Opening Day 2017 is right around the corner! First, let’s review how we got here...
After a rough few months to start the 2016 season, the focus of Friar Faithful started turning towards the draft. With a draft class that had been advertised as stronger in pitching, a few teams reached for outfielders, leaving 18-year old power pitcher Riley Pint to San Diego at the #8 pick. The Pads rounded out their first-round bounty with 3B Drew Mendoza and RHP Kyle Funkhouser (take that, Dodgers!). The rest of the draft yielded many projectable arms, with a few high-ceiling position players sprinkled in.
The fun didn’t stop there, as AJ Preller fulfilled his long-promised cannonball into the international market on July 2nd; landing a bevy of future stars, including the famed youngster, Lazarito Armenteros.
July fireworks were just beginning, as the baseball world turned its eyes to beautiful Petco Park. Matt Kemp not only won the Homerun Derby, but drove in Yasiel Puig for the All Star Game winning run! (There would be a delayed pall on the celebration, as Puig suffered a freak, painless nerve injury that would end his season, after bumping Sal Perez out of the way to score that run.)
To round out what will go down as a truly franchise-altering month, the
mad-scientist Rockstar GM pulled off a blockbuster with the Wildcard-seeking Tampa Bay Rays, sending them Derek Norris, Andrew Cashner, Ryan Butler and Dinelson Lamet for 3B Richie Schaffer and future ace Blake Snell. Efforts to cash in on Tyson Ross seemed to be thwarted by Ross’ stints on the DL.
The Padres finished the season strong, ending up in 4th with a record of 76-86 and renewed optimism for the future.
The offseason was relatively quiet. James Shields opted out of his contract, then signed a 4-year/$80m deal with the Twins. Alexei Ramirez talked about a similar spurn, but reversed course when the Padres reworked the remaining year on his contract to include performance bonuses. Preller waited out Doug Fister, inking a 1-year/$8m "pillow" contract after his spotty year in Houston. Just to round out the bench with a lefty, Preller landed Ike Davis on a low-risk 1-year pact at $2m plus incentives.
And Spring Training wraps up with some interesting position battles having been decided. Hunter Renfroe’s Peoria power display has won him the starting LF job. Richie Shaffer’s time is now, bumping Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg into a timeshare at 2B. The main prize of the feted July trade, Blake Snell will be eased into the rotation as the nominal #5, but expectations are that he’ll climb the ranks. Austin Hedges takes the starting job behind the plate, but Christian Bethancourt is sure to get plenty of AB’s. Manny Margot, Jose Rondon and Fernando Perez will start in El Paso, surely knocking on the door this year.
Opening Day 2017 Lineup:
Cory Spangenberg 2B
Melvin Upton CF
Matt Kemp RF
Wil Myers 1B
Hunter Renfroe LF
Richie Shaffer 3B
Alexei Ramirez SS
Austin Hedges C
UTIL- Yangervis Solarte, Carlos Asuaje
OF- Travis Jankowski
C- Christian Bethancourt
LH PH/1B- Ike Davis
SP1- Tyson Ross
SP2- Doug Fister
SP3- Colin Rea
SP4- Drew Pomeranz
SP5- Blake Snell
CL- Tayron Guerrero
It figures to be another year of growing pains for our San Diego Padres. The lineup is far too right-handed, and the young kids will take their lumps. But with some deft maneuvers, especially last July, they are set up nicely for the near future, as evidenced by their consensus top-5 farm system!