The Pop-Tarts Series is back and better than ever! After a brief break, we’re back with one of baseball’s most interesting teams, the San Diego Padres.
How’s It Going?
The Padres are not doing as well as expected right now, sitting at 35-40 and out of the postseason race. After an offseason chock full of high-profile additions, this wasn’t what the Friars had in mind for 2015.
The Padres saw such a huge overhaul in the clubhouse; their team is hardly recognizable this season. Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin and Melvin Upton, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks were all brought in and have enjoyed varying degrees of success near the halfway point of this year. Justin Upton, a free agent to be after this season, is having a banner year, hitting .272 with 13 homers. Melvin is not enjoying the same success, but his year just began after a stint on the DL. Wil Myers is proving to be a valuable player, showcasing his ability to play all 3 outfield positions and first base. His bat was never the worry, and he has put that way out of mind this year to the tune of a .277 average and a .787 OPS. Will Venable is a solid bench bat/4th outfielder that can play all 3 outfield positions, Yangervis Solarte is much the same regarding the infield, and Yonder Alonso was having himself a breakout year at first base before getting injured. The rest of the lineup has struggled, but the only player that has reasonably failed to live up to expectations is Matt Kemp. Kemp has been awful, a far cry from his 2011 MVP-esque self. The Friars could always use an upgrade at shortstop, where Alexei Amarista and Clint Barmes have struggled, but they do possess stellar defense. Overall, there is not much not to like with the Padres’ offense. If Alonso comes back healthy and the Padres are able to retain Upton in free agency, this is an offense with serious potential for years to come.
Here is where the cookie begins to crumble for the Padres. The pitching staff is atrocious, and the main reason why the Padres are not in playoff contention. Let’s start with the rotation. “Big Game James” Shields has not lived up to his moniker this year. Opponents are batting .264 off of this supposed ace of a staff, and his ERA sits at a modest 4.24. Shields hasn’t been the only problem, but he should have been better after signing such a lucrative contract. His supporting cast is failing him too. Young Tyson Ross has been inconsistent in his third season. Ross has lots of talent but struggles with control and limiting his walk totals. Ian Kennedy has been below average after turning in a strong performance last year, and Andrew Cashner is getting pounded at a .281 BAA clip and sports a 2-9 record. Finally, Odrisamer Despaigne and Brendan Morrow have pitched like typical 5th starters this season. A rotation with Shields, Cashner, and Ross should be way better than this. The bullpen is okay when it gets to preserve a lead, but it rarely gets that chance with the dull starters that the Padres are throwing out their every day. Craig Kimbrel hasn’t been himself but still has only blown one save, and Kevin Quackenbush (best name ever) and Brendan Maurer are quality setup men with their best years still ahead of themselves. Joaquin Benoit, Dale Thayer, and Shawn Kelley add some “proven” names to the bullpen mix as well. The Padres only carry one lefty in the ‘pen, Frank Garces.
Verdict: B- (The bullpen saves the grade here)
This 2015 Padres team could have been and should have been much more than it is. The offense is above-average and the bullpen is stingy late in games, but the lack of quality starting pitching dooms the Friars to a .500 club.