With over 20 games of the season now in the books, the second Skill and Skunk awards add a little more color to the overall picture. The Skill awards suddenly have a little more flash, spit and polish, while the Skunk awards smell a little more like the loaf of Limburger left in the sun.
Overall, the Padres have remained remarkably consistent. Their 8-14 record is unsatisfactory, although it's a stat you can put into perspective, especially following a four-game series against one of the all-time Padre-killing teams, the Phillies.
Of course, we can't ignore the most telling stat of all. With five shutouts so far this season, the Popguns' batters are on pace for 40 for the season. Ouch.
Some roster moves will have to be made soon if San Diego doesn't want to mail in the season by the All-Star break or sooner.
Without further ado, let's hand out the hardware.
...to Dustin Moseley
You will rarely find a pitcher receiving an award for winning no games, but here I think there is plenty of circumstantial evidence to give the man a pass.
In essence, the Padres are asking him to pitch a shutout just not to lose a game, a daunting and unthankful task only the mop-up man in the bullpen can relate to. This is similar to asking someone to bake bread without flour.
Moseley's stats so far: four starts, 0-3 record, 1.40 ERA.
Only a ninth-inning run by the Padres in his last start against the Cubs prevented him from going 0-4, a game in which Moseley allowed no earned runs in six sharp innings.
What's more, Moseley is batting .333, which on the Padres makes him a degenerate and an outcast.
Rumors are that Moseley has considered sitting atop a billboard until the Padres can score a run for him. Padres insiders counter this would not be a wise move. If Moseley doesn't show up, he will certainly be replaced by a weaker and less skillful arm.
Fans, of course, no better. He should stay on the billboard. The longer, the better. His teammates, after all, haven't shown up for his starts either.
...to Corey Luebke
That's two shaky performances in the pen that have contributed to the bullpen's collective ERA ballooning above two. Remarkable how the Reds could hang a six spot on him with two outs in extra innings. You would think somewhere Luebke would manage to get a Red to hit the ball at someone.
To put things into more proper perspective, Luebke gave up as many runs in that stint as Gregerson, Adams, Bell and Frieri have all season.
No offense, Cory (and with the Padres lineup behind you, there actually is none), but with a 7.20 ERA, you ARE the weakest link.
And it will be soon, to the minors, if the trend continues.
... to Nick Hundley
It's rare that a Skill Award goes to a player whose average has actually dipped.
With an average still above .300, though, he is still lightyears ahead of his teammates, most of whom are struggling to get to .200.
What's even more impressive is the fact that Hundley is swinging the bat with authority, and he will also make productive outs. This is not a guy afraid to make contact.
Whereas his teammates are afraid that a bat meeting a ball equals the reaction you get from mixing nitro and glycerine, Hundley has been a steady offensive force in a lineup that's been just offensive.
... to Brad Hawpe
In poor Dustin Moseley's last start, the Padres had their best opportunity to score in the sixth inning when Cubs starter Matt Garza had walked the bases loaded with only one out.
To the plate steps Brad Hawpe.
Though I respect Bud Black as a manager, sending Hawpe up in that situation is akin to sending the guy with a flame thrower to put out a forest fire. Predictably, Hawpe grounded into a double play which would extend the misery of Dustin Moseley and winless starts.
Signing Hawpe was certainly a gamble, although one the Padres front office thought they could swallow if it went wrong. By now, it has become apparent that Hawpe no longer has the skills necessary to hit in the minor leagues, let alone the bigs.
Of course, it doesn't help that he's playing for the Padres and at Petco, the epitome of hitting futility and where hitters go to watch their averages deflate or their careers even die. Sadly, it appears that the latter seems to be the case for Brad Hawpe.
... to Mike Adams
Considering that the bullpen is loaded with mean-looking out machines, you would think a collective award to the bullpen may be in order here.
Yet, one of them has stood out.
Eleven games, 11 innings, two hits, one unearned run. An ERA of 0.82, a WHIP of 0.18 and a BAA of .057.
No, the last stat is not Vulcan or hieroglyphics—.057
This is where opposing batting orders can just grab some pine and send in the ball boys to hit.
Mike Adams is that nasty.
... to Mat Latos
I realize it's a little harsh giving a Skunk Award to a guy whose BAA is currently .194. and whose WHIP is slightly above one.
That said, I believe Padres fans became a little spoiled last season by Mat's record-breaking 15-game streak of pitching at least five innings and allowing two runs or less.
Latos has now lost his last eight decisions dating back to last year, an aberration (we hope) for somebody with his talent.
Unfortunately, a 5.94 ERA in three starts this season also suggests that the Padres' ace must improve considerably if San Diego is to even sniff the NL West flag.
Padres fans are still waiting to see if this is the genius they enjoyed for so long last season or the head case who has just tied a Padres record for most consecutive losses.
... to Aaron Harang
Who said you can't go home again?
His next assignments would be in Houston and Chicago, not exactly pitchers' parks.
After four starts, San Diego native Aaron Harang now has a 4-0 record.
His work has been remarkably consistent: four starts, four quality starts and a 1.88 ERA.
Questions linger about his durability, as he has yet to pitch into the seventh inning. With the Padres' bullpen, this is a minor blemish, at best.
... to Jorge Cantu
If years ago people had told the San Diego Padres that they would be platooning Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu at first base, the front office would have been drooling at the prospects of an improved offensive output, not to mention ticket sales.
In 19 games, Cantu has batted .145 with a .200 OBP, which simply won't cut it in the bigs, let alone the cleanup spot.
Jorge "Can't Do," indeed.
To ease the pressure on their first basemen, Bud Black has dropped them in the batting order, hoping they could see better pitches with men on base.
Though Cantu is not nearly the trainwreck Hawpe has become; it's become apparent that first base is the black hole for the Padres this season.
... to Chris Denorfia
In only 34 at bats so far, Denorfia has posted a .324 BA, a .395 OBP and a peskiness in general that virtually screams LEADOFF HITTER.
This is a guy who can do everything from going yard to getting on base, stealing a bag and finally washing his own uniform after the numerous dustups on the basepaths.
A minor leaguer throughout most of his career, it's hard to believe Denorfia has become the sparkplug for a Padres offense that has refused to come out of hibernation.
... to Chad Qualls
Certainly questionable, which is why he receives the last Skunk Award.
You can almost hear the Padres bullpen whispering when a ballgame is tied after nine innings.
Who will it be today? Who will get that dreaded L when (not if) our guys can't score?
Since the Padres' offense rarely manages to score in the first nine innings, you can imagine what their chances are in extra innings. We've seen the story. Gregerson, Adams and Bell each throw a scoreless inning, then it's cross your fingers.
Chad's ERA of 3.97 is average in the major leagues, but bad, if you wear a Padres uniform. Worse is his recent form: in his last four appearances, he's allowed five runs over four appearances while losing two games.
Like Luebke, Qualls is a candidate for either long relief or eventually an assignment to the minors.