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Father, May I?

When looking into the crystal ball and affecting their best faux-Jamaican accent, the analysis-minded crowd had a problem last year. The Giants had won 100 games, but they weren't a roster constructed with the approval of the Moneyballers. Marquis Grissom? Kirk Rueter? Neifi Perez? Bah! Flimshaw! These were not players on a playoff team. They couldn't win in 2004.

The Dodgers were hoping Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora would stop their truly awful hitting, but even if they did, the team would need someone in the rest of the lineup to have a monster season. That probably wasn't going to happen, as Shawn Green wasn't looking so hot, and Adrian Beltre was just another hopeless bust. They couldn't win in 2004.

The Rockies were more valuable as tallow than they were as a baseball team, and the Diamondbacks had two good starters and little else. They couldn't win in 2004.

Ah, but the Padres! This young, bold team, charging over the glen to take on the old vanguard! They looked like a group of mammals about to pick at the carcasses of whatever was left after the asteroid. The Padres were the favorites of the forecasters in 2004 and, to be fair, looked to have a pretty strong team.

Just like every rose has its thorn, and every cowboy has a sad, sad song, sometimes things don't work out like you think they will. There were pleasant surprises, though. Mark Loretta was awesome, and Khalil Greene immediately outpaced expectations for his rookie year before a season-ending injury. The bullpen was a three-headed monster in the mold of Cerberus, the hound of Hell. Contrast this with the Giants no-headed monster in the mold of Grover, if Grover were royalty during the French Revolution. Let them eat hanging breaking balls, indeed.

A lot went right, but a lot went wrong. The new stadium was said to have eaten Ryan Klesko's homework, even though his power dropped at home and the road. Jay Payton was a dreadful hitter, and Sean Burroughs didn't become the All-Star the team was hoping to find. Brian Giles was fine, but hardly worth the ace and Rookie of the Year the Padres gave up.

The funny thing about the 2005 Padres is the way they seemed to jog in place when rebuilding for the coming season. David Wells took his dependable veteran pitching to Boston, and he was replaced by Woody Williams. Wash. Jay Payton's off-year was replaced with Dave Roberts' off-career. Wash. Ismael Valdez was replaced by Darrel May. Wash.

There are bright spots for the year, even if the moves seem like treading water. All that is standing between Sean Burroughs and his potential is a boost in power. Considering that he is only 24, it isn't out of the question. Adam Eaton's biggest problem is his penchant for giving up homeruns, but other than that, he showed a lot of promise last year. Jake Peavy can't be expected to improve on his year, but he could do something similar.

The reason the Padres are so intimidating is they don't have many candidates for decline. Maybe Mark Loretta, sure. One or two of the bullpen heads could stumble. However, the rest of the team looks to perform as well or better than last year. The team won 87 games last year, even with the injury problems they had. They didn't lose a Beltre-sized talent, and are probably going to be a better team than what they fielded last year.


But I've picked the Giants to win the division for the past eight years, and I'm not about to stop rolling around in the stink of optimism now. Rueter for Cy Young!


Padres in 2005?

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