Tag: Jon Garland

Seattle Mariners: 5 Key Takeaways from Spring Training

This spring, the Seattle Mariners have been, dare I say, entertaining. 

As an organization, there are quite a few positive signs to point toward for the future, but what about this season?

With a mix of youth and experience, the team seems keen on taking a positive step forward toward competing in the American League West.  

Do they have a shot to put up a fight against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers and Oakland A’s? 

Or will they be fighting to stay out of the division cellar with the Houston Astros?

Although it’s always hard to place much value on what happens in spring training, for fun I wanted to see what are some of the key takeaways we’ve seen from Mariners camp as we approach Opening Day. 

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Seattle Mariners: Projecting the Starting Rotation for 2013

The starting rotation for the Seattle Mariners is far from set as the team gets ready to start spring training for the 2013 season.

Would it be a stretch to suggest that only two spots are assured at this point?

Felix Hernandez. Ace. Top of the rotation. In process of signing huge long-term deal. Check.

Hisashi Iwakuma. Signed two-year deal. Probable second or third, depending on other performances. Check.

Joe Saunders. One year-deal. Represents veteran experience, though there are no guarantees. Check?

Beyond that? Take your pick. Blake Beavan. Erasmo Ramirez. Hector Noesi. Jeremy Bonderman. Taijuan Walker. James Paxton. Danny Hultzen. Brandon Maurer.

Now you can add Jon Garland to the mix, as tweeted by Geoff Baker.

For those of you scoring at home, that is nine pitchers for two spots, and there could theoretically be more. Who will be the odd men out?

This really could be a sort of open tryout for those spots. Seattle currently has a penciled-in depth chart, but that could be completely negotiable.

There are positives and negatives to every one of these pitchers.

Blake Beavan is currently listed in the rotation, but he will arguably need to pitch well in order to keep that spot. His consistently high ERA and his propensity to give up the long ball have some wondering if he has reached his ceiling or if he is poised for a breakout year.

Erasmo Ramirez looked good in September, but he will also be auditioning for his spot in the rotation. Obviously the Mariners like what they see in Ramirez, but the youngster has a very limited body of work. He could theoretically lose his job in Arizona.

Hector Noesi seems destined for the minors unless he puts together an impressive spring. The add-on to the Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda trade was dreadful in 2012, which means that he will need a rebound performance in order to stay on the roster.

Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland bring veteran savvy to a staff that could probably use some experience. Unfortunately, Garland has not pitched since 2011 and Bonderman has not thrown since 2010. Therefore, “veteran savvy” might be a nice way of suggesting that both are barely hanging on. Both will either have to pitch very well in Arizona or win jobs by default if no one else steps up.

At the risk of lumping the rest into one group, there is a common theme with the highly-touted youngsters. Now is the time where we see which players are ready, close to ready or need another year or two of seasoning. Will there be a breakout performance? You have to suspect that Seattle would love to see a Taijuan Walker step up, dazzle and win a spot in the rotation.

Still, there will be caution about rushing the young arms. This is why guys like Bonderman and Garland are in camp. The veterans may represent the future for this team, but they might serve as placeholders until the young arms are ready. At the risk of being insensitive, the veterans are a bit more expendable at this point.

A more conservative rotation probably looks like this:

Hernandez, Iwakuma, Saunders, Beavan/Ramirez, Garland

However, what happens if the young pitchers look really good? The rotation might then look like this:

Hernandez, Iwakuma, Saunders, Walker, Hultzen

Is the future upon us? Or will this be a conservative rotation that is filled in with uninspiring but semi-reliable experience?

Let the tryouts begin.

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MLB Spring Training: Will Jeremy Bonderman or Jon Garland Make the Roster?

For a team that was struggling for pitching depth about a week ago, the Seattle Mariners seem to be intent on having as many options as possible heading into the 2013 season.

Geoff Baker has reported that the Mariners have come to a minor league agreement with 33-year old pitcher Jon Garland. This report was broken by Jason A. Churchill of Prospect Insider as well.

