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All any Padre fan wants is for the Friars to be in the hunt. For 2010, mission accomplished, at least so far. With Adrian Gonzalez leading the way, San Diego has set the pace in the NL West, and has shown the kind of pitching that can take a team deep into the post season.

The Friars main problem remains a lack of clutch hitting, or any hitting at all some nights. I dont buy into the Petco Park theory, as teams like the Toronto Blue Jays had no problem reaching the seats. The trick now is to find a solid home run hitter who can run the vast stretches of Petcos outfield. Will Venbable may be that guy, so might aaron Cunningham, but adding another bat cant hurt their chances for this season.

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It remains to be seen whether new GM Jed Hoyer can pull off the deadline deal that wll take the Padres over the top. Hoyer needs to find a bat without selling the kitchen sink in prospects to get one.

Heath Bell leads a great Padre staff, perhaps the best in team history from top to bottom, with 1998 being a close second. 1998's team had great starting pitching, including Kevin Brown, with all time saves leader Trevor Hoffman in his prime to close out the big wins.

But that staff had huge offensive support, from Steve Finley, Ken Caminiti, Greg Vaughn, and many more, while this years Padre teams can only put Gonzalez into that class of hitter. San Diego cannot compete with the American League's big guns with the offensive line up now on the field, It could be a short World Series if the current line up works its way into October.

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San Diego's greatest asset this season is team speed, leading the majors in stolen bases by a large margin. Defense has also been above average, with Gwynn leading the way in digging out fly balls headed for the gap.Todd Hundley seems to finding his rythym as a starting catcher, flashing more power and actually getting a few runners at second base.

The Padres can run on anyone in baseball, the trick is getting on base, as San Diego leads the majors in striking out as well. It can make for a long afternoon, waiting for someone to clear the bases for the Friars, who excell at leaving men on second and third with one out...

Stay tuned... more to come as we head into the break...