Myers’ ability to stay healthy is crucial for The Padres if they want to be considered competitors in 2016 and beyond. This will be Myers’ fourth year in Major League Baseball and has yet to play 90 games in a season. He turned just 25 last December so he is still young and has time to realize his full potential, however, if his wrists continue to be an issue, The Padres may be forced to find an option elsewhere.
Jedd Gyorko, at one point, looked as though he was going to be a Padre for the majority of his career. After his 23 home run rookie season, it seemed San Diego had their second basemen of the future. Unfortunately for Jedd, he saw little success after 2013. He struggled so mightily in the first half of 2015 that he was sent down to Triple-A to get his swing and confidence back.
He slowly brought his numbers back up and returned to the main roster where he finished the season with 16 home runs and a .247 average. Though A.J. Preller saw the opportunity to trade him and did just that. Jedd was sent to the Cardinals on December 8th, 2015 for veteran outfielder Jon Jay. What this trade may take away in power, it makes up for with speed and on base percentage.
Taking the place of Jedd at second base is former first round draft pick Cory Spangenberg. Cory is an upgrade from Jedd defensively and figures to be a headache on the base paths for pitchers with his blazing speed. Along with his elite defense, Jon Jay has a career .354 OBP which is higher than all starting position players for the Padres last year. Taking away the low average/high slugging of Gyorko will prove to be a blessing for the Padres as the speed and defense that will replace him should open the door for more runs saved and scoring opportunities.
The biggest overall upgrade coming into 2016 will be the addition of shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Alexi Amarista played the most innings at short last season for The Padres and while his defense was dismal, his hitting was atrocious. Amarista batted an abysmal .204 last year which was one of the lowest averages in baseball, given the amount of at-bats.
At 34, Ramirez is not expected to be a spark plug like in years past. He was brought in for this year and possibly next to be better than Amarista which should not be a difficult task. Though he is aging, he is still only two years removed from his last All-Star worthy season where he hit .273 with 15 home runs. He is a very solid defender and should be serviceable and durable throughout the course of the season.
The pitchers should benefit greatly from the improved defense. Tyson Ross, James Shields, and Andrew Cashner were the victims of constant errors behind them. Cashner especially, became visibly upset when an error or miscue was committed behind him and while that does shows some immaturity on Cashner’s end, it was obvious he knew when certain plays needed to be made. Along with the roster being vastly improved defensively, another component can potentially help pitchers keep the runs given up to a minimum: Andy Green.
Andy Green has yet to manage a big league baseball game, thus it is impossible to judge him as a manager. However, he has stated that he is very in tune with the analytical side of the game and takes all things into consideration in every move that he makes. Green has already made an impact on his team with his amazing communication skills. Former manager Bud Black, reportedly, never took analytics too seriously in his tenure. If that had any impact on the outcome of events during the game is impossible to tell. Though, a new approach would be welcomed after eight years of zero playoff wins with Buddy at the helm.
The 2016 Padres season does indeed, on the surface, look bleak. Losing Kimbrel and Upton would make it seem like the Padres have nothing else to offer when making a competitive push. However, A.J. Preller and upper management see it differently. While they did lose significant power in the lineup, they did all they could to make up for it with speed and defense. This strategy worked fairly well for the 2015 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals who didn’t have a player hit over 22 home runs last season. This season may very well end up being a disaster. Though, did a little bit of optimism ever hurt anyone?