Dave Hutte = Mariano Rivera

Today, I know exactly how Joe Girardi feels with Mo Rivera at the back of the bullpen. Just get it to the ninth with the lead and a win is virtually guaranteed.

Now… Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Sunday. There’s a camp preview story on Padres.com that asks the question, “How do you replace Adrian Gonzalez?” To me, that’s not the question. It’s this: “Are the Padres better today than they were at the end of last season?”

Let’s compare:

End of 2010 Start of 2011
Denorfia/Venable, CF Jason Bartlett, SS
David Eckstein, 2B Orlando Hudson, 2B
Miguel Tejada, SS Headley, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B Ludwick, LF
Ryan Ludwick, RF Hawpe/Cantu, 1B
Yorvit Torrealba, C Venable, RF
Scott Hairston, LF Nick Hundley, C
Chase Headley, 3B Cameron Maybin, CF
Starting rotation (by most starts)
RHP Mat Latos Latos
LHP Clayton Richard Richard
RHP Jon Garland RHP Aaron Harang
LHP Wade LeBlanc RHP Tim Stauffer
RHP Kevin Correia RHP Dustin Moseley

The bullpen is more or less the same as it was last year, with the key guys (Bell, Adams, Gregerson, Thatcher) back in the same spots.

So it looks like the differences are:
2010 (Tejada/Eckstein/Gonzalez/Torrealba/Garland/LeBlanc/Correia)
vs.
2011 (Bartlett/Hudson/Hawpe/Cantu/Hundley/Harang/Stauffer/Moseley)

I don’t have a degree in sabermetrics so I won’t try to put a statistical analysis on this, but I can’t imagine the offensive dropoff will be as bad as some expect. It’s not like the offense was a powerhouse last year.

The key, to me, is the back of the rotation. Garland/LeBlanc/Correia were pretty good last year. Harang/Stauffer/Moseley/maybe LeBlanc (and Cory Luebke) need to be tough for the Padres to compete. When you’re trying to cover up the offense with run prevention, you’d better pitch.

Random thoughts:

  • The Watson Files is No. 34 in the January MLBlogs rankings, a ten-spot jump from November. Which is the second-most shocking development of this entry. This is the kind of boost you get when pillars of the community like Ben Hill give you a shout-out (and link).
  • I forgot about the new bat rules for last year, but it’s a great point: Was part of the Year of the Pitcher the fact that it was also the Year of the Smaller Bat?
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers is trying to build the Diamondbacks back into a contender.
  • Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley will get opportunities to show the Indians what they have this year. They’re last hopes of the CC Sabathia trade
    paying any dividends… The payoffs (or lack thereof, so far) of the
    Sabathia and Cliff Lee trades are big parts of why the Indians are where they are.
  • The Rockies are pumped to get camp started at their new spring training home.
    Count me among the jealous after reading round-trip flights from Denver
    to Phoenix are $116. They should lead the Cactus League in attendance.
  • From the “Uh, what?” department… the writer says Vladimir Guerrero is “the type of slugger the Orioles need if they ever hope to compete in the AL East.” That may be true, and he may help put butts in the seats, but does anybody really think the Orioles will compete THIS year? Because, you know, it’s a one-year deal.
  • Baseball America lists their pre-season college All-Americans. So follow those guys and figure out who the Padres should draft with all 85 of their draft picks this June. At least it seems like they have that many.
  • This guy ran 365 marathons in a year. Is that good?
  • So you’re telling me Christina Aguilera butchered the National Anthem at the Super Bowl? And, aside from the touching 30-year reunion of the Blockheads and Tron on the same stage, everyone thinks the halftime show was an abomination? Nobody saw that coming.
  • I think it’s funny that, after literally minutes of Google image searching, I can’t find a single decent picture of the halftime show. Every shred of visual evidence has been destroyed. It’s the first-ever attempted cover-up of an event televised to the entire galaxy. Somewhere, Ben Roethlisberger is wishing this could’ve happened to the photos of him at the piano bar.
  • Apparently just about everything other than the game was a mess. Unsafe seats, ice falling off the roof and smashing beer tents… Yikes.
  • Isn’t it time to retire the Roman numeral thing for Super Bowls? After the game last night, Roger Staubach was carrying the championship trophy through an unneccesarily long tunnel of people. When the PA announcer introduced Staubach, he said, “MVP of Super Bowl… (awkward pause) Roger Staubach!” I can only imagine he got to the “VI” in the script, didn’t know what it meant and just skipped it. Can’t we just agree to say “the 2011 Super Bowl” and save ourselves the trouble?
  • I heard Puppy Bowl VII… I mean the 2011 Puppy Bowl… was riveting.
  • Now for the main event. The grand finale. Dave Hutte Status Update: “Popped the question to Mary and she said… Yes!”
  • That’s right… Dave Hutte is engaged. To be married. It’s already being regarded as one of the greatest coups in the history of free agency. They’re getting hitched sometime next year, which is easily the most convincing evidence yet that the world will end in the year 2012. This is the same person who once exclaimed, with a straight face, “My face is my job!” and meant it. Which was followed by someone slapping him directly in the face (not that hard, though).
  • I’ve already decided that tomorrow’s entry will be composed mostly of Dave Hutte wedding prop bet odds. So get ready for that. Here’s a little taste: You can get even-money odds that the song for their first dance as husband and wife will be Firehouse’s “Love of a Lifetime.” Because Dave Hutte loves him a good power ballad. Or, if his ego gets the best of him, maybe he’ll become the first person ever to have a CD of himself singing (The Dave Hutte Experience) as the background to his first dance with his wife. Either way, just remember to check back tomorrow.

Musical guest… Rick Springfield!

Take care!

DW

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