Tag: Tommy Medica

A J Preller, Bud Black, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Wil Myers

2015 Preview: San Diego Padres


Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The San Diego Padres.

The Big Question: Who are these guys and what have they done with the Padres?

A.J. Preller was hired as the Padres general manager last August and he went into the offseason with a plan. Prior to the winter meetings, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Padres were “aggressively looking for hitters who can help them contend for (the) NL West title immediately.” The report drew some laughs, as it seemed incredibly ambitious and even unrealistic for a team which ranked last in pretty much every major offensive category last season while finishing under .500 for the fourth straight year. We quickly learned that he wasn’t messing around.

The biggest changes came in the outfield, with trades for Justin Upton (from the Braves), Matt Kemp (from the division rival Dodgers), and Wil Myers (in a three-team deal with the Rays and Nationals), but Preller also acquired 2014 All-Star catcher Derek Norris from the Athletics. There’s something to be said for not being loyal to the players you inherit from a previous regime. As a new GM, Preller was uniquely positioned for this rapid and unexpected overhaul. The cherry on top of their offseason was signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract in early February. Joaquin Benoit’s $15.5 million deal was the franchise’s previous record guarantee to a free agent, so this is some uncharted territory we’re dealing with here. The Padres also threw money at some low-risk, high-reward types for their rotation with Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow. Despite all the activity, the Padres’ payroll isn’t going to be much higher than what it was last year. It helps that the Dodgers are paying nearly all of Kemp’s salary for this season.

Pitching was already a strength for the Padres, partially due to their home ballpark, but the addition of Shields makes them even better. He can now slot into the No. 1 spot while Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross all move down a peg. Odrisamer Despaigne held his own during his first season in the majors last year and should do fine as a fifth starter if Morrow and/or Johnson don’t pan out. Outfield defense is a concern, particularly in center field with Myers, but the Padres are hoping that what the trio does on offense offsets the deficiencies in the field.

Who knows if this is going to work out. Kemp is an injury risk and maybe all those innings finally catch up to Shields. Maybe Myers doesn’t bounce back and Upton (an impending free agent) becomes a trade candidate by midseason. But the Padres are trying something here and that’s pretty exciting. It’s always fun to be in San Diego, but even more so right now.

What else is going on?

  • It’s pretty remarkable that the Padres were able to make all of these moves and still managed to keep arguably three of their best prospects, right-hander Matt Wisler, outfielder Hunter Renfroe, and catcher Austin Hedges. I guess you could throw Rymer Liriano into that mix, as well. So they didn’t completely sell out their future this winter. You could also say that they still have the flexibility to make another big move if they really want to go for broke. Cole Hamels, perhaps?
  • My goodness, something has to give with these extra outfielders. The Padres dealt Seth Smith to the Mariners over the winter, but they still have basically their projected starting outfield from a couple of years ago — Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Carlos Quentin — under contract. Liriano also saw time at the major league level last year. Quentin could get hurt by the time I finish writing this sentence, but one would think we’ll see a trade soon to clear this logjam.
  • While right-handed sluggers Upton, Kemp, and Myers could put up big numbers in that outfield, the infield is another matter altogether. It’s a glaring weakness. Jedd Gyorko showed some potential during his rookie season in 2013, but he’s coming off a down year and he’s surrounded by the likes of Yonder Alonso, Alexi Amarista, Will Middlebrooks, Yangervis Solarte, Tommy Medica, and Clint Barmes. Not the most inspiring group. Perhaps Alonso or Middlebrooks can surprise, but that would require a leap of faith. This infield would be more interesting if they managed to outbid the Dodgers for Hector Olivera, but that ship has sailed.
  • With the additions of Upton, Kemp, Myers, Shields, and Norris, it’s easy to overlook the work that Preller did with his bullpen. Brandon Maurer came over in the Smith deal with the Mariners while Shawn Kelley was acquired from the Yankees for minor league right-hander Johnny Barbato. Both are intriguing potential late-inning arms. Padres manager Bud Black has a handful of interesting alternatives for the closer role if Benoit goes down at some point. I wouldn’t rule that possibility out, as Benoit will be 38 later this year and dealt with some shoulder issues down the stretch last year.
  • Saying “if he can stay healthy” should be obvious with any pitcher, but that’s especially the case with Cashner. The 28-year-old has flashed frontline potential at times, with a 2.96 ERA across 51 career starts, but he was limited to just 19 starts last season with elbow and shoulder issues and has never thrown more than 175 innings in a season before. This rotation has some questions — even Ross was shut down after a career-high 195 2/3 innings last year due to muscle soreness in his right forearm — but if things break right, they could be one of the best groups in the National League.

Prediction: I think it’s going to be close with the Giants, but what the heck, I’ll drink the offseason Kool-Aid. Second place, NL West and the second Wild Card spot.

