Padres Playoff Chances Dim A Bit, Talent Infusion Comes From Minors - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Sports

Padres Playoff Chances Dim A Bit, Talent Infusion Comes From Minors

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Posted: Monday, July 29, 2019 11:34 am

Your Natterer spent most of the weekend watching San Diego Padres Baseball, primarily because they were playing my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs in the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field. To end the suspense, the Cubs took two games of the three-game series. The first two games were erratically played by both clubs, as the heat index soared to 107º Friday and 109º Saturday. The Cubs won both of those games 6-5.

In preparation for the end of the series, which found the Padres with their season-worst record of 46-52, San Diego’s front office went into high gear, recalling second baseman Luis Urias Saturday from the AAA El Paso Chihuahuas. Sunday, they activated pitchers Adrian Morejon and Michel Baez from the Amarillo Sod Poodles. As an aside, if there are two more bizarre farm club names affiliated with one organization than those two, I’ve yet to come across them.

My position has always been that I am a Cub fan first but want to see the Padres do well and be competitive. About three weeks ago, I started watching the Padres on occasion, mainly to watch Fernando Tatis, Jr., who is a transcendent talent. When you include third baseman Manny Machado, as well as outfielders Manny Margot, Hunter Renfroe and first baseman Eric Hosmer, now the Padres are fun to watch. All five are legitimate Major League players, reflecting a decided increase in team quality from past seasons.

But the Padres makeover isn’t complete. Although Franmil Reyes has 26 homers and 44 RBIs at this writing, he is a defensive liability His right field defensive numbers from BaseballReference.com are well below average, with large negative numbers across the board. On the flip side of the ledger, catcher Austin Hedges is hitting .188, making him the offensive equivalent of the All-American Out, but he plays well defensively, and appears to be particularly adept at saving pitches in the dirt. However, playoff-contending teams can’t afford that level of offensive production from a starter on a consistent basis.

Tatis exhibited some growing pains on the diamond recently and committed four errors in a five-game span as the Padres went into a tailspin coming out of the All-Star Game break, going 2-7. Tatis has committed 14 errors in 64 games, for a .944 fielding average, which isn’t good. But he is only 20 years of age and has incredible range in the field.

Tatis is reminiscent of Cub All-Star shortstop Javier Baez, who made the same errors at the Major League level at a similar point in his development. They are equally talented on the field and both play the game with flair. In 94 games for the Cubs at shortstop this season, Baez has committed 13 errors and has a fielding average of .968. Tatis has the decided edge in hitting with an average of .324 and an On-Base plus Slugging average of .984. The numbers for Baez are .288 and .866 respectively. Tatis has missed 35 games due to injury, while Baez has missed two. For a quick overall comparison, Baez has Wins Above Replacement (WAR) rating of 3.4 to 3.3 for Tatis, so they are close. Tatis is 6-3 and weighs 185, while Baez is 6-0 and weighs 190. Both shortstops want to make the big play when challenged, including with their base running, and have the talent required to do that.

While the Padres went to their MLB No. 1-ranked farm system for help, the Cubs have cast a wide net throughout the Major Leagues to acquire talent for their pennant drive, with the July 31st Trade Deadline looming large. Again according to BaseballReference.com, the Cubs have an 86.7 percent chance to make the Playoffs, although their odds to win the World Series are just 9.7 percent. The Padres have a 1.5 percent chance to make the Playoffs and 0.2 percent chance to win the World Series.

Despite their improvement and being eminently more interesting to watch than they have been, the Padres have still given up more runs (484) than they have scored (439). They have played 32 games decided by one run and 20 games decided by two runs. Their pitching can be erratic, as All-Star closer Kirby Yates has been the only truly reliable arm in the bullpen. They also have the unfortunate luck of being in the same division as the best team in baseball this season, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres 18.5 games out of first and are tied with the Colorado Rockies for fourth in the NL West.

Things turned around Sunday for San Diego against Chicago, as they won 5-1, primarily on a strong pitching performance by Cal Quantrill, who allowed just two hits in 5.2 innings, striking out six. Morejon started the game and allowed one run in 2.1 innings pitched. Quantrill, 24, is a member of the 2016 draft class (No. 8 overall) and Morejon was part of the 2016 International Signing Class and is 20 years old. Second baseman Urias is 22, and reminiscent physically of Houston Astros second-sacker and former American League MVP Jose Altuve. Urias appeared to be over-matched in a couple of his plate appearances in the two games against the Cubs, although admittedly that’s a small sample size. Hitting just .167 (13-78) during his brief Major League career, Urias spent time in the Minors earlier this season re-working his swing, which takes time. His defensive ability seems to be well above average.

The positive side of the Padres Youth Movement was on display Sunday in Chicago and aside from the Cubs scoring a run in the first inning against Morejon, the Cubs were never really in the contest. Tatis rebounded with two singles and three RBIs, plus he played an errorless game at shortstop.

After a day off Monday, the Padres start a three-game set on the road with the New York Mets Tuesday. Then on a quick bi-coastal turnaround, San Diego returns home Thursday to start a three-game series with the red hot San Francisco Giants. Games will come in quick succession now, with the grind of games in August just ahead. Those are challenges for the Padres youngsters to conquer, as the franchise continues to improve.

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