Okay, Padre fans, it’s time to start evaluating where this whole thing is going.
The Padres made no secret of their intentions this year. They stated a philosophy of building the franchise over time (3-5 years) into a championship contender. 2017, they said, would be a development year. We are now past the MLB All-Star break and trade deadline. We are a full 12 months into it, and thus it’s time to begin evaluating the Padres’ progress toward their goals set forth in, “The Process.” We won’t know the full results of this master project for some time. However, we aren’t necessarily at the beginning, either.
The following is an report-card grade of the Padres against their own self-stated goals—in full acknowledgement that it is early in, “The Process.”
A couple of disclaimers—these are broad evaluations. For instance, I’m grading team “defense,” as a combined whole—not arms, gloves, fielding percentage, etc. separately. Also, these are evaluations of the MLB squad’s performance, unless noted otherwise.
That is where we will start, with the on-the-field product.
While he blew it in the Rizzogate incident, I love Andy Green. He has found a way to make a roster sorely lacking in current talent, competitive on a daily basis. He needs to learn how to work the umpires and league more effectively to get the best results for his team, but that will come with time and familiarity.
Those who watch the games regularly can see the culture he is creating. The uniforms are dirtier, the smiles are brighter and more common. He has stabilized the lineup after juggling it daily near the beginning of the season. He is good behind a microphone. He manages the lacking personnel of the pitching staff brilliantly. I know…all of these are his job. Yes, and he does it well. It’s hard to deny the team is getting better every day. GRADE: A-
The Padres pitching has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise. Other than the Jared Weaver experiment, the Padres’ previously maligned veteran starting pitchers have performed credibly much of the time. Occasionally, they’ve even dazzled. Trevor Cahill (while he was with the Padres), Jhoulys Chacin, and Clayton Richard each produced quality starts, albeit sporadically. Dinelson Lamet and Luis Perdomo look young, strong, and promising–even as they demonstrate the inconsistencies of youth.
The bullpen has been mostly good, anchored by all-star Brad Hand. However, Brandon Maurer (now with the Royals), Craig Stammen, Jose Torres and others struggled at times. It is neither the best staff or bullpen, but both are usually OK—with spurts of good. However, the numbers suggest the Padres pitching is worse than it looks. As of this writing, the Padres rank 25th in team ERA, and below average in nearly every statistical category. However, we could consider Padres pitching to have “overachieved,” given the personnel. With Cahill, Buchter, and Maurer gone, it’s reasonable to expect this grade to get worse down the stretch. GRADE: C+
The Padres have shown some signs of life at the plate. The particularly welcome sight for most fans is the presence of more home runs—especially off the bats of young players. However, the Padres remain in the bottom half of MLB in home runs. At the All-Star break, the Padres were last in all of baseball in batting average, runs, hits, OBP (a ghastly .294), and OPS. They also struck out more than any team in the league. Though team hitting seems to be on a slightly upward trend line, there is no spinning it, and there is only one honest grade to give here. But, I’m going to bump it up one grade for visible improvement in the second half. GRADE: D
While there have some bright spots for the Padres on defense that bring their grade up, defense is not the Padres strong suit. Austin Hedges has caught brilliantly. When healthy, Manny Margot has been terrific in Center Field. Hunter Renfroe has made some dazzling throws. Cory Spangenberg has also impressed at the hot corner on occasion. Nevertheless, there have been some brutal moments on defense for the Padres, who rank fourth in errors committed in MLB as of this writing. Hunter Renfroe has struggled with “gun control,” at times. Shortstop continues to be a weakness. Wil Myers…well… GRADE: C
The off-the-field and future-oriented components of the Padres deserve evaluation, as well, given their stated importance to “the process.” This is where the report card begins to gleam.
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