The 2016 season is already in full swing. Every team has already played at least two games, while some have even played four already. Two or three, or even four, games is too small of a sample to make any real conclusions about any team, but fans and pundits alike are already making plenty of assumptions about their favorite teams.
The Cubs look to be an offensive juggernaut. The Diamondbacks are already doomed. The good teams are good, the bad teams are bad. For the most part, it is all par for the course.
However, this story becomes a bit more questionable when talking about the San Diego Padres.
Through three games, the Padres have been outscored 25-0, collecting only eleven hits in total including only one extra base hit. It’s hard to envision how the season could have possibly gotten off to a worse start for the Friars. After a 15-0 beatdown by the Dodgers on Opening Day, the Padres were shut out for a second consecutive day on Tuesday night. The team faired a little bit better in game three, although still no runs, but it seems to be all doom and gloom on Padres Twitter early on in the season.
While I understand the frustration that Padre fans are feeling, I feel the same seemingly never-ending frustration and disappointment, to me it just seems to be nearing the level of downright ridiculous. The season is only three days old, with 159 games to go. A three game losing streak sucks at any time of the year. However, it doesn’t make it any more important just because it is the first series. At the end of the day, it’s rather meaningless in such a long season.
I understand the Padres have gotten off to a poor start, and have looked downright awful while doing it, but at the end of the day, should we surprised? Are we surprised that the Padres don’t seem to be able to compete with one of the top five teams in the National League, if not all of baseball? Did we expect anything different?
For all intents and purposes, the Padres were downright bad in 2015. The team was hot out of the gate but then stumbled and never were able to turn it around. Bud Black was fired, players were traded this offseason, and the Padres moved on as if 2015 had never happened.
Simply because of how poorly 2015 went, expectations were at least a little higher than perhaps they should have been. The Padres had a new manager, in Andy Green, who seemed to know what he was doing, and who was saying all the right things. The trade of Craig Kimbrel certainly helped out the Padres long-term future, and a few key acquisitions this offseason certainly looked to be able to help the on field result as well.
Despite these moves, the Padres didn’t really change identities from what they were at the end of last year. Obviously some players are gone and some new players are in town, but the Padres are still nothing more than a 70-75 win team (perhaps 80 if everything goes their way). This team was never going to be an offensive juggernaut, and never was going to compete for a National League West title.
The way some fans have been acting the last few days makes it seem like the Padres were destined for playoff greatness and have fallen flat on their face. That’s simply not the case. Arguably this team could be said to be better than last year’s edition, but that may not be saying much. The defense should be less shaky, the roster more cohesive, and the pitching staff is due for a significant rebound. Despite all of that, this team isn’t “good” in terms of playoff chances.
It was clear going into 2016 that this year would be a transitional period. The Padres front office has stayed away from words such as “rebuild,” and rightfully so, but that’s pretty much the position the Padres are in now. With the trade of Craig Kimbrel, and no real significant additions to the big league roster to replace last year’s losses, the Padres are on their way to another mediocre season.
But that mediocrity doesn’t have to be a bad thing. This is an important year for the franchise. Perhaps the most important year of this century. Not only are the Padres playing host to the 2016 MLB All Star Game, but they are also in position to completely revamp their minor league system, and more importantly, revamp their entire organization. With six picks in the first 85 of the draft, and the willingness and ability to spend big on the international market, 2016 should be a critical year for the Padres franchise.
If all goes well this year off the field, the next few years should be much brighter in San Diego. Regardless of what happens on the field, as fans we knew what this team was capable of. It’s hard to be patient, and even harder to continue to hear that from a team’s front office, but at this point that is the most logical thing that can be said. The 2016 season should be a very important one for the Padres off the field. Regardless of what happens on the field. We knew what to expect.