Garland has not pitched since 2011, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. In that season, Garland finished 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 54.0 IP before being shut down with shoulder surgery. Garland is better known for his eight-year stretch with the Chicago White Sox, with his best season coming in 2005 when he finished 18-10 with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.

Garland isn’t the only project the Mariners have picked up this offseason, as they signed former Detroit Tiger Jeremy Bonderman to a minor league deal back in December. Much like Garland, Bonderman did not pitch in the majors last season and hasn’t since 2010, when he finished the season 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA.

The question at this point for the Mariners is whether or not either pitcher has enough left in the tank to earn a spot in the rotation in 2013 if the young talent isn’t ready. Many fans will remember that the Mariners made a similar signing last season when they signed Kevin Millwood, who proceeded to throw 161.0 innings for the Mariners with a respectable 4.25 ERA. In fact, Millwood was the starting pitcher when the Mariners used six pitchers to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8 of last season.

When comparing the track records of Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland, one has to think that Garland has the upper hand when it comes to potentially earning a spot in the rotation. Over his career, Garland only posted one season with a negative WAR, and that was his rookie season in 2000 when he only started 13 games.

In fact, in 2010 Garland posted a 1.1 WAR and threw 200.0 innings for the San Diego Padres while posting a 3.47 ERA, the third lowest ERA of his career. On the other hand, Bonderman hasn’t posted a positive WAR since 2008 and has never had a season in which his ERA was below 4.00.

At this point, it may not be positive for the Mariners start the 2013 season with either Garland or Bonderman in the rotation. In order for that to happen, either Blake Beavan or Erasmo Ramirez would have to have had an extraordinarily poor spring training AND none of the young talent in the Mariners system would have impressed enough to warrant a spot in the rotation as well. However, nobody expected Kevin Millwood to start the 2012 season in the rotation, either.

When it comes down to it, the signings of Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman are truly low risk as both of them are signed to minor league deals, and it is entirely possible that one of them could show enough in spring training to keep on the 25-man roster. But needless to say, there are not many Mariners fans who would be thrilled if they did.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Pitching Preview: NL West, Clayton Kershaw & The Dodgers

When thinking of pitching rotations with a lot of depth, the Phillies, Red Sox and Giants are—rightfully so—the first teams to come to mind. However, one could argue that the Los Angeles Dodgers rotation is underrated and belongs in that discussion.

The biggest distinction between the Dodgers and the other three teams may be the perceived lack of a true ace. We all know that the Phillies have two premier aces in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the Sox have Jon Lester, and the Giants have Tim Lincecum, but the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw has not yet achieved that true “ace” perception.

Is it time he should?

There is no doubt that Kershaw is an elite strikeout pitcher. In his first two full seasons, he struck out well over a batter per inning. His ability to miss that many bats (combined with a nice home ballpark for pitchers) has also helped him post an ERA under three in both seasons.  

Kershaw’s strikeout ability has even helped him post WHIP’s of 1.23 and 1.18 despite his habit of issuing walks. Where the walks have hurt his roto numbers is in the wins category. Obviously, walks lead to high pitch counts, and high pitch counts lead to early exits from the mound. As a result, Kershaw averaged only 5.2 innings per start in 2009 (eight wins) and 6.1 innings per start in 2010 (13 wins).  

As you can see, Kershaw won more games while pitching deeper into games last season, indicative of the significant drop in his walk rate. If the young pitcher continues to improve (as he should), he may be considered a no-doubt, top-ten, fantasy pitching ace by the All-Star break.  

Just in case he takes a turn away from becoming a Lester/Lincecum type towards being a Jonathan Sanchez type, I am heading into the season slightly cautious with Kershaw just outside my top-ten pitchers at no. 13.

The second starter in LA is also a guy who is probably underrated. Chad Billingsley was very impressive in 2008—his first full season as a starter—when he won 16 games with an ERA of 3.14 while posting a 9.01 K/9.  

