One year ago, the San Diego Padres ended the month of May four games under .500 with a $90 million payroll. Two years ago, same result: four games under .500 with a $68 million payroll.
Today as I write this, only some 12th inning heroics on Saturday night by a certain “one-year buy” player – thank you, Justin Upton – have kept this team one game over .500.
With a $108 million payroll.
I have to assume that these aren’t the results that Messrs. Ron Fowler, Mike Dee, A.J. Preller and company envisioned when they put this team together. Certainly not after a 10-5 start.
So it makes you wonder. Or at least it makes me wonder: Are 33 games enough of a sample size to determine a team’s constitution? And are the double-digit blowouts and shutout losses simply flukes? Or insights?
This is clearly a team still searching for its identity, though we certainly know the identities of the clubhouse leaders. It’s a team in need of consistency – especially on the road. And it’s a team that Bud Black, like it or not, is supposed to win with. This year. For the organization’s sake, for the ticket holders and for his own professional longevity.
There are some worrisome signs, though. Especially on the defensive side of things. Which, as everyone knows, used to be our stock-in-trade.
The 19 home runs that James Shields and Andrew Cashnew have given up are disturbing. The 150 runs we’ve given up as a team put us in the company of the Athletics, Indians, Phillies and Brewers (all of whom are currently in last place, by the way). And the 23 errors in 33 games must be as unnerving to the pitching staff as they are unsettling to the coaching staff.
All that being said, it’s not even the middle of May yet and it’s entirely possible that these things are just byproducts of growing pains and chemistry checks.
By all measures, the additions that A.J. has brought to the roster – Will Middlebrooks’ .189 average notwithstanding – have certainly made this team a lot more compelling and dynamic to watch than the Josh Byrnes versions.
Our offense has already produced 153 runs – tied for fourth in the Majors – and 294 hits, which is tied for third. Wil Myers and Derek Norris have been responsible for 39 and 35 of those hits respectively – including 66 and 54 total bases each.
When viewed on a stats page, those numbers are pretty eye-popping compared to what we’re used to seeing from the Friars. Yet they’ve only translated to 17 wins.
What this team needs is another 10-5 run. Without more consistent pitching and defense though, we’re probably in for a lot more 6-4, 5-5 and 5-7 runs. Which, even to my mathematically stunted mind, works out to a .500 team.
The difference is that unlike previous regimes, this front office won’t settle for that. Not after all that they’ve accomplished – and all the new season tickets that have been sold as a result.
If it takes another dose of Mr. Preller to shake things up and create more W’s, we’re gonna see it. Just like we did on the eve of Opening Day.
And that, as a Padres fan, is the most gratifying W of all.