With the addition of James Shields to an already competent starting rotation, the San Diego Padres have legitimate playoff aspirations this season. Shields brings a swagger and bulldog-like mentality that will surely translate well in Padres blue. The fact that Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy are all right-handed and have similar stuff to Shields, makes the newly acquired ace a perfect mentor to them.
Upon signing his contract with the Padres, I must admit I was skeptical about the signing. $75 millions dollars to a pitcher who is 33 and has a ton of innings under his belt is risky, very risky. After seeing the press conference introducing Shields to San Diego, I immediately changed my view of the deal. The way Shields talks and the way he carries himself is exactly what the Padres need to compete. Looking into his eyes you can see he cares, he wants to win, he wants to succeed. Players respond to that type of personality, it makes playing the game much more fun for them. To have a pitcher on the hill with that attitude is fantastic.
James Shields also brings a winning culture to the San Diego Padres. That is an expectation to win every game they play, a belief that they can do it. The game of baseball is very mental, and if you don’t have confidence going out there, you simply will not succeed. When you go into a game expecting to lose, guess what, you will. With Shields on the Padres now, the team will never go into a game with that type of mentality.
James Shields described himself as a Bull-Dog. That is exactly what he is, a player who refuses to come out of the game. He is the type of pitcher you want on your team. His mentality and approach remind me a lot of Kevin Brown. Brown, in his one season brought a type of winning spirit that was absolutely contagious. He helped guide the Padres all the way to the 1998 World Series with that attitude. Ultimately they lost to the New York Yankees, but that season was magical.
Work as a motivational speaker might be in James Shields future, as he has an aura of excellence. When he speaks, you tend to listen. He is not blessed with absolutely dominant stuff, but knows how to pitch and his fierceness on the mound translates to success. Team accountability is another thing Shields talked about while being introduced to the Padres media. Every player has a job to do, and if you are not doing your job you will be called out. That makes the clubhouse a family environment instead of just a bunch of superstars. Shields addition will pay dividends to the San Diego Padres now and into the future. We just have to wait and see, how much success his addition has truly made to the team. The 2015 Padres season will be a memorable one.