April is over and the Padres sit three games under .500 in the NL West. This probably wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has followed the Padres for the past three years, but it should. This marks the first time since 2010 that the San Diego Padres have finished the first month of baseball outside of dead last in their division. Hooray! Release the balloons and cue the band!
Okay, so Padres’ fans aren’t exactly partying in the streets over this revelation. Nor should they. This is the Padres second year under the O’ Malley regime, and for the second straight year the Padres have started off the season with a dud. However, fans should be optimistic about the team’s direction. Here are some numbers to put things into perspective:
In 2011, the Padres finished April in last place in the NL West with a 10-17 record. In 2012, they finished last in April again, with a record of 7-17. Last year was the first year under new ownership and the Padres finished (pause for dramatic effect) in last place, improving their April record to 10-16. This year was a nice (albeit small) improvement over 2013 as they finished April with a 13-16 record.
Still, fourth place out of five teams doesn’t look great. It’s probably not the improvement fans were expecting when the Padres became the hot sleeper pick this offseason. But hey, it’s a start! Right? RIGHT? It is a start, just not an impressive one. These numbers become slightly more impressive when coupled with the fact that the Padres have been without three of their offensive contributors for most of the month. The oft-injured, left field slugger, Carlos Quentin, started the season on the disabled list due to a knee injury and has yet to appear in a game. Base stealing and homerun robbing threat, Cameron Maybin, made his first appearance just six days ago after starting the season on the disabled list. And most recently, former Gold Glove recipient, Chase Headley (I was good for two months back in 2012) has missed nearly 1/3 of games played this year and currently finds himself on the 15 day DL.
The lack of a solid and consistent lineup has led to an abysmal offense which is currently ranked dead last in the MLB in Runs (77) and On Base Percentage (.270). The Padres team Batting Average (.217) is second worst in the Majors to only the Houston Astros (.210). The Padres MLB-best bullpen has kept them in games, but if the bats don’t come around, there won’t be any leads to protect. Because Petco Park is traditionally a “pitcher-friendly” ballpark and has the ability to make average pitchers look like aces (or maybe that’s just the Padres offense) maybe it’s time for the Padres to restructure their organization around good hitters.
With the Chargers teasing a move from the city every offseason, San Diego fans desperately need the Padres to become a franchise they can be proud of. The team is beginning to show signs of moving in the right direction (which isn’t saying much), but the front office needs to make a statement. Whether that statement is securing their young talent to large contracts (Andrew Cashner) or shipping off inconsistent “talent” (Chase Headley) to bring in a new era, the fanbase is eager for a sign of positive things to come. Whatever the message, it must result in a winning season. Padres fans deserve better than a sub .500 franchise.