Another year, another losing season in San Diego. Despite an offseason filled with a flurry of moves, the Padres once again finished outside of the playoff picture.
Going into 2016, expectations are still high for the San Diego Padres, yet slightly more tempered. While it may be farfetched to think the Padres are a playoff team as currently constituted, as a whole they aren’t that far off in the future. Despite the good moves that have been made so far this offseason, there are still several things the Padres must do to prepare for next season. Here are five new years resolutions for the San Diego Padres organization.
5. Find A Shortstop, Any Shortstop
The first thing that comes to mind on a San Diego Padres list of New Years Resolutions is finding a shortstop. While A.J. Preller has fixed the future situation at shortstop, with the acquisition of Javier Guerra in the Craig Kimbrel trade, there is still a void to be filled in the present.
It’s pretty clear that Alexi Amarista isn’t going to cut it going forward, and the Padres need an upgrade pretty desperately. With Guerra waiting in the wings, the Padres really only need a short term option. Two potential options are Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins. Neither are going to be great, but both could do a decent job for the next year or two until Guerra is prepared to play full time.
4. Get James Shields Back on Track
One of the most disappointing parts of the Padres 2015 season was the performance of James Shields. Shields wasn’t bad by any measure, but he did take a step back from his prior performance. He gave up more home runs than he had in years past, and was not quite as effective overall despite decent run support.
Given how difficult it would be to trade Shields, the Padres may be stuck with him for at least one more season. Despite his increasing age, it is not too late for Shields to have a bounce back, and that should be the focus of Padres coaches this offseason going into next year. The Padres need Shields to pitch like the pitcher he was paid to be for the Padres.
3. Focus on Defense
Out all of the problems the Padres had in 2015, perhaps the biggest one was their almost complete disregard for defense. Going into opening day with an outfield of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers, it was pretty clear that A.J. Preller almost completely disregarded the importance of defense when building a team.
Teams like the Royals and Giants have shown how critical defense can be to making it to, and winning, a World Series. While the Padres failed to jump on that bandwagon last year, it appears they are ready to do so this year. With Cory Spangenberg, Jon Jay, Melvin Upton, and Travis Jankwoski set to get more playing time, the Padres defense should be much better than last year. Except for Matt Kemp. He should really be playing first base next season.
2. Finish With A Better Record than 2015
For a team that made so many offseason moves last year, finishing with a record three games worse than the year before is a tough pill to swallow. While I won’t be expecting the Padres to really be competing for a playoff spot in 2016, it would be nice if the team can improve upon last year’s record. The Padres seem to have become a more well rounded team so far this offseason, and should benefit from the additions they have made to this point. It isn’t too much to ask for that this team as currently constituted wins more than the 74 games of last year.
1. Find An Identity
The biggest thing the Padres must do going into the New Year is find some sort of identity. For years, at least since the World Series run of 1998, the Padres have sputtered forward with no sense of direction. The Padres make runs at playoff contention every few years, but there is never really a common theme for Padres teams.
At this point, the team just seems thrown together. The passion is there, the fans are coming back, but A.J. Preller and Andy Green need to work to give this team some sort of unified identity. The Royals have that bullpen, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw and other stars, the D’backs now have Zack Greinke. What is the Padres identity? That is something that the organization must figure out going into 2016, a year where the city of San Diego plays host to the 2016 MLB All Star Game.