While the sports world takes its collective breath while we wait for the Super Bowl and March Madness, the countdown to Spring Training seems slower than ever. It’s at this point that writers can’t really write full on predictions just yet, but also don’t have much else to write about. So when I came across this article by Andrew Simon at SportsonEarth, I was intrigued.
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The article reviews 10 key stats to the 2015 season, from Mike Strout’s high strikeout rate to Alex Rodriguez‘s starts and hits questions, and of course throws in a paragraph about the Padres outfield. There are a lot of moves made this off-season that only time will be able to measure as “successes” or “failures”.
For example, he writes about free agent signee’s Jung Ho Kang and Yasmany Tomas, two players that the Padres pursued but were not able to get in the end. There is no such thing as a sure thing in baseball, and the 2014/2015 season certainly puts that to the test. As Simon talks about, while on the surface these new outfielders are bona-fide stars, we know that their defense won’t be that great. And what about Wil Myers? Who is he really, the ROY of 2013 or the disappointment of 2014? Last year the Padres ranked 22nd in outfield production (surprised they were that high!) with a wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) which measures offensive contribution and takes the ballpark into effect. That was WITH now-departed Seth Smith too, he had the highest batting average on the team. So while of course it is expected to see that wRC+ number rise – the Padres need that number to rise A LOT. Can they do it?
A trade that reminds me more of the Justin Upton trade is the Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie trade. On its surface the Blue Jays get the better deal. Yet, what if Donaldson declines and Lawrie – still just 25 – regains his good 2011 form and replaces nearly all of the production lost from Donaldson? Plus the A’s got three prospects. What if one of them rises up and makes major late season or 2016 contributions? For the Padres, what if J-Up leaves after one year or less and young Max Fried and Mallex Smith progress quickly and as expected and make much longer term contributions than the Padres ever get out of Upton?
Of course all of these questions are important on one level. At the same time, second guessing will make you crazy. No matter the final outcome, it was an incredible off-season for Preller to even be able to ask these questions. Personally, I hope that the defense critics are silenced within the first month or so of the season.
If the offensive production of the new outfield can outweigh any defensive inefficiencies no one will care. If they really need tighter defense, they can sub in Will Venable or Cameron Maybin still too with some production. This of course makes even more sense if any injuries come along or if Myers struggles out of the gate. Less than two and a half months until Opening Day, less than a month until pitchers and catchers report – I can’t wait.