Sitting back, watching the Padres offensive struggles over the course of the season, it has become apparently clear that it is a challenge to watch this team play day-in and day-out. For lack of a better word, they are down right boring. From the leadoff hitter downward, the Padres’ lack a dynamic player that can ignite the offense on a consistent basis.
As a purist, I enjoy the little things that makes baseball America’s pastime. From its long history dating back to the 19th Century, to Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in the 1920s,and Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron in the 1950s and 1960s, baseball has been loaded with superstars who have helped propel the game and bring people to the stands.
Like Cal Ripken Jr. was to the Baltimore Orioles, Tony Gwynn‘s nineteen-year career as the Padres’ right fielder became the staple of San Diego baseball from 1982-2001. Even through the bad years, Gwynn’s status in San Diego was iconic and brought people to the seats. Despite the team’s terrible record for a good part of the late 1980s and early 1990s, Gwynn’s superstar status throughout Major League Baseball, kept most fans tuned into the game or to check the morning newspaper for his box score.
Further, Trevor Hoffman reached similar status as one of the best closers in the game. Being the first man to reach both 500 and 600 saves in a career, Hoffman’s presence in the Padres’ bullpen was electric. Fans stuck around to hear AC/DC’s Hell’s Bells every time Hoffman came through bullpen gates.
Most Major League Baseball teams are going to have their ups and downs. There will be times when a team exceeds preseason expectations, while there are other times when they will find themselves in the cellar. In most cases, these teams are doing it with big name superstars in their lineup.
Outside of one year when they had a high payroll, the Miami Marlins still have one of the smallest payrolls, but they have one of the most dynamic players in Giancarlo Stanton. Plagued by injuries last year, Stanton has rebounded, posting 17 home runs and 53 RBI in 2014. On a team of no names, Stanton’s presence in the lineup brings people to the ball park and notoriety to a player such as Casey McGehee.
The Padres are sorely missing this type of superstar. Former Padres’ first baseman Adrian Gonzalez help propel the club to a final weekend showdown with the Giants in 2010. Despite falling one game short of the NL West crown, a player like Gonzalez and Stanton make those around them even better. More importantly, they keep people interested in the game.
Since 2010, the Padres’ lack this type of player. Granted, shortstop Everth Cabrera and third baseman Chase Headley showed tiny signs of this emergence, their inconsistencies and Cabrera’s suspension turned fans away. Instead, they are driven to Petco Park, more so, for give away night or to see opposing teams.
A superstar can turn around a game with one swing of the bat or make a no-name into an All-Star. The Padres’ are in need of this type of player again. A player who can be the face of the franchise and staple of Padres’ baseball. Instead of stockpiling pitching, the front office and especially Josh Byrnes, should think about investing in a bat because if you can’t score more than one run a game, they have already alienated those fans who are already waiting for Chargers’ football.