As we get catch our collective breath over the four-day All-Star break, it’s a good opportunity to look back at a first half on a Padres season filled with ups and downs, sadness and hope.
Off the field, we lost two true Padres legends in Jerry Coleman and Tony Gwynn. We also have the prospect of a new general manager, which fans hope will be a reason for optimism – although time will only tell.
On the field, the season’s first half probably felt like a disappointment to most. This lineup not only couldn’t hit its way out of a paper bag, it would probably get tripped up while trying and end up on the disabled list. They rank dead last in the league in most major categories and could very well set all-time records for futility.
But really, if you look at where the Padres are in the standings right now – third place, not necessarily in the division hunt but less than 10 games out before the Dodgers debacle last weekend – that’s probably right around where we thought they would be, right?
As we gear up for the second half of the season, let’s dole out some grades based on production so far.
Top of the class
Tyson Ross: He got a much-earned All-Star selection, even if he didn’t get to actually appear in the game (it seems nobody on the team does). Ross has been unhittable for a good part of the past two months. His seven wins are tied for the team lead and his 2.85 ERA is best among all starters except for the injured Andrew Cashner. With Cash sidelined for much of the year, Ross has taken the role of staff ace and run with it.
Seth Smith: It started with a pinch-hit home run in the season opener and continued with a red-hot .354 average in the month of May. Just imagine what this lineup would be like without his 10 homers, 73 hits and 42 walks. The longtime platoon player was rewarded with starter-like money when he signed a two-year extension last month. It was well deserved.
Huston Street: The other Padres All-Star earned his second trip to the Midsummer Classic in three years with a near-perfect first half. He blew just one of his 25 save chances while holding opponents to a miniscule .158 average, anchoring a bullpen that was the best in the league for much of the season. Now, if the offense can just work on getting some more leads to protect …
The rest of the bullpen: Take out Nick Vincent’s struggles while dealing with a shoulder injury and a few recent hiccups from Alex Torres and Joaquin Benoit and this bunch is near perfect. Who knows who will still be around at the end of the year – Benoit and Street are both the subject of trade rumors – but it’s hard to complain about much no matter who Bud Black calls upon from the ‘pen.
Rene Rivera: The longtime journeyman was kept on as a third catcher to start the season mostly because of his rapport with Andrew Cashner, but he has proven himself a worthy every day starter. Rivera has already set career highs with six homers and 22 RBIs and earned rave reviews for his work behind the plate.
Odrisamer Despaigne and Jesse Hahn: The two rookies have been a pleasant surprise, winning a combined seven of their 11 starts and holding hitters under .200. The future is bright for both of these guys, assuming they can keep it up.
Ian Kennedy: His impressive stats have been lost in the shuffle of Ross and the rookies. If it wasn’t for an ugly stretch in June, his numbers would be on par with the best of ‘em and his first three starts of July – just two total earned runs allowed – bode well for the second half.
Andrew Cashner: What a frustrating year for the guy who was supposed to be “the guy” in this talented rotation. Remember that one-hitter against the Tigers back in April? Who knows how many more similar performances we would have seen if his arm hadn’t been bothering him. Here’s hoping the soreness is not too serious and Big Tex can get back on the mound soon. If nothing else, he brings a levity to the clubhouse that is always appreciated.
Jake Goebbert: He hasn’t done anything particularly spectacular since getting called up last month, but he hasn’t really been a liability at the plate while playing first base and outfield. In this lineup, we’ll take it.
Still Work to Do
Chase Headley: The high-priced third-baseman was flirting with disaster for much of the season, and that was before he got hurt. Thanks to a hot July – he’s at .327 for the month – Headley has brought his average up to .226. Along with seven homers, that’s at least respectable in this rag-tag lineup.
Everth Cabrera: For the first few weeks of the season, it looked like the shortstop was going to build on last season’s All-Star selection as he hit over .300 out of the leadoff spot. Then he started drinking the same water as the rest of this lineup and the numbers sunk like a stone, bottoming out at .218 before a hamstring injury put him on the shelf. When he gets back, Cabrera can start by tempering that strikeout total – 81 Ks in 80 games is not a good ratio for a guy with just three homers.
Cameron Maybin: We didn’t even see him for the first month of the season, and he has managed to come up with some clutch hits since returning from the disabled list. But just nine RBIs in 171 at-bats is still confounding. Sure, base runners are at a premium on this team, but come on.
Carlos Quentin: Yeah yeah, he’s been injured much of the year. But a team with a huge hole in the middle of the lineup can’t afford his lack of production. Four home runs and a .322 slugging percentage are just unacceptable.
Jedd Gyorko: Ditto for Gyorko, who signed a big contract to start the season, then went out and hit a buck-sixty-two while slugging a dismal .270 for the first half before going down with a foot injury. Hopefully the second-baseman will be back soon so he can prove himself in the second half.
Josh Johnson: Tommy John surgery ended his season – and Padres tenure? – before it even began. We can only lament about what might have been.