A Post About the San Diego Padres

Overlord Dave and I exchange a lot of emails, and earlier Thursday he sent me an email declaring that everybody’s talking about the Padres. I chuckled heartily to myself, as Dave is one of the funniest people I know. The Padres are about as forgettable a franchise as any in the major professional sports. They could win seven consecutive World Series and still people would only talk about them in order to complain about the camouflage uniforms. But while everybody most certainly is not talking about the Padres right now, more people are talking about the Padres right now than were talking about the Padres some months ago. That’s because the Padres have been playing some outstanding baseball.

By their standards, at least. Maybe “outstanding” is too strong a term, but since June 10 — an endpoint carefully selected to make the Padres look as good as possible — the Padres have gone 41-30 and they’ve outscored the opposition by 23 runs. Overall, they’ve drawn to within a game and a half of the Red Sox, and while the Red Sox clearly aren’t what they were supposed to be, that’s a psychologically significant fun fact. The Padres and the Red Sox aren’t too different. The Padres now might well be better than the Red Sox now. What a game, baseball.

The Padres are nowhere close to a playoff race, because before they caught fire, they played baseball as if they were literally on fire. Yet their stretch of success has people wondering if the playoffs might be in the Padres’ near-term future. Let’s examine how this stretch has happened, and what the Padres’ outlook looks like.

Whenever a team surprises like the Padres have, you always want to check for signs of sustainability. Working in the Padres’ favor is that they haven’t put together this stretch of success by just beating up on the Astros. It’s not like the Padres have played 41 games against the Astros and 30 games against real teams, so if that’s something that you had in mind, the thought can be discarded.

Obviously, there are things that have occurred that can’t be counted on to continue to occur. During the stretch, Luke Gregerson has allowed zero runs, and Huston Street has allowed zero runs. Eric Stults has allowed ten runs in nine games, five of them starts. Will Venable has ridden his BABIP to lofty offensive heights. The Padres have won more games than their run differential would otherwise warrant. Whenever you isolate a team’s best stretch, you expect that the team will have been playing over its head, and, yeah, you see where this is going.

Interestingly, though, not all that many things stand out as being crazy. The starting rotation has not been very good, and the Padres have been saved by an excellent bullpen and a productive offense. You look at the top hitters and the numbers and it’s not like Alexi Amarista has been posting a four-digit OPS. Chase Headley‘s really good, and he’s been good. Venable’s been good, Yasmani Grandal‘s been good, Carlos Quentin‘s been good, and so on. This fine stretch of Padres baseball has come from fine performances from fine players.

That’s why this is so encouraging, from the Padres’ perspective. That’s why Ken Rosenthal just wrote about the Padres adjusting their plans to try to win sooner. The players who have been lifting the team are players who’ll be sticking around, and there are going to be more players with talent either coming up or coming back.

This is what the Padres’ lineup of position players could conceivably look like in 2013:

C: Yasmani Grandal
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Jedd Gyorko
SS: Everth Cabrera
3B: Chase Headley
LF: Carlos Quentin
CF: Cameron Maybin
RF: Will Venable

Logan Forsythe and Amarista could be around, for infield depth. Chris Denorfia could be around, for outfield depth. You look at that group and you don’t see a clear weakness. Cabrera isn’t much, but it’s hard to find a quality regular shortstop, and the Padres could find someone else. Statistically, Maybin isn’t much, but he’s posted a .735 OPS over the last two months since making an adjustment. There’s reason to believe in all of these guys, and there’ll be a little bit of depth in the probable event of someone’s under-performance.

The Padres do have reason to be wary. As recently as 2011, Maybin and Nick Hundley were major offensive contributors. Now Maybin is a work in progress again and Hundley seems lost. Players will surprise you in good ways and in bad ways. But the most you can do is raise your odds, and that group up there has fine odds of working out all right.

The bigger question for the Padres in the near term is the starting rotation. I’ll tell you now that I’m not going to dwell on the bullpen because bullpens are almost entirely unpredictable. During the Padres’ successful stretch, they’ve given regular starts to Ross Ohlendorf, Jason Marquis, and Eric Stults. Next year’s rotation is going to look different.

