The 2013 season has begun and the Padres are 1-5. Pretty much right where I expected them to be now and for the rest of this year. Barring an uncanny run this season, or breakthrough years for Cameron Maybin and Andrew Cashner, or rookie of the year type numbers from Jedd Gyorko – the Padres are a .500 squad. And, that’s fine! That’s actually better than fine, because it’s exactly what we all assumed and are anticipating. Meaning two things: We aren’t heading into this season expecting great things, yet we aren’t expecting terrible things either. And, anything better than .500 ball will be a plus!
During the opening series against the Mets we learned some very valuable lessons that will stick with us for the entire season:
1) The Padres are not a great team. We’re a young-ish team with a good amount of upside. Yonder Alonso is going to be good, an injury-free Carlos Quentin will help more than any of us could imagine, and Jedd Gyorko could develop into the player everyone hopes he will be. You give me a 2 through 6 of Grandal, Alonso, Quentin, Headley and Gyorko and I’ll give you a hi-five. Of course we aren’t there yet, and that lineup won’t even be available for preview till mid-May, but I can’t wait to see it. If Maybin can turn it on and Cabrera can get on base, The Padres might have a chance to do something special and give the fans some hope. At that point we could have a great team.
2) The Padres pitching staff resembles the Royals pitching staff in 2003. What I mean by that is chances are you have no idea who pitched for the Royals in 2003, and chances are Jason Marquis was one of them. To call our staff patchwork would be the highest compliment you could give. Clayton Richard seems to have all the right mechanics, but can’t keep guys from hitting homeruns off of him. Edinson Volquez will never have an ERA under 4.00 again, and STILL has trouble with his control, which means he always will. Let’s be honest, until Cory Luebke and Andrew Cashner can put it together and possibly go 1-2, then we don’t really have a lot to look forward to. Eric Stults was a pleasant surprise last week, but I don’t have much faith he can keep it up, and the young guns down on the farm are far from ready. Although, there’s a good chance we’ll see a couple of them up too early anyway. If we can’t keep guys off base, we can’t win ball games.
3) The Padres offense is still going to be sub par. Even if we get the lineup in I suggested earlier, that wouldn’t translate into homeruns. We have little pop, but the real problem is our inability to string three hits together. Always has been. Cabrera can run all over the place, unless he steals all four bases the chances of him scoring a run are very small. The Padres need to play small ball, and get on base for the team to have any serious chance of making an impact. Look at the 2010 season, when they set the table for Adrian. If there’s no table set, then dinner can’t be served. Look at the Marlins in 2002. They got to the playoffs playing in their cavernous wasteland of a stadium by using small ball. Hell, they made Juan Pierre into a star! It’s not the most exciting Baseball to watch, but it’s more exciting than losing.
I feel like I’m coming off negative, after I started very positive. I still feel like we’re getting exactly the team we thought we were getting and that that’s a good thing. Whether that makes you feel good is another question. And, whether watching it all season (unless you’re a Time Warner customer) will be worth the progress remains to be seen as well. Most fans complain about this team, because we don’t have the superstars that we had all hoped the new ownership would have purchased. However, buying players rarely means you’re going to the World Series. In fact, that works less than most people would like to assume it does. Just look at what teams won the World Series in the last decade. The Padres don’t need the superstars, they do need a bit bigger of a payroll to keep the developing talent around, and get the top-tier players to commit in the draft. That would certainly help, but until that bigger payroll comes along, this is the team we have. A team with a ton of upside, and little downside, which are odds I will always take over the likes of signing Orlando Hudson four years too late.
Cheer the squad on, root for your Padres, It’s life in fourth place and if you’re not used to it by now, then you’ve never truly kept the faith!