Hot Stove League: Padres take I

As a seamhead the onset of winter means one thing, the "hot stove league", a name dreamed up by people who didn't live in San Diego, because it involves numerous discussions and arguments on how to improve your team through a long cold winter.

At MadFriars.com, we're going to kick off the hot stove league a little differently. Since we mainly focus on the Padres' minor leagues, we are going to advocate some changes that the team can make for 2006, however, we're going to set a few parameters (cause, hey, its our article!).

One, we are only going to discuss players already on the team or in the organization, and two, for the sake of argument, for any player we advocate being moved, we're just going to send them off to a fictional "neverneverland". There will be plenty of other articles in this and other publications written in the near future about trades the team can and should make, and what players can be moved for whom. You know which one to take seriously (right here).

Before we can discuss what should be done for next year, its necessary to briefly review what happened in 2005.

As a lifelong Padres fan I was overjoyed when the team made the playoffs for only the fourth time in its thirty-six year history. Many times I can remember when the season was essentially over in June, so any playoff appearance is a reason for celebration.

However, no matter how you spin it, or listen to our friends on 1090, especially Darin Smith and "Philly Billy" Werndel of "Too Much Show", rail about the alleged the "east coast bias" and that the national media is disrespecting the Padres team because they don't see them play, this was not a good team.

I saw them play, and I live on the east coast, and at best the Padres were a third place team in any other year or any other division, and possibly one of the worst teams to make the playoffs in recent history.

A few facts about the Padres compared to other playoff teams in 2005:

  • The Padres were the only team in the playoffs that had more runs scored against them than they scored
  • Did not have one player hit 20 home runs or have 100 RBIs
  • The Padres did not have one starting pitcher win 15 games, the Braves also didn't have one pitcher win 15 games either, but they had four starting pitchers winning 10 + games
  • Throw out the month of May, and the team played .447 ball, which is either last or next to last in most divisions
  • Never had a lead once in any of the three games against St. Louis
  • Finished with an overall losing record of 82-83
  • There are other facts we can point out to belabor the point, but you get the picture. We're advocating making changes to an old team that isn't a good team or a bad one, just average. Think about it, the team won five more games than they did last year when they finished third.

    So how did they win? Obviously, the Padres played in a very bad division. Secondly, they were propelled by a tremendous May, which offset having only one other month with a winning record, in addition to a very good bullpen and bench.

    As good as it feels to win, winning the division with the performances that the team put on the field this year was a fluke. To bring back the same team and expect the same result is about as likely as watching Ryan Klesko become a gold glove winning centerfielder.

    The playoffs exposed a team that Padres fans had seen all year, an aging team that struggled to find effective starting pitching, had little consistent hitting with minimal power and one that frequently gave away many games due to errors and players that simply didn't have the defensive range to play their positions.

    So its not a question of "fixing what ain't broke", but more an issue of repairing what limped across the line.

    For tomorrow's segment we examine the steps the team needs to take for next year.


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