The San Diego Padres are just 10 games into the season, and they have won only three. In half of their games, the Padres have been shut out — and in yesterday’s game, they scored just one run.
Today they suffered their fifth shutout, getting moved down by 23-year-old rookie Vincent Velazquez, who pitched a masterpiece. Velazquez allowed just three hits, walked none, and struck out 16 Padres.
Time for Padres to Panic?
So, should the Padres be panicking? Granted, San Diego’s first three losses (and shutouts) were to the Dodgers, who have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, featuring three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
And yes, they won two out of three in Colorado, where they exploded for 32 runs. But that was (a) in Colorado, where the high altitude means that balls travel farther and (b) against the Rockies’ terrible pitching staff.
It is also true that they are not even 10 percent of the way through the season, and most experts projected them to finish either fourth or fifth in the National League West anyway.
That said, there are reasons for concern. For one thing, the Padres are now the first team in Major League history to get shut out in their first three games, and in five of their first 10 games.
And as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes, the Padres team batting average outside of Coors Field is a meager .095.
Among the lowlights of their hitters:
- catcher Derek Norris is batting .148 (5-for-27) with a .233 OBP;
- second baseman Cory Spangenberg is batting .206 (7-for-34) with a .289 OBP;
- shortstop Alexei Ramirez is batting .194 (6-for-31) with a .289 OBP;
- first baseman Wil Myers–whom the Padres are expecting a big year from–is batting .235 (8-for-34) with a .250 OBP.
Among the regulars, only Matt Kemp (.297, three home runs, and 10 RBI) and Melvin Upton, Jr. (.296, .367 OBP, .811 OPS) are hitting well. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte started the season well, batting.375 (6-for-16) with a .474 OBP, but he is currently on the disabled list.
So here is the dilemma for Padres rookie manager Andy Green and general manager A.J. Preller: do they make a move now to stop the bleeding? Do they stay the course because not much was expected from them anyway, and continue through the pains of a rebuilding season? Or should they expedite the rebuilding process by trading veterans James Shields and Kemp, and effectively concede the season in April?
Bring “Panda” To San Diego?
There is also another option: trade Shields to Boston for Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval. The Padres pursued “Panda” when he was a free agent just prior to the 2015 season, before signing a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox.
But Sandoval was a bust last year, batting just .245 with a .295 OBP. He came into spring this year at 255 pounds, and promptly lost his job.
However, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that San Diego “has cooled on Sandoval.”
But talks could heat up if the Padres continue to hit so poorly, and waste what for the most part have been solid pitching performances.
The Padres recently signed first baseman James Loney, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, to a minor league deal. Loney is still just 31, and has a respectable lifetime .285/.338/.411 slash. He could provide a useful left-handed bat for the Padres (which they are currently lacking), with Myers shifting to left field.
According to the Baseball-Almanac, the Major League record for most times being shut out in a season is 33, by the 1908 St. Louis Cardinals. The 2016 San Diego Padres are currently on a pace for 81.
What do you think? Should the San Diego Padres stand pat, trade for a bat, or expedite the rebuilding process?
[Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images]