And it should look a hell of a lot better. The Padres’ pitching staff has just been shredded by injuries this year, and though injuries can mean future injuries, the Padres have suffered through too much bad luck. The only regular members of the rotation have been Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard. Returning soon will be Anthony Bass. Returning soon will be Andrew Cashner. Casey Kelly just arrived. Returning somewhere early in 2013 could be Cory Luebke. Returning somewhere around the middle of 2013 could be Joe Wieland. Robbie Erlin seems to be over his elbow issues, and his minor-league numbers are designated as NSFW.

As the Padres have learned, you can’t really rely on any pitcher, but there’s a lot of intriguing starter talent already in the organization and with new ownership, the team could also land a quality arm on the market. Rosenthal mentioned Hiroki Kuroda as one possibility, and while we won’t just assume that Kuroda will land in San Diego, he’d make for a quality stabilizer. Going into next year, the Padres look to be all right. With an addition or two, they could be even better than that.

What the Padres are short on are stars, and stars are what help a team join the elite. The Padres have more of a smooth talent spread, with a Headley exception. There’s not a lot of projected condensed WAR on the 2013 roster. But in most places, there’s quality, and there should be the financial means to support that quality, or even add more of it. Nobody’s going to declare next year’s Padres as World Series favorites, nor should anybody do that, barring an unforeseen offseason of miracles. But the Padres have lifted themselves out of the lower tier and suddenly .500 looks less like a goal and more like an expectation. It’s realistic to think that the Padres should contend for next year’s one-game playoff. We’ll never live in a world in which everybody’s talking about the San Diego Padres. But we’re living in a world in which people are gradually remembering that the San Diego Padres are a baseball team. A pretty decent baseball team, with more talent on the way.



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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Jack
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Jack
3 years 9 months ago

I didn’t know the MLB was expanding into San Diego this year. Thanks for the info.

Jon L.
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Jon L.
3 years 9 months ago

Hey Jack, some of us who read this site actually live in San Diego.

So yes, this is very exciting news.

Ira
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Ira
3 years 9 months ago

Isn’t Headley a free-agent? His numbers at Petco are atrocious, and he stands to make a good deal of money on the market, so I can definitely see him exploring his options.

Darklighter
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Darklighter
3 years 9 months ago

Headley’s not a free agent until 2015.

Ira
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Ira
3 years 9 months ago

Touche – although he’s actually under team control until 2014 per Ken Rosenthal.

Teej
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Teej
3 years 9 months ago

He’s under team control through 2014. Free agent for the ’15 season.

Eminor3rd
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Eminor3rd
3 years 9 months ago

Them claiming Joe Mauer would have been interesting. Trade Alonso for a pitcher, let Mauer play 1st, since no one hits homeruns in PetCo anyway. Sign Gavin Floyd after the Sox decline his options and let hitters try to get it over the fence during his cold stretches.

senrad
Member
senrad
3 years 9 months ago

Found this phrasing odd., “it’s hard to find a quality regular shortstop, and the Padres could find someone else” , even though I understand the point it’s an odd sentence.

Good stuff overall and changed my opinion on the padres.

Vin
Member
Vin
3 years 9 months ago

Chase Headley’s excellence really needs to be acknowledged.

Also, Joe Blanton would be an excellent FA for the Padres to target.

Jack
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Jack
3 years 9 months ago

Its sad when your hopes and dreams are… Joe Blanton.

Bookbook
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Bookbook
3 years 9 months ago

You’re right, of course. Justin Verlander is a pitcher the Padres should target.

Schlom
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Schlom
3 years 9 months ago

No Heavy B!

James
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James
3 years 9 months ago

They don’t need mediocre starters (unless everyone gets hurt again next year).

Harry
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Harry
3 years 9 months ago

just Jake Peavy

Gary Sheffield Firesale
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Gary Sheffield Firesale
3 years 9 months ago

The Padres turnaround has been remarkable and it’s all started with an infusion of talent and athleticism on the field. After dumping the failed middle infield of Bartlett and Hudson and replacing them with Forsythe, Amarista, Cabrera, as well as Grandal and Maybin up the middle, the defense has cleaned up considerably. As a fan who watches them several times a week it’s been a lot of fun to see this team come together and play with an intensity and productivity rarely seen around these parts. While many may criticize Carlos Quentin for his overflowing intensity and one-legged defense, I think his fire has given the team something to rally around… to mention that sweet, short right handed power stroke. Mmmm mmm good.

