Let's start with Tyson Ross who's come up lately and been a very effective starter. Anything to get excited about or just a slightly older prospect who could round out a rotation?
Tyson Ross is a power arm that didn't have full command over all his pitches. The coaching staff has worked with him and it seems to be paying dividends. As with any pitcher that has trouble locating his pitches, this could just be a temporary stars aligning sort of thing where we are seeing the best he can be for a short time. I think we'll know more next year to see if the adjustments he made can stick. From what I understand he has always had the potential to be an asset in a major league rotation, but needed refinement. It is certainly possible that refinement has now happened, but too soon to tell.
We talked about him when the Pads were here, how has Andrew Cashner's season gone?
Andrew Cashner has been very solid this season and probably has been the Padres' most consistent starter. His transition to solid starter has been one that has seen him miss fewer bats, but last longer in games and give up less walks. He should be able to maintain his progress so far, but I imagine some would see the gaudy strikeout numbers he put up in the past and think that if he could just bring those back he'd be a top of the rotation starter. For now though, it seems he has developed into a guy that can be counted on every 5th day and occasionally be dominant. Which is a nice skill set to have and will make him a lot of money.
What's up with Chase Headley? Seems like it's been a season long struggle.
I think a lot of people would like to know what is up with Chase Headley. In some ways, the Chase we've seen this season is similar to the Chase that we've seen in other non 2012 and 2010 seasons. He sometimes looks lost, he piles up strikeouts and you wonder if he should scrap switch hitting so that he doesn't have to maintain two swings. All the while though playing superb defense. Part of his struggles might be due to the injury he suffered in Spring Training that derailed his start to the season. Part of it might be pressure he's putting on himself. However, as I alluded earlier this season isn't all that different than 2009 or 2011, so I don't know if something wrong so much as it is more about the expectations that all of us put on him after his 2012 season.
Yonder Alonso was the main prize in return for Mat Latos, but hasn't quite fired yet. Still patience needed or turning a critical eye?
Yonder Alonso will be a lineup stalwart for a while. There's not really any competition for the 1B spot since Kyle Blanks can't stay healthy and can play the OF and there's no one in the minor leagues that looks promising. I think what we'll see with Alonso is steady improvement over the next few years and eventually he'll move on when his arb years are up or close to up. I don't think a critical eye is needed since no one expects him to be an MVP caliber player. Some more power would be nice and it was showing up early this season before he got hurt, so maybe some patience is needed waiting for that to return.
Are there any prospects who might get a look for these final six weeks of the season?
The next 6 weeks should be pretty quiet on the prospects front. The team is in no hurry to rush anyone from AA and no one in AAA is banging down the door for a call up. Perhaps Robbie Erlin and Burch Smith make returns to the majors come September. Keyvius Sampson gets some attention due to his recent successes, but he just got re-promoted to AAA recently and I don't think the club wants to rush him again (he struggled in his first AAA promotion). The upper minors are pretty barren when it comes to hitting prospects, which is why Jaff Decker is getting an extended run. Most of the interesting names in AA in AAA have already been promoted once this season (either from A+ to AA or AA to AAA) and again would be rushed if sent to the big leagues in September. The team also will return almost all of its roster next season, so 40 man roster space will be at a premium and you don't want to take up a spot with someone who isn't quite ready for primetime.
How are you feeling about your team's rebuild and where it is now?
Calling what the franchise is doing a "rebuild" is kind of a loaded question. Was it ever really built? When did it start this rebuild? In my view the team has been trying for a long time to become a franchise that can draft and develop its own talent and fill out much of a roster that way. It's been trying to become that since before the club moved into Petco Park in 2004. It is still a work in progress, but showing signs of life. However, if by rebuild you mean how things are progressing since the team traded Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Adams and Mat Latos for prospects (and Volquez), then I'd say it's not going great. Mainly due to the number of injuries these players have suffered. Injuries to highly thought of prospects (Kelly, Wieland, Liriano, Erlin, Darnell) and promising young players (Luebke, Maybin, Grandal, Blanks) has really derailed any sort of building or rebuilding this team was trying to do. It can still get back on track being that they still have a number of promising (and still healthy) prospects in the minors, but the train is certainly delayed.