Chad then “disappointed” in 2009 (12 W, 4.03 ERA, 8.21 K/9) and 2008 (12 W, 3.57 ERA, 8.03 K/9). However, he showed some positive signs last year by cutting down on the walks issued and having a FIP of 3.07.  

Maybe Billingsley’s first year was a bit of an overachievement, but you should not let what he was color your evaluation of what he now is.

This a guy that seems pretty sure to win at least 12 games, have an ERA in the mid-threes, keep the WHIP at or under 1.30, and be a very nice strikeout-producer. In my estimation, that type of certainty makes him a definite top-30 and borderline top-25 pitcher. It is likely he will be drafted a little lower than that and could be a very nice value on draft day.

Ted Lilly is another LA pitcher of whom you can know what to expect. From 2004-2006, Lilly struggled with his control, walking over four batters per nine innings in each of those years. However, Lilly seems to have found his command in the National League as he walked only 2.3 batters per nine innings over the last four seasons. Thanks to that, Lilly has become an excellent source of WHIP help for the fantasy baseball player with WHIP’s of 1.14, 1.23, 1.06, and 1.08. Combined with four straight K/9’s over 7.50, all these numbers make Lilly a reliable, top-40 starting pitcher.

The next guy in line for the Dodgers is another who may be underrated. In two and a half seasons (he missed time in 2009 due to an injury), Hiroki Kuroda has had a cumulative 3.60 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He is not a huge contributor in the K’s category, but he should chip in a K/9 somewhere between six and seven. Because he is a little older (36) and because he spent the majority of his career playing in Japan, Kuroda is not a very sexy option who is likely to be undervalued in many drafts. I would recommend treating Kuroda as a top-50 pitcher because he is a safe bet to help and not hurt in every category.

After the four guys who are usable in mixed leagues, Jon Garland is a pretty decent fifth starter who should be a decent NL-only play.  He is a solid innings-eater who consistently produces a four-ish ERA. He does not contribute much in the strikeout department and has the potential to be a bit of a WHIP liability, but Garland is still a reliable contributor for deeper leagues.

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Written by Brett Talley exclusively for http://www.thefantasyfix.com

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Read More of Brett’s National League West Previews:

Mat Latos & the San Diego Padres

Daniel Hudson & the Arizona Diamondbacks

Ubaldo Jimenez & the Colorado Rockies

2011 Fantasy Baseball Great Debate: Mark Teixeira vs. Adrian Gonzalez

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Fast and Furious: Grading the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Offseason Moves

The Los Angeles Dodgers have been busy this offseason, locking up several players already and in the hunt for even more.

General manager Ned Colletti has been aggressive following a disappointing fourth-place finish for the Dodgers in the NL West. The team, picked by many to win the division, managed only an 80-82 record and was never really in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Colletti is determined to change that, building a roster around young studs Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.

But will the new additions be enough to vault the Dodgers past the defending world champions, the San Francisco Giants?

Here’s an early look at what the Dodgers have done so far and a grade for each of their moves. 

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Jon Garland Goes Up North To Los Angeles Dodgers

I am going to have to admit, I didn’t see this signing coming at all.

I thought if Jon Garland was going to sign with a team over the Thanksgiving weekend, it would have been with the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres or even the New York Mets. I didn’t see him signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers at all, but he did.

The Dodgers signed Garland to a one-year, $5 million contract with an option for 2012. The 2012 option kicks in for $8 million if Garland pitches over 190 innings in 2011.

Those of you who have followed this site on a consistent basis know that I have always liked Garland. Last offseason, I had him as the best low-risk, high-reward pitcher in my free agent primer, and all he did was sign with the Padres and produce a 3.47 ERA, 6.1 K’s/9 (a career high) and 52 percent groundball percentage (fifth in the National League).

The reason I was surprised he signed with the Dodgers is because LA already had four quality starters in their rotation. They re-signed Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda to go along with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.

