It’s now or never for Padres

San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley holds his head as he hands at the dugout fence as he stands with teammates in the ninth inning during a loss to the Chicago Cubs in their MLB National League baseball game in San Diego, California September 30, 2010.  REUTERS/Mike Blake (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

August 19th seems like a decade ago.

That’s when the San Diego Padres, who had just won five straight, had a commanding six-game lead over NL West rivals the San Francisco Giants. The Friars were 26 games above .500 at that point and given the strength of their pitching, they seemed destined for a playoff spot.

It’s October 1st and now the Padres are clinging to desperation after losing three of four to the second-to-last-place Cubs. With just three games to play in the regular season, they’re three games back of the Giants in the West and two games back of the Braves in the Wildcard (who will take on the Phillies’ scrubs over the next three days). They’re just 5-5 in their last 10 games, while San Fran is 8-2.

Six days ago they were just a half game back of the Giants and with the lowly Cubs coming to down, they had an opportunity to potentially take the division lead back. But with their season on the line, the Padres only mustered five runs over a four-game stretch and the Cubs took three of four at Petco Park.

The Padres now have to sweep the Giants and hope to win a one-game playoff in San Diego on Monday. It’s hard enough to beat a team three times in a row and four times seems nearly impossible. The good news is that the Padres have swept the Giants twice this year, but those were different teams back then. All you need to know about that San Francisco team was that Bengie Molina was still the cleanup hitter.

There’s still hope for the Padres, but the time is now. Two of their top guns, Clayton Richard and Mat Latos, will take the hill in two of the three games, but the key is the offense. The Giants had the best team ERA in the major leagues last month and if the Cubs’ pitching could shut San Diego’s offense down, what do you think San Fran’s will do to them?

If the Padres are going to make the playoffs, they’ll have to erase a month and a half of poor play in four days. But for them, the only way to approach this situation is one game at a time, starting tonight in the “City by the Bay.”

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Is Jake Peavy done for the year?

June 30, 2010:  Starting pitcher Jake Peavy  of the Chicago White Sox delivers a pitch during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 7-6.

On July 31 of last year, the White Sox thought that they had acquired the piece that would get them back to the World Series. They sent four prospects (Clayton Richard, Aaron Preda, Adam Russell and Dexter Carter) to San Diego for ace Jake Peavy, whom they thought was worth the compensation even though he was an injury risk.

But that risk just became a reality.

The Sox placed Peavy on the 15-day disabled list with a detached right latissimus muscle. The Chicago Sun Times reports that he’ll see the renowned Dr. James Andrews over the All-Star break and that he could miss the rest of the season.

The injury is obviously a huge blow for the White Sox, who currently sit just one game back of the Tigers in the AL Central. Peavy certainly hasn’t been his dominant self this season (7-6, 4.63 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 93 strikeouts), but don’t forget he missed virtually all of 2009 with an ankle injury and his ERA number was likely to drop as he got more familiar with the American League.

The other frightening aspect of this injury is that Peavy’s career could be done. He has a detached muscle in his back; it’s not like he jammed his finger. He’ll be in good hands with Dr. Andrews, but you never know how a player will respond to an injury like this once he’s ready to get back on the field again.

If the worst thing that happens is he misses the rest of the season, then the Sox should consider themselves fortunate.

White Sox acquire Peavy from Padres in exchange for four pitchers

The White Sox traded for Jake Peavy again, only this time the deal actually went through as the former San Diego starter agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Chicago will be on the hook for all of Peavy’s contract, which means they’ll pay him $56 million by the end of 2012 and even more after that if they agree to pay his club option in 2013.

In exchange for their one-time ace, the Padres acquired left-handed pitchers Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, as well as right-handers Dexter Carter and Adam Russell. It’s essentially the same deal that the two teams agreed to in May, although this time the Sox included Richard, who wasn’t in the original offer.

According to Peavy’s agent Barry Axelrod, the ace signed off on the trade because there was no guarantee that the Cubs or Dodgers (his preferred teams) would have made a move for him in the offseason.

This move is surprising on the part of the White Sox seeing as how Peavy probably won’t pitch again the rest of the season, yet Chicago is still on the hook for all of his salary. Then again, with Peavy under contract through 2012 (and possibly 2013), GM Kenny Williams clearly made this move for the future (albeit at the risk of surrendering a massive amount of pitching depth).

