As July 31st gets closer and closer with each passing day, the current members of the San Diego Padres have to keep playing baseball. Their closer Huston Street was traded last Friday and Chase Headley was dealt early today to the Yankees.
Several other Padres seem to be awaiting the same fate. Chris Denorfia, Joaquin Benoit, and Ian Kennedy have all been bandied about in trade talk. Quite a few teams are still trying to figure out what camp they do fall into: buyers or sellers? This question was answered pretty resoundingly by the Padres before the break (if not long before) when they went 2-5 on the road trip in Colorado and Los Angeles.
If I were a player about to be traded, I would have several conflicting thoughts. On one hand, I would always hate to leave San Diego. On the other hand – like Huston Street – you immediately enter a playoff race after playing the first half (or longer) of your season at or near last place.
The Cubs (Tuesday through Thursday) offer the Padres a near mirror image of themselves. Both teams perennially rebuilding it seems with a few years of playoff contention last in the mid’2000’s. Of course first baseman Anthony Rizzo was a Padre briefly following Jed Hoyer from Boston to San Diego to Chicago.
Jake Arrieta has pitched well. Watch out for him this week. Of course like the Padres it is offense that comes at a premium at The Friendly Confines. There should be some games fought by veterans looking for a pay raise in free agency and rookies trying to earn their spot on the roster for next season.
One team that is squarely in the middle of a playoff race but with lots of needs is the Atlanta Braves. The Braves entered the All Star Break tied with the Washington Nationals for the NL East lead. Yet, the Braves have almost as bad an offense as the Padres and their pitching ranks pretty similar as well.
The Braves starting rotation, like the Padres, was decimated in spring training by injuries when they lost Kris Medlen AND Brandon Beachy to their second Tommy John surgeries. The Padres lost Josh Johnson as well, and countered with Robbie Erlin, who now has also been hurt the majority of the season.
Julio Teheran has turned into a bona fide ace for the team as well, earning an All-Star selection. The offense is anchored by Freddie Freeman, with great contributions by Justin Upton, Evan Gattis, and amazing defense by Andrelton Simmons. They finally released Dan Uggla this week after months of ineffectiveness, take note Will Venable…
All in all, I expect the Padres pitching to continue to excel, and I think they can tame the Cubs already weak offense and take 2 of 3 from them. Against Atlanta the Braves, their starters will shut down the Padres for a series sweep.
Player to Watch: Yasmani Grandal. The catcher has started to catch fire of late, and we shall see if he can continue his own return from ACL surgery season and if not turn around the 2014 season, at least provide hope he can be a reliable contributor in the future for the Friars.