San Diego maneuvered plenty this season with the acquisition of players such as outfielders Matt Kemp and Justin Upton and catcher Derek Norris, among others, but the Padres could not move forward before the All-Star break.
Once-promising manager Bud Black was fired on June 14, unable to get life out of San Diego’s lineup, rotation or bullpen. The Padres hired on an interim basis Triple-A manager Pat Murphy, who could stake a claim to be the permanent manager if his team makes positive strides in the last few months.
The Padres (41-49) are 10 games behind the NL West leader, the Los Angeles Dodgers (51-39) at the All-Star break. That might not seem too dire, but they are also only one game ahead of last-place team Colorado.
With only 71 games remaining, the Padres have only a miracle to count on to make all the offseason moves meaningful. They have too many teams to climb and too much scoreboard watching to worry about. It’s time for general manager A.J. Preller to turn the page to the future and do more wheeling and dealing.
Upton, 27, is in the final year of his contract, making him a likely trade candidate. The All-Star is batting only .254 but he has produced 14 home runs and 48 RBI. He could bring a lively bat and good defense to the outfield of another team.
Graphic via nydailynews
Contending teams in need to bolster their bullpen will look at the Padres’ Joaquin Benoit, a 37-year-old veteran who has a 2.39 ERA in 39 appearances.
Starting pitcher Ian Kennedy’s turnaround in June has other teams inquiring about a potential trade. In the month preceding the All-Star break, Kennedy posted a 2.31 ERA in six starts. He recorded 33 strikeouts and nine walks in 35 innings. James Shields, another off-season acquisition, has yet to throw a complete game for the Padres in 19 starts. He is San Diego’s ace despite having a 4.01 ERA with a propensity of allowing home runs similar to Kennedy. He has allowed 19 home runs this season in 116 2/3 innings after giving up only 23 last year in 227 innings with the Royals.
Another starter, Tyson Ross, and San Diego’s top relievers, including Benoit, have buoyed the staff the most. Ross has a 3.34 ERA and 118 strikeouts with 55 walks in 110 1/3 innings. The Padres’ top six pitchers in terms of ERA are all relievers, all of whom are at 3.34 ERA or less.
San Diego’s lineup is the most disappointing aspect of the team. The Padres are batting only .238, which ranks No. 14 out of 15 National League teams. Kemp, the former NL MVP with the Dodgers, is batting only .257 with eight home runs. He has produced a respectable 47 RBI but the Padres expected more from his bat.
San Diego trails only the Chicago Cubs in the National League with 759 strikeouts. With that many strikeouts and a .238 team batting average, San Diego has been stuck in a season-long slump.
Defensively, San Diego is shown to be average with a fielding percentage of .984, which ranks ninth in the National League.
The bottom line is the Padres are not exceptional in anything they do. They are mostly mediocre.
A promising schedule at the outset following the All-Star break could inject some life into San Diego. The Padres play 17 of their first 23 games against other teams struggling as much or more than they are: Colorado, Miami, Milwaukee and Philadelphia.
Graphic via www.rosterresource.com