Padres GM Josh Byrnes spoke today on Inside Pitch, an MLB Network Radio show co-hosted by Jim Bowden and Casey Stern. According to Jim Bowden’s tweet, Byrnes said the Padres need a left handed reliever, a left handed batter, better health, and general upgrades.
Josh Byrnes told us the Padres biggest needs this off-season include; 1. LH Reliever 2. LH Bat 3. Better Health 4. General Up-Grades
— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 4, 2013
We are aware of the need to obtain at least one left handed reliever, but a left handed bat is surprising. Steve Adler’s column on The Friarhood explains Byrnes’ comment could mean a pinch hitter a la Mark Kotsay. This is sensible because the Padres do not lack left handed hitting in the starting lineup. The need for a lefty bat may also signal a trade involving one of the left handed position players.
Byrnes is correct to believe the Friars need to get healthy. Carlos Quentin needs to produce for an entire season to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive. Cameron Maybin deserves a shot after missing most of 2013 even though Will Venable and Chris Denorfia both have the ability to outperform Maybin for the starting job. If healthy, Yonder Alonso could be a fairly productive first baseman. Tyson Ross had offseason surgery on his non-throwing shoulder, and is expected to be back for spring training. Chase Headley had offseason surgery on his injured left knee, and needs to come back producing at a much higher level in 2014.
“General upgrades” is an understandable comment by Josh Byrnes. The Padres need a general upgrade in the pitching department. Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, and Eric Stults will be good starting pitchers, but the Padres should acquire a reliable fifth starter. In addition to a left handed reliever, another relief pitcher would be beneficial to bolster the bullpen. Outside of the pitching, a general upgrade may include a trade for Mark Trumbo to replace Yonder Alonso at first base.
I would like to see the general upgrades focused on the pitching staff, and allow the position players to prove what they are capable of. If Headley returns to his 2012 form, then it would be equivalent to signing a big time free agent. I sound hopeful, but there is a strong possibility that the lineup will receive an automatic boost from players returning to form (i.e. Headley, Quentin, Cabrera, Alonso), and strong pitching performances will be essential to keep the Padres in playoff contention.
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