If you didn’t pay attention all winter you wouldn’t recognize many Padres starting 2015. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
New Acquisition Performances
The Padres didn’t just spend last off-season picking up one or two pieces – they picked up half of a roster. An entire outfield, a third baseman, a catcher, a closer, and a starting pitcher. As discussed above while all of those pieces were largely upgrades over what the team was getting out of those positions a year ago – it has not translated into actual success. I touched on a couple that are staying next year like Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, but we can’t leave out Justin Upton.
Justin Upton was great for the Padres this season. He will command a large salary in the off-season that unless his brother discount is in the millions will price him out of San Diego. He made the All Star Team, had some absolute moonshot home runs, and led the team with his play throughout the entire season. Also, we can’t forget that Matt Kemp hit for the first cycle in Padres history.
Craig Kimbrel has had another dynamite season as the closer despite a rough start – but the biggest question with him is if the Padres really need to be paying so much for him with Kevin Quackenbush or others possibly able to take over that role? Joaquin Benoit though is also a free agent which might make Kimbrel that much more valuable for at least another year until the Padres young pitchers can prove they would be able to hold down the closer’s role if Kimbrel were to be used as trade bait in the future.
James Shields has served up a lot of home runs this year – but he will likely make good on his promise of over 200 innings pitched and certainly doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. I’ll give him an overall positive review.
For the good picks were some bad ones…Will Middlebrooks continued his regression from a Red Sox prospect and was sent down to AAA. Derek Norris has improved on his defense, but didn’t hit much better than Rene Rivera last season. Shawn Kelley and Brandon Maurer ended up being key bullpen cogs but also had some injury woes that hurt the Padres in August/September down the stretch. Still, other bullpen stalwarts like Nick Vincent and Dale Thayer weren’t quite as predictable which led to their necessity as well.
Grade: B, largely because of Justin Upton
Next: Minor League Prospects