The departure of San Diego Padres president and CEO Mike Dee on Wednesday put an exclamation point on another season for the San Diego Padres that you could well sum up in one word: Garbage.
As a (very) long-suffering Padres fan, I’m well used to losing seasons. We’ve had 32 in our 48-year history.
But this one in particular really stank.
Perhaps the writing was on the proverbial wall in the very first week. Three successive shutouts – and in front of our own fans – to our biggest rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, now managed by our former first base coach Dave Roberts, really set the tone for what was to follow.
The 0-15, 0-3, and 0-7 reverses were more akin to NFL scorelines, and many seasoned watchers already knew from that point that 2016 was going to be a long, long season for the Friars.
Moreover, the sighting of our pitching ace, Tyson Ross, on Opening Day, turned out to be a ‘I was there’ moment.
After leaving the game in the sixth inning, right shoulder inflammation put paid to the rest of 2016 for Ross, and it remains to be seen whether he’ll return with any form once he’s fit enough to take the mound next spring. Personally, I have serious doubts. I hope for the talented right-hander’s sake I’m proven wrong.
Ross’s unfortunate injury cast a real cloud, and with both James Shields and Andrew Cashner both failing again, and the pair eventually traded during the course of the season, the pitching staff took on a whole new look as the campaign went on – with largely ineffective results.
Yes, we played host to the Midsummer Classic in July, but as marvelous as this occasion was, in the end it was merely a smokescreen masking the important issues at Petco Park.
Indeed, our one pitching representative at the All-Star Game, Drew Pomeranz, was soon to depart for the eventual American League East-winning Boston Red Sox.
The team’s longest winning streak was just three games. THREE. And that was accomplished just six times over the season.
That statistic alone shows how poor our overall pitching was – starters and bullpen.
There were some bright spots when it came to batting, but they were few and far between.
Worthy All-Star Wil Myers was far and away the leading light with the lumber, Yangervis Solarte was reliably solid once more, and Jon Jay performed well in an injury-blighted first season in San Diego, while rookie second baseman Ryan Schimpf showed both promise and power.
Those characteristics were also true of Hunter Renfroe, who finally reached the Show in late September and thrilled everyone in the 11 games he played. He drove in 14 runs and had 13 hits, four of them four-baggers. There will undoubtedly be calls for him to start next season and I hope for his sake the pressure doesn’t get too much more him. He certainly doesn’t deserve that.
Travis Jankowski, while having some batting issues (strikeouts especially) was also outstanding in the outfield and looks to be a decent prospect.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the bat was catcher Derek Norris, who saw his 2015 batting average of .250 plummet 64 points to .186. And his hits total of 129 in 147 games a year ago also dropped alarmingly to just 77 in 125 contests. Norris is one of my favorite Padres players and I hope he’s able to turn this around next season.
Things have to be sorted off the diamond too. The 30-day suspension imposed on General Manager A.J. Preller by Major League Baseball dragged the ball club through the dirt. Preller has a lot to prove when he returns to his desk. Otherwise, he’ll just be regarded as a footnote in our team’s history as an experiment that failed. Badly.
And with the departures of executives Ryan Gustafson and Randy Smith, the backroom staff is likely to look a whole lot different come the change of calendars.
Where this leaves rookie manager Andy Green is anyone’s guess.
A last place finish in his first season at the helm was confirmed when his former ball club, the Arizona Diamondbacks, completed a walk-off win in game number 162.
It was perhaps an inevitable way to finish us off.
So, stuck in the cellar, the only way to go is up.
Whether we’ll find a ladder to climb out and head upwards towards the light and the prospect of recording somewhere close to a .500 season is another matter altogether.
But the way things are right now, I’m not holding my breath.