Tag: Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp Getty

Matt Kemp thinks the Padres have the best outfield in baseball. I don’t think he’s right about that.


Matt Kemp is optimistic about the San Diego Padres’ outfield. From Lyle Spencer at MLB.com:

“Who,” he said, “do you think has the best outfield in the game now?”

The visitor gave it some thought before nominating the American League champion Royals for defensive purposes and the Pirates or Marlins for all-around excellence.

Kemp shook his head. “No,” he said, firmly. “It’s right here. Right here in San Diego. You can write it down — and print it.”

Optimism is good. As is the offensive potential of Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.

Earlier in his career Upton showed flashes of an MVP-caliber bat and, even if he hasn’t lived up to that, he is a dangerous hitter and serious power threat. Myers was off last year but is just a year removed from a Rookie of the Year campaign and extreme promise as a prospect. Kemp, of course, needs no introduction. He easily could’ve and maybe should’ve been the MVP a few years ago and, after getting healthy last year, put up a second half which quieted a lot of people who said he had fallen off.  If all of thee of these guys hit to their potential, it could be an amazing group at the plate.

Of course, offense is only one part of the equation and forgetting that outfields play defense as well as hit is kind of a problem for the purposes of this exercise.

Kemp’s hips and legs are his weakness and he is now a far below-average defensive outfielder, coming in at -23 in Defensive Runs Saved last year. Myers was at -7 and has very little experience as a center fielder, having spent most time in right. Upton, though statistically the best of the three at 0.0 in Defensive Runs Saved, has never been all that good himself with the leather. It’s also worth noting that Petco Park has a LOT of ground to cover.

So, the best outfield in baseball? I’d have to say no, because running down fly balls and cutting balls off in the gap to hold batters to singles instead of doubles is a pretty big damn part of the game. Especially in a pitchers’ park. Especially in a run-starved era. For that reason I’d take the Marlins, Nationals or Pirates outfield over San Diego’s. And I’d even go so far to say that, if I were a betting man, I’d bet that we’ll see more commentary this summer about the problem of the Padres’ defense than we will see about the Padres’ outfield driving San Diego towards greatness.

Pushed out of the Padres’ outfield, Carlos Quentin is looking for a new home

Carlos Quentin

Carlos Quentin has always produced when healthy, topping an .800 OPS every year from 2010-2013, but he’s played fewer than 100 games in each of the past three seasons and this winter the Padres decided to move on.

Quentin is still on the roster and under contract for $8 million, but San Diego added Justin Upton Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers in high-profile trades to totally remake the starting outfield and that leaves Quentin without a defensive home.

So in an effort to carve out a potential role the 32-year-old former All-Star asked manager Bud Black if he could spend some time at first base, where the idea of beating out Yonder Alonso for playing time is a little more doable. Quentin has never played first base in the majors, but a veteran with bad knees and a previously good bat can certainly be at home there.

Of course, if Quentin proves that he’s healthy the Padres would probably love to unload his contract–including the $10 million option for 2016–and the best fit for him would seemingly be in the American League as a full-time designated hitter. Quentin seems to recognize that and indicated to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause if needed.

The Padres’ offseason moves may not guarantee the playoffs, but they certainly guarantee enthusiasm

San Diego Padres Logo

The Padres had had a busy winter already, but the signing of James Shields last night pushes it toward the ridiculous. If they get Cole Hamels, everyone in San Diego may plotz. Heck, they may plotz anyway after acquiring Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Brandon Morrow Will Middlebrooks, Shawn Kelley, Brandon Maurer Josh Johnson and now Shields. It’s a totally different team than it was last year.

Is it a better team? Almost certainly. Even if Matt Kemp continues to have injury issues and Justin Upton remains the good-but-not-as-good-as-people-thought-he’d-one-day-be player from his early days in Arizona, the offense is improved. If Kemp looks like he did in the second half last year and Wil Myers rebounds to his rookie form, all bets are off. Shields provides them with a near-certain 200+ above average and, occasionally, excellent innings. The team is much stronger than it’s been.

