Padres Editorial: Where Are All the Lefties?

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Courtesy: UT San Diego
Courtesy: UT San Diego

When the San Diego Padres overhauled their team this past off-season, a common theme was administered. Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks were brought into the offense to generate some runs. Each player swings the bat from the right-handed batters box. Okay, so not that big of a deal, the team needed to be adjusted after their pitiful 2014 season. The fact every player is right-handed is just a coincidence, right? There was no intent to just acquire right handed talent, was there?

The addition of the right-handed throwing James Shields and Brandon Morrow, pushed Robbie Erlin out of the rotation. Erlin just happens to be left-handed and the only lefty who was realistically being considered for the rotation. He went 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 61 innings and 13 games for the Padres in 2014.

Ultimately the competition was too tough for Erlin and he is currently throwing for the El Paso Chihuahuas. Erlin is  3-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 22 innings pitched. Walking six and striking out 19 batters. Robbie Erlin is still 24 years old and has a career minor league ERA of 3.40. He could be useful to the San Diego Padres in a trade or as a late season call up. In my eyes, he could be of real value to a major league team looking for talent.

The mostly right handed hitting Padres are really going to need some left-handed hitters in the lineup. When Yonder Alonso was on fire, the team was hitting well as a group. As soon as Alonso cooled down, it seemed like the team did too. A common issue is occurring in which the Padres are being handled convincingly by right-handed pitchers. We already know the team has a problem striking out too much, that will be especially evident against a decent right-handed pitcher.

Alonso is the only above average hitter (and that’s debatable) who swings the bat from the left-side. Apologies to all the Alexi Amarista fans out there, but he is not an offensive force by any means. He has started the season off decently, but he is surely playing a position the Padres want to upgrade. Amarista has a career .282 on base percentage in 1,170 at bats. He is only 26 and can improve on that number, but is not likely to ever be more than a super utility man.

The fact the Will Venable is the only Padres on the whole 25-man roster who throws left-handed is mind-boggling. Cory Spangenberg, Amarista and Yonder Alonso all hit left-handed but throw right-handed.  I don’t know if there has ever been a major league team where every player throws right handed on the whole squad. A.J. Preller clearly doesn’t like left-handers, so beware Ned Flanders.

The National Pastime of Baseball is made for left-handed players, especially hitters. A lefties smooth swing and follow through, naturally guides them towards first base. While a right handed swing results in striding the opposite way, and almost six feet further away. To not have more left-handed hitters is one thing, but the lack of left-handed pitchers is strange. Sometimes late in a game, it is always nice to have that option. Bud Black has indicated in the past he doesn’t think that way, and it personally frustrates me. Hopefully Garces or Rearick will be called up soon, there is a strong likelihood of that, with the bullpens recent struggles.

Earlier this season when Chris Rearick and Frank Garces were both in the bullpen, I actually thought the Padres had learned a lesson. Typically the Padres haven’t had a solid left-handed pitcher in the bullpen since the days of Craig Lefferts. Alex Torres looked to be a decent option for years to come but he was dealt to the New York Mets for yet another right handed pitcher Cory Mazzoni. More proof of A.J. Preller’s hatred of lefties.

Of course I am kidding, he has just oddly enough made deals for mostly right-handed hitters and pitchers. The balance really does need to be with the team in the long run. A solid middle of the order hitter to bat in between Kemp and Upton would be perfect for the Padres. It would take someone special to hit in between those two stars, and I am sure A.J. Preller is working the phones. Preller has already shown both the flare for dramatic and the propensity to shoot for the stars. So really anything can happen. I am not ruling out any scenario, instead I am trying to figure it out before hand. A difficult task no matter how you slice it.

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