The Padres are in a rebuilding process, without a doubt. But what is unique about this team is that what the team needs is fairly obvious.
It’s no secret what the San Diego Padres need to do this winter to improve their roster and maximize wins. After all, they spent virtually the entire 2016 regular season scoring plenty of runs anchored by their explosive young offense, but failing to pitch well enough to win consistently. All Padres’ fans know this, and quite frankly, we are all very tired of the same narrative.
The team has been discussing their rebuild constantly, urging fans to stay patient while moves are in the works. They’re right in that success will not be evident for at least another year, but that isn’t an excuse to be complacent and except mediocrity at a position. Right now, the Padres need to be searching for pitching help, or else this long lasting rebuilding process will be all for naught.
Sure, there are players to be excited about. Just take a look at the second half of 2016 with the emergence of Hunter Renfroe, Ryan Schimpf, and Manuel Margot. not only this, but the consistent productivity of Wil Myers, who is quickly developing into a San Diego superstar. Still however, what good do they all do without an equally improving pitching staff? Or at least one which general manager A.J. Preller is visibly working on improving?
The problem is, the desperate need for pitching has yet to be addressed. The front office has done a fantastic job drafting in the past few years under Preller, and the team has excelled in their minor league player development. But trading away James Shields, Drew Pomeranz, and Craig Kimbrel instilled little hope in San Diego fans that management is devoted to making the pitching staff better in the long run. While the Padres may have gotten minor league pitchers as throw-ins with these trades, these pitchers have little hope of reaching the major league level and were only included to balance out the trade. Mostly, the team acquired position players for these productive pitchers.
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Not that the trades were necessarily terrible, or that they haven’t resulted in some success and hope for the Padres organization. In fact, we have argued in the past that the Pomeranz trade was well worth it for this developing roster.
But the facts are still eye-opening. The Padres ranked 23rd in baseball in the category of pitching, and as a team had one of the highest earned run averages of 2016. They also only cashed in on 66% of their save opportunities, an alarming stat indicative of the struggles of the back end of the bullpen. This isn’t going to get better with the moves made at the trade deadline, and the injuries which are beginning to plague the pitching staff. Without adding pitching, both starting pitching and relief, the Padres will be talking about this rebuilding process for a long time.
In the end, the past is the past. The Padres have done a good job thus far rebuilding their organization to the best of their ability with an effective combination of player development in the minor leagues and acquiring young talent. But the focus now needs to be looking forward. Most of this team’s success has come with their offense, not their pitching. Even if it isn’t following the exact blueprint of this process, Preller and the Padres need to adjust accordingly based on how the roster is currently constructed. Most of all, there needs to be a lot more action, and they need to start going after pitching which can help immediately this winter.