What's Making Me Talk: Padre Surprise!

Nino Colla@TheTribeDailySenior Writer IApril 20, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 17: Closing pitcher Heath Bell #21 of the San Diego Padres celebrates the 8-7 win over the Philadelphia Phillies with Nick Hundley #4 on April 17, 2009 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

I really hate it when there aren't any eye-popping stories that don't involve the New York Yankees.

But to me and considering I'm an Indians fan, there is nothing bigger than this four-game series that just took place between the Tribe and Yankees.

I'm not actually going to talk about the 22-4 drubbing the Indians handed the Yankees, distantmemory at this point. I will point you to the boxscore of that beloved second inning, but after that, I have another issue at task.

I'm really ticked off about the umpiring that took place on Friday and Sunday.

Friday, home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi was awful. Point blank, he didn't give pitchers or hitters in the game any sort of clue what his strike zone looked like.

The beef I have, though, is with EPSN of all things.

You see, if you watched ESPN's highlight of that game, this is what you saw.

You saw Mark DeRosa awaiting the 1-2 pitch from Mariano Rivera. You saw DeRosa take a ball inside to make the count 2-2 and then Yankee Manager Joe Girardi yelling at the umpire.

After that, you were brought right to the 3-2 pitch that was way off the plate and up. Obviously, Cuzzi rung up DeRosa wrongfully and that makes me irrate to begin with, but then you'll hear just about every SportsCenter anchor that did the highlight say something along the lines of the home plate umpire making up for the blown call they showed you earlier.

What is factually wrong about that sequence is that two pitches before the initial 1-2 pitch that was called a ball, Cuzzi called the same exact pitch in the same exact location a strike.

So if any make up call was given. It was to DeRosa, there should have been no more make ups to give out considering it was a 3-2 pitch and you just have to call the pitch like you see it.

And you'd have to be blind to not see that was a ball.

I've been very quiet about ESPN. I'm slow to pounce on them or any other network for that matter. My one gripe has always been the downfall of Baseball Tonight and I've made that clear in the past.

But to me, that presentation of the highlight was totally biased and unfair. I know it doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but ESPN highlights and anchors are supposed to be impartial and present a fair highlight.

I know it's very trivial, but it really irked me.

ESPN basically took the pressure off the umpires in that series, and so did the 22-4 drubbing, that was until Sunday happening.

Jorge Posada's home run was definitely an interference. You can't convince me otherwise.

Rule 3.16 states something about the outfielder's glove going over makes fan interference void. I say that rule is totally bogus to begin with. If a fan reaches over and disrupts the play on the field, that hitter should be out.

That all being said. I don't know if it's the frustration from a 4-9 start pouring out. Realizing that the Indians could have turned that ugly start around into a 6-7 record after the first two weeks, but didn't because of reasons more than the umpires, probably has me a little irritated.

That being said, I better talk about the rest of baseball before I start cursing out Phil Cuzzi, Mariano Rivera, and that fan that touched the ball.

Padre Power

What is up with the San Diego Padres?

Yeah, the same rules sort of apply from last week, we are barely into the season, let's not get excited.

But why not?

The Padres pitching figures not to be able to hold up all year, so why not get excited for San Diego while they are winning like this.

Heath Bell, taking over for a legend has been phenomenal. The MLB leader in saves has not given up a single run in his seven games and only two hits. He's dominating at the end for the Padres.

Certainly the top 10 in runs scored and team ERA won't last all year, but the Padres are winning with all the areas of the game.

What's to love though?

David Eckstein has been a welcomed addition to the club with his veteran hitting presence. Youngsters like Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff are contributing on a daily basis.

Their superstar, Adrian Gonzalez, is doing what he's expected to do, put up superstar numbers. They've got a successful platoon in center with my favorite Jody Gerut and Scott Hairston.

What's interesting though is that the Padres are getting it done thanks in large part to their bullpen. Not only does Bell lead everyone in saves, they are third in the NL in bullpen ERA and the pen is responsible for only one loss.

That is where the problem comes in though.

This bullpen is getting worked pretty hard. They rank seventh in innings pitched with 39. Sooner or later the workload will become too much unless the starters start going deeper into games.

And you can't count on the offense to keep coming back either.


Memo: Ryan Ludwick Can Hit

I'm pretty sure most people's No. 1 candidate to regress in 2009 was Ryan Ludwick. A lot of people thought he was a product of hitting next to Albert Pujols, and he'd begin to get more respect.

Well, he's getting more respect and with that respect he's throwing it in the garbage, because he obviously doesn't need it.

