Some people are blessed with the gift of patience. These people are willing and able to wait something out, to see if they can’t get the most out of what they have by sticking it out for the long run. San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller is absolutely not one of those people, which is why we aren’t bored and repulsed by the idea of the Seattle Mariners hosting their “natural rivals” for a two-game series.
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The Padres are – or were – stuck in a loop of perpetual boredom, never good enough to win more than 77-some games, yet never bad enough to warrant a slash-and-burn rebuild. With a new GM at the helm and a roster that had no star power whatsoever, many figured 2015 would be the start of a lengthy, overdue rebuild for the Friars. Instead, they acquired Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, James Shields, and Craig Kimbrel.
So far, it’s gone about as expected – SD is a hair over .500 at 17-16, and have gotten some good contributions to pair with some bad. Norris and Upton have been their two best players. Yonder Alonso was looking like a breakout hitter until his recent injury. Myers has been great at the plate, though he’s been giving it all back and then some in the field. Middlebrooks and Jed Gyorko have continued to flatline, and Kemp’s been sub-replacement.
The real surprises come from the pitching staff, which has absolutely underperformed. The starters for this series, Shields and Ian Kennedy, have ERAs of 4.25 and 5.03, respectively. Kimbrel’s off to his worst-ever start. The team’s best reliever has been… Kevin Quackenbush? Surely that’s not a real baseball player, except wait, click on his name and there are baseball stats. Weird. Who knew?
Really, the M’s are lucky to be dodging the rest of San Diego’s rotation. Tyson Ross, Brandon Morrow, and Andrew Cashner have all performed up to (or above) expectations, which is a big part of why the Padres are currently contenders. Not that a few mediocre April starts make Kennedy and Shields chopped liver, just that the Mariners are missing the hot arms.
This series will be a short duel of underperforming arms, as the M’s will throw James Paxton today and Taijuan Walker tomorrow. Both of the M’s prized young guns are slowly starting to work out of the awful funks that clouded their early seasons, but both still clearly have a ways to go. I wouldn’t say the M’s are favorites in either of these matches due to the track records of the high-caliber arms they’re going up against. That, and San Diego’s had the better offense so far.
Nelson Cruz update: still out of this world! .344/.394/.738, 1.4 WAR, 14 home runs, 213 wRC+. Everyone hurry up and name your kids after this guy before he cools off.
Nice weekends from Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and Rickie Weeks have all three of them within striking distance of a league average wRC+, but so far the only Mariners who have contributed above-average offensive production are still Cruz and Seth Smith. This team is starting to get going, and it would go a long way to have more than two guys hitting better than the league as a whole. Like, a really, really long way.
Two quick games. How hard could it be to win both of them? The Padres are better than the Oakland A’s, but hey, maybe not by a whole lot. A sweep and the M’s are only a game under .500. That’d be pretty neat!
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