The San Diego Padres offense has been completely over-hauled and the pitching staff has been given a motivating ace to lead them. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton alone will give a solid presence in the middle of the order. James Shields provides that competitive spirit you want from a leader who leads by example. Do all these changes guarantee a Padre playoff appearance? Do they guarantee a World Series title?
The simple answer is no. Nothing in the game of baseball is a given. Every year there are teams that fail to live up to high expectations. It’s part of the game, it why we as fans love the game. Anything can truly happen in the marathon of a Major League season.
Chemistry is of vital importance. If a team does not play for each other and for their coach then the season is a loss. The game of baseball is hard. Really hard. If you put pressures on yourself or if you are uncomfortable, then playing the game correctly is nearly impossible to do. It’s a cohesive effort that helps a winning team do just that, win.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune recently spoke to Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow. Both pitchers were members of the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays team. That particular team was rebuilt during the off-season, and has been unfairly compared to the Padres. Johnson remembers the 2013 Blue Jays team lost a majority of players to that years World Baseball Classic. He spoke to Dennis Lin and remarked:
"“It felt like the whole team was there for maybe a week and then everyone left. It was like the clubhouse was bare. Everyone’s looking over, like, ‘Man, this is going to be tough. ‘But we felt we were up to the challenge. We just didn’t put it all together”"
Johnson knows first hand the importance of playing innings together on the field. Also a team full of new players need to come together off the field as well. If they want to succeed then they need to go that extra mile. Wins are never a given, not in this league. No matter who you have on the roster.
Brandon Morrow also experienced the pain first hand from that under performing Blue Jays team. He signed a free agent contract this off-season with the Padres, so that he could be part of a winning team. He told Dennis Lin:
"“They told me they were going to be aggressive improving the offense, but I didn’t expect them to be that aggressive. Unfortunately, that experiment (the Blue Jays) didn’t work out as well as it was expected to. We were the big winners that off-season, the favorite in Vegas and all that stuff, but it never really got going. It never really got on the right track.”"
Obviously the Blue Jays had high expectations and to finish last in the American East that season with a record of 74-88, was unexpected. The players are aware of what it takes to win, but personalities have to gel together. It’s not an exact science, so we will just have to see how it goes. The Padres have all the talent in the world, but talent only takes you so far.
In the month of April, the Padres traditionally start off slow. In the Padres National League Championship years they started the season really well (11-2 in 1998 and 8-1 in 1984), if that means anything. Of course you want to start the season on a winning track, but ultimately the team that is hot in the end wins the whole thing.
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