Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bonds' absense generating Padres hype in the west

Seems to me there's been an increase in Padres chatter in regards to winning the west since the infamous "press conference" last week where Barry Bonds clarified (or threatened) his intentions to sit out the entire season. I happen to think the Padres are going to win it with or without Bonds in the Giants lineup however, I do like our percentages just a tad better sans Barry.

John Shea's article in todays San Fransisco Chronicle is the latest in the recent insurgance of padres related talk in the west.

Here's some of the Padres notes from the article including alot of quotes from Kevin Towers:

"From a psychological standpoint, it helps to go to San Francisco and not see Barry Bonds in the lineup," Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "I always liked facing the Giants in weekend series because they usually have him take Sundays off. When he's in there, it always seems like he's either on deck, in the hole or on the bases.

"Even with Bonds in their lineup, I thought we'd compete. I thought it was a very competitive division anyway. With Bonds out for some time, I think it's even more so."

For the record, Towers said the Giants still ought to be favorites and complimented his San Francisco counterparts, Brian Sabean and Ned Colletti, for "always finding a way to stay competitive." But the Giants could usually count on Bonds to pull the team through trying times.

The Padres, after improving last year by 23 wins, seem poised to make a run at their first division title since 1998. They had the NL West's best road record (45-36) but must solve new-fangled Petco Park, where they were a disappointing 42-39 and kept complaining about the unfriendly dimensions.

If Ryan Klesko and Phil Nevin shut their traps and realize a pitching park is beneficial -- Jake Peavy won the league's ERA crown, after all -- then the Padres will be going places. The lineup potentially is solid, with Dave Roberts and Mark Loretta batting 1-2, Klesko, Nevin and Brian Giles providing punch and Sean Burroughs, Ramon Hernandez and Khalil Greene rounding it out.

This is basically the same team that won 87 games, except that Woody Williams (45-22 in three-plus years in St. Louis) replaced David Wells in a rotation that includes the Kinda Big Three of Peavy, Brian Lawrence and Adam Eaton. Closer Trevor Hoffman regained his health to move up to No. 3 on the all-time saves list and is preceded by capable setup men Aki Otsuka and Scott Linebrink.

"I think we underachieved some," said Towers, despite the huge improvement from 2003. "Before last year, we had very few guys with experience in playoff races, and now we know what it's like. We've improved our bullpen and bench, and I think we'll be more comfortable at Petco.

"In a nutshell, I'm not taking the Giants lightly. Sometimes (a loss of a key player) can rally the troops. Some people in the industry might think they have no chance now, but this gives other players an opportunity to step up and show what they're made of. They have the individuals and attitude to rise to the occasion with Bonds out."

On the other hand, Towers said, "I don't think Barry will be out long."


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