Padres Editorial: Padres Fans Jumping Ship?

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When the San Diego Padres upgraded their team this off-season, a lot of raised expectations came with all the new players. Rightfully so, as when you add players like James Shields, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, you create a solid nucleus of players that should provide a competitive team. Adding Shields to the likes of Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross gives you a solid top three starting pitchers. All three are more than capable of going deep into games. They are also strike-out pitchers that excite the crowd.

With those three pitchers alone in the rotation, the Padres should be able to be competitive deep into the season. When the Padres added Craig Kimbrel to the bullpen on Easter Sunday, they made their already formidable bullpen, even stronger. Joaquin Benoit was slated to start the season as the Padres closer initially, but he is probably more suited to pitch in the 8th inning as Kimbrel’s chief set-up man. That is where he presently is, all though I suspect he could be dealt eventually by the team.

Added to the bullpen was Brandon Maurer who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners for Seth Smith. Shawn Kelley was also acquired, but has not endeared himself to the Padres fans with some less than stellar pitching performances. Both provide the Padres two more veteran relief pitchers. Kevin Quackenbush and Dale Thayer are unsung heroes in the bullpen. Neither has upper 90’s gas, but each is unafraid to attack hitters. They are both solid and could close if needed. Each is an important member of the Padres bullpen and proves how deep the bullpen actually is. Are you seeing a common theme here?

The group that the Padres front office assembled has been hit and miss all season long. They have yet to win more than three games in a row, and you can be sure that a winning streak is eventually coming. This team is way to talented to continue to play sub .500 baseball. I have faith they will pull out of the tailspin, but most fans have all but abandoned ship.

In my opinion most Padres fans had too high of an expectation for this ball club. The team had obvious deficiencies in the fact it was constructed too right handed, and without any defensive concerns. As long as the team can stay within reach, I still contend that they will get hot and surprise some teams. Padres management is working on fixing this issues, and only time will tell when and where each issue is addressed.

It takes time for a new team to play well together. Add the fact that Yonder Alonso, Wil Myers and Brandon Morrow were each key losses for the team at the time of their injuries. Myers was leading all of major league baseball in runs and Yonder Alonso was the Padres team leader in hitting. His .333 batting average is still the teams highest. Yonder is scheduled to play this weekend in El Paso and be activated from the disabled list on Monday in time for the game against the New York Mets.

Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego
Mandatory Credit: UT San Diego

The loss of Morrow was also big as Odrisamer Despaigne has been streaky as the Padres #5 starter. Morrow threw a simulated game on Thursday and is set to go out on at least two rehab starts. He is roughly two weeks away from returning. He will slide right into the rotation and the way Ian Kennedy is pitching of late, he might be an option to move into the long man roll. Kennedy has been getting roughed up and his velocity is noticeably down from last season.

The pitching staff with their inflated numbers and propensity to giving up the long ball is not my major concern though. To me, the lineup and the personnel within it, need to be stabilized. Bud Black is forced to change the lineup on a daily basis, in an attempt to spark some offense. Sounds like something he would do in seasons past, but this team is not the 2014 Padres.

If it means making a trade or just sticking to a set lineup, I would like to see that done. With the arrival of Myers and Alonso back into the lineup, it is impossible to predict where five players will play at any given game. All of the infield positions, as well as the center field position, could be a mixture of any five to eight players. Once Melvin Upton Jr. returns, the line-up is truly going to be impossible to construct.

Jedd Gyorko, Yangervis Solarte, Will Middlebrooks, Corey Spangenberg and Clint Barmes all competing for playing time can be absurd to deal with. Add to the fact Will Venable has been playing outstanding, game-changing defense, and he is almost impossible to remove from the lineup. No wonder Bud Black can’t do anything right. No matter what lineup he puts in, someone is going to be upset.

Depth is a good problem to have, it just makes me think that a deal is surely on its way from our general manager. The team we see today will surely be different from the team we see in July or even September. So Padres fans, relax. You expected a championship right away and that might not be the case immediately. The Padres can easily get hot and compete in the National League. That would not be unheard of. This is not a bad team, don’t try to convince yourself of that. They are a good team that is playing bad, there is a big difference.

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