At Home Plate
Postmortem: The San Diego Padresby Jonathan Leshanski
November 26, 2003
2003 Season Postmortem: The San Diego Padres
Regular Season Record: 64-98
Wins: Jake Peavy 12
Highlight of the season: It was a tough season for a Padres team who in the spring seemed poised to take a step up. There were not many highlight moments only the return of Phil Nevin, the acquisition of Brian Giles and the team’s 11-8 record against LA really stand out. However the one highlight that probably deserves the honor was the final game in Qualcom Stadium, which had been the Padres home since their inaugural season in 1969.
Low point of the season: Injuries robbed them of two of their best players in Trevor Hoffman and Phil Nevin before the season officially began it pretty much doomed the Padres and their chance to reach .500.
Best move of the season: It’s a toss up. The best thing for the fans in 2003 was the appearance of Rod Beck and his amazing season as the team closer. However for beyond last season the best thing has to be the acquisition of Brian Giles, an elite outfielder who was hurt most of last season and had a very off season. A healthy Giles in 2004 gives this team a whole new heart.
Worst move of the season: Failing to provide support to the core of young pitchers who the Padres have been hoping would develop into something special. Not only was there a lack of supporting pitchers to take the reins when needed but also there was no real catcher and little run support (early in the season). Its hard to develop confidence when you are getting shellacked almost every time out and even your good efforts don’t get enough run support.
Key Player: Phil Nevin. Even in March we were all writing off the Padres without Nevin driving their offense. When your only standout hitter gets hurt that early on and you can’t replace him you know there is trouble. It’s a mistake the Padres are determined not to repeat and they have already taken several steps to correct that problem.
Up and Coming Player: Xavier Nady. Nady’s first major league season was uneven but showed a lot of promise. With a little maturity and a slightly better eye at the plate Nady could be something pretty special.
What went right: Rod Beck was solid and was one of the feel good stories of 2003. Mark Loretta had a breakout season (but at age 33 does he have more to offer? Or can he post similar numbers?). Nevin looked good after coming back from injury. Adam Eaton had a very good first year back from Tommy John surgery and holds promise for next year.
The young players got some seasoning, and the front office made some good trades.
What went wrong: Injuries were the killer for the Padres this season but it’s hardly the whole story. None of the Padres pitchers Brian Lawrence, Adam Eaton, Jake Peavy, Oliver Perez, or Kevin Jarvis had good seasons. It was a huge letdown for Lawrence who over the past two seasons has carried this staff. Eaton had a rough year but lead the staff in ERA and hopefully will be a stronger pitcher in 2004.
Without Hoffman the bullpen only had three reliable arms in Rod Beck, Matt Herges, and Scott Linebrink. Every other reliever had an ERA over 4.20.
Offensively only Mark Loretta had a season that was as good or better than his usual numbers. If this guy could run a little better he’d be a legitimate table setter.
Offseason Preview: The Padres have been counting on their young staff coming together and gelling into a major threat for the opening of their new ballpark (PETCO Park) in 2004, but these kids have not lived up to the billing so far. Next season already promises to be better with a lineup which should be the best in the NL west and score a lot of runs with Brian Giles, Ryan Klesko, Phil Nevin, Xavier Nady, Mark Loretta and the newly acquired Terrance Long and Ramon Hernandez.
They also have been trying to improve their staff and are currently in talks with Japanese right-hander Akinori Otsuka who wants to play in the Majors next year. Considering they’ve paid $300,000 to negotiate with him it’s likely they will sign him for next season. He was a closer in Japan but would likely take the setup role to Trevor Hoffman.
With PETCO Park slated to open in 2004 it’s likely that GM Kevin Towers has a green light to add at least one moderate priced arm to the Padres rotation and several to the bullpen.
This team is looking for a last to first kind of a season and they are looking an awful lot like the type of teams built in Toronto and Boston with a lot of offense, decent starting pitching and a relief corps that could use a boost. The Padres’ starters have a big upside, which if it can be realized could make them serious contenders.
They seem to be a lock for .500 next season and have a lot more potential than that.
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