Alonso’s return to the starting lineup would put an end to the first baseman carousel the Padres have been riding this month. When Alonso went to the DL. Wil Myers moved to first from center field. After Myers injured his left wrist, Yangervis Solarte became the primary first baseman.
Alonso’s production has been missed since his departure from the 25-man roster. His return will certainly fill the void of lackluster offense seen lately from the Padres. However, it also poses a slight problem — where to put players in the infield.
Before the season began, questions surrounded the surplus of outfielders after the acquisition of Matt Kemp, Myers and Justin Upton. San Diego general manager A.J. Preller solved that problem by shipping Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin to Atlanta. Now, with a surplus of infielders, Preller may have to work his magic again to fix the infield.
Once Alonso returns, Solarte will be moved off of the first base bag. But, what will they do with him? One solution would be to move Solarte over to third, the position that currently belongs to Will Middlebrooks. Then again, Middlebrooks is hitting .218 this season, while Solarte has a .275 batting average. So maybe putting Solarte at third is a viable option.
Another scenario would be to move Solarte to shortstop. Now, Solarte is by no means an everyday shortstop. Then again, San Diego doesn’t have any of those on the roster anyway. Right now the Padres are platooning Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista at the position, although Middlebrooks has also started there.
The last scenario would be to put Solarte at second base. Jedd Gyorko. Enough said.
So, you can see that San Diego has quite the logjam in the infield right now. It would be a good time for Preller to begin exploring his options as far as what he could do with his surplus of infielders.
Alonso and Solarte, along with Myers, have been the most productive infielders in the batting order. But, the Padres also have a quality player on the bench in Cory Spangenberg. Spangenberg isn’t exactly lighting up pitchers, but he has been effective, posting seven extra base hits and four stolen bases since being called up from AAA El Paso.
When Myers returns to the lineup, it will make the problem even bigger. Since Myers has been out, center field duties have primarily been handled by Will Veneble. Veneble has been useful, posting a .304 batting average. With the way things are right now, would Bud Black want to remove a .300 hitter from the starting lineup?
The conundrum the team faces at shortstop will only continue to worsen until an everyday player is acquired. Rumors come and go about trading from Luis Sardinas from the Milwaukee Brewers or Javier Baez from the Chicago Cubs. Baez is performing well at AAA Iowa, but he’s stuck there since both Starlin Castro and Addison Russell are performing well in the Cubs’ middle infield.
Things always happen during the season that open up trade opportunities. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams was originally thought to serve a short stint on the DL after a quadriceps injury, but it was announced on May 27 that Adams will be out for 3-4 months.
Rumors are already swirling about the Cardinals having interest in bringing Ryan Howard to his hometown. That would open up first base in Philadelphia. Philadelphia doesn’t have a shortstop that the Padres want, but they do have other players of significant value (Cole Hamels, anyone?).
Whatever Preller and the Padres decide to do, they should act sooner rather than later. The season is still early, but time will only keep ticking. This is not yet a complete team, and if this team is serious about making a playoff run in August and September, they need to patch up their remaining holes now.