When general manager A.J. Preller took over in 2015 and began his handy work, San Diego Padres fans had every reason to be as excited as they’ve ever been. The team had just acquired stars Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, James Shields and Wil Myers, among others. Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, who had been the baseball equivalent of dead weight, were gone, and there were finally real expectations for a club used to looking up at everyone else in the standings.
Fast forward a few months, and things haven’t turned out the way anyone in America’s Finest City expected. The Padres are an unmitigated disaster on the field and off it, and they have little continuity after dismissing manager Bud Black.
Here’s how the picture looks when breaking down each component:
There’s a recurring theme here as the grades shake out. The starting pitching was supposed to be a area of bona fide strength for the Friars, yet it’s just been mediocre. Shields is the true ace of the staff that’s allowed a 1.35 WHIP to rank 12th among 15 National League teams. An early injury to Brandon Morrow didn’t help matters, but the fact remains that this group has been disappointing.
To make matters worse, they’re sporting an 11th-best 4.18 ERA and have given up the third-most home runs through July 1. Shields has given up 17 of those bombs to rank third in the NL, but what’s most troubling is the fact that he’s pitched the majority of his games inside the cavernous Petco Park.
Through 80 games, the Padres are hitting .240, which ranks them 14th out of 15 teams. Among the most disappointing players is Matt Kemp, who since coming over in a trade with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers has put together a dismal line of .244/.279/.365. He’s only hit six home runs despite a respectable 41 RBIs. Still, nothing about his production thus far has resembled a former MVP.
The Padres have recorded the second-most strikeouts in the NL during the same stretch. If Preller doesn’t decide a fire sale is the right course of action, it doesn’t look like these bats will become lively any time soon.
With a .983 fielding percentage and .676 mark in defensive efficiency, the Padres have issues on defense that have cost them games. With 50 errors, they are among the bottom five teams in the mistakes department. For a team in disarray, this is one glaring area where substantial development is needed.
In another area where the Padres have had plenty of recent success, the club has struggled to put together any consistency in 2015. After acquiring Craig Kimbral, San Diego looked poised to continue its dominance among NL bullpens. However, a dismal 3.94 ERA and mediocre numbers across the board have damaged their penchant for keeping games close.
San Diego has been a mess of a team this season. The expectations to perform have augmented the fact that there is little to celebrate besides the big names on the roster. Injuries have played a role in the difficulty as well, but there are no excuses for how poorly things have gone.
Preller looked like a genius at the start of the season, but at this point even he is justifiably receiving criticism for the lack of chemistry this team has displayed. Through 80 games, they are eight games back of the first-place Dodgers. It wouldn’t be fair to call this an uphill journey.
Competing for the postseason is more of a pipe dream.
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