3 Down: Playoffs Or Bust For Padres In 2015


Some of us around here are content with another two to three years of embarrassment and pain.

Other, more sensible members of the staff are done hanging our heads after every season. It’s time to adopt a win-now mentality. You know why? Because we Padres fans have already been told that the team will be competitive in two to three years for the last eight years.

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So, “what’s another two to three years” you ask, Mark? A decade.

Let me take a minute to educate anyone that dares to ask Padres fans to “remain patient” for another two or three years for the Padres to “finish” rebuilding.

The last time the Padres were in the playoffs, Razr was the number one selling phone in America, there was no iPhone or iPad, yet. HD-DVDs still were neck and neck with Blu-rays. MySpace was your go to social media site. PS2 and GameCube were the most current generation gaming consoles for Sony and Nintendo. Saddam Hussein was in court for war crimes. And Heath Ledger was still very much alive (Rest in Peace).

Don’t ask me or any other Padres fan to wait longer than October of 2015 for the Padres to return to the postseason. The time to win is now.

1. The free agent market is not a train wreck.

Although 2015 looks like it will be a much more exciting free agency on paper, the Padres can greatly improve the team with a couple 2014 signings. Billy Butler and Adam LaRoche are a great example of upgrades at first base that could be had at budget friendly price. Michael Morse and Melky Cabrera are interesting options in the outfield, and although they will likely fetch more than $10MM per season, there’s no doubting the duo’s ability to hit. Did I mention the international market? The Padres have already won the bidding war for Kwang-hyun Kim and until yesterday they had been linked as one of the top landing spots for Yasmany Tomas. The free agent market isn’t bleak, not by a long shot.

2. The Padres have plenty of arms to trade.

What the Padres lack in free agency, they make up for in trading power. There’s nothing more in demand right now than starting pitching, and the Padres have an armada at their disposal. Quick question: Which five pitchers will make the Padres’ starting rotation in 2015?

“Easy!” You say. “Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Jesse Hahn, and Robbie Erlin.”

Really? Think harder.

“Hmmm. Maybe Hahn, then Despaigne? Or Despaigne and Erlin?”

Maybe, but I just covered the fact that the Padres are hoping to sign Kwang-hyun Kim.

“Ross, Cashner, Kennedy, Hahn, Kim?”

See? Things are a bit muddy at he moment.

The Padres are negotiating with Josh Johnson to bring him back at a lower price. Cory Luebke and Casey Kelly are returning from injuries. And Joe Wieland might finally be ready for big league action. So to clear things up, the Padres have 11 potential starting pitchers for 2015. Even if you take out Luebke, Kelly, and Johnson who might not be ready to pitch full time next season, then you are still left with eight potential starters. Something’s got to give. Despaigne and Hahn both proved that they could be back of the rotation guys and the Padres seem sincere about Kim.

Ross’s value might never be higher, and Cashner had a great season when he was healthy. Ian Kennedy chewed up 200 innings, had 200 strikeouts, and is projected to earn over $10MM in 2015. Do you really think the Padres aren’t going to try to move him? The value is there and the demand is there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Padres trade away two out of the three and recoup an arm via another trade or free agent pick up.

And what about the bullpen? The Padres had the top bullpen in the National League in 2014. With the emergence of Kevin Quackenbush and acquisition of R.J. Alvarez, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Padres try to move Joaquin Benoit.

3. Bring up the kids.

At the end of 2014, fans got to see a little bit of Rymer Liriano and Cory Spangenberg. Spangenberg looks good. I can tell you from covering San Antonio all summer that if he can compete out of camp and claim a roster spot in Spring Training, a lot of fans would be happy with him as an every day starter. Liriano struggled out of the gate, but it remains to see if those struggles are real. Liriano played very well in the minors and is too athletic to fail at the big league level. At his worst he would be a cheap upgrade over Will Venable. Tommy Medica looked fantastic until the second week of August when he was hit in the head by a fastball. Although he was cleared of a concussion, I would speculate that he wasn’t alright and may have developed a mental block at the plate. Medica’s batting average plummeted from .272 to .233 after the incident. Some adjustments at the plate and a good spring might be enough to get Medica back on track for 2015.

The Padres can and should make a legitimate run at the postseason in 2015.