You knew Williams wasn’t going to stand pat and let the deadline go by without making a move and he certainly one-upped the division rival Detroit, who acquired starter Jarrod Washburn today. He has always been a bit of a gambler and if Peavy returns to full health and makes the Sox a winner (whether that means a World Series winner or otherwise), maybe we’ll look back on this trade and commend Williams for making such a bold move.

That said, this was a massive risk by Williams. For starters, there’s only about a 50-50 chance that Peavy will pitch again this season. So not only is there a decent possibility that the Sox won’t get any use out of him this season, but they also paid a higher price for him now then they did when the deal didn’t go through in May because they included Richard.

Even though they gave up their ace and a popular player, San Diego and their fans have to be happy with the haul they got from Chicago. It’s not like the Padres had to sweetener their offer in order to get Richard too; they’re still giving up the same piece (Peavy) to acquire more than they would have in May.

Well done, Kevin Towers.

Team by team MLB draft rankings: Best drafts of the last 10 years

With the 2009 MLB Draft set to kickoff at 6:00 ET tonight on the MLB Network, did a cool feature in which they rated how each club has fared over the past 10 years when it comes to the draft.

The Brewers were rated number one and it’s hard to argue with the ranking after looking at the names Milwaukee has drafted over the years: Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, J.J. Hardy, Manny Parra, Rickie Weeks, Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. Amazingly, this club also drafted Hunter Pence (Astros), but couldn’t sign him.

The Red Sox were rated No. 2, with Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Manny Delcarmen leading the way, but the site left off a glaring omission: Jacoby Ellsbury. The Rays actually drafted Ellsbury in the 2002 draft, but never signed him. The Sox then nabbed him with the 23rd overall pick in 2005 and he’s currently their starting centerfielder.

Speaking of the Rays, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Tampa ranked higher than No. 4 in the next couple of years. Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine and David Price are just some of the names they’ve drafted in the past 10 years. Don’t forget that they were the team that also drafted Josh Hamilton before he got injured and then became the poster child of what not to do when you’re an inspiring ballplayer with loads of free time on your hands.

You look at a club like the Nationals ranked No. 8 and you wonder why they’ve been so awful over the years despite drafting so well. Then you realized they dealt Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips all in the same trade for Bartolo Colon and it all starts to make sense.

If you’re wondering whom SI had ranked last, it was the Astros; only Hunter Pence was worth noting of the players Houston drafted the past 10 years. The White Sox were second to last, although if Josh Fields, Chris Getz, Clayton Richard and Gordon Beckham develop like the club hopes, I highly doubt Chicago will be ranked that low again if SI does another ranking like this in the next couple of years.

Padres’ Peavy could be traded to White Sox

According to a report by the San Diego Union Tribune, a trade between the Padres and White Sox involving ace Jake Peavy could be imminent. The roadblocks appear to be whether or not Peavy would waive his no-trade clause and whether or not he wants to play for manager Ozzie Guillen, which apparently he has reservations about.

The question becomes: whom would the Sox have to give up in order to acquire Peavy? The Padres need middle infielders, so Chris Getz and Brent Lillibridge could be involved in the talks, but hopefully for White Sox fans, top shortstop prospect Gordon Beckham isn’t.

If San Diego has its sights set on pitching (which is certainly a possibility given the division and park it plays in), Chicago might be willing to part with Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, although more mid-to-low-level prospects would likely have to be included as well.

If they were able to swing a deal, the Chi-Sox rotation would look incredibly strong with Peavy, Mark Buerhle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks leading the way. And considering they’re only 5.5 games back in the AL Central and we haven’t even reached the All-Star Break yet, a trade like this could sling them right back into contention.

Another thing to keep an eye on is whether or not this wakes up the other team in Chicago. The Cubs are in win-now mode, but thanks to injuries and inconsistent play, they find themselves currently three games behind the Brewers in the NL Central. Ace Carlos Zambrano is currently on the DL and how long before Rich Harden pays his old friend a visit, too? If Peavy doesn’t waive his no-trade clause to join the White Sox, maybe the Cubs will re-enter trade talks with the Padres.

Update: The two teams have agreed on a deal, but Peavy has to sign off on it because of his no-trade clause.

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