That doesn’t mean Padres fans should start setting aside money for playoff ticket deposits yet, of course. There are a lot of uncertainties here. The new hitters conquering Petco Park is not a given, even if they are healthy. Shields has a lot of miles on the odometer. The Padres were just a 77-win team last year and, as history has shown, making 15-20 game improvements in a single season is not an easy trick. Ask the 2013 Blue Jays and 2012 Marlins how adding a bunch of big pieces in a single offseason can go.

But there is definitely reason for excitement in San Diego. For one thing, all of these additions came at a relatively limited cost. The Padres did not give up any of their top prospects to acquire the talent they got and, even if you include Shields’ deal, none of the financial outlays for the new players are particularly crazy. The future has not been mortgaged for a one-year improvement. Indeed, this could just be a year in which the Padres makes a nice little competitive surge that gets the fan base excited with a more traditional and sustained improvement on the horizon.

And that’s pretty key with this franchise. The fan base excitement. The Padres have had some successful seasons over the years, but they were somewhat isolated and never came by virtue of ownership opening up the safe and truly investing in the team. Before this offseason, their biggest-ever free agent deal was Joaquin Freakin’ Benoit, for crying out loud.

A lot of Padres fans I know — some I met as recently as back in December at the Winter Meetings — would’ve never believed that the team would be as active in the offseason as they have been this year. That Padres brass would do the sorts of things to stir up some excitement and get the Padres faithful to shell out for tickets and merch with the level of enthusiasm they are likely to this spring.

Maybe what the Padres did this winter is not enough to make the playoffs — the Giants and Dodgers aren’t going anywhere any time soon, after all — but they have certainly taken some much needed steps to kick up some excitement in San Diego.

Report: Padres sign James Shields to a four-year contract

James Shields

James Shields has finally signed a contract at long last. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports that the right-hander has signed a four-year deal in the $72-76 million range. There is a fifth-year club option as well, and the contract is pending a physical.

The Padres had been rumored to be the heavy favorite to land Shields. GM A.J. Preller has put what appears to be the finishing touch on an off-season overhaul in which he’s added Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris, Brandon Morrow, Brandon Maurer, and Shawn Kelley.

Shields, 33, will jump atop the Padres’ rotation along with Andrew Cashner. He’ll be looking to build off of a solid campaign with the Royals in which he finished with a 3.21 ERA and a 180/44 K/BB ratio in 227 innings, helping the club reach the World Series for the first time since 1985.

UPDATE: Padres still favorites for James Shields, but several teams remain “heavily involved”

James Shields

UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Padres remain the favorites for Shields and “want him badly,” but several teams remain “heavily involved” in the bidding.

For what it’s worth, the Marlins, Cubs, and Blue Jays are among the other teams who have been linked to the free agent right-hander in recent days.

3:44 p.m. ET: This story isn’t over yet, apparently. According to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report, there is now an “impasse” in talks between the Padres and Shields following a “flurry” of talks over the past several hours. The “ball is in Shields’ court,” per Miller.

2:33 p.m. ET: Joe Frisaro of MLB.com confirms that the Padres are indeed the favorites, “if not a lock already,” to sign Shields.

12:08 p.m. ET: We’re less than two weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to their respective spring training camps and right-hander James Shields is still sitting out there in free agency. Is this saga finally reaching a conclusion? Well, maybe:

The market for Shields has been a mystery for most of the offseason, but the Padres have emerged as a realistic landing spot in recent days, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today writing on Thursday night that they “have to be considered favorites.” Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego this week that the team still has wiggle room with their budget. New Padres general manager A.J. Preller has already upgraded the team’s offense in the big way this winter by acquiring Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Wil Myers, but adding Shields could vault them to frontrunner status for one of the Wild Card spots in the National League.

Shields once looked like a candidate for a $100 million contract, but it doesn’t appear that he will get it at this stage of the offseason. In fact, no free agent pitcher has ever received a $50 million after February 1. Shields should beat that, but the question is by how much.

Shields, who turned 33 in December, posted a 3.21 ERA (124 ERA+) and 180/44 K/BB ratio in 34 starts with the Royals last season. He has averaged 223 innings over the past eight seasons.