Ludwick leads the entire NL in runs batted in and he's slugging the ball at a fantastic pace. His slugging percentage is third behind only Raul Ibanez in the NL and Ian Kinsler in the AL.

He's making up for lost time, it's simple as that. We know his story by now, and if you don't you need to read up. Ludwick almost gave up on the game after repetitive disappointment after disappointment in the minor leagues.

He persevered though, went through a couple of clubs including Cleveland and Detroit, ended up in St. Louis and is now an All-Star slugger.

This isn't a joke. He has talent, he always has. He isn't a product of anything other than being a good hitter. Better believe in him now, because he's here to stay and prove 2009 won't be a regression.


Already Gone

The AL East's two most prominent teams have already got some major concerns about two of their players.

Jed Lowrie's season is in jeopardy thanks to a pesky wrist injury. Lowrie is in the process of evaluating if he needs surgery or not. Surgery would end his season.

Lowrie wasn't off to a hot start to begin with, so perhaps that wrist is giving him more trouble than you would think and maybe surgery is needed to repair whatever is wrong.

The Yankees meanwhile are dealing with their own arm-type injury to one of their outfielders.

Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, all are playing for the most part. The veterans are holding up.

But the Yankees were counting on the younger players like Nady to hold up through the course of a season because of the age of some of their players.

Nady might be out of the year after an injury to his once reconstructed elbow. Nady had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow back in 2001.

Having just one year left on his contract, this puts him in a bad spot. No one is going to want to give a long term deal to someone coming off his second major elbow reconstructive surgery, even if he isn't a pitcher.

Sometimes people have bad luck. I feel bad for Nady and hope the news turns out good, but all reports are saying he's going to need the surgery.

Roundabout of Randomness

Jayson Stark columns are a must read because of all the little tidbits he gives you.

Micah Owings was the first pitcher to pinch hit on Opening Day, ever? So far, 15 years and no pitcher on opening day pinch hitting; at least not yet.

Why doesn't Cincinnati just go ahead and make Owings a full-time positional player. The guy hasn't thrown a single pitch but he's batted six times.

Going back to the Yankees one more time and finishing up with what Stark had. Nick Swisher pitched in a game this week. It wasn't the 22-4 game though. Joe Girardi probably didn't want Swisher in there again after he already let him pitch earlier in the week.

The Yankee fans at several points, both on Thursday and Saturday, chanted "We Want Swisher." I also chanted, but only because I was amused. Girardi told Swisher he didn't want him throwing to hard when he put him in against Tampa Bay. But of course that didn't stop Swisher from striking out Gabe Kapler.

He even had his arm wrapped up after the game. What a character.

I'd be ignorant if I didn't mention Gary Sheffield's 500 Home Run. I don't like the guy in any way, but congratulations to him on the feat.

So while the Yankee Stadium is a bandbox for hitters, the new Citi Field looks like it's going to be a pitchers paradise. While the Indians were busy scoring 22 runs on Saturday, the Brewers and Mets were playing a 1-0 contest.

The Yankees hit five home runs on Friday, the Mets and Brewers hit a combined three in their three game set.

THREE, count 'em, three cycles hit last week. Unbelievable. I can't decide which was more impressive, Ian Kinsler going 6-for-6 or Jason Kubel making his home run a grand slam.

Hitting for the cycle is completely random, but it so hard to do in a game that people get excited when it happens. Kinsler going 6-for-6 is just ridiculous because they should have at least walked him at some point. When a guy is hot, a guy is hot.

Kinsler is always hot though. The kid can flat out hit the baseball.

Randy Johnson had a no-no at one point in his latest win. He's inching ever so closer to 300 wins. What if he were to pitch a no-hitter or something memorable in his 300th win? Would that be a first? I keep saying it, "You never know what your going to see next."

Washington is pretty low right now. Along with the fact that two of their best players can't get jerseys that are spelled right, they've basically fired their entire bullpen.

Here is the transaction log following Sunday's latest loss.

Optioned RP Saul Rivera and C Josh Bard to Triple-A.

Designated P Wil Ledezma and P Steven Shell for assignment.

Called up SP Jordan Zimmerman (finally?), RP Jason Bergman, RP Kip Wells (why?), RP Garrett Mock from Triple-A.

I guess Manny Acta was serious when he said there would be new pitchers the next time out. I wouldn't start to get uneasy though until they start bringing guys up from Double-A, which is entirely possible by early-June at this rate.

Oh and I forgot to mention that they've only won one game. What a lousy start for the fans, I feel for them.

Nino Colla is Talking every Monday of the baseball season, or whenever time needs to be wasted, provided objects don't get thrown.


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