I can understand the Padres being swept by a team like Los Angeles this year. Heck, I can see the Padres being swept by twelve to thirteen National League teams at their home ballparks, and the Friars would not have much of a chance to even take one. Yet to lose to the Cubs? Simply a joke. I mean the Cubs are a team that before their series versus the Friars earlier in the week had a record even below San Diego’s and was ranked below them in some Offensive categories. But hey, kudos to them for the sweep. They took three games fair and square, and did so yesterday in dramatic fashion.
After the series at Wrigley, the Padres now possess the League’s worst record (17-35) and it certainly appears like they will be competing with the Twins and Cubs all season long for the dubious title of “worst team of 2012.” But even the Padres of 2012 would still finish with a better record than the 1969 expansion club which finished with a franchise-worst 110 Losses, right? Well, as it stands right now, there are a number of factors which could work against San Diego and could cause them to come close to, or even break the ’69 team’s record for worst season ever. So like my Offensive projections over the weekend, today I want to forecast where the Padres project to finish this season if they keep up their current pace, and discuss how and why they might just make team history for all of the wrong reason.
2012 San Diego Padres
Record Through 52 Games: 17-35
Projected Finish: 53-109
I do not think it is a question of whether or not the Padres will have 100 Losses on the season. I believe it is a question of how many games plus 100 the Padres will lose in 2012. As it stands now, if the Padres continue to win/lose at their rate right now, they will drop 109 on the season. The good thing about that number is the fact that the team record for losses and earning the dubious distinction as the worst team in franchise history is 110. The sad part about the team which set that record is the fact that they were an expansion team which played in their first season ever. Granted, the Padres project to finish with a slightly better record on the year than their ’69 counterparts. Yet there are a number of reasons (some out of their control) as to why San Diego might continue to drop games this year and finish with 110+ losses.
Let me be the first to say that injuries have really hurt this team, and are a legitimate, if not the biggest excuse as to why this team has struggled so mightily this season. It hurts for any team to see three of their projected Opening Day rotation Starters go down, but the losses of their two best Pitchers in the forms of Tim Stauffer and Cory Luebke, plus Dustin Moseley destroys a team like the Padres’ chances of playing winning baseball. It also did not help that Relief Pitcher Micah Owings and Closer Huston Street also have missed significant time due to injuries as well.
The position players have suffered the bites of the injury bug as well. Carlos Quentin has finally worked his way back from his knee issue after he missed the first 30% of the season. Shortstop Jason Bartlett may have under-produced over his career in San Diego, but the veteran has been out for a couple of weeks because of health issues as well. James Darnell and Logan Forsythe also have missed significant time, and now Cameron Maybin has been hampered by a leg problem. With all of these injuries, San Diego will likely have trouble finding enough big league talent to finish the season in one piece.
Poor Offensive Production
The facts are what they are: as a team, the Padres just cannot get things done at the plate. I know that I am beating a dead-horse here, but let me go into how sad San Diego’s Offense has been. This is a club which is hitting a collective .224 (Ranked 28th out of 30 M.L.B. teams) on the season, an OBP of .301 (27th) has a team Slugging Percentage of .345 (29th), an OPS of .646 (28th), and has issues scoring Runs (167, 28th) because of said numbers and low productivity.
We can blame Petco and its dimensions and the new Hitting Coaches all we want, but this team on the whole cannot hit on a consistent enough basis to win games on a consistent basis. The timely hitting is just not there, and the Padres struggle to manufacture Runs in all ballparks, not just at home. It is not rocket-science, when a team hits .224 and cannot do the little things to score Runs in their limited opportunities, they lose games more than they win. It is as simple as that right there.
I know, I know, Quentin had a fine series against the Cubs. But for those of you that did not know, Wrigley Field is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the entire League, and the wind was blowing out during the entire series from what I could see. I do have faith that Quentin will have himself a fine season and should help to improve the Padres’ lineup, but let us wait and see him produce at Petco before we jump to any conclusions. Because as it stands now, the Padres cannot hit at Petco, and can do very little elsewhere as a collective for that matter.
This one hurts, because I remember the days when the Padres’ Bullpen was a formidable unit. Yet because of injuries and poor performances, the Bullpen is a question mark due to the vast amount of inexperience and unproven nature of many which will be asked to protect leads over the coming months.
I am personally not on the “Andrew Chashner Bandwagon” just yet. The guy throws smoke, there is no doubt about that, and that is all well and good. Yet he is too wild at times, and has gotten in trouble because of it this season. His 21 Hits and 15 Walks in 23.1 Innings have told the story of his inconsistency, and his 3.86 ERA is simply too high for a guy needed to shut teams down late in games. Dale Thayer has done a decent job as Street’s replacement, and has nailed down 5 Saves on the season. However, Thayer is only a temporary solution, and had his issues as of late including giving up the game-winning Home Run yesterday. Thayer has given up 7 Runs in 11.2 Innings of work, 14 Hits, and 2 Home Runs this season as well. If this level of play continues, San Diego will be anxious for Street to return.
As for the rest of the Bullpen, it is populated by some unproven guys who began the year in the Minors and are getting their first big tastes’ of big league action this season. Miles Mikolas, Alex Hinshaw, and Brad Brach will all be asked to shoulder the load throughout the rest of the season. They will likely be asked to eat much needed Innings as well because of the fact that some stop-gap veterans in the form of Jeff Suppan, Eric Stults, and likely Jason Marquis will be starting games on a consistent basis for the rest of the season due to injuries. Getting themselves leads will be hard enough, I just hope this group in San Diego’s Bullpen can nail down an extra victory or two over the course of the year.
I projected San Diego to finish last in the Division this season because I did not think they had enough talent in “the now” to compete with the likes of the Giants, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks. However, I had no thoughts or visions that the team would be this bad through 52 Games on the season. I figured that San Diego would likely win somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 79 Games and show marked improvement in many areas, most notably in Offensive production.
Yet here we are, Padres fans. Our favorite club is stuck in the cellar, and it looks like it will be where they stay for the entire season. As I alluded to before, it is now not a question of if this team will finish with a losing record, it will be a question of how many “L’s” in the “L Column” they will put up on the year. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see how they stack up against the ’69 club.
As the 80′s Pop group Bananarama said: “It’s a cruel, cruel summer.” And I am fixing for the long haul with this group, because it will likely be a “cruel summer” for the players, and those of us who will watch this team. I just hope the Padres figure something out to avoid franchise futility and win a few games here and there over the rest of the season.
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