Two years ago, my wife and I adopted our first pet together as a couple, a cat named Chloe Marie. Chloe’s owner had passed away from cancer, and she needed a new home. I was hesitant to adopt her. I had never cared for a cat before. Several members of my family are allergic, and we’d just always had dogs anyway.
And anyway, Chloe was already an older cat, and I was worried about the complications of taking on the care of a pet already past the prime of its life. After much deliberation, I was convinced to go for it, and Chloe came home with us. Quite frankly, I love this damn cat and deciding to adopt her is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
However, there were a couple things I didn’t know about caring for a cat. One, no matter how much you think they love you back, and Chloe is a very affectionate girl, they will smack the crap out of you if you even look at them wrong. More importantly, no matter what you do, cats will puke all over everything. As far as I know, there’s no way to train them to only puke in certain spots. When they gotta hurl, they just hurl where they are.
18 months ago, we took a 2 hour drive to the closest IKEA (yeah, it’s that far away) and bought a new couch. Because we really like the couch, we keep it covered with blankets any time we leave the house, just in case the cat pukes on it. It’s a nice looking couch, and we want to keep it that way.
Chloe has only puked on the blankets a couple times, and sometimes she’ll go weeks without vomiting at all. Almost all her pukes end up on the carpet, and we’ve found a cleaning solution that gets rid of any potential stains. Still, we remain vigilant. If we let our guard down even once, we know that will be the one time she blows nasty chunks all over the armrest.
The Padres have much better starting pitching depth than they did coming in to last season. Not starting the year with Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, and Jason Marquis in the rotation should be significant addition by subtraction, but not only that, several injured players are on the verge of returning and a couple hot prospects are getting close to getting their first crack at the big leagues.
I figure the Padres have 10 guys who could see significant time in the rotation in 2014: Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Eric Stults, Ian Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Cory Luebke, Joe Wieland, Burch Smith, Matt Wisler, Keyvius Sampson. There’s also Casey Kelly, though with the Padres’ track record of Tommy John recoveries, he may not be back until very late in the season at the earliest.
Those 10 guys all have significant potential, but they all have significant risk as well. Cashner and Ross are coming off breakout seasons, but they both carry continuous injury concerns and aren’t close to proven commodities. Stults and Kennedy have shown themselves to be steady performers with moments of brilliance, but they also both went through extended periods of replacement level performance in 2013. Erlin, Smith, Wisler, and Sampson have varying levels of potential and readiness, but all are unproven. Luebke and Wieland are returning from surgery, and neither has started throwing significant innings in any sort of rehab setting.
What the Padres have are a bunch of cats, all of them capable of great things in 2014, but all of them are also very capable of blowing chunks all over the place. What the Padres need is a blanket, a solid performing pitcher with a proven track record who can act as a potential stopper and protect the rest of the rotation against couch vomit.
The Padres don’t seem to think they have this need, or at least they don’t seem to be willing to pay for what it takes to get a pitcher of that caliber. They were rumored to be in on Ricky Nolasco, but that was quickly shot down, and avid Padres fans knew immediately it was never going to happen. The Tigers are once again shopping Rick Porcello, and the Padres once again make sense as a trade partner. Don’t expect anything there. But hey, Randy Wolf is looking to make a comeback, so there’s something.
Maybe the cat/blanket analogy isn’t perfect (shouldn’t all pitchers be cats, and the good pitchers be the ones who rarely ever puke?), and maybe the Padres rotation is a safer bet than I give them credit for, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays. Follow me on Twitter, where I will continue to spend the winter fighting against #standpat2014. As the offseason continues, I’ll also surely have a lot to say on Twitter about Aztecs basketball, USMNT soccer, and Olympic curling.