It’s been awhile since the San Diego Padres have been competitive. A long, unfortunate, and simply depressing drought has plagued this team. 2010 was their last ‘successful’ season, as they won 90 games, but failed to make the playoffs. That year, San Diego finished 2nd in the NL West.
Since, the team hasn’t won 80 games. It’s been a rough streak. It’s been constant letdowns from prospects, mis-managements, and simply bad play. There ain’t a lot that compares to it.
But now, the Padres have revamped their squad. San Diego is being talked about as a baseball team more than ever. After a plecthora of offseason moves, acquiring many starry names and great talents, the Padres are ready to roll in 2015.
San Diego’s biggest addition happened to be the last big-name free agent available in James Shields. Shields has waited and waited to make his decision, and it ultimately hurt his stock. The wait was an interesting one, and tested my patience for quite awhile. I just wanted him to sign.
That decision came Sunday night, when reports surfaced that the Padres were the team Shields would sign with. In someways, it was no surprise. This was the cherry on top for San Diego.
I expected Shields to sign with the Marlins. I wrote a column two weeks ago basically telling Shields to hurry up. I made my prediction, but didn’t really consider the Padres. When that announcement came, I pretty much went, “Ah, I see what you’re (the Padres) doing here.”
The move makes total sense. San Diego has gone all in this offseason. Why not just capitalize it?
Shields is a great pitcher, and is an ace on most squads. Shields should take over that role on the Padres. Though his postseason with Kansas City wasn’t great, his nickname ‘Big Game James’ certainly tags on.
Shields has a great fastball. Its his go-to pitch and works like a charm. His velocity has remained high throughout his career, which is something the Padres should have confidence in. The Padres expect a 18 game winner in Shields, and that’s at least. San Diego though, has done a great job with the rotation already. That has to be kept in mind.
The contract that the Padres gave Shields is the most jaw-dropping, insane thing about this deal. In a great way. How? Well, what if I told you the contract was worth four years, and $75 million? Yea, talk about a bargain.
This falls on Shields for waiting and holding out. His value only dropped, and it cost him possibly $50 million. I expected Shields to get a contract worth at least $100 million. The contract is a huge benefit for the Padres, as they get their ace for a cheaper price than expected. Some had Shields’ value at $120 million. Four years is the perfect frame. This is exactly what San Diego wanted.
The teams that were in on Shields were pitcher needy. San Diego wasn’t. They have a stellar rotation already, adding to an offseason that included some huge moves. The Padres are ready to rock and roll in 2015. Here’s why:
A.J. Preller deserves so much much credit. It’s unbelievable what he has done with this team in such a short time span. San Diego wasn’t even talked about as an offseason spender when the season ended, but when Preller took over, that changed fast.
The first move was a risky one. San Diego got Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz from the Dodgers. Kemp has been one of the friskiest players in the league. When he’s healthy, he can hit the ball outstandingly, and plays great right field. The injury bug has plagued him throughout his career, as it seems every year it’s something else. After breakouts and letdowns, the Dodgers finally were tired of it, and shipped him out.
As many Dodger fans were sad, the return is where the risk level for San Diego spikes. The Padres sent Yasmani Grandal, a highly praised prospect in his youth, who has failed to live up to expectations. After problems with the Padres and a PED suspension, Grandal looks to bounce back with the Dodgers. He’s only 26, so he has time to shift his career. Hopefully, the Dodgers can help him out, and eventually win this trade, since Kemp has had his own issues.
That trade was only 1/3 of the Padres had up their sleeve. Turns out, a total revamp of the outfield was in place. San Diego then traded for Justin Upton from Atlanta. Upton, who began his career with the Diamondbacks, has been a great offensive player during his career, but had dipped in production since arriving with the Braves. Upton plays good defense in left field. He has to start finding the ball, and that’s what the Padres expect from him, giving what they gave up.
Max Fried went to Atlanta in return. It’s another big cough for the Padres, as he was their No.1 overall pick in 2012. Fired has been solid since being drafted. Though, the Padres know the consequences, and understand them. They’re in win now mode. They feel like they can win this year.
I feel like they can too. The team also acquired Will Myers from Tampa Bay, another big bat, completing their outfield revamp. The lineup looks scary. Derek Norris, another piece San Diego acquired this offseason, is expected to lead off. Gap hitters follow, while the outfielders top it off with power.
It looks really dicey, and that’s without the rotation. With Shields addition, he joins Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross. That’s a handful to deal with for opposing teams. All three of those guys have shown flashes and proven themselves throughout their careers. With other younger pitchers on the team, the bullpen should shape up nicely too.
I really think San Diego can win a lot more games than last year. With the revamp thanks to A.J. Preller, the Padres are going to be reckon with. The main problem is the division that they play in the NL West. It happens to feature the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.
No matter what, Padres fans, finally, have something to root for. You can’t promise it this year, but the future looks bright.