The San Diego Padres Still Have Needs: A Christmas Wish List
By Billy Brost
We here at Friars On Base want to start this piece off, by wishing each of you a very safe and Happy Holiday season! General Manager A.J. Preller brought Christmas to southern California earlier than expected this holiday season, completely revamping what was one of the most horrendous-performing lineups in recent baseball history. In are Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks. Gone are Everth Cabrera, and Yasmani Grandal, and soon, most likely more than one outfielder.
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While the Padres have conjured up some much-needed energy and excitement for a fan base that desperately needs it, this team is far from being ready for Opening Day, 2015. Why? Are you really going to try and sell me on the idea of an Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes platoon at shorstop? Can the Padres really compete with Yonder Alonso and perhaps even Seth Smith or Carlos Quentin at first base? Who is going to be their lead-off hitter? Will someone, anyone, please switch sides of the plate and take a hack as a left-hander?
These are all pressing needs that need to be addressed by A.J. Preller PRIOR to the start of spring training. While it appears he is in on damn near everyone who currently wears a professional baseball uniform, it doesn’t necessarily mean the answers are clear cut. The team will have to move any combination of Cameron Maybin, Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, Will Venable, and Abraham Almonte. Again, too many outfielders and too many needs remain.
If the Padres wanted to take care of two birds with one stone, they certainly could entertain the thought. By that, I mean acquire a left-handed hitting shortstop. As of right now, by my judgement, there are exactly two who meet that criteria: free agent Stephen Drew, and Seattle Mariners shortstop Brad Miller. Drew had an atrocious season in 2014 with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Miller has a little bit of pop in his bat (10 home runs), but a low batting average (.221). Theoretically, the Padres might be able to swing a deal to get the Mariners some additional power, by dealing Carlos Quentin for Miller. He’s a Preller-type of guy, meaning he would be under team control until 2020. Miller is 25, and questions linger as to whether or not his bat will further develop.
Drew on the other hand, when he gets a full spring training under him, could hold the fort, and I would expect his numbers to return to their pre-2014 levels. By holding the fort, that would require Preller and the Padres to get very active, very quickly on lefty-swinging shortstop, 19-year-old Yoan Moncada, whom many teams have shown interest in.
There are options, but the selection is rather thin. The other position the Padres could attempt to get more bang for their buck, is at first base. The team could take a flier out on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who hit 20+ home runs, and drove in over 90. Philadelphia is desperately trying to figure out whether there would be any takers for his massive contract and if not, perhaps just eating the money to make him go away. If that happens, a one-year, $8 million dollar deal is well worth the low batting average. The other option might be to try and pry away a starting first baseman from a division rival, who is looking to shed payroll, and rebuild from the ground up. I’m talking about National League batting champion Justin Morneau. He proved this past season, he too still has something left in the tank, and is very affordable at $6.75 mil in 2015, and a mutual option in 2016 for $9 million.
A.J. Preller isn’t done, but he still has some work to do to make this team complete. Let’s hope the Christmas Wish List isn’t just that, a wish.