Concluding a twelve game ‘homestand’, including the Mexico series in Monterrey, the Padres finished their longest home series of the season at a .500 clip (6-6). To date, it was their best homestand series record of the 2018 season. Playing well at home is an area where the Padres must improve if they want to progress towards being competitive, in addition to enticing fans to show up to games. Starting Thursday, San Diego hits the road for a ten game stretch, taking on the Pirates, Nationals, and Dodgers.
Wil Myers remains on the disabled list (DL) with an oblique strain. When questioned, manager Andy Green was unable to provide a timetable for Myers’ return.
Outfielder Hunter Renfroe (right elbow inflammation) and catcher Austin Hedges (right elbow tendinitis) also remain on the DL.
Renfroe is scheduled to join the Arizona league soon to begin his rehab.
Hedges began throwing last week but felt discomfort. After a MRI revealed no structural damage, Hedge’s status is day-to-day with no clear designation on the next step towards resuming play.
Entering the 10-day DL is starting pitcher Joey Lucchesi with a hip-strain.
Lucchesi was injured in his start on Saturday night. The move is seen as precautionary to avoid any further aggravation this early in the season. The Padres have two off days (including Wednesday) during their road trip. If it truly is a minor injury, San Diego would only need to skip Lucchesi’s spot in the rotation once. Skipper Andy Green has not commented on who may fill that role and earn the spot start on the road.
By the Numbers
The San Diego Padres are (17-27) on the season, ten games under .500, and are in last place in the NL West – chasing the division leading Arizona Diamondbacks by nine full games.
The Monterrey trip began on a sour note as the Padres were victims to yet another no-hitter – leading Major League Baseball (MLB) by being no-hit ten times (most since 1969).
Christian Villanueva broke out of his horrendous slump, homering in the series finale versus Colorado. To begin May, Villanueva was hitless in nearly forty at-bats. On May 1st Villanueva was batting .317. Until he recorded his next hit thirteen days later, Villanueva saw his batting average drop 90 points to .227 BA (May 14th). What was once a promising campaign as a potential NL Rookie of the Year (ROY) candidate, Villanueva has since fallen off the national radar, likely ensuring the inside track to NL ROY runs through Atlanta. The Braves have two outstanding rookies in second baseman Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña.
Chase Headley was designated for assignment. Acquired from the New York Yankees, Headley was a major disappointment as he struggled at the plate (.115 BA, six hits in 52 at-bats, .233 OBP, and a .135 SLG). San Diego is on the hook for his $13M salary. The Padres have six days remaining to trade him, outright release him (allowing other clubs to sign him at no cost), or place him on irrevocable waivers
Jordan Lyles flirted with immortality Tuesday from Petco as he dealt 7 ⅓ inning of perfect baseball. Rockies shortstop Trevor Story ended the bid with a one out single to left field. The Padres would go on to win the game 4-0, but fans were left with an all too familiar outcome. San Diego is still looking for its first no-hitter in franchise history – the only Major League club who has still yet to accomplish that feat.
A House Divided
Noticeably down was the attendance during the Cardinals series. The front office has attempted to entice large crowds this season by accomplishing two things the Friar faithful had been clamoring for in recent years: 1) celebrating (the admittedly) limited success the club has had in its forty-year existence. 2) increasing the quantity and quality of their promotional giveaways.
The club dedicated themselves to celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the 1998 National League Champion team. The series against St. Louis (Thu 05/10 through Sunday 05/13) had many of the greats like Greg Vaughn, Trevor Hoffman, Sterling Hitchcock, Chris Gomez, Andy Ashby, and Steve Finley make appearances and sign autographs at Petco Park. Absent were key pieces taken from us too soon in Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Rob Picciolo, and Kevin Towers.
In tandem, the front office decided to have a four part bobble-head giveaway from Thursday to Sunday celebrating (in order) Tony Gwynn, Ken Caminiti, Trevor Hoffman, and Greg Vaughn.
Even with acquiescing to the fan’s boisterous desires, the turnout/gate numbers for the weekend series raised more than a few eyebrows drawing a palpable concern from management.
Attendance by date:
Thursday May 10th – Tony Gwynn – 22,515
Friday May 11th – Ken Caminiti – 28,207
Saturday May 12th – Trevor Hoffman – 32,715 (Beer Fest & Postgame Fireworks)
Sunday May 13th – Greg Vaughn – 28,183 (Mother’s Day & Salute to Military)
No matter the promotion, nor the greats to celebrate, people did not show up as expected. On average, the Padres drew only 1,633 fans more per game (27,905) than their normal season average (26,238). The paltry attendance demonstrated fans’ displeasure with the play of the team.
Factoring into the reluctance to attend games has been the inconsistent and sometimes embarrassing play of the club this year – especially at home. Despite early hopes and anticipation that the rebuild could be completed earlier than scheduled, the Padres have struggled mightily in multiple facets of the game. From starting pitching (collective team ERA 4.89 ranked 26th in MLB) to lack of offensive production (tied for 1st with 431 strikeouts), poor defensive play (tied for 17th with 25 errors and .985 fielding percentage), and a litany of injuries, the product on the field has been subpar and fans have been voicing their displeasure on social media.
Coupled with the poor play, ticket and concession prices have remained consistent – which for many fans is frankly too much to pay to see a minor league product on the field. The average ticket price for a Padres game is $21.78 – ranked 27th most expensive ticket in MLB. Absent are the previous deals that fans flocked towards (like $5.00 Park at the Park or $35.00 AM/PM all-you-can-eat buffet) that made watching atrocious baseball more palatable. Other clubs around the league like Arizona, Atlanta, and Milwaukee have offered discounted ticket packages to their fans or script to use at concession stands that have cash value to receive as rewards. Discounting prices for a discounted product makes sense. Unfortunately for Padres fans, the request has fallen on deaf ears.
Fans are beginning to show management that amenities (with world-class craft brews, five-star food options that showcase local culinary prowess, and one of the largest LED screens in professional sports) and giveaways do not always outweigh the general dissatisfaction that accompanies watching a struggling team in the midst of yet another rebuild.
Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler has said he expects the team to be competitive by 2020-2021.
That’s a long time to wait for a fan base that’s been waiting for a championship since 1969.
Dennis Gulyas – Part-Time Producer with The Mighty 1090 Radio Network
Follow Dennis on Twitter @DennisGulyas