OPS+ 96. ERA+ 89: The San Diego Padres had a miserable season, especially as the majority of “baseball people” thought that they would end up somewhere around mediocrity, or perhaps better. A 63-99 record is truly putrid. A -127 run differential was better than only that of the Nationals’ and the Pirates’ differentials, within the National League. All of this from a team that many penciled in to win more than they lost. There are two parts to a team: Pitching/Defense, Offense. Both were below average, and both were integral parts, that together, resulted in poor performance. Both consisted of course, of everything that they were, the tangible anyway. To lose 63 games with some talent, everything must collectively fail. It isn’t as if there wasn’t any talent on this Padres team. Adrian Gonzalez once again put together an incredible season, and is another superstar that is lost inside an organization that not many seem to follow, outside of San Diego. Gonzalez slugged 36 home runs while playing in a field that may or may not have more space than than the Grand Canyon.
Jake Peavy once again had a year that most pitchers would love to have had. Peavy only made 27 starts which is about five or six fewer than a team would like, but his overall numbers were still good. And Brian Giles quietly, as members of the Padres generally do, put up some nice numbers at the age of 37: .306/.398/.456.
The Padres had absolutely no offense from the following positions: Catcher, Second, and SS. This cannot happen if a team wants to make some legit noise in the playoff race. Khalil Greene was terrible. Tad Iguchi was awful in only a half a season. Edgar Gonzalez held his own, but hit for little power…and is 30, meaning he probably won’t be much, if anything. And the foursome that consisted of Bard, Hundley, Barrett, and Carlin was nothing short of horrendous at the catching position.
Chris Young, once again, went down with an injury, making only 18 starts. Maddux was ok while he was there. And everyone else struggled in the rotation.
What needs to be done? The Padres can do one of two things. They can completely revamp the farm by trading away most of what they have on the Major League squad. Or they can hold onto their two biggest trade chips: Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy, and try and make a run in the next few years, more realistically 2010. Gonzalez is very cheap for the next two seasons. Peavy is expensive for a team in the Padres situation, but still cheaper than the market would value him. If I keep one of them, I keep Gonzalez. But the Padres may be wise to have a fire sale, which would mean Goodbye Adrian, Goodbye Jake, Goodbye Chris Young and Khalil Greene. Anyone who is young enough (Headley, Kouzmanoff, Hundley?) and has enough talent AND are not going to break the bank when their contract needs to be renewed, need to stick around. The Padres could do a lot of positive damage to their farm system trading Gonzalez and Peavy. And trading Chris Young could help a little too. But keeping Young, and hoping he pitches well in the beginning of 2009 may be the best bet for the team. Then if Young does succeed early off, trade him. However the team doesn’t need to rush in order to decide on Gonzalez and Peavy. Both are under control for the next two seasons, and beyond in Peavy’s case. And both are among the best in baseball, so leaving them in town, and making a few acquisitions, while letting the young talent develop, may give them a shot in 2010. But really, trading away both and restocking the farm sounds very appealing. Because a strong farm is everything in this game. It is the one place that money matters least. And of course, the sooner they trade away those two players, the sooner the prospects will be ready, assuming they go for lesser developed players.
The Padres spent $73 million in 2008, and are apparently seeking out ways to cut costs. So the idea of keeping the stars, while acquiring other stars via free agency is out of the question. That is why replenishing the system sounds so inviting. If they were realistically going to spend money, then signing Derek Lowe and Pat Burrell might sound like a good idea, but they are not going to spend it, so it isn’t a question. Teams that don’t and/or can’t spend money need to have young, cheap alternatives waiting in the wings of the system. And that is what the Padres probably need to focus on.