Padres News: ESPN’s Schoenfield Not Impressed with Padres Make-Over


As a daily reader of this site, you might think the San Diego Padres have already won the NL West. Oh sure, you know there are concerns about the defense. You know there still are not enough good left-handed hitters. No real lead-off hitter, and no impact shortstop, but compared to most seasons, those seem like we are nitpicking. So let’s look outside our Padres bubble and survey the rest of the league. How did the Padres off-season fall short, where they overhauled the outfield with three studs, didn’t give up the Big Three of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross or Ian Kennedy, did not give up the Coveted Future of Matt Wisler, Austin Hedges or Hunter Renfroe, and added a starting third baseman and catcher to boot? 

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According to David Schoenfield of ESPN, they didn’t do quite enough to break the top 5 most improved. Man, what must a team do to do that!

First it’s interesting to note which teams actually improved the most last season. The list may surprise you:

Angels: +20
Astros: +19
Mariners: +16
Marlins: +15
Giants: +12

Surprise you only because think about who those teams added last season. Besides the Mariners adding Robinson Cano can you think of any “big” moves these teams made? Let’s also not forget that the Marlins only got 8 games out of staff ace and 2013 Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez. So certainly there is not a direct correlation between big off-season moves and improved performance. Still, it’s interesting to see which teams added the pieces that they needed to make that difference. In today’s MLB, a few minor pieces can make all the difference between being a World Series Championship team and last place. Just ask the Red Sox of 2012-2014.

Schoenfield lists the five winners as the Red Sox, Cubs, Astros, White Sox and Marlins. Now granted some teams are easier to improve based on how bad they were last year. Yet it isn’t hard to argue that adding Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez is better than question marks in Will Middlebrooks and Wil Myers to some extent. Throw in the fact they added Justin Masterson, Wade Miley and Rick Porcello to their rotation and it is pretty convincing.

The Cubs of course added one Jon Lester, the biggest of the big three aces on the market with the Nationals adding Max Scherzer last week and James Shields still out on the market. They also have a superstar first baseman, but I won’t mention him to Padres fans again. The White Sox made some big moves adding Jeff Samardzija to join Chris Sale in the rotation and closer David Robertson in the bullpen. They also still have Jose Abreu, a bona fide star the Padres didn’t even start with on offense.

Houston has been building up some quality prospects for a couple of years now and started seeing them come through last year with the success of George Springer and batting champ Jose Altuve. Not to mention powerful Chris Carter, adding on Evan Gattis (are there two stronger men than these two?) and some bullpen moves.

All that to say, Schoenfield at least listed the Padres as an honorable mention but says their lack of outfield range and a few other issues I addressed in the intro leave them out of the list. Darn east coast bias.

Another factor in the Padres favor is made clear on Schoenfield’s article of the five LEAST improved teams. On that list is two NL West Teams: the Giants and the Rockies. I don’t see a full ranking bit it is also hard to really see the Dodgers improved that much either. The Diamondbacks added Yasmany Tomas to a hopefully healthy Paul Goldschmidt and hoping for a productive Mark Trumbo after a bust of a first season in the desert. Though we aren’t quite to prediction season, I actually think the Diamondbacks could be in line for a nice rebound simply because I feel they are certainly more talented than how they played last season and things have to start breaking more their way in 2015.

Of course, the off-season isn’t quite done yet. Making a trade for Cole Hamels would dramatically change the entire outlook for the Padres and the division. Then the NL West would have the three best left-handed pitchers in the National League with Hamels, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. Must-watch TV. There is still plenty of time for the Padres to improve on paper before paper meets real life.

Next: Padres Work Out Yoan Moncada

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