There is no need to remind everyone how the season started for our San Diego Padres. Oh, you mean you drove that from memory? Two words: Ass Whooping. No, the Friars didn’t come out of the gate swinging and taking down National League West opponents.
Break down the schedule and you’ll notice a trend. The Padres are nothing if not okay against teams outside of the NL West, going 10-11 through the first two months (a four game home and home series with AL West Seattle Mariners begins on May 30th). Their record against the NL West? 8-20. To put this in Jim Rome terms, 8-19, eight and nineteen, EIGHT AND NINETEEN. Get it? He repeats himself a lot. Just like this Padres team. Except they just keep repeating losing habits.
But Jake, your headline says “glimpses of hope”, where are the positives? No, I didn’t just put that headline for all the fans who don’t actually know what they are watching. Craig Elsten came on my show last week (Check out the Friar Domination Podcast on iTunes and Google Play) and essentially dropped a bombshell on myself and co-host David Droegemeier. I’ll paraphrase but it basically was that the Padres stink. Except this wasn’t a bombshell. Anyone who really pays attention to this years team knows they stink.
Glimpses of hope? Absolutely. Matt Kemp is much improved over 2015. He’s on pace to hit a lot of home runs, probably less than I predicted here, and his mediocre (if there’s a word to describe something less than mediocre I’d use it but I’ve had one cup of coffee. Cheers Dick Enberg.) is just slightly less mediocre than it was in 2015.
A healthy Wil Myers has been a breath of fresh beach air. Nothing better than that fresh beach air right? Especially in the morning. Sorry anyone reading this from a state far less awesome than the great state of California. What does a healthy Wil Myers look like you say? It looks like .265/.305/.429 with seven home runs and 21 RBI. Also, in 400 plus innings so far at first base in 2016, he’s yet to make an error. In case you forgot, he became a first basemen only a few months ago.
James Shields has also been greatly improved from a career worst 2015 campaign. A little too good if you ask me. His 2-6 record not withstanding, he’s sporting a 3.06 ERA and is on pace to throw 205 innings, which would be the tenth consecutive season he’s eclipsed the 200 inning mark. There’s current talk of a “blockbuster” trade with the Chicago White Sox that would include Shields. However I don’t think I agree with the term blockbuster here. The Padres would likely have to pick up most of his $21 million salary for 2016. Shields has an opt out clause after 2016 so I don’t believe the Padres would agree to paying any of his salary beyond 2016.
Melvin Upton Jr. is playing better than his brother Justin (whom did not resign with San Diego and signed a hefty contract with Detroit this last winter). The older Upton is hitting .264/.330/.425 with six home runs and twenty-one RBI. But beyond the offensive numbers, his defense has been good, despite having a -1 runs saved against the average. He’s also been valuable in the clubhouse with a team full of kids.
Am I forgetting anyone? Derek Norris? Nope. Tyson Ross? Injured. Andrew Cashner? Wake me up when he does something worth writing about or mentioning on air.
OH!!! DREW POMERANZ. With the injury to Tyson Ross and the barely major league pitching of Andrew Cashner, Pomeranz has (despite a rough start against Arizona) established himself as this season’s ace. He’s no Clayton Kershaw or Stephen Strasburg, but he had another solid start on May 23rd against the Giants going seven innings while allowing only two hits and striking out four Giant hitters. In nine starts this year he’s posted a 1.70 ERA with a 4-4 record and despite the team going 2-4 over his last six starts he hasn’t allowed more than two runs in five of those six starts and has given his team a chance to win all season.
The starting pitching as a unit has been pretty good over the last four weeks. What’s bringing this team down is offense. Despite Kemp, Upton, and Myers doing their jobs to various degrees of success, the rest of the lineup has been barely watchable. Derek Norris isn’t anywhere close to hitting his body weight, Alexei Ramirez (despite being great defensively) is hitting a mere .237, Brett Wallace is unwatchable both on offense and defense, and even with Matt Kemps good power numbers early this year, his recent slump has seen his batting average drop to .228.
What’s on the horizon, however, is potential. There are huge amounts of excitement and promise behind such prospects as Hunter Renfroe and Manny Margot, both of which are outfielders who some in San Diego want to see get playing time sooner rather than later, are highly likely to be seen in 2016, possibly even by the all star break. Javier Guerra, the teams number three ranked prospect and number one ranked infielder. could be seen as early as September but more than likely will be seen more in 2017. We’ve seen Jabari Blash, Cesar Vargas, Robbie Erlin, and Colin Rea. Austin Hedges is another name that has already gained a lot of attention around the organization as well as the city.
This is step one of a (hopefully) 3-4 year rebuilding effort. Be patient San Diego. It’s almost 2017 and beyond.
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