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Early Season Impressions 

The 2011 MLB season is just a few weeks old; too early to make any definitive conclusions on anything but not too early to come away with some general impressions.

Overall the Friars are 7-9 and currently sit in 4th place in the NL West. As expected with the departure of Adrian, the Padres offense has struggled to score runs. They have plated just 54 runners and that ranks 29th in all of baseball.

Their pitching has been strong throwing to a tune of a 3.05 team ERA; a figure that is the 4th best in baseball. Defense, also considered a strong point, has chipped in by turning 18 double-plays, the 4th most in MLB.

In essence, I think we’ve seen more-or-less the team we expected. They’ll likely hover around the .500 mark all year while struggling to score runs. For the Padres to be succesful they are going to have to pitch well and play defense.

While the club may be performing up to our modest expectations, let’s take a look at how some individual players the club was counting on have fared so far. We’ll start with the positivies and close with the negatives.

Nick Hundley – I was one of the many hoping the Padres would acquire a legitimate veteran catcher to platoon with Hundley. Considering how well the tandem of Hundley and Torrealba played last year it seemed the Friars would attempt to recreate that magic. The Padres did add a couple of bodies to the mix; including a veteran, Gregg Zaun, that seemed like a good battey-mate for Hundley. Zaun’s shoulder wasn’t healthy enough unfortunately and the longtime big-leaguer retired during spring training. 

The pressure was squarely on the shoulders of young Nick and he hasn’t disappointed. In fact, I would say he has impressed so far. He’s got a triple slash line of .340/.404/.600, leads the team in HR (3) and is tied with Chase Headley for the team lead in RBI with 9. Color me pleasantly surprised.

Orlando Hudson – His play to date shows why the Padres have coveted his services for the last few seasons. He’s getting on base (.379 OBP), successfully stolen all 6 bases he’s attempted and has displayed his usually solid glove.

Chase Headley – Yeah, he’s striking out a lot (24% K rate) but his rate is only marginally higher than his career rate. He’s only hitting .259 so what is there exactly to like? How about his .375 OBP which is powered by a 6.4% uptick in his BB rate. He has also driven in 9 runs for the Friars.

Aaron Harang – He’s got three wins in three starts and has seen his K/9 rebound from a lowly 6.61 in 2010 to 8.0 this season to date. It would seem Petco may have revitalized another Pitcher’s career.

Dustin Mosely – I didn’t even think this guy would crack the rotation but he’s posted a 1.83 ERA in his three starts. Of course his peripheral numbers don’t look too good (1.83 K/9, 1.27 WHIP) and the Padres have failed to score a single run in any of his starts leading to an undeserved 0-3 record.

That covers several of the bright spots this season but what about the sore spots so far?

Ryan Ludwick – With Gonzo gone, it was imperative Ludwick start mashing this year like he did as a Cardinal. A .135/.262/.212 slash line in 52 AB just won’t cut it. In fact, if he doesn’t turn it around, Ludwick himself could get cut.

Will Venable – He may have the best speed/power como of any Padre but his line of .149/.241/.170 is even worse than Ludwick’s. The Friars were expecting far more from him.

Brad Hawpe – The reclamation project otherwise known as Brad Hawpe has yet to yield any positive dividends for Jed Hoyer. Hoyer hoped he was getting gold production for tin prices but Hawpe hasn’t gotten into a groove yet. He is the not proud owner of a .357 OPS.

Jason Bartlett – He’s another in a rather large group of Padres position players with sub-.200 BA. His glove-work has been good but for his offensive production the Friars could have just trotted out Everth Cabrera and saved themselves several million bucks.

Hey, it’s early. While I expect, or at least hope, these disappointing stat lines to improve, I also am prepared for Nick Hundley to stopp hitting so well and for Dustin Mosely’s ERA to steadily creep up above four. I’m going to buy into the same philosophy players talk about all the time: Don’t get too high when things are good and don’t get too down when things are bad.

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About the author: Glen Miller

Life-long baseball and Padres fan who attended his first Friar games way back in 1983. I've been a contributor on Friarhood for more than two years and enjoy talking baseball with the knowledgeable fans that frequent the site. Prior to my beginning here I owned and operated my own San Diego sports site while writing for several other sites focusing specifically on hockey. When not watching, reading or writing about sports I might be sleeping or perhaps spending time with my family since I have few other hobbies. I did recently try my hand at golf and am a pretty good pool player to boot.