Know Your Enemy 

Just as I'm off to the mountains for a few days, the Giants head south -- not figuratively, I hope -- for what could be the defining road trip of the year. First up: the Padres.

Here's what I wrote about them in December:

Compared to the Giants, the lineups have some similarities. Reliance upon aging stars (Bonds/Alou; Klesko/Giles). Unproven first basemen. It doesn't speak well of San Diego to say I'd rather have Feliz than Castilla as my everyday third baseman. If Klesko has another off-year, this lineup could be the worst in the division....The bullpen is the strength: Hoffman closing and Linebrink setting up. Otherwise, this team doesn't scare me at all.

Six months later, not much has changed. The Pads lead the NL West, but that's been a backhanded compliment since 2004 or so. They really are kissing cousins to the Giants. The pitching (in the Giants case, the starting rotation), defense, and just enough offense to win games like yesterday have kept them afloat.

In today's Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan breaks down the Padres season so far and attributes much of their good pitch/no hit make-up to Petco Park, which is "nearly as extreme at one end as Coors Field used to be at the other."

But the San Diego pitching has been good no matter how you slice it. Chris Young has been their savior and Chan Ho Park is pitching decently. Middle relief veterans Alan Embree and Brian Sweeney are having up years. The defense helps a lot. The Hoffman-Linebrink combo in the final innings means the Giants have to get to the Padres' starters and middle relievers if they have a chance of competing this weekend.


* The Indians have traded Eduardo Perez, one possibility as a short-term replacement for Lance Niekro as the Giants look for more right-handed pop. The Mariners gave up minor-league shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, who's only 20 and already in AAA.

* Also in today's BP, Will Carroll says Tim Lincecum "has indicated to us that his signing was imminent."

Have a good long weekend, everyone. I'll be tuning in via transistor between summer thunderstorms.


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