The San Diego Padres took the whole “New Decade, New Me” saying to the next level. The Friars will be entering this season with a new look, new skipper and coaching staff, as well as some new faces in the clubhouse.
Last season, the Padres finished the NL West division in last place with a 70-92 record. This was disappointing considering the team was .500 and competing for a Wild Card spot at the All-Star break in July. During the second half of the season, we saw many of the players reverting back to their old habits and just playing through the motions. But 2019 wasn’t a complete disappointment. The Padres had many memorable moments: 200+ HR in a single season, 7 HRs in a single game (5/25 @ TOR), Kirby Yates leading all of MLB with 41 saves, Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off grand slam vs. the Dodgers, and 6 leadoff HRs for Tatis Jr. With 2019 in the books, let’s look at the changes the Padres made this offseason to prepare for 2020.
Let’s start off with the most exciting change this offseason… BROWN IS BACK! The Padres will be sporting a new look this season with a franchise color rebranding. When you see the dark chocolate brown and gold on the field, you’ll know the Padres are playing. The team unveiled the 5 new uniforms being used this season. Personally, my favorite is the road alternate sand pinstripes (as seen on Tatis Jr. below).
At the Helm
Another big change this offseason was the coaching staff. With Andy Green being fired at the end of last season, AJ Preller has taken a lot of heat to put the club back in the right direction. After interviewing a few managerial candidates, Padres announced their new skipper, Jayce Tingler. Tingler, 39, will enter his first year managing a major league team. Not to fret, this young manager will be joined by a very experienced coaching staff. New faces include: Bench Coach, Bobby Dickerson; Pitching Coach, Larry Rothschild; First Base Coach, Wayne Kirby; and Bullpen Coach, Ben Fritz. Returning to the staff in new roles are: Associate Manager, Skip Schumaker; Hitting Coach, Damion Easley; Third Base Coach, Glenn Hoffman; Catching Coach, Rod Barajas; and Bullpen Catchers, Griffin Benedict and Peter Summerville. This coaching staff is a good mix of old school and new school, which should bring a refreshing vibe to the club. Even though Tingler is on the younger side for MLB managers, he has an advantage by relating to some of our younger players.
The New Guys in Town
There will be quite a few new faces donning the brown and gold. The Padres made two big trades this offseason. In November, Padres traded LHP Eric Lauer and 2B Luis Urias to the Milwaukee Brewers. This was a huge surprise and many fans felt like the Padres didn’t give Urias enough chances and gave up on his talent too soon. In return, we received Trent Grisham, who has proven during spring training that he can be our everyday center fielder and Zach Davies, a RHP who can provide depth in our rotation. In a trade that no one saw coming, Padres sent OF Hunter Renfroe, and 2B/SS prospect Xavier Edwards to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for LF Tommy Pham and two-way prospect, Jake Cronenworth. Even though I’m sad to see Renfroe go, I’m excited to see the impact Pham will make in the lineup. He doesn’t mess around nor does he like to lose, so he’ll provide a spark to ignite our offense.
There Can Only Be 5
Many fans were hoping that the Padres would add a veteran ace to the starting rotation like Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, or Madison Bumgarner . But even without signing a big name free agent this offseason, we still have potential for a solid rotation. Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet and Garrett Richards are all shoo-ins for a spot in the starting five. Competiting for the last two spots are Cal Quantrill, Joey Lucchesi, Zach Davies, Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez. I personally think Davies and Quantrill will secure the final spots in the rotation. Even though it was a small sample size, both righties had excellent outings throughout spring training (yes, I know ST doesn’t count for some of you). Lucchesi and Morejon both struggled during their spring training appearances and have shown that they still have some things to figure out. Although, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Lucchesi in a 6th starter role to give the guys an extra rest day or seeing Morejon as an “opener” like the team experimented with last season. Now for Baez, I think he does well in a middle reliever role where he can go two innings if needed.
My Projected Rotation:
- Dinelson Lamet
- Chris Paddack
- Garret Richards
- Zach Davies
- Cal Quantrill
Matt Strahm, Luis Perdomo, Michel Baez and a healthy José Castillo will be returning to the Padres in 2020. Unfortunately, hard-throwing, RHP Andrés Muñoz underwent Tommy John surgery on March 20, so he’ll be out until 2021. Luckily, 8th inning set-up man, Craig Stammen, re-signed with the club for another two years! With the additions of Drew Pomeranz and Emilio Pagán, we have a strong bullpen that will be able to handle any tough situations.
Where There’s A Wil, There’s A Way
This past off-season, the Padres desperately tried to trade away Wil Myers’ big contract, but nothing came to fruition. The past few seasons, he has underperformed and ownership is not very happy about it. He can start off hot, but as soon as he gets into a rut, it’s hard for him to get back on track. Myers has vocalized in the past that he struggles with the mental side of the game. With the new coaching staff, Wil seems to have a new positive outlook on the game. Just look at any of the photos from spring training and you can see that he’s happier. He has also made adjustments at the plate and produced well during the short spring training. With the second most at-bats in ST (30), Myers slashed .300/.364/.733 with 3 HRs. I think Wil is going to have a great bounce back season. Best case scenario: Wil’s bat comes back to life and he splits time between first base and right field eventually taking over first base by the second half. #WilMyersIsMyFirstBaseman
Overall, I believe the Padres will finish around or slightly above .500 this year. While I don’t think we’ll finish 1st in the division, I do think we have a shot at claiming a wild card spot. Our team still isn’t perfect, but we’re taking a step in the right direction. With the new look, new staff, and new attitude, I assure you the Padres will be a fun team to watch in 2020.