Decisions, decisions, decisions
The 2015 season was a success for the San Diego Padres from a business and marketing standpoint. President and CEO Mike Dee and company greatly improved the quality and quantity of the giveaways and events at Petco Park. That, along with bringing in big-name players and announcing that the Padres will host the 2016 All-Star game, helped produce the largest fan attendance since the 2008 season. For the first time in a while, Padres fans had something to be excited about.
Ron Fowler and the rest of the ownership group made it clear with the acquisitions of Matt Kemp and James Shields that money was not going to be as much of a hindrance as it has been in recent past. Unfortunately, despite the club’s highest payroll in its history, the team limped to the finish line in 2015 with a 74-88 record. With guys like Justin Upton, Tyson Ross, Wil Myers, Andrew Cashner, Craig Kimbrel, Kemp, and Shields, the team obviously had talent. However, in the end, the flaws outweighed it.
The Myers experiment in center field did not quite workout as planned, and neither did the Alexi Amarista–Clint Barmes platoon at shortstop. A big concern, however, was the disappointing pitching. What was the team’s strength for years struggled both in the rotation and the bullpen. The Padres ranked 20th in MLB with a 4.09 ERA, where in 2014, they ranked fourth with a 3.27. This season, they particularly struggled against left-handed hitters where they ranked first in earned runs (318), home runs (98), and walks (304) allowed. On the plus side, Ross dominated hitters with his filthy stuff, Shields had a solid year, and Cashner made 31 starts. Command was a bit of an issue for all three guys, but their performances were encouraging for next season.
Along with the pitching, the offense was also quite a let down. With the additions of Kemp, Upton, Myers, Derek Norris, and Will Middlebrooks (remember him?), it seemed that the Padres were going to give opposing pitchers trouble. That was not the case however. For the second straight year, the Padres finished dead last in hits (1324), team batting average (.243) and team on-base percentage (.300). They improved in some areas, but still found themselves in the bottom third of MLB in most offensive categories.
I hate to be pointing out so many negatives, but the truth is that the Padres have a lot of areas to address. General Manager A.J. Preller and the rest of the baseball operations department are now on the spot, and as the Union Tribune’s Kevin Acee wrote, hopefully Dee stays out of the baseball decisions. It is clear “he knows business,” but “there is no indication he knows baseball.” He, Fowler, and the rest of the ownership group hired Preller over a year ago because they believed he DOES know baseball. He’s also got an experienced group around him with guys like Don Welke and Logan White. With so many questions surrounding this team, it is best to leave it up to Preller and the baseball operations department to find the right answers. Starting with who will be the next manager, there are many decisions to be made.