Eight Thoughts: Mat Latos' Workload, O'Dowd's Tall Order, Oregon Ducks
"You can never predict it," general manager Jed Hoyer told FanHouse. "The Nationals had kid gloves on (Stephen) Strasburg and he will miss next year."
The Padres likely will lighten Latos' workload leading up to next season, a response to Latos having thrown 61 2/3 innings more in 2010 than he did in 2009 -- including a jump in major league innings by nearly a factor of four. With the Padres contending for the playoffs until the season's final out, Latos threw 184 2/3 innings. Hoyer added: "Latos had several periods of rest and never went significantly above 100 pitches."
• Manager Bruce Bochy's critics aren't looking smart.
The knock on Bochy in San Diego was that he failed to develop young players. While Bochy deserved some criticism for his handling of young Padres Xavier Nady and Sean Burroughs -- neither of whom would become stars elsewhere -- Giants rookies Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner flourished under Bochy this year and helped San Francisco reach its first postseason since 2003. Four years ago, after the Padres lost to the Cardinals in the Divisional Series, Sandy Alderson's front office blamed it on Bochy and encouraged him to pursue a contract extension with the rival Giants. Bochy has returned to the playoffs before either the Padres or Alderson.
• A teenager who was guaranteed $5.5 million two months ago, Dodgers prospect Zach Lee seemingly is hungry to earn that money.
"His work ethic is unbelievable," Dodgers farm director DeJon Watson said of the team's first-round draft pick from last June.
Lee, who had a football scholarship to LSU, "really gets after it in the workouts," Watson said. "He's at the front of everything we do." Wednesday at the team's training site in Arizona, Watson watched Lee throw two scoreless innings with a fastball that spanned 90-94, plus a good curveball and a pretty good changeup.
• The son of a former big leaguer is creating buzz at Dodgers instructional games and workouts.
"James Baldwin is a guy to keep your eye on," Watson said of the 18-year-old drafted in the fourth round last June. "He's a guy who's going to pop up quickly." Baldwin, whose father James was an All-Star pitcher 10 years ago for the White Sox, struck out in half of his rookie-league at-bats yet batted .274 with 17 stolen bases in 46 games. "He's going to stay in center field," Watson said, citing the 6-foot-3 athlete's speed and instincts.
• The pressure is on Colorado Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd.
The Rockies have a dynamic tandem in shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Can O'Dowd find enough pitching, though, to go with a young nucleus that also includes third baseman Ian Stewart and center fielder Dexter Fowler? As well as the Rockies have drafted and developed, they're feeling the failure to get anything from pitchers drafted among the top-10 picks in 2006 and 2007. The rival Giants and Padres have excellent young rotations and star closers, and the Rockies likely will lose starter Jorge de la Rosa to free agency.
• USC's new football coach didn't see the forest for the trees.
Instead of building his offense around excellent running backs and blockers, which would've protected a thin defense, the coach, true to his pedigree as a quarterbacks coach, over-indulged his talented but erratic sophomore quarterback. John Robinson would've taken this USC team farther than the sneaky coach will take the Trojans. Advantage, Chip Kelly and the exciting Oregon Ducks.
• Here at West Coast Bias, I figure the NCAA should lend a hand to football teams from the West.
For entertainment's sake, better to allow Oregon and Boise State to share talent should either end up against Alabama in the BCS Title game in Arizona three months from now. Unless the Crimson Tide is thinned by injuries suffered against fellow SECessionists, it's hard to imagine anyone beating them. "They look like an NFL team," said Chargers running back Jacob Hester, an LSU alum.
• Philip Rivers is becoming a SoCal guy.
A son of the South, Rivers grew up rooting for the Atlanta Braves, but when the Padres and the Braves were vying for the wild-card berth last week, the San Diego Chargers quarterback said he was "definitely rooting for the Padres" to make the playoffs.