Thursday, January 1, 2015

San Diego Padres: An In-Depth Look Using Customs

I have been tinkering around with my use of custom cards. For a while, I was releasing them one by one. I then moved to a voting system using two customs. Once again, I have altered my custom posts, and I have decided to move in a new direction. I will now posts customs one team at a time. The posts will not only include the fantastic customs done by me (self-promotion for the win), but a look back at the 2014 season, and a look ahead into 2015. 

What went right in 2014?
The front of the rotation, anchored by Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy, was incredibly solid. 

What went wrong in 2014?
The offense of offensive. Simple as that. 

What has the club done to improve this off-season?
Well, they went and got AJ Preller, who has done, well...a lot. The Padres now have a ton of new offensive talent on the roster in the form of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris. The did all of this while managing to keep the front of their rotation in tact, though they did lost some back end depth.

What should we expect in 2015?
While the Padres have improved this off-season, I don't envision them as a legitimate threat to the division just yet. The offensive talent is real. They may need to go out and find a lefty other than Alonso to balance out that line-up, but there is a ton of potential. The front of the rotation is solid, but it will be interesting to see if it can stay healthy, especially now that they have traded away a ton of there depth. If the Padres go and acquire an ace, say Cole Hamels, then I can see them being a formidable team in the division. At the moment, I feel the Padres have a good enough team to land in second behind the Dodgers, but they are not quite in the playoff race yet.

Player Profile: Tony Gywnn (Courtesy of Marcus at ...all the way to the backstop)
I don’t need to introduce Tony Gwynn.  When only six players received a higher percentage of votes to get inducted into the Hall of Fame, it shows that his abilities were not only known to those in San Diego.

Need some numbers?  How about five Gold Gloves, seven Silver Sluggers, and eight batting titles?  His career batting average is .338 (18th highest ever) and he has 3,134 career hits (19th all time).  He hit over .300 19 seasons in a row.  Almost as impressive as all of that is the number 1: the number of teams he played for.

He was a Padre through and through, from the brown to the blue.  He could’ve left for better teams, heftier paychecks, and a bigger spotlight.  He never did.  He was loyal to the city he loved, and they loved him right back.  After retiring, he became the baseball coach at San Diego State, a position he held until he died in June of this year, succumbing to cancer.

He will always be remembered in San Diego, his name so synonymous with his team that he is called “Mr. Padre”.

Let’s get back to some numbers really quick, just to put into perspective how great Gwynn was at hitting.  You know, in case you forgot, or you weren’t around for it all.

A Pure Hitter
For his career batting average to slip below .300, he would need to have returned to baseball and go 0 for 1,183.  That’s about two seasons worth of at bats.

He was at his best against the best
Gwynn faced Greg Maddux, another first ballot Hall of Famer more times (107) than any other pitcher in his career.  Gwynn batted .415 against him, going 39 for 94 with 8 doubles and 11 walks. He never struck out against him.

Tony Gwynn hated to strike out.
Gwynn struck out a total of 434 times in his career, which spanned 10,232 plate appearances.  That’s a 162 game average of 29 K’s.  He never struck out more than 40 in a season.  This year, 350 players in MLB struck out more than that.  Mike Trout has had less than a fourth the at bats that Tony Gwynn had, and has already passed his strikeout total.

Thanks for everything Tony.  Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.

Player Profile: Andrew Cashner (Courtesy of Marcus at ...all the way to the backstop)
Can baseball fans outside of San Diego really name more than a handful of players on the current Padres roster?  The answer is probably “no”.  If the answer happens to be in the affirmative, however, chances are that one of the guys you’re familiar with is Andrew Cashner.  This is for good reason.

Cashner is a beast.  The mullet-wearing fire baller came to San Diego in the Anthony Rizzo trade, and while a quick look at the numbers will show that the Cubs got the better end of the deal (ooh, it hurts to admit that), when Cashner is healthy and on his “A” game, he is as good as it gets.  He’s thrown two one-hitters during his brief time in a Padre uniform, and if the Friars have a hope of losing the distinction of being the only MLB team without a no-hitter, he’s their brightest hope.

More than his abilities (which, when healthy, are substantial), Padre fans love him for his gamesmanship.  He has been utilized by manager Bud Black as a pinch runner and a pinch hitter on multiple occasions, and in one instance, played left field for a third of an inning.  Seeing a starting pitcher with a history of injury problems scoring from second on a headfirst slide when he was put in as a pinch runner is probably the last thing you want to see if you’re an owner, but it’s pretty exhilarating as a fan.

While there’s not much more than a small hope that the Padres can compete with the big spenders in the NL West, watching Cash pitch every fifth day is worth tuning in for.  Seeing those flowing blonde locks and a camouflage undershirt on the mound means that you might get a chance to watch something special.

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