The Morning Report
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Gut-wrenching loss for the Padres tonight. Total heartbreaker. And to think, just yesterday, in spite of evidence to the contrary, I was still singing the praises of Cla Meredith (kind of) and Scott Linebrink (sorta).

Meredith gets tagged with the decision in this come-from-ahead loss, but Linebrink, uh, helped. Both gave up absolutely crushing home runs to the Rockies in Colorado, but it was Linebrink’s bomb, hit by Matt Holliday, that really broke the Pads backs. And for the second time in five days, Greg Maddux had a win yanked out from under him, by a momentum-killing eighth-inning homer, courtesy of Mr. Linebrink.

With another blown save to his credit, Linebrink may have finally put to rest what has seemed like hundreds of trade rumors with his name attached. It really looks as if that ship has sailed. The Padres could still deal him, but his stock is as devalued now as it’s ever been. So both seller and buyer beware.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rowand, whose name was linked with Linebrink’s in a bunch of trade rumors before this season, is having a typical walk-year season, sporting what would be a career best .325 batting average, to go with his usual Gold Glove defensive work.

Ironically, Rowand is already being talked about as a Mike Cameron’s center field successor in 2008, when he can be had for a large sum or money, but without giving up Linebrink. What’s even more ironic is this: Linebrink will be a free agent too. And if he struggles the rest of this season, Linebrink will have blown something of his own for a change — a chance to sign a big contract to become a closer elsewhere.

And guess where Linebrink might end up then: Yep, right back in the Padres bullpen, setting up for Trevor Hoffman yet again.

— HOWARD COLE

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