The San Diego Padres recently held a promotional event where fans were invited to the beautiful PetCo Park. They had two pitches or one swing to hit a home run and win season tickets. The likelihood of hitting a homer on two pitches is hard enough for a Major Leaguer and as expected, the closest an individual came was the warning track. Considering the state of the team’s lackluster offense, had a person actually hit a home run, they likely would have been signed start for the team. The weather might be hot in San Diego but the Padres certainly are not as another disappointing season is expected.
Andrew Cashner and Eric Stults were legitimate front-end starters. Cashner moved from middle reliever to the rotation after posting solid numbers in the bullpen. He led the team with a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while holding opponents to a .233 batting average. Stults went 11-13 with a 3.93 ERA and threw over 200 innings. Each pitcher managed to keep hitters in the ballpark not allowing too many homers. However, they were not very overpowering as the 6.6 and 5.8 ratio of strikeouts per inning for Cashner and Stults, respectively, was not very promising. They need to hitters to swing and miss to be more effective throughout the season. Management signed Josh Johnson to compete for a role but his mantra has been the same since he entered with the Marlins a decade ago. When healthy, the burly right-hander is one of the game’s best pitchers. He has an electric fastball with pinpoint accuracy. He could be the Padres ace as long as he avoids the disabled list.
Offensively the team is heavily challenged. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko was a pleasant surprise leading with 23 home runs. His team-high 63 RBIs only demonstrated the Padres struggles at the plate. In a hitter-friendly ballpark, it is troubling the home team has not played better. Carlso Quentin is the only genuine cleanup hitter but has been injured much of the past two seasons. Everth Cabrera had 37 steals along with a .283 batting average but was suspended 50 games for his involvement in the biogenesis scandal. As a team, the Padres ranked towards the bottom in batting average and on-base percentage. They were also last in home runs. With no one posing a threat in the minors and no significant moves during the offseason, Gyorko, 25, is the new face of the franchise. He will be asked to be the offensive catalyst.
Without anyone on base and an undisciplined lineup, it is going to be hard for Padres fans to show up at the ballpark or even watch the games on TV. While passing through downtown San Diego, baseball enthusiasts can watch the game for free through a fence in centerfield at PetCo Park. As the team continues its losing ways, expect more people to be outside the stadium rather than pay to watch consistent blowouts. If the Padres avoid triple-digit losses, it will be a successful season.
All stats are courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/.