The San Diego Padres offense has been hit and miss all season long. When the team is on, they score in bunches and when they are off they struggle to do anything positive at all. The left side of the infield is currently killing the Padres where Alexi Amarista and Will Middlebrooks are a combined 0-37 in the Padres last seven games.
Neither player has collected a hit since they both did on Monday April 27th against the Houston Astros. A game the Padres lost 9-4, when Joaquin Benoit melted down in the eighth inning. Middlebrooks singled to right in the 5th inning, while Amarista singled to center in the bottom of the 7th inning. A full seven games without production offensively from these two is not the only determining factor for the Padres recent struggles, but it surely doesn’t help.
The spastic play of the Padres was to most accounts expected. They are a new team full of new players interacting with each other. Most Padres fans were spoiled by their hot start and expected nothing but wins every day. In reality that’s not how it goes, and this team is still feeling each other out as teammates. They have however shown a great deal of heart. We have yet to see the team play on all cylinders. That should be revealed soon and the rest of major league baseball should be ready.
In all realities the club has a tremendous amount of talent. The pitching staff is arguably one of the best in the league. To this point they have collectively failed but baseball is a game of averages. The bullpen and it’s failures will soon be replaced by pure dominance. The team is too good not to turn it around. Craig Kimbrel‘s ERA will not be in the fives when the season is over. His current ERA of 5.06 will surely drop considerably as he owns a career 1.56 ERA. What that means is Kimbrel is due to throw about 20 shut out innings in his next 20 appearances. The law of baseball averages says so, and I guarantee it will happen. His track record proves that fact.
Can the same be said for Will Middlebrooks and Alexi Amarista? Their slumps have dropped both players under the Mendoza Line. Amarista is hitting .183, while Middlebrooks is hitting .198 so far this season. Both players were off to decent starts, but have been struggling for the past week.
Middlebrooks was the victim of many hard outs early in the year, but in recent days his swing looks long and off-balance. He has flashed impressive opposite field power with home runs to right, but seems pull happy now. At the age of 26 it will take more than a bad week for him to be pulled from the line-up. He does however need to be more consistent, a thing that just about every major league player could use more of.
Will Middlebrooks has played excellent defense so far this season at the hot corner and has solidified the teams infield. Middlebrooks could lose more playing time if Jedd Gyorko starts to hit. Yangervis Solarte has already shown that he needs to be in the lineup on most days. That leaves Middlebrooks and Gyorko as the odd men out. Solarte can play both positions so I imagine the Padres will go with the hot hand of the two for a while. It will be interesting to see where manager Bud Black goes with the playing time.
Alexi Amarista has been the center of much debate between Padres fans. He has not been responsible for any of the Padres defeats this season, but yet he is still the center of most trade talks. All though Amarista doesn’t hurt you defensively, he is not a gold glove caliber shortstop by any means. His career .280 on base percentage in 1,100 at bats speaks volumes to what he brings with the bat. I love the little ninja, but he is a utility man. A super utility man, but to rely on him as an everyday starter is foolish.
Perhaps foolish is the wrong term as the Padres have really no other alternative. He will just have to play until a better player is found. This recent slump is just what he brings to the table as a player. He has made adjustments to his swing and is walking at a higher rate, but his best asset is as a multiple position player off the bench. A very valuable commodity to say the least.
I am positive the shortstop position was of a concern to A.J. Preller, but the position is one of great weakness throughout baseball. There just are not that many quality shortstops out there and the ones that are out there are just not easily attainable. Troy Tulowitzki has been rumored to be available but the Colorado Rockies would never deal him to a division competitor. There are many suitable players the Padres could obtain, but the Padres farm system is a little low on talent. A.J. Preller will once again have to wave his magic wand in order to upgrade the position. I eagerly anticipate his next move.