San Diego has gone a long way to upgrade the worst offense in baseball last season.
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
So, what did you do this week?
I guarantee it wasn't as much as what San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller did, as he completely transformed the identity, look, and overall perception of his team.
San Diego drastically upgraded its lineup, as it acquired outfielders, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton, along with catcher Derek Norris and third baseman Will Middlebrooks, while re-signing righty Josh Johnson and adding flamethrower Brandon Morrow.
Did you get all that?
You better believe San Francisco Giants general manager Brian Sabean, new Dodgers' baseball czar Andrew Friedman and a lot of other National League GMs did.
Have these moves made San Diego the team to beat now in the NL? Absolutely not. Truth be told they are still probably the third best team in the NL West. But they have closed the gap on both the Dodgers and Giants and at the very least they are a legitimate wild card contender.
And people are certainly now talking about the Padres. When was the last time you could have said that?
The additions will certainly improve a lineup that ranked at the bottom of the majors with a .226 average, .292 on-base percentage and 535 runs scored. Their 109 homers were also the second-fewest in the bigs.
San Diego's offense was historically bad in the first half of last season, as it was hitting just .210 through 83 games, including an abysmal .171 for the entire month of June. Just how bad is that? Well, Baseball-reference tracks team splits back to 1914. No other team in that time frame had hit below .175 in a calendar month.
So, yes that lineup needed a complete facelift.
And they probably aren't done. If the Upton, Myers and Kemp triumvirate is now your starting outfield, that leaves no place for players like Cameron Maybin, Seth Smith, Wil Venable or Carlos Quentin.
There are still some deals to be made. We will get to that in a bit.
San Diego's strength last season was its starting pitching. Only the Washington Nationals had a better team ERA in the NL. And no team had a lower bullpen ERA in the NL than the Padres' 2.59.
Righty Tyson Ross emerged as an All-Star, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner are solid, while Cuban project Odrisamer Despaigne showed flashes of brilliance. Of course, highly-regarded 24-year-old Jessie Hahn was dealt to Oakland in the Norris deal, but Morrow figures to step in and who knows what the oft-injured Johnson will give them.
If the Padres go into the season with what they have, they are probably a wild card contender. Like 10 other teams in the league. But, why make all these moves if you, maybe, could contend. Yes it's nice to create a little bit of buzz, but if you are going to go for it, go for it.
And that means San Diego native Cole Hamels.
It's no secret the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to move him. And even with all these moves this past week, the Padres still have the pieces to go and get him.
San Diego can give the Phillies a major league ready outfielder. Plus they still have most of their top prospects in tact. Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, catcher Austin Hedges and righty Matt Wisler are all still in play.
The Padres have a rotation good enough to compete. But, just imagine how much better that group is with someone like Hamels at the top of it. Plus you keep him away from the Dodgers, another team rumored to be in the mix for him.
It makes too much sense now not to happen.
Like we said. If you are going to go for it. Go for it.