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OOTP21 Padres: Issues in the Outfield

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MLB: FEB 27 Spring Training - Diamondbacks at Padres Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If you’ve missed any part of the story so far, you can always check here to see all of the posts I’ve written on Gaslamp Ball about this virtual San Diego Padres team I’m playing through with OOTP21.

When I last checked in, I spoke of meditation. How playing the role of GM/manager of the Padres in this game had taught me the value of patience, and also the hard way in which I had to learn that lesson (trading away Trent Grisham and then immediately regretting it).

I’m doing my best to stay focused on that patience now, while also staying aware of the slim margins that I’m working with and trying to not let the good start to the season slip away.

Let’s check in on how things are going, group by group, and what the future holds.

Overall

It’s 5/10/2020 in my simulation and the Padres are a healthy 22-17. They trail the Rockies by 1.5 games and have could easily end up in 3rd place soon, with another game against the Dodgers on the docket for later today.

And here’s how the team stacks up to the rest of the NL so far this year:

As you can probably tell, the offense has been a problem and the starting pitching hasn’t been great either. It’s the bullpen, even with the injuries to Emilio Pagan and Drew Pomeranz, that has held things together and have the team playing above their Pythagorean record.

Starting Pitching

Hoo, buddy. What a ride it has been for the starting rotation of the Padres this year.

Just about the only guys doing well consistently on the staff were Garrett Richards and Jacob Nix, at least until Garrett Richards got bone chips in his elbow. He’ll be out a couple of months.

While I failed at my attempt to sign Michael Wacha (now with the Rockies), I did manage to trade not a lot to pickup 2019 all-star selection Mike Minor from the Texas Rangers, who just wanted off of his contract:

The bad news is that Minor has an ERA over 6 in three starts with the Padres. If he doesn’t get it together soon, I’ll once again start looking for a better option in that spot.

The good news, the really fun and really good news, came as the result of some dire straits....

After back-to-back extra-inning games against the Dodgers (12-9 loss in 17 innings, 5-3 loss in 10 innings), the Padres bullpen was completely gassed. Even some of the starters had to come in for the 17 inning game, and I ended up with nothing but worn-out arms.

I called up Dinelson Lamet, who gave me 7 strong innings in the finale against the Dodgers, but everyone was still tired the next day in the opener vs. the Cardinals. I pieced together enough between Nix (3.1 innings) and Miguel Diaz (1.2 innings), but the bullpen once again ran out of arms after scoreless innings from Pierce Johnson and Craig Stammen. Never one to let his teammates down, Chris Paddack came in for the 2-inning save and a much-needed win after being swept by the Dodgers.

But then I was left with nothing for the next day (Paddack was scheduled to pitch). The bullpen was in okay shape, but not good enough to go Johnny Wholestaff. All of the starters were less than 50% energy-wise, which meant they could maybe give me an inning or two.

I needed something that could get me out of this endless cycle of wearing out my starters and bullpen. I needed a stud to come in and give me a really good 7 innings. I checked who was fresh in El Paso and found....Mackenzie Gore.

In his major-league debut, Gore threw 7 scoreless innings in a win, striking out 7 and walking zero. He only gave up 3 hits and was almost never in any sort of trouble. It was thrilling. It was so good that I decided he needed to keep that spot in the rotation. (He hasn’t yet had his 2nd start.)

The starting rotation is currently...weird. If I have any chance of making it to October, I’m thinking I’ll need lots of good outings from Paddack, Nix and Gore. Maybe we’ll even see Luis Patiño at some point.

Bullpen

The bullpen has been good! Pomeranz has finally recovered from his injury and is throwing a couple of innings in El Paso before I call him back up. In the meantime, just about everyone has pulled their weight.

Matt Strahm has been a revelation in Pomeranz’s absence, Kirby Yates has continued being Kirby Yates, and Andrés Muñoz has been mostly great (an inflated ERA due to a couple of real bad outings in blowouts).

The only person not pictured here is Zach Davies, who has bounced between the starting rotation and the bullpen and been bad at both. His ERA is above 8. I tried to trade him and (surprise!) nobody is interested. He’s going back to El Paso as soon as Pomeranz is ready.

Infield

Let’s start with the good news...

Every infielder has a positive WAR. That’s good!

It also appears that my 1B platoon is working out well for both Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers. That’s also good!

The only real downside here is that Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado have not been studs. At least not yet. Neither of them has an OPS over .800 (Tatis’ OPS was .969 last season). They are supposed to be the ones driving my offense and they really haven’t.

I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, but at this rate I’ll be hiring a new hitting coach in the offseason.

Outfield

Here’s where things get messy.

You don’t need a reminder, but my decision to trade Trent Grisham for Ian Happ looks worse every day. And, since the Padres didn’t have any real solutions in RF and Franchy Cordero has slowed down after a solid start to the season, I now have two holes out there.

First, Happ. I just couldn’t take how bad he was. In 12 games with the Padres, he hit for a .150 average and a .171 OBP. For an offense that’s not getting much from its stars, I couldn’t have that. I shopped him around and got this back from Arizona:

So much for patience, huh? Unsurpisingly, Happ has gone right back to being a fearsome hitter for Arizona.

Anyway, the 20-year old Alek Thomas has Trent Grisham-like potential (I know, I know) but seemed completely overwhelmed once he got to San Diego. He hit .133 with a .235 OBP in 4 games and looked lost in the process. I decided that his potential was too high to let him struggle that way, and decided that I needed a different approach to my outfield/centerfield situation.

Here’s where we currently stand:

Andrew Benintendi has been really great, and undoubtedly I won that trade (Tommy Pham has continued to stink for BOS). Juan Lagares I called up because he’s right-handed and can play CF (Thomas was sent down in his place). He was on fire in El Paso and has continued that with the Padres. I’m not assuming that it will continue, but I’ll take what I can get.

Franchy has fallen back to Earth. Josh Naylor, who was putting up insane numbers in El Paso, has done nothing since getting the call-up.

So, I now have a problem in RF and will probably (again) have a problem in CF soon. There’s not a lot of good solutions here, but I am waiting to hear back from the Tigers on my trade offer for Cameron Maybin. Wish me luck!

The future

My current goal is to stay above .500, but I don’t know that I have the team for it. I’m going to leave the infield alone and hope Tatis puts it together at some point (just because he would in real life doesn’t mean he will in the game).

I’m going to hope the starting pitching rallies around Gore, but I’m keeping my eyes open for other options there.

If there is a CF/RF option out there, I will be checking it out. I already looked at free agents without much luck. Maybin could temporarily help me because he adds a decent right-handed bat and a great glove in the corner OF spots, but he’s not the final piece here.

And, as always, if I can find someone who wants to take on 50% of Myers’ or Hosmer’s contracts, I will be trading them away. Even if they’re playing well, they can not play up to the future of their contracts. I just wish I had a 1B in waiting I could easily slide over there after a trade is made.

Watch!

I haven’t been on Twitch as much the last few days, but that’s about to change. Tune in today around 12pm PT for a game or two, along with me stressing out about the outfield issues. Maybe you’ll even get to see virtual Mackenzie Gore’s 2nd start!

As always, feedback and your comments below are appreciated!