Never during this season have the Padres appeared to be more broken than over the past three days in Arizona. After having been swept by the division leading D’Backs, it’s apparent that the ballclub needs to do a lot of house cleaning before the start of the 2009 campaign.
But where do you start? When you look at the individual performances by some of the players, you think, “Hey, that guy’s doing okay…maybe they should keep him around next year.” And that’ll more than likely be the case with many of the players. However, it takes a “team” to win a championship, and I don’t believe the Padres have had a real “team” since 1998. Oh sure, they had most of the elements that make up a team in 2005, 2006, and 2007, but us Padre fans remember how those seasons ended.
So, what are they going to do after this nightmare of a season is over? A lot of disgruntled fans believe the answer lies in spending more money on free agents. Well, how’s that working out for the Yankees this year? The only thing the Padres can do is what every MLB club does at the end of each campaign–they evaluate their players, determine their strengths and weaknesses, and then attempt to adjust their rosters accordingly prior to spring training.
Being that the Padres have the second worst record in the NL, it’s pretty obvious that their weaknesses far outweigh their strengths. They could start with the pitching staff. Outside of Jake Peavy and Chris Young, there isn’t another reliable starter on that staff. And I worry about Young. Just look at the numbers, folks. I believe they have a fairly good nucleus for a bullpen, providing that they bring Hoffman, Bell, Hensley, Adams, and Hampson back next year. The rest of them can go. I still believe that Cha Seung Baek would be an asset if used in middle relief and as a spot starter.
Surprisingly, the Padres’ home run production has been decent, especially since the All-Star break. However, too many of those homers have come with the bases empty. What the club lacks is speed, clutch hitting, and bench strength. Those issues MUST be addressed prior to the 2009 season. It also wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time on fundamentals during spring training.
One of the many decisions the Padres will have to make in the off-season concerns Kevin Kouzmanoff and Chase Headley, who’s been playing out of position in left field. Headley’s done a respectable job in left, but he’s a natural third baseman and would probably be more comfortable there. Keeping in mind that this is only his second year in the big leagues, Kouz has been solid at third and has decent numbers at the plate. However, I believe the Pads need stronger defense and speed in the left field. And, while one of them may have to go, it should be noted that Kouz has more trade value.
One thing for sure: there will be changes to this ballclub before the first game is played in 2009. And they could be BIG changes. As broken as they are, it’ll take a lot more than a “quick fix” to help this team.
On a personal note, this will be my last blog for a while. In addition to embarking on a new promotional campaign for Pinch Hitter, I am also trying to finish my second novel and begin work on a screenplay. To those of you who have read and responded to my writings, I say “thank you very much”.
For those who are interested in what’s happening with Pinch Hitter, please check out my website: http://www.deanrwhitney.com.