As the trade deadline nears, and the Padres are trying to figure out who to get rid of, four Padres made strong pitches for themselves to be key parts of the Padres’ future. Seth Smith is already locked up contractually for a few more years, and is out to prove that his first half was no fluke. He responded both to his new contract and the summer days by hitting .386 in the month of July, with three home runs to boot. He should be a strong nomination for NL Player of the Month.
After being nominated to the NL All-Star Team for the first time, Tyson Ross didn’t let down either, going 4-2 with a 1.10 ERA. He leads the NL in strikeouts for the month with 48 strikeouts in just 41 innings. He also threw in his first complete game shutout while striking out 9 for good measure. Good enough for NL Pitcher of the Month against the Clayton Kershaws and Adam Wainwrights of the world? I don’t see why not.
Meanwhile two Padres rookies have a good shot at NL Rookie of the Month in Odrisamer Despaigne and Jesse Hahn. Odrisamer continues to confound NL hitters with his mix of speeds, arm angles, movement, and plain smart pitching. Nearly throwing the first no-hitter in Padres’ history gets him points too. Then the pitching phenom Jesse Hahn kept on trucking even with a quick trip to the minor leagues to limit his innings. Hahn went 2-1, allowing only 5 runs in three starts with one more start before the break. He came straight for Double-A when the Padres needed a few subs when Andrew Cashner and Robbie Erlin (who?) went on the DL this season, and after a couple false starts, made the most of his opportunity. His innings limit might hurt him – but he might even be able to make a push for NL Rookie of the Year.
Whether these guys win NL Player Honors or not, they give Padres’ fans something to pay attention to with two months left in a lost baseball season. Everyone remembers the strong second half the Padres went on in 2009, leading to a 2010 season that came down to the very last weekend before it was sorted out. If the Padres can find one more offensive “surprise” the way they found Despaigne and Hahn, the new GM can make a move for a power hitter in the off-season, the Padres might be closer than you think to chasing down the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West.