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The Advance Scout: April 30 - May 2 @ San Diego

San Diego Padres in a Box
Category Padres NL Rank
Runs Scored/Game 4.52 8th
Runs Allowed/Game 4.12 T-5th
Defensive Efficiency .717 6th
OBP .319 T-10th
SLG .393 T-7th
Pythagorean Record 14-11 N/A

Record/Position/Streak: 13-12, 4th in NL West, L1 (5-5 in last 10)

Scheduled Starters: Monday, John Patterson (0-4, 7.71) vs. Jake Peavy (3-0, 1.71); Tuesday, Shawn Hill (2-2, 2.76) vs. Chris Young (2-2, 4.33); Wednesday, Matt Chico (2-2, 5.70) vs. Clay Hensley (1-3, 7.86)

Padres Blogs: Gaslamp Ball; Ducksnorts; San Diego Spotlight; What Did Jerry Coleman Do Today? (apparently inactive but well worth the read)

They're Feelin': Tired! The Pads lost in 17, count 'em, seventeen innings yesterday. Also, they seem uncommonly interested in the Gary Thorne/Bloody Sock Brouhaha.

This season is still young, but the Washington Nationals have already had a few games where they exceeded five runs. They even busted out for a first-inning score once. As impressive as that sounds, it turns out it's not really all that impressive. I mean, who knew?

The Nats are averaging 3.12 runs per game so far this season. This figure is a bit low for comfort. Now, there are some mitigating factors, like the depressed offensive totals in this first month of the 2007 season. If the season were to end today, the NL would see its lowest runs per game output since 1992.

But this is the kind of mitigating factor that brings a sentence all the way down to life imprisonment. Three point one two runs per game. That's low. It's been a long damn time since a National League team scored 3.12 runs per game. It's been since 1971, actually. Chew on that for a moment.

While you're chewing, let's take a quick look at the 1971 San Diego Padres. They hit .233 as a team. They got on base less than thirty percent of the time. They slugged at Cristian Guzman 2005 levels . . . well, close to that at least. They slugged .332. They scored 3.02 runs per game.

The '71 Padres were led by first baseman Nate Colbert, who slugged 27 homers. That sounds pretty good. And outfielder Cito Gaston might have only hit .228 (with a .264 OBP), but at least he slammed 17 dingers. You can hang your hat on that. Did I mention those were the only two guys to reach double figures? Oh, because they were; the immortal Downtown Ollie Brown was third on the club with nine homers. As a team, they hit 96 homers.

The 2007 Nationals are on pace for 78 homers. Chew on that. The '71 Padres had an OPS+ of 88 (which means their park-adjusted on-base-plus-slugging was twelve percent worse than league average). The '07 Nats currently have an OPS+ of 81. The long and short is pretty self-evident. If your offense lacks the punch of the 1971 San Diego Padres, then your offense pretty much sucks.

Yep, pretty much.

Back in our 2007 reality, the Nats have been outscored by the average NL team by 1.3 runs per game. The Nats have yielded 0.96 runs per game more than the average NL team. The team's ERA+ is 83. So, yes, it's true: "the offense is the No. 1 reason for the subpar record during the month April." Just because the pitching is the No. 1-A reason doesn't make the offense any less of a No. 1 reason.

By the way, the fielding is the No. 1-B reason. But at least the team's addressed that by shipping out D'Angelo Jimenez.

* * * *

It's an Old Friends Series at Petco Park, as the Nats face Terrmel Sledge, who hit the first home run in (modern) Washington Nationals history, a three-run shot off Jon Lieber during the sixth inning of Opening Day, April 4, 2005. After receiving almost 400 at-bats during his rookie season with the 2004 Expos, Sledge settled into a reserve role with the '05 Nats, at least until his season ended on May 2, when he suffered a serious hamstring injury. He was then included as a part of the Soriano-Wilkerson deal and then dealt to San Diego, and this is all ancient history.

Speaking of ancient history, Sledge's most similar batter on is Danny Gardella. You might remember Gardella from from:

In 1946, Gardella signed with the Mexican League and baseball commissioner Happy Chandler suspended him, and others, for violating baseball's reserve clause. Gardella had been offered $4,500 to play for the Giants in 1946 and $10,000 to play in Mexico.

He later sued Major League Baseball and would later receive a settlement from the league. He returned to the major leagues for one at-bat in one game with the Cardinals in 1950.

Gardella was sort of a proto-Curt Flood, except he accepted a voluntary dismissal of his lawsuit.

Anyway, this is all a convoluted way of avoiding mentioning the Nats face Jake Peavy tonight. Let's all wish them luck. As Han Solo would say, they're gonna need it.

* * * *

Update [2007-4-30 22:3:43 by Basil]: Big changes announced over at the Post's Nationals Journal blog. Ryan Church is the new cleanup man on a "semi-permanent" basis. This move might cure some of the batting order position dysfunction I mentioned yesterday, as Kearns and Young will now have a chance drive him in.

Sledge hits leadoff for the Padres tonight. Considering this is Petco Park here, maybe Manny Acta better think twice before he hands over the game to the Chief and the rest of the pen.