San Diego Padres
The baseball world had a collective winter-long circle jerk over newly appointed GM AJ Preller’s first off-season with the Padres (towel, please). Preller and Co. gutted large portions of the team and turned the easily forgettable boys in brown camo into a kinda-possibly-maybe contender.
And then just as baseball writers and GMs and fans were settling into the easy chair of a new season, Preller comes busting through the wall like Kool-Aid man with another blockbuster, trading for perennial badass closer Craig Kimbrel. Who makes a trade on Opening Night? What a mindfuggler!
C: Derek Norris
Acquired in a trade with the Oakland As, the Padres will hope for a repeat of 2014 from the Duck Dynasty-impersonating backstop. Expect opponents to run wild like his locks on the base paths though. Norris had the worst caught-stealing percentage of all catchers who played 100+ games in the MLB last year. One more tick against what is expected to be one of the league’s worst defenses.
1B: Yonder Alonso
Over five seasons in the big leagues and Yonder Alonso has a grand total of 27 home runs. He also likes to walk a lot. This makes him the least interesting first-basemen evvvvvveeer.
2B: Jedd Gyorko
After impressing with the stick in his rookie year, Jedd Gyorko (it’s JERK-OH, jerk) regressed like the Greek economy with his hacktastic approach. This team is full of questions and Gyorko has the worst name out of them.
SS: Alexi Amarista
Alexi Amarista is only 5’6.” That’s fucking small! And yet, Amarista is neither fast nor can he hit worth a buffalo nickel. But he can flash the leather rendering him not completely worthless … I guess?
3B: Will Middlebrooks
God Will Middlebrooks sucks. Remember when he smacked 15 HRs and posted 121 OPS+ in 75 games as a 23 year-old? Yeah, me neither. But it happened! One huge problem is his K-rate that was nearly 30% last season. No wonder the Red Sox shipped his ass to Pawtucket for most of 2014. Don’t be surprised if the Padres platoon him with the wholly mediocre Yangervis Solarte.
LF: Justin Upton
On a team with a bunch of guys who are injury-prone and full of questions, expect J-UP to be consistent like cloudless days in So Cal. Too bad it won’t last beyond 2015.
San Diego is just a nice year by the beach for Justin Upton on his way to a hefty multi-year deal next off-season with probably the Yankees.
CF: Wil Myers
Rumor has it Wil Myers has a shitty ‘tude. I mean why else would the Rays, who had acquired him in a much-lauded James Shields trade, turn around and send him to San Diego just a season after he won the A.L. Rookie of the Year? Maybe it’s because Wil Myers is actually terrible. No one really knows because he has yet to play over 88 games in the majors and half of that time was with a hand injury. Now fully recovered, expect the real Wil Myers to be revealed in 2015. I bet he sucks.
RF: Matt Kemp
Did the Padres trade for an injury-prone, arthritic hip disaster in need of a walker? Or did they trade for a former MVP runner-up who smacked 17 home runs in the second-half last year with a .971 OPS? Split the difference and you probably will land on Matt Kemp circa 2015. And even if it all goes to hell for Kemp and the Padres, at least the Dodgers are shelling out $32 million of his $148 million … wait … Matt Kemp is still owed $148 fucking million ???? This could get ugly.
“Big Game James” isn’t exactly an ACE™ but he’ll eat innings like Pacman eats…those yellow coin-y things. Anyways, Shields has logged over 200 innings in the past 8 seasons and kept his ERA in the low to mid 3s and can rock a gum bubble like no one’s business.
Cashner loves camo. Like so much camo. I mean look at this dude. He even wears camo under his jersey. Maybe all this camo shit is an attempt at protecting himself from injury because the dude can’t avoid it. There’s no doubt Cashner has the stuff to be a solid number two, but he’s yet to avoid a season without a DL stint, habitually having elbow and shoulder problems. Maybe it’s time to switch to paisley patterns?
For as much as people talk about the genius of the Oakland As, they rarely talk about the ones that got away. Insert Tyson Ross. After struggling to be effective in Oakland, Ross was shipped south for Andy Parrino. In two seasons for the Padres, Ross has logged 320 innings with an era under 3 and a K-rate that is about 1 per inning. Advantage: Friars.
At age 27, Kennedy’s career looked to be suddenly falling the fuck off. So the D-Backs shipped him to the friendly confines of PetCo Park for Joe Thatcher. As it turns out, Kennedy was just suffering from living in America’s shittiest city: Phoenix. Revived by beautiful blue skies, blond beach babes and bountiful supplies of burritos, Kennedy logged 200 innings in 2014 and reached 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career.
At age 30, Morrow’s career has fallen the fuck off because of injuries. No joke this guy missed over 100 games last year because of a goddamn finger strain. Somehow he made the Padres rotation anyways.
Before the last minute trade for Kimbrel, the bench was looking good with guys who would be terrible as full-time players but pretty awesome as bench players. That changed a bit with Maybin and Q gone and yet it still looks a-okay. Bud Black has Will Venable for defense, speed and a left-handed bat. Yangervis Solarte is a switch hitter. And Melvin Upton Jr. can work that Gatorade cooler like nobody’s business.
Craig Kimbrel is one expensive ass closer but that’s cool because he’s the best in the game (well, okay, Aroldis is pretty good too). He also does this weird thing where he leans in to get the sign but keeps his pitching arm out with a slight bent like a pissed off scorpion tail. It’s intimidating as fuck. The bullpen also has Joaquin Benoit who has a badass name, interesting facial hair and strikes motherfuckers out. Basically the Padres are going to turn games into five inning affairs because their bullpen is so deep it deserves some sorta nickname like the Friar Five or Deep Padres Nine or some bullshit.
Despite acquiring a slew of shiny news toys, there’s a lot of question marks, a novel-length DL history, and one helluva shoddy defense on this team. Did AJ Preller really build a squad to reckon with or is it the same ole shitty Padres with a different group of players? It’s hard to tell. That’s why they play baseball.
Preller read a lot of Jean-Paul Sarte this off-season and is trying to live in the present. First it was Nausea and now he’s trying to rock Being and Nothingness. Let’s not talk about the future, okay? Whether Matt Kemp is a batting leader or a cripple, whether gutting the farm was right or wrong — it all amounts to nothingness in the end.
The Dodgers suffer a slew of pitching injuries and the Padres sail into first just ahead of L.A. and well ahead of the garbage heap that is the rest of this division.