I often do a thing I shouldn’t do. I see a performance by a former Padre and find my mind filling with questions and revisionist history, leading to doubts and regret and that often winds up with tears drowning in the bottom of an empty beer glass. This year is particularly rough, as the product on our field isn’t particularly good, and there seem to be an unusually large number of former Padres having surprising seasons. Since you’re a glutton for misery like I am, you’ll join me on a voyage around the diamond where we visit the guys we could have had and see what they’re doing.
- Yasmani Grandal: Leading all catchers in Fangraphs’ “Def” stat by far, Grandal is walking more than our Austin Hedges, striking out a little less, and has a much higher BABIP. That said, if you trust StatCorner’s framing data, our heartthrob rates as the better framer over the renowned Grandal. Plus Grandal was (allegedly) a clubhouse jerk, so I still say good riddance.
- Derek Norris: He’s hitting .189/.246/.337/ and allegedly abused his ex-fiancee. Move along, nothing to see here.
- Yonder Alonso: Ugh, this is where it starts to get ugly. He’s hitting .302/.397/.630 with 17 home runs, to LEAD ALL AL 1B WITH A 173 OPS+!! Nobody saw this coming. He went from a groundball hitter to an extreme fly ball hitter and has revolutionized his offense. He went from a candidate for release last year to the most productive first baseman in his league. Dammit.
- Jedd Gyorko: Since leaving San Diego in the Jon Jay trade, all Jedd Gyorko has done is add 100 points to his BABIP and over 150 points to his slugging percentage. He’s hitting .297/.346/.498 while providing positive value with the glove all over the infield. That’s not the guy we traded away. He’s learned how to lay off the slider down and away, and he’s using the whole field rather than pulling literally everything. I love Yangervis Solarte and I really like Cory Spangenberg, but I hate seeing a player become the player we always thought he could be as soon as he puts on another uniform.
- Eric Sogard: The former Padres farm hand is seeing a resurgent season in his age-31 season. He’s hitting .340/.446/.521 while playing all over the field, but the really frustrating part is that he’s hitting .440/.500/.680 against the Padres, who can’t seem to get him out. On the bright side, the one homer he has against the Padres was overcome in extra innings. Yeah, we made his daughter cry, but it’s a life lesson for the kid.
- Trea Turner: While the .264/.294/.428 triple-slash doesn’t stand out, he’s hit seven homers and swiped 22 bases while playing some very nice defense at shortstop, where scouts may have doubted his abilities when A.J. Preller traded him away in the Wil Myers trade. He’s streaky as any rookie would be, but when you consider that the Padres’ gaping organizational hole is at shortstop and we traded away a pretty good one, the trade will always be a sore point in Friar land.
- Alexi Amarista: Our favorite Little Ninja is hitting a surprising .313/.321/.470 with two homers in limited playing time in the thin Colorado air, while seeing action all over the field. He’s doing what he did here, only he’s hitting about 100 points better in average and 200 points better in slugging. Allen Cordoba may be a legit long-term player, but it stings to see the guy bloom elsewhere.
- Chase Headley: After a hot April, Headley came crashing back to earth in May. Now he’s hitting .248/.331/.369 on the season, which is a little behind his career numbers. This appears to be a case of the Padres trading a player before his value really plummeted, which seems like a rare thing. It’s also nice that Yangervis Solarte, one of the guys we got back for Headley, is hitting .264/.346/.411 this season and is the team leader that Headley never could be.
- Justin Upton: A .333 BABIP may be buoying his .265/.352/.500 line, but all three of those triple-slash values are ahead of what he did for the Padres. Regardless, letting him go was the right move at the time; it just would have been nice to have moved him mid-season to try to get some kind of value beyond jersey sales.
- Matt Kemp: He’s hitting .326/.363/.555 with double-digit home runs and a 13:52 BB:K rate and can go #^(& himself.
