San Diego Padres left fielder Carlos Quentin-Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Every team goes through their share of slumps, cold spells, and uneventful offense. A season is 162-games long, and no team hits on all cylinders for the full marathon. Then again, few teams have ever hit as poorly as the 2014 San Diego Padres through the first month-plus of a full season either. The Friars bring up the rear in all of baseball in multiple hitting categories, including: batting average, runs, slugging, OPS, and on-base percentage. It’s only a month into the season. Every negative label that can be used to describe the Padres’ lineup has been, yet no solutions appear on the horizon…not yet anyway.
For starters, the Padres are starting to get somewhat healthy. Chase Headley, while only hitting .186 is a middle-of-the-order producer who will over his past three seasons, has averaged a .275 batting average, while hitting 16 home runs, and driving in just under 70 runs per season. That includes his break-out season of .286/31/115 in 2012. The last time Carlos Quentin played more than 100 games in a season, he hit over 20 home runs and drove in close to 80. He can still mathematically do so, but it depends on…all together now “How healthy Quentin can remain.” He is still a viable power source, even in limited action. Although Jedd Gyorko has slumped, and left the team to watch the birth of his twins, he’s got thunder in the bat, and has 20+ home run capability. Finally, the organization finally woke up and realized this isn’t 2004. Out went Xavier Nady, and promoted was Kyle Blanks, the big outfielder/first baseman with light tower power. Blanks will never win a batting title, but San Diego doesn’t need him to. Give him 400 at-bats and see where the chips fall. It can’t get any worse can it? Bud Black told the UT-San Diego recently:
"You think these guys are happy? These guys are getting advice from their high school coaches, their college coaches, their dads, their brothers, their best friends — guys saying ‘hey remember back when you used to do this — try this’, and they’re trying it. ” Black said. “You just gotta hang in there.”"
If the starting pitching can remain solid, the bullpen continues to be one of the elite units in all of baseball, when the bats finally thaw out, the Padres could find themselves smack dab in the middle of a division title race. None of the NL West teams appear to be poised to pull away. The Dodgers and Giants have their issues, the Rockies will be…the Rockies. That leaves the Padres in prime position to fly under the radar, continue to stay competitive sans a semblance of offensive production, and strike when it all comes together.