By James Trietley
As the Padres are about 2 weeks away from pitchers & catchers reporting to spring training, a lot of people begin to wonder about the future of this team. I, like many other fans of surprises, am intrigued to see what the Padres will do this season. Can they break a 9 year drought of not being included in the postseason?
Once the offseason began in November, nobody predicted that the Padres were going to make any huge moves. A month later, the winter meetings struck and so did Padres' GM AJ Preller. That month, they acquired 6 new faces, including the power hitting OF Matt Kemp, former Rookie of the Year, OF Wil Myers & the huge right-handed hitting OF Justin Upton. With these moves, I believe there is a new, reborn threat in the NL West. The Padres also acquired OF Will Middlebrooks, C Derek Norris, & RHP Brandon Maurer.
This gives the Padres an edge in the 2015 season because it now means that you can't blow off a 3-game or 4-game series against this team. You have an uplifted offense who can take the ball out of the ballpark on the first pitch. Plus, you have a young, talented rotation with Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner & Ian Kennedy. With the new acquisitions, it gives the Padres a bigger fan base. They sat an average 27,103 fan attendance last year and this will increase dramatically in 2015. Plus, this also poses a threat in the NL West against the defending World Series champion Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now, I won't count out Colorado and Arizona, but it might be a bit easier for San Diego to defeat those teams with the new acquisitions.
Kemp, 30, is coming off an impressive 2014. He hit .287, hit 25 HRs, drove in 89 RBIs, and had a .506 SLG %. After serving 2 injury filled seasons, Kemp came back strong appearing in 150 games and 599 plate appearances. With a little smaller park in San Diego, Kemp hopes to smash a few more HR and get back to his elite status. Although, Rotochamp.com has Kemp projected with lower HR, AVG & RBIs for his 2015 campaign.
Myers, 24, had a mediocre year to say the least posting a .222 AVG, hitting 6 HRs, driving in 35 RBIs, and slugging a career low .320. Now, it was only his second season in the majors, but he did put up poor numbers. He was out with a wrist injury for a few weeks after colliding with Desmond Jennings on a fly ball. Hopefully, with a change a scenery and a full-time spot in the outfield, Myers will find his groove in San Diego. his projections, courtesy of Rotochamp.com have him hitting much better with a .246 AVG, 14 HRs & 61 RBIs. This hopefully is a very good season for the young outfielder.
Upton, 27, had a very good offensive season hitting .270, hitting 29 HRs, driving in 102 RBIs, and slugging .491. Now, at the end of the year, the Atlanta Braves did fall apart and Justin Upton sucked into that downhill spiral. He hit just .169 with 30 strikeouts. That doesn't take away from the fact that he continues to hit the ball well and far. He played against the Padres 7 times last year and posted 0 HRs and a poor .167 AVG.
Well, the table is set and spring training is not far away. Can AJ Preller pull off a possible Cole Hamels trade or maybe even acquire another decent bat? Will the new Padres live up to the hype of being a "Playoff team"? In my eyes, I say no. I think they need to develop team chemistry and understand that it won't take a group of power hitters to win a championship. It will take a whole and hopefully, they can bring that in 2016. As for now, I doubt they will touch even a wild card spot in September. We will have to find out how good they are here in a couple weeks when they go to Arizona for yet another exciting Spring Training.