While I think even the most optimistic Padres fan(s?) would have a really hard time calling this team anything other than “fun to watch” at the moment it’s a huge step in the right direction. Here is my concern: the Padres have always seemed content to be the best within their division and let the cards fall where they may when the postseason hits. Even in the mid aughts (or most recent golden years of SD baseball), those 88- and 89 win teams were never expected to make it out of the first round and lo and behold we won one playoff game in 3+ years of decency. The NL West for all it’s intrigue is not to be confused with AL East or even the NL East for that matter. Until this new ownership group makes a solid commitment to building a “winner” not a “contender”, I think most of us fans will stay forever skeptical.

That being said I hope Chase Headley stays around for awhile; I love watching that kid play and he’d be a darkhorse MVP candidate in any other park.

My echo and bunnymen
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

Love the comment, but I always cringe when anyone calls a baseball player, especially one as old as Headley, a kid.

Corneileus C. Headley
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Corneileus C. Headley
3 years 9 months ago

That is a harlequin inquiry brethren.

Pacoheadley
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Pacoheadley
3 years 9 months ago

Ahhh Chase Headley. A C. Headley like me. A 3rd basemen like me in little league. I am proud of my namesake.

Nolan
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Nolan
3 years 9 months ago

Grandal looks like he is going to be good. When they called him up, guys were challenging him and he was hitting everything in sight. When pitchers adjusted, he started walking a ton. Now it seems like they may have rushed him back from his oblique injury, as he doesn’t quite seem the same right now.

I’ve said this before, but I would like to see the Padres go after Matusz or Arrieta.

The Anchorman 2
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The Anchorman 2
3 years 9 months ago

In an ESPN article about Derek Jeter, it says he is a darkhorse candidate for MVP. And said he might be the greatest shortstop of all-time. And most comments agree with both of those statements. And then my head exploded.

DJ
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DJ
3 years 9 months ago

Ha Ha, what a joke.
Jeter ranks 52nd in the American league in WAR

Hmm
Guest
Hmm
3 years 9 months ago

He has a .370 wOBA over 12,000PA he is probably among the greatest hitting SS of all time. Hard to say for sure but SS with 390 wRAA have to be in that conversation

PiratesHurdles
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PiratesHurdles
3 years 9 months ago

A conversation that begins and ends with Honus Wagner and his 800 wRAA.

Drakos
Member
Drakos
3 years 9 months ago

I think it should be noted that while Venable has had great production driven by a high BABIP this month he was not good at all in June and July. Which is to say he has been typical Will Venable, great joy mixed with great dissappointment. This year he has added a nice wrinkle by throwing in some terrible defensive plays every once in a while. Now, Venable and Denorfia do make a pretty reasonable RF platoon.

The Carlos Quentin HBP total vs. Carlos Quentin HR total battle is great fun to watch too.

James
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James
3 years 9 months ago

I am pretty confident there will be a different starting RF.

Venable always has these stretches where he looks like a potential star, but then he always settles at .250/.320/.420.

tony
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tony
3 years 9 months ago

I’m just fine with venorfia in RF again. Combined they are a solid RF. Maybe Darnell could challenge for the starting job, though he might be too much of a liability in Petco’s big RF.

Jay Stokes
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Jay Stokes
3 years 8 months ago

Venable suffers to a lesser degree than Headley or the departed Gonzalez, but he is LHB (Headley is switch) with some power in Petco, so suffers. His career road OPS is 787 (vs. 686 at home). Typically players get a 15-30 OPS bounce for playing at home (assuming a neutral park), so I view Venable as a ~800 OPS hitter (ableit mostly in platoon), with very good defense and good base running. That deserves a platoon spot. I do hope they move in the right field fences to encourage power LHB to play in SD.

jamie
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jamie
3 years 9 months ago

Hard to be best SS ever, when he is second best on his own team.

Boston Sucks
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Boston Sucks
3 years 9 months ago

lol Red Sox

randplaty
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randplaty
3 years 9 months ago

No stars but solid all around. That’s exactly what people have been saying about the Padres #1 ranked farm system.

