Padres Analysis: Positives in a Negative Season (Outfield Edition)

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The 2014 San Diego Padres outfield was patched together daily by Bud Black with pretty mixed results. The most consistent player was Oakland import Seth Smith, with Will Venable failing to live up to 2013 expectations, Cameron Maybin played a few games around his amphetamine suspension with Chris Denorfia and Carlos Quentin every once in a while manning right field. It was this group that A.J. Preller took to task over his first off-season as General Manager.

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His first move was shipping out Denorfia before the season was over, followed by Seth Smith clearing up some room. Then Matt Kemp was signed in what at the time was seen as the biggest move in Padres history since Steve Garvey…in 1982. Then came those Winter Meetings where moves were made that reverberated through Padres nation and the after-shocks are still being felt. Wil Myers, the 2013 Rookie of the Year, came in a three team trade that sent (eventually) 2014 first round draft pick Trea Turner to the Nationals. Justin Upton was acquired in a trade for some prospects, and as the Padres broke camp they had several outfielders left. What is a GM to do?

On the eve of the Padres season opener Preller solved his log-jam by sending out top pitching prospect Matt Wisler, Maybin, Carlos Quentin and his contract for Melvin Upton Jr.(formerly BJ) and his equal albatross of a contract. Craig Kimbrel was the jewel of the trade though and many around baseball thought the Padres would easily win this one. After all, the Padres were now built to win in 2015 and the Royals had just proved that a lights out closer goes far once you get to the post-season. Getting to the post-season was seen as when, not if.

Well…here we are now. Wil Myers only played in 60 games – less than even Quentin would give the Padres – and the Padres defense suffered. Kemp and Upton lived up to their end of the bargain, and by the end of the year Will Venable would be shipped off to Texas and all seven outfielders the Padres had paraded the last couple of years were gone from the beaches of San Diego. So with Justin Upton likely leaving for free agency, how do we find good in this group?

There are always good things to find in the outfield, and after this long introduction I’ll point out a few of the positives to be found heading into 2016:

1) Matt Kemp proved he is still a professional hitter and a leader. He ended up with exactly 100 RBI and hit .286 with 15 HR in the second half. He was second on the Padres in stolen bases though with just 12 that isn’t saying too much. Besides that he hit for the first cycle in Padre history!

2) Travis Jankowski: The speedy outfielder was called up and ended up with 90 AB in 34 games played. He stole 32 bases in the minor leagues and has 137 career stolen bases in 4 seasons. His speed would add a nice element to a team that lacked it, but he hit only .211. The good news is he hit .293 in his minor league career, so between the cup of coffee he got this year it is hoped that he can adjust quicker in 2016 to hitting at the major league level.

3) Carlos Quentin is gone and retired. That’s a good thing. I’m not yet sold on Melvin Upton, Jr.

4) Wil Myers. Though his first year in San Diego didn’t quite pan out – when he was in the lineup he made a dramatic difference in the lineup. He scored 30 games in his first 35 games, hit .277 with 42 hits. When he came back near the end of the year, he hit only .177 but did manage a .353 OBP. If he could just stay off the Disabled List for most of a season he has tremendous upside. We’ll leave this article with the upside, not the DL.

5) Hunter Renfroe is one season closer to the Major Leagues. Depending on the play of many of the players above, we might just see this highly touted prospect in Padres blue in 2016. He had a tremendous minor league season and continues his climb up the minor league ladder advancing all the way to AAA and playing a crucial role in the pennant chase.

Next: Infield Padres Positives

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