I'm not sure if they are a contender or a pretender.
Some days I think they've got it figured out and they go a streak. The next day I just don't know. They win against difficult teams and lose against teams they should pounce on. No one wants to win the division race and the Padres keep holding out the carrot for someone to come and get it. Over the last week they've lost to Arizona (and frankly, gave one game away) and to Colorado (gave that one away too).
Mistakes, confusing play, errors, etc. They had it all! If the Padres want to make a statement, now is the time. First and foremost, they need to win 2 out of 3 games against Colorado (already lost the first game, and held on in game two). They need to get a string of wins together and put some more distance between themselves, Arizona and the Dodgers.
I'm continually amazed that no one has made a run at the Pads. It's good for us Padre fans but it leaves me shaking my head everyday I check the standings and see that they're hanging on to first place. This month will be critical given that the Pad's play mostly N.L. West teams.
They need to get healthy and stay healthy. Khalil Greene coming back will help and hopefully Brian Giles is 100 percent and will not be out of the lineup. He leads the team in a number of categories (RBI's, batting avg.) and he's obviously critical to the teams success this year and for years to come (they need to sign him). I also keep thinking back to what general manager Kevin Towers stated early on in the season and how many games it would take to win the division. I'm sure it was more than 81 which would be .500! Having Ramon Hernandez back may or may not make a big difference given what Miguel Olivo has done but it does add some depth.
The Padres have overall done pretty well given the injuries and personnel that have been out for extended periods of time. I still don't think it'll get them where they want to be if they make the playoffs. Some of the trades and acquisitions that the Pad's made have worked out better than I thought, though, but others just appear to have done well (e.g. Park has been blessed with some good run support but his ERA is still high despite his win/loss record since becoming a Padre) and could have had another win last night had things worked out differently.
As I continue to wonder about the remaining month or so, I think about how much more comfortable I'd be with the Padres position in the division if they were winning more than they were losing. I also wonder:
I sure hope the Pad's can hang on, get hot, make a run and finish strong. If not, it'll be a long winter and I think we'll see a few lean years while some rebuilding occurs. I still believe that the right mixture and foundation of young and old, experience and drive is there but whether or not it's enough to get through crunch time we'll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, work those abs!