Mr. F
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Mr. F
3 years 9 months ago

No way the Padres could be able to sign Kuroda

PadresFuture
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PadresFuture
3 years 9 months ago

Why is that?

davids
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davids
3 years 9 months ago

This is a fantastic spot-on analysis of what I have been ‘watching’ (due to Fox Sports negotiations with cable providers I do not see any Padres games, sigh! but I listen on MLB At Bat- talk about old new school). The first six weeks of the season were amazingly depressing. No one could catch, no one could hit, no one could pitch. and every pitcher went on the disabled list. We were on a 45 win pace- really. Then they finally got rid of Hudson, Bartlett and unfortunately for him Hundley, brought in the kids and voila you wrote this article that perfectly describes the situation. It makes one feel really good when one’s view is seen by others. There is so much pitching talent I can’t wait for next year.

davids
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davids
3 years 9 months ago

Another thing- adding a pitcher like Kuroda or Peavy is exactly, IMHO, what is needed.

PadresFuture
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PadresFuture
3 years 9 months ago

I think this team needs a RF upgrade and a veteran frontline starting pitcher. Once healthy there will be plenty of good starting pitching, so much so that the padres are going to have to figure out what to do with stults and moseley. Volquez, Richards, Veteran SP FA, Luebke, and Cashner… this could leave Bass, Kelly, Erlin, Werner, Wieland, and Stults all in AAA.

Websoulsurfer
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

If you have not had an opportunity to watch Casey Kelley pitch then get out to the ballpark and take a gander. I promise you will be impressed by what you see. Kelly is going to be a part of the Padres rotation for many years to come. Slot him in at #4-#5 for 2013.

Luebke wont be back until early June 2013 and Weiland even later. Moseley and Stauffer are both likely to be non-tendered.

So your rotation may look more like this to start the season:
Volquez, Veteran SP, Richard, Cashner, Kelly
With Bass or Stults as your LR/Spot Starter.
Werner is Wade Leblanc revisited. Look for him to go up and down from AAA as injuries happen.

I would not be surprised to see Volquez moved in the offseason if the Padres can bring on board Peavy or another starter that can be slotted in at #1. Yes I know Peavy is not a true #1 anymore, but he can be slotted there ahead of the rest of the pitchers in the Padres rotation.

What the Padres DONT need is a mediocre SP like Blanton. #1 or #2 or just go with what you have and upgrade in RF.

Joe
Guest
3 years 9 months ago

Some right-handed starters could be interesting, obviously Kuroda, but also Blanton, Dempster, Edwin Jackson, McCarthy, Matsuzaka, or Anibal Sanchez, to maximize the ill-effects going against LH power hitters.

Clayton
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Clayton
3 years 9 months ago

I really think that this team has a shot at 500 next year but not a lot more. As a long time Padre fan I am okay with 500 next year given the futility of the last couple of years.

I agree with most everyone else that a veteran starter and new RF are gravely needed. I would rather have a starter than a RF though because Denorifa and Venable aren’t that bad from a platoon standpoint and Venable’s defense is Gold Glove caliber most of the time.

Hopefully Gyorko can transition to 2nd and Cabrera can bat 260 and keep playing solid defense. That kid has a cannon for an arm and I love his speed on the base paths.

Robbie G.
Guest
Robbie G.
3 years 9 months ago

My god, how satisfying would it (will it?) be if (when?) the Padres with their measly payroll win more ballgames in 2013 than the Fed, uh, sorry, I meant the Dodgers? Deep pockets are great but poor management, particularly poor management that is wholeheartedly encouraged by overly aggressive, short-sighted, and altogether irrational ownership, is always impossible to overcome, in all sports. The New York Knicks are an outstanding example from the NBA, the Washington Redskins from the NFL. The Dodgers are now the MLB equivalent of those two organizations.

Also, I should not have laughed at the title of this article, but I did. Good one!

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
3 years 9 months ago

Since 6/12/12:

San Diego Padres 41-30
Los Angeles Dodgers 31-39

Robbie G.
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Robbie G.
3 years 9 months ago

Sorry, make that since 6/10/12.

Xaq Green Key
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Xaq Green Key
3 years 9 months ago

Hey, us Royals are only a couple of games behind the Bosox, and we just swept the Tiggers, and no one is even talking about the fact that no one talks about us! Someone mention that we are unmentioned, too!!!!

Owen
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Owen
3 years 9 months ago

“The Headley Exception”: worst Robert Ludlum novel yet?

chuck
Guest
3 years 8 months ago

Padres and headley, best in August
\Things are lookin up

Bourn

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