The Dodgers really didn’t need Garland, but now with him, they have perhaps the deepest rotation in the NL. Other teams like the Philadelphia Phillies have the names at the top, but don’t have the depth at the bottom.

Even with Garland, I still think the Dodgers rotation is behind the San Francisco Giants in the division. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner one one team is just absurd.

Garland isn’t a sexy name and his peripherals clearly don’t wow anyone, but he always gets the job done, eats a ton of innings and there won’t be too many fifth starters who will be as reliable as Garland. Plus, on top of that, the Dodgers stole him from division rivals San Diego and Colorado.

At just $5 million, Garland is a nice little signing for the Dodgers.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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Los Angeles Dodgers Sign SP Jon Garland

The Dodgers just signed Jon Garland for 2011 at $5 million with $3 million in performance incentives and a guaranteed $8 million in 2012 if he pitches 190 innings in 2011.  My first thought on hearing this was Garland must want to play in L.A. next year.

The Padres paid Garland $4.7 million in 2010.  He went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA and an even 200 innings pitched.  The Padres offered Garland arbitration, which meant he likely would have made at least $7 million or $8 million in 2011 through that process.  Given that, you have to think the Padres would have matched or bettered the Dodgers’ offer if the opportunity had been given to them.

My second thought was the Dodgers are going to have a great rotation 2011.  It know looks like the rotation will now be Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Garland.  That looks plenty strong.

I may not be a fan of the Dodgers, but I am certainly a fan of the 2011 prospects for Kershaw and Billingsley.  They are both under 27 and have had consistently fine ratios throughout their careers.

At this moment, you’d have to prefer Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but I certainly won’t be surprised if Kershaw and Billingsley ended up with the combined better performance in 2011.  In fact, I’d probably handicap it only 55/45 in favor of the Giants’ aces.

Kuroda and Lilly are getting up there in years, and you have to expect them to decline in 2011.  However, both have been consistently strong in each of the last three seasons, so it’s reasonably likely their combined performance won’t be much worse than 2010, if they stay healthy.

I’m not a big fan of Jon Garland, but it’s hard to see much daylight between him and Barry Zito.  As fifth-starters, you could do a lot worse.

As is often the case, it will probably come down to which rotation stays healthier between the Giants and Dodgers.  The Giants starters were exceptionally healthy in 2010 (only Todd Wellemeyer got hurt, and that allowed for the promotion of phenom Madison Bumgarner).  You have to figure the law of averages is going to catch up with the Giants in 2011.

Obviously, the Dodgers rotation is even more likely to break down, with Garland at 31, Lilly at 35 and Kuroda at 36 next season.  In fact, it may come down to which of the two teams can come up with the best sixth-starter if and when someone in the starting five goes down.

Not really surprising the Dodgers would go after Garland.  With the Giants as defending world champions, every team in the division figures it has to have a strong starting five if they’re going to compete in 2011.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago Cubs: Looming Offseason Decisions, Part V (External Options)

This is the final part of a series of articles outlining the decisions that the Cubs will need to make this offseason. You can read part four by following this link.

Jim Hendry has already said that he’s more concerned about making “two or three really good moves” than relying on the splash factor of one move. So, for those of you looking at the big name free agents with large price tags, or even a potential trade for Adrian Gonzalez, don’t get your hopes up too high.

Instead, look for the Cubs to get guys that fit the team and their budget. In all likelihood, one of those moves will be acquiring a first baseman and the other one or two will be adding some pitching, either in the rotation, the bullpen, or both.

At first base, the North Siders will be looking for someone who exhibits power from the left side and is good enough with the glove to lessen the impact of Aramis Ramirez’s fading defensive abilities and Starlin Castro’s growing pains.

Although one of the best left-handed sluggers over the past decade, Adam Dunn’s fairly high asking price, his defensive shortcomings, his type A status, and the almost certainty that the Nationals will offer arbitration, the overall cost in dollars, defense, and draft picks is just too high for serious consideration. I’m sure the team will do (or has already done) their due diligence on the off chance that he isn’t offered arbitration and his price tag comes down, but they’ll be concentrating elsewhere.

Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay and Carlos Pena are the most likely free agent targets, each with some pop from the left side and at least an above average glove. Of course, each player has more than their share of strikeouts, but Overbay and Pena draw some walks to offset that.

Depending on his asking price, Aubrey Huff should also get a look, although he isn’t as known for his defense as the prior trio and is the eldest among the four (by one month over Overbay). I’m sure the Cubs would love to have a season of 35 doubles, 26 home runs, 83 walks, and only 91 strikeouts from their first baseman, but the Giants will probably make a very good push to keep him.

On the trade market, there’s absolutely no reason to not inquire on what collection of players it might take to land Adrian Gonzalez. With his Gold-Glove-caliber defense, 30 to 40 home run power, high walk totals, and his $6.2 million 2011 salary, he’s too great of a bargain to not look into. But it’s the cost in players in return, which teams like the Red Sox might drive up, that makes the proposition less likely.

Another player the Cubs have been linked to recently is the Rangers’ Chris Davis, a young left-handed hitter with great power, experience playing both corner infield positions, and some glaring plate discipline issues. It’s certainly an intriguing possibility, reuniting hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo with one of his former students, and leaving the option open to move Ramirez to first, should the need arise. Although there has been little mention of this trade since the story broke, I could see it happening.

If the Yankees decide to sign another outfielder (Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, perhaps), then don’t be surprised if the Cubs become linked to Nick Swisher, son of former Cubs catcher Steve Swisher. Although he had a significant dip in walks last season, Nick had always drawn a ton of walks and has continued to hit around 30 doubles and 30 home runs each season.

If the Cubs are instead looking for someone to take a flyer on to compete with (or in a reserve role behind) Tyler Colvin at first base, then you might see names like Hank Blalock, Eric Chavez, Brad Hawpe, Eric Hinske, Mike Jacobs, or non-tender candidates Willy Aybar, Dan Johnson, and Casey Kotchman bandied about.

There are a number of ways that they could go with starting pitchers, but I fully expect the Cubs to look into both Jon Garland and Javier Vazquez. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them take a chance on one of Erik Bedard, Jeremy Bonderman, Jeff Francis, Kevin Millwood, Brad Penny, Jarrod Washburn, Brandon Webb, Chris Young, or (if he’s non-tendered) Chien-Ming Wang.

Of that bunch, I find Garland to be far and away the most likely to end up with the Cubs. That’s not to say that he will or that the others won’t, but he has put together a pretty nice resume since being traded from the Cubs to the White Sox, including eight solid years with the South Siders and a very nice season with the Padres in 2010. Also, he might not demand quite so much money as the other options, making the potential negotiations go smoother and quicker.

As far as potential trade targets go, they may talk with the Rays about the availability of Wade Davis, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, and James Shields, but your guess is as good as mine about starting pitchers they might trade for.

To bolster the bullpen, I’m sure the team would be interested in re-signing Kerry Wood, but he would need to be willing to take a pay cut off of his $10.5 million salary in 2010. Other targets could include Grant Balfour, Chad Durbin, Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, J.J. Putz, Jon Rauch, or Takashi Saito, depending upon their demands and whether or not some of them (Balfour or Francisco) are offered arbitration.

The only other free agent that I could see the Cubs signing is not a pitcher or first baseman, but a second baseman. Although such a move is pure speculation on my part, I believe that Orlando Hudson would be a great addition.

Hudson plays great defense, can hit well for a second baseman, provides a little bit of speed on the basepaths, and may have a somewhat modest salary seeing as he’s never earned more than $6.25 million in a season. Such a move obviously means that one or both of Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt would be sent on their way, but the signing of a player like Hudson could be a move that makes the Cubs’ 2011 playoff chances seem like less of a long shot.