Yonder Alonso goes back on the disabled list

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres

Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso is headed back to the disabled list, this time with a strained right forearm.

Alonso previously missed about six weeks in June and July with right wrist tendinitis and he’d been on fire since returning, hitting .421 in 15 games. Unfortunately that hot stretch brought his season totals up to a still-poor .240 batting average and .682 OPS in 84 games.

Tommy Medica shifted from left field to first base when Alonso exited Tuesday’s game.

Matt Cain identifies biggest struggle in lackluster year

Matt Cain

SAN FRANCISCO — What could have been a turn-around start in a disappointing season for Matt Cain quickly turned into another bad loss.

After facing the minimun through three innings, Cain stared down Yasmani Grandal with runners at the corners, two outs and a chance to keep the Padres scoreless.

“I didn’t make the pitches that I needed to,” Cain said after allowing six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in a 6-0 Giants loss, their 10th in the last 13 games. “I had good opportunities to get out of that without any runs and I made two mistakes — two big mistakes.”

[Instant Replay: Despaigne, Padres shut out Giants]

The first was an 86-mph changeup that hovered in the zone. Grandal hit it to a fan on the right-field facade for — after a three-minute replay delay — an RBI double. The second came next on a curveball to Tommy Medica that was turned around for a two-RBI double.

“The one to Grandal was really bad,” Cain said. “The pitch to Medica wasn’t terrible, but I maybe could have thrown it lower and farther away from him.

“I’ve got to make those pitches.”

That, Cain will tell you, has been his biggest problem this year.

“You’ve got to really make sure to bear down when you’ve got a chance to get out of the inning, you’ve got to take advantage of that,” he said.

Even if he escaped the fourth unscathed, though, it would have been tough for Cain to get the win on this night as the Giants were shut out by San Diego for the first time since September of 2010.

It was the ninth time in 12 starts that the Giants have provided two or fewer runs of support for Cain.

“He knows there’s things you can’t control — like getting run support,” Bochy said. “It seems like he’s had to deal with this since he’s come up to the major leagues.”

“I’m not going to complain about it,” Cain said flatly. “It’s not going to happen.”

But even his manager will acknowledge the emotions that a 1-6 start with a 4.82 ERA will elicit from a three-time All-Star.

“He’s human, I’m sure he’s frustrated,” Bochy said. “I could tell you he’s getting a little tired of it. He gives you all he has every game and he did tonight. We couldn’t get any runs for him. But I’m sure it’s wearing on him.”

Still, there is a clear positive to be gleaned from Monday’s loss. Cain recorded an out in the eighth inning for the just the second time this season.

“All you can do is go out there and give us a chance to win,” Bochy said. “You give up three runs going into the eighth inning, you’ve done that. And he did that tonight.”

What the Giants didn’t do on Monday was figure out Odrisamer Despaigne, the 27-year-old Cuban who made history by becoming the seventh pitcher to go seven or more shutout innings without a walk in his major league debut.

“He was just on,” said Hunter Pence, who had one of the Giants’ four hits. “All my at-bats were pretty tough.”

The Giants didn’t have much of an advanced scouting report for the right-hander. They did dredge up some high-angle video from Cuba, but nothing like the typical center field shot that shows pitch movement.

“Film does’t show what goes on in the game,” Pence said, avoiding an excuse.

In fact, you couldn’t find an excuse anywhere in the Giants clubhouse, but the team had better come up with one or two if it isn’t able to string together a few wins during this 10-game homestand.

Padres activate Jedd Gyorko from paternity leave

jedd gyorko getty

From the Padres’ official Twitter account

Gyorko missed the first two games of the Padres’ three-game set against the Giants to be with his wife Karley while she gave birth to twin boys. The 25-year-old second baseman signed a five-year, $35 million extension with the San Diego front office earlier this month. He’s batting just .144/.218/.211 with one home run and nine RBI in 26 games this season after hitting .249/.301/.444 with 23 homers and 63 RBI in 125 games last year.

Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner played left field last night

andrew cashner getty

Here’s something you don’t see often: Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner played left field last night–in a game he didn’t even start–because manager Bud Black didn’t want to burn through another bench player in an extra-inning game.

Starting left fielder Seth Smith had to leave the game in the 11th inning with a hamstring injury, so the Padres brought in Cashner to replace him. He stayed in the outfield for one batter–right-hander Tim Stauffer facing right-handed hitter Jayson Werth–and then when the Padres brought in left-hander Alex Torres they also took out Cashner in favor of an actual outfielder, Tommy Medica.

Cashner didn’t have a ball hit to him, but still called the brief outfield appearance a “dream come true.” Oh, and the Padres won the game in the next inning, with Torres being credited with the victory.