Padres Aim to Add Offense for 2015
By Tim Richer
It’s no secret that the Padres’ bats were not producing. As a team they are last in AVG, OBP and SLUG% going into the final 4 games of 2014. While injuries played a role in the lackluster performance, it’s no excuse to be last in all 3 of those categories. Plenty of players were underwhelming, like Jedd Gyorko and Everth Cabrera. When the players you’re relying on to be the cornerstones of your lineup underperform, get hurt and have off-field issues in the case Cabrera, it’s going to be difficult to win games. Because of these struggles, the Padres will opt to prioritize beefing up the lineup for 2015.
While it’s one thing to say that offense will be the priority, and it’s another to actually bring in players who will perform. Offensive struggles aren’t new to the Padres, and they’ve yet to adapt. Since 2010, the Padres have ranked 27th in batting average and slugging percentage, and 29th in on-base percentage. It seems like every year, there is at least some emphasis on adding offensive pieces, yet so far they’ve all been duds. The likes of Carlos Quentin, Orlando Hudson, and Jason Bartlett all were swings and misses. Even though none of them were supposed to be franchise-changers, none of them lived up to expectations.
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Now with a new sheriff in town in the form of A.J. Preller, can the Padres finally add that piece, or pieces, that get the Padres over the hump and have enough offense to support their already stellar pitching? It’ll definitely be a challenge with a weak upcoming free agent class. Hanley Ramirez, Melky Cabrera, Colby Rasmus, Nelson Cruz, and Victor Martinez headline this offseason’s list of free agent bats, and may be the only viable starters on the market aside from former Padre Chase Headley.
With the limited free agent class, coupled with the difficulty of convincing hitters to play 81 games a year at Petco Park, it may force the Padres to the trade market. So what do the Padres have as bait for a trade? Pitching, and a lot of it. Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Eric Stults, Jesse Hahn, Odrisamer Despaigne, Joe Wieland, Casey Kelly and Corey Luebke are all potential rotation candidates for the 2015 rotation, and while you can never have enough pitching, you can use a surplus to address a dire need you have to go for it. Teams like the Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Cubs, and Rockies all look to be active participants on the pitching market, and have offensive pieces to give. If the Padres can flip a starter or two to add a couple impact bats, this team looks far more intimidating for 2015.
I have no doubt that the Padres main goal will be adding offense, but it will be a struggle to find offensive players who are available. If Preller is comfortable letting go of some the Padres’ pitching depth, then he’ll be able to add pieces, but will they be any better than his successors additions? We’ll have to wait to find out.
Keep the Faith.