Finally, there is one last way that the Cubs might add a player. With one spot open on their 40-man roster and the Rule Five Draft approaching, there is the possibility that the team could take a chance on someone left unprotected in another organization. Since I expect the North Siders to sign at least one free agent, I would be surprised to see them fill the last spot on their roster with a player eligible for the Rule Five Draft, but it could happen.

Just make sure to keep an eye out this offseason. The moves that end up having the biggest impact on this team might not be those involving bigger names.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

New York Yankees Will Once Again Be Big Players in Free Agency

No matter what happens during the 2010 Major League Playoffs, the Yankees will immediately get to work in the offseason to either win a third straight title or try to get back on top after a one year hiatus.

One free agent target most everyone in the industry agrees the Yankees will get their hands on is current Rangers ace Cliff Lee. Lee has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons and is bolstering his playoff resume with each gem he twirls in October.

In game one of the American Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Lee pitched one of the best games in his career, striking out 10 in a crucial match-up with Rays ace David Price. The Rangers knew if they could win game one then they would have a great chance of winning the series and Lee made sure that was taken care of.

For the Yankees to obtain Lee’s services they better come prepared with a blank check and a willingness to outspend every other team. It has been rumored that Lee prefers to pitch in the Bronx, joining up with his old Indians teammate CC Sabathia, but he will not take a discount to do so.

Another target of the Bombers can be a person who currently plays in the Far East and his name is Yu Darvish. Not much is know about Darvish, but he possesses four quality pitchers to go along with his mid-90s fastball. Darvish is not a free agent meaning he will require the posting fee, ala Matsuzaka, but unlike his predecessor, he may be worth the money.

The Yankees don’t seemingly need anyone to fill out their outfield as all spots are currently occupied. Nick Swisher is signed on for another two seasons, Curtis Granderson, who looked like he would be run out of town, is swinging a hot bat and Brett Gardner surprised many with his breakout season.

However, the Yankees are the Yankees and a run for Carl Crawford is not out of the question. Gardner faded fast down the stretch after a hot start while Granderson is a new man after some mechanical adjustments. 

If the Yankees were to sign Crawford, Gardner would be displaced to the fourth outfielder spot where he is best suited and would give the Yankees a very strong defensive outfield. To make it clear, the Yankees don’t need Crawford, but signing him would make the lineup just that much stronger.

Besides throwing their hat in the ring for Darvish’s and Lee’s services, the Yankees still have a need in the rotation. A.J. Burnett is not quite doing the job in New York and Andy Pettitte will most likely retire, leading to voids in the rotation. The Yankees would be best served looking for rotation fillers such as Hiroki Kuroda or a Jon Garland

Both of these pitchers have the capability of eating up innings while keeping their teams in every game. It is something that neither A.J. Burnett nor Javier Vazquez can seem to master. For the Yankees to continue to try to make a modern day dynasty, they need more pitching.

As the old adage states, you can never have enough pitching.

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San Diego Padres: Chris Young, Heath Bell, and Other Off Season Questions

One more.

That’s all the San Diego Padres can afford before their off season officially begins a lot sooner than they thought it would.

Looking back to the end of August, the Padres had what most would consider a big lead in the National League West over the San Francisco Giants. Fast forward one month, and not only is their lead gone but the deficit has reached its breaking point after losing 22 of their last 34 games.

They face the Giants on Friday night in what will be a three game set in San Francisco. The situation has gotten so bleak for San Diego that they not only need to sweep the three-game set, but they need the Philadelphia Phillies to sweep the Atlanta Braves over the next three days. Something that’s not likely to happen, especially with the Phillies having already wrapped up the National League’s Eastern Division.

Whether that loss comes tonight, Saturday, or Sunday, the Padres front office knows that there are decisions that will need to be made to improve this team for the 2011 season to keep this kind of collapse from happening again.

Sure they’ve exceeded everyone’s expectations, but you won’t be remembered for how you played the first five months of the season, you’ll be remembered for how you finished. The Padres couldn’t do that, and they could be watching October baseball from home.

With that in mind, here are some issues facing the front office, and where I think the Padres will go with each one.

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