The offensive upgrading that A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres organization accomplished during the off-season was extraordinary. Adding Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks and Derek Norris provided instant credibility to a horribly inept offensive team. These upgrades alone would make the Padres instant contenders for a playoff spot. Then the team went out and signed James Shields, perhaps because they were tired of negotiating for Cole Hamels.
With that signing the team went from a potential playoff team to a team that in all reality should make the playoffs. With the pitching staff the Padres have and the solid middle of the order they now have, the sky is the limit.
What does James Shields bring? The swagger and confidence he brings every fifth day is refreshing. Even on a day when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he will battle you, just because he needs to compete. He refuses to lose or give up and that transfers to each player that plays behind him. That type of bravado is rare in this day and age.
It must be fun coming to work everyday when you are a Padres player. Oh and yes playing baseball in the major leagues is work. These guys spend more time with each other during the season, then they do with their families. We all know how difficult it can be to go to work when you are not having fun or you hate your co workers. Having a cohesive team and a wining attitude will go a long way in this marathon of a season.
James Shields performance on Saturday versus the San Francisco Giants was huge. While Madison Bumgarner struggled, Shields remained focused and shut down the Giants by going right after them. He continually pounded the strike zone and worked ahead of hitters. That is exactly what you want from your pitcher when they are given a lead. Shields even contributed with a base hit off Bumgarner, helping his own cause. A true gamer in every sense of the word.
The Padres are invested long-term into Shields and I have to admit I was a little worried about that type of commitment to a pitcher that old. The workhorse mentality also boosted his innings, but isn’t that a good thing? You want your ace to be at there as much as possible, don’t you? Shields baring any injury will pitch every fifth day, and he is almost a given to pitch past the sixth inning every start.
The man is exactly what you want at the top of the rotation. His work ethic and the intangibles he brings will help develop pitchers like Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner. The addition of Shields was exactly what the Padres needed, and it was done at the right time. He will help stabilize the rotation and yes, Shields has been exactly as advertised. A Beast.