The great news about the baseball world now that we have 2 wild card slots is that more baseball games are more interesting as the season goes in September than would be the case with either 1 or 0 wild card. Tonight’s docket includes 12 games where at least one of the teams is still battling for a playoff spot. Only 3 games are essentially “string games” (as in playing out the), including the Brewers and Miami, the Phils and Braves and….this monstrosity.
The Padres won the offseason, including big trades for Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and the Uptons as well as the big signing of “Big Game” James Shields. The Pads gutted their farm system to go “all in” this year despite the fact there was compelling reason to do so (like a Tulo in the last year or two of his contract). The Pads had just gotten a new GM, A.J. Preller, and he wanted to show that the Pads could compete with San Fran and LA. And he had to figure if worse came to worse, they could always trade away pieces at the July 31st deadline and restock their farm system (a system where they even dealt away their 2014 #1 pick to the Nats…allowing the Nationals to play out the string with Ian Desmond since they knew they had their next SS all lined up).
The Rox of course held serve over the winter, not trading Tulo (would they have gotten as good a deal last winter for Tulo sans proof of his health as they got in July?), not signing a big name (like Shields), not dealing Morneau (at his highest value point), John Grey, Eddie Butler, and not trading CarGo.
Well all those moves have give the Padres 8 more wins. And whereas the Rox have a top 5 (top 3 in most reviews) farm system the Padres will be spending so much money to sit Melvin (formerly BJ) Upton, whose contract for output makes Jose Reyes look like a rookie value pick.
In other words, while 2015 has stunk (to be moderate), the Rox are still only 6 wins from once again avoiding the psychological barrier of 100 losses. Alas they are now 4 wins up on the Phils, 2 up on the Braves and tied with the Reds for 3rd fewest losses. I have a hard time seeing this team at this point given how the schedule plays out winning fewer than 65 games. I don’t see how the Phils win 11 games over the last 3.5 weeks of baseball. In other words….looks like the Rox will once again get at best the #3 overall pick. The Astros were helped in their recovery by having overall #1 after overall #1. Personally I think the bottom 4 clubs should be tossed in a hopper so that teams don’t play to lose at the end of the season, but…regardless….we don’t want to see the Rox tank it do we? Just so we get a player 1 or 2 splots better in the draft pool? Not when we already got the best player last year in Brendan Rodgers and in 2013 they got Jon Gray, the pitcher they wanted at #3 (who I think will have a better career and quicker apex than Marc Appel and while Kris Bryant is going to be a folk hero…not sure another hitter is what was important that year). The Rox got the highest rated player coming out in 2014 in Hoffman who only fell to the Blue Jays because of his Tommy John surgery.
So….the future is bright.
The season is almost over.
The Rox have a great chance to again avoid 100 loses and remaining the only team to have never had a 100 loss season.
And tonight…we get to see Jon Gray continue his development. This may or may not be the last outing of the year for Gray…so enjoy what you see folks. Don’t worry about the lack of strikeouts (this is still about helping him learn to get outs period), or the lack of velocity that isn’t a surprise at this point in the season. I also wouldn’t get too bothered by the struggles so far this year of Mike Nikorak, who are friends at Purple Row already have pointed out has simply stunk this year since signing and reporting to Grand Junction. When watching pitchers development especially in the minors remember that age is always a factor, what the team wants a kid to focus on is another factor, and lastly…sometimes guys simply don’t have it…like some high school arms…until their bodies get stronger and more used to the challenges of minor league baseball. And I would say the same thing for a young college arm at the end of the season trying to figure out the challenges of getting big league hitters out at least 21 times if not more in every game.
Against Gray tonight we see the Padres throw Colin Rea, their 12th round pick out of Indiana State in 2011.