Maligned Eric Stults managed to finish the 2nd half strong. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Weekly Awards and Final Thoughts
Alright, so that was painful. A year where some thought the Padres might actually make a run at the National League wildcard ended with them pretty far off course. In the course of that, they lost their long-time broadcaster in the off-season, lost their best player of all time Mr. Padre Tony Gwynn, saw their ace go on the disabled list for months at a time, fired their General Manager, traded the previous face of the franchise in Chase Headley, and traded off All-Star closer Huston Street in the process. So where do we go from here?
Despite all the above happening, the Padres this season have a lot to be excited about. It does all start with pitching of course. Cashner when healthy showed he can compete with ANYONE in the league. Tyson Ross emerged as a force, and Ian Kennedy had a great rebound year anchoring the rotation. Youth is on the move as well, both at the major league level in Odrisamer Despaigne and Jesse Hahn, but also with up-and-comers like Joe Wieland, Mat Wisler, and Casey Kelly all knocking at the door – the Padres might themselves with a rotation surplus to choose from.
The key, like it always has been, will be the hitting. Can Jedd Gyorko rebound? Can the real Yasmani Grandal show himself? These and other questions will have to be sorted out next year, which will hamper the Padres overall development until they knew who they can build on and who needs to be shown the door. I like the assertiveness so far of the new ownership group, and am hoping that GM Preller can be given the freedom to make those tough decisions that Byrnes failed to do or made the wrong ones. I for one am optimistic that the Padres can once again improve on their 2014 season, but realistically think that the Padres won’t be a serious contender until 2016. Another year of seasoning and developing some of the offensive minor league talent, possibly even the appearance of minor league masher Hunter Renfroe could really change the Padres fortunes. They finished this season with their best record at Petco Park ever -and best home record overall since they won the National League pennant in 1998. Until then…keep the faith.