The 2015 San Diego Padres season is over. In the process of winning 74 games and not winning 88 they blew through three managers, if you count Dave Roberts‘ one game as the interim interim manager that is. Alexi Amarista was given the starting shortstop job and proceeded to not hit his way back to the bench where he belongs. Jedd Gyorko started out in a horrible slump, was benched, then sent to AAA, then came back, and then started at shortstop. Josh Johnson did not throw a pitch all season until starting a rehab game at Lake Elsinore in August, threw four pitches, and ended up scheduling a third Tommy John surgery.

It was a season to forget. And I’ve forgotten most of it, to be honest.

Rather than give out letter grades for the various aspects of the team or rehash everything that happened — whether it was good, bad, or just incredibly stupid — I reached out on Twitter and asked you guys to come up with one word to describe the 2015 Padres season.

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Why is this happening? Is this gonna be forever?

After being snubbed by both Pablo Sandoval (BOS) and Yasmany Tomas (ARI) the Padres offseason looked to be just more of the same — overpromising and under-delivering — by the time the Winter Meetings started.

It was even reported that the new GM A.J. Preller’s laptop was broken right before the meetings started.  Out came the “Padres are too cheap to even replace a computer” jokes.

Padres’ fans started to show their frustration.  We all knew what this team needed to do, but it seemed that Preller was just like the old GM.  Refusing to drink the iced coffee instead of trying to upgrade the roster with quality players.

It was beginning to look like an almost exact repeat of the previous two offseasons, with only Brandon Morrow and Clint Barmes added as free agents for “roster depth.”

Clint Barmes

Padres sign IF Clint Barmes to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with a club option ($2 million or $200k buyout) for 2016

C’mon.  After Everth Cabrera was DFA, you didn’t really think the Padres were going to put all their faith in Alexi Amarista at shortstop, did you?  Although. Barmes is basically Amarista without the outfield experience.  He was basically signed for infield backup and as a veteran presence.

Why Clint Barmes?

Brandon Morrow

Padres sign RHP Brandon Morrow to a one-year, $2.5 million deal (with incentives)

Tim Stauffer Part Deaux, is what it boils down to.  Doesn’t cost much and if he doesn’t crack the rotation he’ll be the long reliever, most likely.

Brandon Morrow looking to make comeback with Padres

Then, the last day of the Winter Meetings happened.  And that all changed.  Big time.

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If there’s one thing that’s clear after the latest flurry of Padres moves, it’s that my dream scenario of Nori Aoki patrolling right field in 2015 isn’t going to happen. The consolation prize — a likely outfield of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton — is probably one we can live with.

We’ve already covered the Kemp and Myers trades (here and here), so, before we conclude with some thoughts on what might come next, let’s jump right in to a bevy of missed transactions.

Padres acquire OF Justin Upton and RHP Aaron Northcraft from Atlanta Braves for LHP Max Fried, 2B/SS Jace Peterson, 3B Dustin Peterson, and OF Mallex Smith

Out of the three blockbuster trades pulled off by AJ Preller over the past week or so, this is the one that really screams win-now. Both Kemp and Myers will be around for five years — or at least until they’re dealt — but Upton’s contract expires after the 2015 season, where he’ll make $14.5 million. Though the Padres will have a lengthy, exclusive period to work on a potential extension with the 27-year-old outfielder, it’s likely that he’ll test the free agent market after the season. Even as a one year rental, there are reasons to like the move:

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Exercise Josh Johnson‘s 2015 option? Exercise it now when there’s news that he’s on his way to see Dr. James Andrews, likely putting an end to his 2014 season?

Before you dismiss this suggestion as the ravings of a lunatic (and it is lunacy for no other reason than options don’t get picked up until the season ends and performance thresholds are met or missed), resist for but a moment. It was just the other night that I jokingly offered the following:

This was a joke without a punchline. Here’s the punchline . . .

There it is! A Caddy Shack reference! Yes! No? Sorry.

I was not serious in any way. Instead, I chose to use twitter for its intended purpose:  To be a facetious jerkface.

But I’ve been thinking about this and if you’ll indulge me I would like to make a case for keeping Josh Johnson around in 2015.

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Reports surfaced yesterday that the Padres Josh Johnson, signed as a free agent over the winter, would be seeking a second opinion from Dr James Andrews on his injured forearm.

Then again, perhaps it was his elbow that he was getting checked. He had already had ligament replacement (Tommy John) surgery on it once before, in 2007, and Dr Andrews cleaned it up in October of last year.

So which is it?

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Forgive the extended absence. Between writing the Padres chapter for Baseball Prospectus 2014 and editing BP’s Futures Guide 2014, I’ve been busy.

That didn’t stop me from watching a few spring training games. I saw two in person and three or four on MLB.tv, depending on whether you count the parts where I fell asleep.

I also saw some backfield practice sessions, although not as many as I’d have liked. If you ever go to spring training, be sure to hit those and watch the prospects do drill after drill as they hone their craft. For me, the practices are better than the games.

Anyway, I took notes:

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The 2013 Padres surged in the second half through a huge uptick in pitching results. The 2014 Padres should be similarly reliant on strong pitching performances from the likes of Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Josh Johnson.

Every pitcher utilizes his arsenal in a unique way, specifically when facing same-side or opposite-handed hitters. Here’s how the Padres pitching staff stacks up.

For this specific exercise we’re only looking at players with a significant data set, so Robbie Erlin, Joe Wieland, Burch Smith, etc. were left out.

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I used to play online poker for hours upon hours a day. I never played for significant stakes, but that wasn’t really the point of playing. Poker, especially tournament poker, is a great test of patience and decision-making, and even at super low or even no stakes, it’s a competition, and I love to compete.

The Padres want to compete, too. They may not be built to, but they aren’t in rebuilding mode either. They’re in an in-between stage, in which they wait for their farm system to pay more dividends as they slowly build payroll up from the bottom of the barrel to somewhere closer to the middle of the barrel.

In 2013, the Padres were in a similar position and stood pat, adding almost no new talent. In poker terms, they folded their hand pre-flop. With the odds against them, they faced a choice of going for it or giving up, and they gave up. It was frustrating to witness, and it must have been frustrating for many in the organization as well.

This offseason has been a little bit different. With the signing of Josh Johnson to build depth and raise the ceiling of the starting rotation, plus the trade for Seth Smith which should have a similar affect on the outfield, the Padres have been addressing needs like a team that thinks it can win a lot of games in 2014. Maybe they’re overrating their talent, or maybe they realize that sometimes you have to risk all your chips knowing that the odds are likely not in your favor. Read More…