You might remember, from back at the beginning of the NFL season, when we previewed each team by having a writer we liked write about their favorite team.
Well, we're just more than a month away from the start of baseball — spring training is here! — so it's time to do the same thing in the baseball world. Every weekday until the start of the season, a different writer will preview his/her team. We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, Where Their Team Stands. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever.
Today: The San Diego Padres. Your author is The Mighty MJD.
They don't have the biggest payroll, and they don't have the most star-studded line-up, but you know what the Padres do have? The only mascot in sports who can club your ass with a bat, touch himself under his robe without anyone knowing it and then absolve himself of all sins back in his confessional. This is why I've always been drawn to the Padres.
The strategy for the Pads this year is the same as always: assemble a solid pitching staff, view offensive output as purely optional and just count on the Dodgers and Giants to screw the pooch. In recent years, this strategy has been enormously successful.
The Dodgers spent a bazillion dollars on Jason Schmidt and the Giants spent a bazillion and a half on Barry Zito, while the Padres biggest offseason move was to sign a 41-year-old pitcher who ranked 23rd in the NL last year in ERA. And still, San Diego will still probably have the best pitching staff in the division next year, provided that Jake Peavy bounces back a little bit. He hasn't been the same since he did this. Neither has his wife.
Offensively, the Padres have a chance to go from "incredibly weak" to "marginally weak." Marcus Giles replaces Josh Barfield at second base, and Kevin Kouzmanoff (.656 slugging percentage in the minors last year) replaces the collection of dickbags the Padres used at third base last year. It's an improvement, but it still leaves Adrian Gonzalez, Brian Giles and Khalil Greene as your best bats.
You know what, though? Fuck offense. We don't need it. Give us two outs per inning, and make us use Wiffle Ball bats, and we'll still win the division. True, we can't hit ... but in Petco Park, against Peavy, Maddux, and Chris Young, neither can anyone else.
One concern is the loss of Bruce Bochy as manager. GM Kevin Towers let him walk to San Francisco without even putting up a fight, and replaced him with some character named Bud Black. I know just two things about Bud Black: One, he can't be worse than Norv Turner. And two, I used to get his baseball cards when I was a child, and his mustache scared me. He had a classic molester 'stache. It was the mustache of a man with something to hide.
I'm expecting nothing less than the NL West championship, which will probably then be followed by a quick flameout in the playoffs. I'm OK with that, though, provided that the Giants or Dodgers don't get that far.