- Jon Jay: I can’t be mad at a guy whose nice season was derailed by a broken bone from being hit by a pitch, but I still wish he could have hit .304/.382/.383 for the Padres last year and remained healthy. This year he’s not hitting for nearly as much power, but he’s still a consistent hitter while playing quality defense as a fourth outfielder for the Cubs.
- Cameron Maybin: After a resurgent season with Detroit where he hit .315 last season, Maybin is leading the AL with 22 stolen bases for the Angels. With Mike Trout out for a while because he’s one of those morons who slides headfirst into the base, Maybin is hitting .382/.417/.588 in the month of June. Mike Trout who?
- Mallex Smith: With Kevin Keirmayer out for a while, Smith has some playing time on his hands, and he’s capitalizing. he’s hitting .368/.438/.491 on the season and only getting hotter as the season is going along. He was let go because the team saw promise in Travis Jankowski, who has missed most of the season with a broken bone in his right foot after a very slow start to his season.
- Andrew Cashner: Yeah, he’s 3-6 with a 1.47 WHIP, but that 3.50 ERA doesn’t look too shabby. Oh, and he just hit the DL with an oblique strain, so the injury bug followed him to Texas.
- Tyson Ross: He finally made his first start of the season last week, going 5-2/3 innings and only giving up two earned runs. Then again, he’s getting paid a lot of money with no guarantees of health. I’m glad that we let him walk away.
- Joe Ross: A 6.39 ERA and 1.534 WHIP suggest that he’s not all that.
- Drew Pomeranz: Through 13 starts, his 4.19 ERA isn’t anything to get excited about, but it’s still better than average in the AL. His K% is up, his BB% is down, and it looks like he’s been a bit unlucky given that his xFIP is 3.69.
- James Shields: He’s given up only three earned runs in 16-2/3 innings pitched, but he’s only made three appearances this season due to a lat strain. He was removed from the DL the other day, so he still has time to make the Padres look bad, even though he made himself look bad while he was a Padre.
- Edinson Volquez: The 3.72 ERA looks good, the 4.49 xFIP suggests he’s been lucky, but the no-hitter would have been a nice thing for him to do with an “SD” on his cap.
- Brad Brach: After making the 2016 All-Star Game, Brach is having another nice season for the Orioles, with a 2.76 ERA with 11 saves.
- Brad Boxberger: A back injury has kept him on the shelf all season, but he may be making his season debut soon.
- Bud Norris: With the Angels, the former starter is reinventing himself as a solid bullpen piece and part-time closer, striking out over 11 batters per nine innings and holding offenses to a 2.51 ERA.
- Craig Kimbrel: 2016 was a rough year for the former Padre, but he’s been absolutely dominant in 2017, to the tune of a 0.88 ERA and a microscopic 0.42 WHIP. He’s only been the best closer in baseball this year, which is what the Red Sox thought they were getting when they sent a pu-pu platter of prospects to the Padres for his services. Given the context, I’m happy with the returns (Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen).
- Fernando Rodney: Boy, talk about selling high! Rodney fell off the table after being traded this year, and he’s been not-good this year to the tune of a 4.97 ERA. That’s not what you want out of a closer. He’s still slinging those arrows, though!
- Nick Vincent: The Ramona native has crafted a 2.05 ERA while not striking out a bunch of guys but not issuing many free passes either. The 4.37 xFIP hints at some luck, but he’s on a nice run nonetheless.
- Matt Bush: I’d rather not talk about him.
- Luke Gregerson: Back in the day, Adams-Gregerson-Bell was about as sure a thing as there was in baseball. That was a long time ago. He now holds a 5.00 ERA in the Astros bullpen, which won’t keep him in the league much longer.
Stop the Insanity!
Hindsight is 20/20, yadda yadda. We can dissect the decisions as to why each of these players left the organization and justify it one way or another, but when you can put together a roster of former Padres and they’re way better than the current cast, it can be a bit disheartening. The good news is that the organization is heading in the right direction and some of these players have led to centerpiece members of the future of the team.