The San Diego Padres off-season was astonishing. The team over-hauled their entire anemic offense by a flurry of strategic trades and signings. The biggest addition to the team so far might have been the acquisition of James Shields. He has started the season with a record of 7-0 and his leadership in the locker room is truly immeasurable.
Shields recently hung a sign in the Padres club house that said… “If you don’t like it, play better.” Wow, talk about taking control of the team and having them be responsible for their actions. Shields with that sign, promotes accountability with in the team. No more excuses, if you aren’t performing or you aren’t doing your job, then you need to pick it up. Simple as that, no messing around with James Shields.
With actions like that directed at the whole Padres team, James Shields is exactly what the Padres need. Position players like Matt Kemp or Justin Upton are probably not used to leadership like that coming from a starting pitcher. Traditionally starting pitchers quietly go about their work and are not ones who lead a ball club on a daily basis. This is the year 2015, and obviously times have changed.
The team has responded every time James Shields has taken the mound. Now if the Padres could play with that kind of intensity everyday, they could become a very difficult team to deal with in the National League.
Shields has shown his work ethic to the other starters on the staff. You would have to think that Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are learning a lot from watching this consummate professional. There is something that leading by example does for a team.
In the seventh inning of the game against the Mets on Wednesday night, Shields got into a little bit of trouble. Manager Bud Black came to the mound and you could tell Shields was not happy with his presence. Black asked him a few questions and Shields had a look about him. The expression on his face led to Black leaving his ace in the game and Shields immediately rewarded the skipper with an inning ending double play.
That type of attitude is what you want from your starting pitcher. You never want them to be timid, and Shields doesn’t have a timid bone in his body. Attacking hitters with a complete arsenal of pitches from his two and four seam fastball to his excellent change-up.
This season Shields has used his above average curve ball to generate more strike outs, and is presently third in MLB with 92 strike outs in only 75 innings pitched. That is easily Shields highest strikeout total in his career. He is really liking his first season in the National League.
To have James Shields in the Padres rotation for the next four seasons at least is a great thing. He will lead this rotation and help develop young players. These minor league pitchers will gain valuable information by just watching Shields. The four-year investment in Shields has already paid dividends. As long as the man stays healthy, the Padres got one great deal for their ace pitcher. His addition to the Padres rotation was a brilliant move by A.J. Preller.