“Padres-Contenders or Pretenders”
It’s here, opening day of he baseball season.
There will be a crowd at Petco Park as the Friars open the season against the Milwaukee Brewers.
There is a different vibe in the Padres clubhouse right now. It’s not as if this franchise is a pennant race type team yet, but there is an optimism that the losing is behind the club.
Some of it has to do with the arrival of three veteran players to add to the mix of young players who were force fed in another non-playoff season last year, a 90-plus loss summer.
Some of it has to do with the pipeline of young players, standing in line in the farm system, like planes stacked up at the airport, waiting to take off on their careers.
Hope springs eternal coming out of spring training. But as always, in San Diego, injures are still an issue.
The Padres addressed one of the worst offenses in baseball last year, by adding Chase Headley, Eric Hosmer and Freddy Galves. All proven, productive bats.
If the three do what they have done in the past, maybe combine for (.270) averages and hit 70-home runs total, then the team should have success.
That trio makes everyone else in the lineup better, headed by Manny Margot, the quality leadoff bat. They protect Will Myers in the lineup, meaning he gets better and different pitches to look at. And ditto for whatever role, how many games Hunter Renfroe plays in the rotation of outfielders along with Jose Pirela, a seemingly professional hitter..
The bench looks strong too with proven veterans Corey Spangenberg, ,journeyman Matt Szczur and AJ Ellis. 1st callback from the minors will be Travis Jankowski.
The everyday lineup looks respectable.
Sadly you cannot say the same for the starting pitching staff, a problem going into camp, and definitely coming out of camp.
The loss of blazing second year man Dinelson Lamet is a huge setback. Elbow issues are tricky, and will have to be handled with kid gloves. A strained ligament is better than a torn one, but it means an extended rehab period to be safe, possibly a cutback on the pitches he throws, and a monitoring of all activities between starts.
Luis Perdomo has to take it to the next level after two years of starts, but he has yet to show that next jump up to being dominant.
Clayton Richard will give you what he has but is he really an aging number one starter, more like somebody’s number four.
Beyond that are questions lots of places. Bryan Mitchell started in the minors but has yet to taste success in the majors. Did they steal one from the Yankees, or get taken in the deal?
Tyson Ross could be here by next week, coming off a good spring, but coming off two years worth of physical issues.
Robbie Erlin will jump into the rotation after a year and a half of rehab from arm surgery, so who really knows.
The phone is going to riing sometime in the next month, and the elevator ride of the crop of kids drafted two summers ago will begin. Joey Luchessi and Eric Lauer will be the first in the mix of draft pick pitchers summoned. Promising but very unproven.
You wonder why aging Chris Young wouldn’t stick around for at least a month in El Paso, knowing he could be the first called up at the first sign of troubles. Ex-Royal Matt Strahm is not ready to pitch yet coming off surgery, and Colin Rea faces a road back in continued rehab from his arm woes. Jordan Lyles hasn’t done well in three years, so hoping he might be a big time contributor is a reach.
Scary is the word to describe if any of the starters goes down with injury problems, aside from what already has happened to Lamet. There is just nothing proven there, there being the minor leagues.
The bullpen brigade looks strong, led by Brad Hand, but if the starters cannot go deep, or keep their ERAs under 4.50, then no number of relievers will make a difference.
This team will hit, thanks to the new bats arriving, but it’s hard to see this team making a jump in the standings, unless a bunch of starters take that jump forward.
Predictions, the working media I deal with had thoughts, as we sat and talked:
..Lee Hamilton….(81-81) in the pitching upfront comes around.
..Dennis Linn-The Athletic…(76-86)
..Bernie Wilson-Associated Press…(75-87)
..Kevin Acee-Union Tribune..(72-90)
..Jeff Sanders-Union Tribune (74-88)
..AJ Cassavell…MLB.com (76-86)
Andy Green’s managerial take was simple. “We’re not longer in the developmental stage with the roster, we are taking the top 25-players into games. These are high character guys. Our expectation is to get into the playoffs. That’s our mindset”
They could with the hitting they have. They won’t because of the starting pitching they don’t have.