Note: All projections and opinions in this article are my own and are not meant to reflect those of anyone else on this website.
New San Diego Padres General Manager A.J. Preller doesn’t know when to stop. Offensive additions LF Justin Upton, CF Wil Myers, RF Matt Kemp, C Derek Norris and 3B Will Middlebrooks are the fresh faces in the land under the sun, and will not live up to their expectations. In my opinion, a general manager cannot build a team through trades or free-agency. The New York Yankees did it last year and they went 85-77, unable to qualify for the postseason. The chemistry throughout the team does not compare to team members that all came up through the minor leagues together. Take the St. Louis Cardinals for example. They had 15 of their 25 members of their active roster come up through their farm system. If you believe throwing the egotistical Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, young star-in-the-making Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks and the bearded Derek Norris in a lineup together, expecting to win, prepare for disappointment. Last season, homegrown star Jedd Gyorko hit .162 before the All-Star Break, along with a career .231 batting average. Veteran Padre (since 2012) Yonder Alonso struggled nearly all of 2014 until he heated up in August, batting .522, along with hitting a combined .216 against left-handed pitchers. That is most likely because he takes residence in the same division as the top two lefthanders in baseball, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. But you get my point. These Padres, with all the moves A.J. Preller has made, will not win as many games as their ever-growing bandwagon think they will.
Don’t forget about the Petco Park Problem. Last year, the Friars figured the ballpark out a little bit, hitting .231 and averaging 3.33 runs per game. Now that’s still subpar, but remind yourself that Petco is a place where pitchers go to thrive and hitters go to die. Maybe that’s why SP James Shields recently signed with them. On the road, however, the Padres hit .222, averaging 3.27 runs per game. Homeruns, either friendly or unfriendly, rarely leave the playing field. Is that why A.J. Preller traded for four sluggers that live off the long ball? Yeah, that must be it. Petco Park is one of the top pitching ballparks in the league. Sorry Matt Kemp and Justin Upton. Actually, don’t cry, you will get to smash baseballs on the road, at Coors Field in Colorado. The Colorado Rockies are one of the Friar’s division rivals, so don’t worry Padre fans, your team can win their games in Colorado.
On the other hand, new addition James Shields, Andrew Cashner, up-and-coming Tyson Ross and veteran Ian Kennedy look strong, confident, and ready to dominate opposing batters. Shields will mentor younger pitchers (which the Padres have a lot of), and Ross will step up to be another starter the Padres can count on. They will succeed in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. But will their defense succeed behind them? C Derek Norris is known more for his bat than his glove, and a defensive downgrade from ex-Padre C Yasmani Grandal. Up the middle, SS Alexi Amarista and 2B Jedd Gyorko project to be above-average defenders, but how will Wil Myers adapt to the expanses of center field?
Lastly, Home vs. Road splits are very important when composing a team full of major league talent. These new-look Padres have steep splits, which is a red flag for Padre fans. Yangervis Solarte, Wil Myers, and Alexi Amarista all hit better on the road. Matt Kemp, coming from hitter-friendly Chavez Ravine, will struggle in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Justin Upton, coming from hitter-friendly Turner Field, will perform more like his road triple slash of .249/.307/.427. Although he has enough average distance on his homeruns to clear Petco’s walls, I believe he will still struggle to adapt to his new home in the National League West. Wil Myers and Jed Gyorko will have bounce-back years from 2014, but it won’t be enough to carry to team to the top of the division. With the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers also in the hunt, the San Diego Padres will struggle to live up to their high expectations.
Baseball is,was, and always will be the greatest game in the world
Jake Wesley is now the only writer for MLB_NL_AL.com all of these articles are ether based on facts and pieces of his opinion.