The expectations were high for the San Diego Padres heading into this season. The team’s new ownership group and front office staff wanted to become a player in the chase for the National League West divisional title. So, they made bold moves in rebuilding the roster.
Their detractors felt the Padres made too many big splash acquisitions (acquired a brand new outfield in the span of 48 hours) last offseason, which is good for gaining national attention but not for building a contending team.
It would be a difficult task for any manager to try to develop some form of chemistry from a group of strangers meeting for the first time at spring training in Peoria this past February.
No surprise at all that Bud Black was on a short leash to begin the season, as he needed the team to get off to a quick start to keep his job. The Padres were mired in third place in the standings at the time of Black’s firing, as the team was too inconsistent and never played up to its true potential under his helm.
Just like the old baseball adage, you can’t fire the players, Padres general manager A.J. Preller decided a new voice was needed inside the locker room to salvage the year.
The first task for new manager Pat Murphy and his coaching staff is to turn around the fortunes of the starting rotation, which has been the strength of the franchise in past seasons but has struggled badly all year. Currently, the pitching staff is ranked 11th in the NL with 4.11 ERA, and this is coming off a 2014 campaign where the Padres finished second in the league with a 3.27 ERA.
Improved pitching and timely hitting with runners in scoring position is the right recipe for getting back in the playoff chase.
Funny thing about baseball, the Padres aren’t in a bad position to make a run and return to the postseason for the first time in nine seasons. Yes, they’re currently hovering under the .500 mark, but this team has enough talent to turn this mess around in the right direction.
Padre fans will need to lower their win total expectations, as this team may only need 85 wins to secure a wild card berth. Winning the NL West title is overrated. The new goal for the team should be getting hot at the right time and beginning their quest to play in October.
Since the addition of the wild card to the postseason in 1995, six World Series champions have been crowned from this playoff position, with last year’s World Series being the second between two wild card participants.
Yes, we can argue whether the wild card has devalued the regular season, but you cannot deny that the winner of the play-in game has taken on the role of the scrappy underdog rather than the classic underachiever.
The Padres cannot dwell on the past, as there’s plenty of baseball to be played for them to have a memorable season.