hernandez should quietly be a huge upgrade at catcher (offensively) over previous Padre teams. But until further notice I'm skeptical.

Here are the Major League teams who hovered around 800 runs last season:
Seattle (795)
Minnesota (801)
Houston (805)
Texas (826)
Oakland (768)
Kansas City (836)

In total, 9 clubs scored over 800 runs last year. Basically, Towers is hoping the offense will be one of the Majors' 10-best.

The good news is that all those clubs listed above were playoff contenders, and generally well-run clubs (outside of Texas and Kansas City).

Just for kicks, here are the run totals of NL West squads from last year:

San Francisco (755)
San Diego (678)
Colorado (853)
Arizona (717)
Los Angeles (574)

If San Diego is on track for 800 runs it could be the monster offense in the divison as their division peers made few significant offensive moves in the offseason.

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