Observations from the Cubs Series


May 2, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; San Diego Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera (2) hits an RBI single during the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Reid Compton-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the first game of the four game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs on Monday night, the Padres managed to take two of the final three games to earn a split. The Padres now head back home to face the Arizona Diamondbacks for the first time all season, followed by a three game series against the Miami Marlins.

Some observations from the series with the Cubs.

Too many strikeouts

During the four games in Chicago, we saw flashes of both the old Padres offense that struggles to score runs at times, and also a glimpse of what the offense is capable of when they are able to string some hits together. While the offense is certainly improved from past Padre teams, they still strike out too much. And it’s not just the sheer number of strikeouts (although that can certainly be improved), it’s when they occur. I alluded to this in my post from Monday, but the Padres are in the lower tier of the league with runners left on base. Much of that comes from swinging and missing at inopportune moments. During the four games against the Cubs, the Padres were rung up 38 times. I watched all four games pretty intently; I cannot tell you how many times the Padres had a chance to drive in a run or, at the very least, extend an inning, and the guy at-bat struck out. They need to improve on getting the ball in play, and putting more pressure on the defense.

A perfect example of this happened earlier today in the series finale, and it sparked the big 8th inning rally. Yonder Alonso popped a ball up to shallow right field.  From there, the Chicago wind took over, making a routine inning-ending play an adventure in the outfield. The ball dropped in, a run scored, and the rest of the two-out rally is history. Put the ball in play, and good things will happen.

Ex-Padres continue to burn SD

One of the big storylines coming into this series was Anthony Rizzo going up against the Padres. The Padres received Rizzo from Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and then proceeded to flip him to the Cubs after getting Yonder Alonso in the Mat Latos deal. While Rizzo was held relatively in-check during the series (4 for 12 with only one RBI), Padre fans can’t feel too good about seeing his 8 HRs and 20 RBIs in the month of April alone, while Andrew Cashner, the fire-ball pitcher the Padres received for Rizzo, still floats between the rotation and the bullpen and is struggling to find an exact role on the team.

In addition to Rizzo, Cody Ransom, who the Padres let go just two weeks ago, seemed to make big play after big play in this series, particularly on Monday night, when he hit a huge home run and made a key defensive play at third late in the game. Scott Hairston, who spent several years in a Padre uniform in the late 2000’s, hit two homers in the series, including what looked to be the game-winning home run in Thursday afternoon’s contest, until the Padres scrapped and clawed for four runs in the 8th inning to take the lead for good.

Cashner’s first start was sub-par

To say the least. He looked terrible on Wednesday night. Probably a little over-amped to face his former team, he only lasted 4 innings, giving up 5 runs, 6 hits and 4 walks. Cashner had zero command of his pitches, as he looked uncomfortable on the mound virtually the entire 4 innings of work. It looks like Cashner’s spot in the rotation is set for now, which will hopefully allow him to relax his next time out against Miami. With a Stanton-less Marlins squad back at the friendly confines of Petco Park, I’m willing to bet Cashner throws a gem on Monday.

Quick hits

It was good to see Jedd Gyorko get off the schnide and hit his first home run as a big-leaguer. I think you will see a different Gyorko for the rest of the year than we saw in April.

What is wrong with Clayton Richard? A few more bad starts and he could find himself out of the rotation.

Everth Cabrera is the most productive player on the team right now. He is playing very solid defense and he’s getting on base.

I’ll have more to say on the Chase Headley extension talks in my next post or two, but I am cautiously optimistic that they will get a long term deal done before the trade deadline.