Sez Bill: Grading the 2013 Padres

“We’re going to have to stay late again. Of course you know, we have pizza because they deliver. We can get fried chicken, hamburgers with cheese. We’ll need donations. No, really, you owe me money anyway. You don’t deserve the grades you’re getting.”
Jaime Escalante, Stand and Deliver

billcenter_t120In yesterday’s UT San Diego, soon-to-retire Padres beat writer Bill Center graded the 2013 San Diego Padres.

Let’s have a look at his grades, and whether or not I agree with them.

Starting Pitching: D

The development of right-handers Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and the promising late-season outings of rookies Robbie Erlin and Burch Smith can’t hide the fact that this was an area that worried the Padres coming out of last season, wasn’t addressed last winter and was terrible through the first two-thirds of the season. Plus, Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard struggled right from the start.

Can’t really argue with this. Volquez & Richard brought the entire staff down with their lack of expected performance. But, even taking them out of the equation, I would have given this starting staff a C+, at best. Cashner & Ross took the first half of the season to find their grooves. Ian Kennedy, after he was acquired at the trade deadline from Arizona, was Dr Jekyll (good) in Petco Park and Mr Hyde (bad) just about everywhere else.

Bullpen: C-

Although Huston Street struggled early, he successfully converted 33 of his 35 save attempts and gave up runs in only two of his last 32 outings. Luke Gregerson was again solid as the setup man and Ramona High grad Nick Vincent came on strong to supplant struggling Dale Thayer in the No. 2 setup role. Young relievers Brad Brach, Brad Boxberger and Anthony Bass all went in reverse in 2013 after showing promise in 2012.

They were serviceable, but Gregerson & Street both struggled at times. Vincent was a pleasant surprise. Thayer had his problems, but was solid overall. Boxberger & Brach were just horrible seemingly every time they came into a game.

It’s hard to give the bullpen any grade higher than a C

Infield: C-

Jedd Gyorko had a solid rookie season and led the Padres with 23 homers and 63 RBIs despite missing a month with a groin strain. But Chase Headley’s season-long slump and Yonder Alonso’s right hand injury resulted in an absence of power at the corner spots. And although Ronny Cedeno played better than expected, the Padres were not the same after Everth Cabrera started serving his 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

This is where I disagree with Center. I’d give the infield a solid B. Yeah, offensively they were nothing much (Gyorko being the exception), but defensively they were outstanding. Even after Cabrera started his suspension.

Outfield: D

The Padres were counting on Carlos Quentin to play 120 games and fell 38 short. The loss of Cameron Maybin to wrist and knee problems turned formerly platooning right fielders Will Venable and Chris Denorfia into everyday players. The outfield totaled 62 home runs for the season and both ranking left fielders, Quentin and Kyle Blanks, were hurting much of the season.

I take it back. THIS is where I disagree with Center. A D? Really? Denorfia & Venable filled the gap left by Maybin’s injury admirably. If it wasn’t for Bud Black starting Alexi Amarista in centerfield seemingly 75% of the time, we might have seen even more from them. And anyone who actually thought Quentin would play in 120 games was just fooling themselves. B

Catching: C-

Coming out of last season, the Padres were counting on switch-hitter Yasmani Grandal to be their every-day catcher. He opened the season serving a 50-day drug suspension and then blew out his ACL. Nick Hundley returned to catch a career-high number of games, but he isn’t Grandal.

It’s all a matter of place-holders until Austin Hedges is ready. C-

Manager: B

Bud Black can manage. He proved that in 2010 when he was named the National League Manger of the Year for a 90-72 campaign. His under-funded teams have played hard, but the Padres must improve to the next level.

For the love of all that is holy, stop starting Amarista in center. I’m giving Buddy a D- just for that. Overall, C-

Front Office: C

Padres general managers have been hamstrung by some of the lowest payrolls in the major leagues over the past eight seasons. That makes it tough to sign free agents and trade for higher-paid players. However, the Padres say the payroll will go to $80 million next year.

I’ll see it when I believe it. D-

Would have been F if not for the Kennedy trade. Josh Byrnes & ownership did NOTHING to improve this club last off-season. And the Padres win-loss record stayed EXACTLY the same.

They’ve got 4 months to prove to us that last year’s offseason was a fluke and that the O’Fowdler Group® is committed to improving the ballclub, even a little.

*****

I know I have more than my share of fun at Bill Center’s expense, but I want to once again wish him well on his retirement from the UT. If I was able to attend that last game at Petco this year, I would have been joining in on the standing ovation with all the other well-wishers.

Good luck, Bill. It was one hell of a career.

*****

Bonus:

As far as I know, no one has ever claimed that the people who respond to the UT’s polls are all that bright.

And here’s proof:

*****

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