Former GM Smith named senior advisor, baseball operations

23-year Padres vet to focus on scouting; changes made to Minor League staff

Former GM Smith named senior advisor, baseball operations

SAN DIEGO -- Randy Smith, who first joined a Major League front office in 1985, likes to joke that he has held just about every title there is to be held in the front office.

On Friday, he earned another one.


The Padres announced a handful of changes to their player development staff, headed by the news that Smith -- a former two-time Major League general manager -- will move from the position of vice president of player development to senior advisor, baseball operations, with a focus on scouting.

The team also announced that Minor League field coordinator Randy Johnson, hitting coordinator Sean Berry and outfield and baserunning coordinator Glen Barker won't return for 2015.

As for Smith, this is a new role for him, one he's ready to embrace.

"This title is a new one. I've had all the director jobs," Smith said. "It's nice to continue to get exposure to do different things. I like new challenges."

Smith, who since 2010 had overseen player development, will assist new general manager A.J. Preller in a different area.

"It will be having a chance to impact the Major League team with Major League scouting and whatever else A.J. wants me to do," Smith said. "I've been in the organization for 23 years and feel like I have a perspective of what's been successful and what hasn't over the years."

Smith was the Padres' general manager from 1993-95 and served in that same role with the Tigers from 1996-2001. He returned to the Padres in 2003 as a special assistant to the general manager.

During his career, Smith has been a general manager, assistant general manager, director of player development, scouting director, director of international scouting and director of professional scouting.

"He's a guy that has a lot of experience in a lot of different areas in the game; he started off scouting, he's been a GM, the farm, and now he's moving back into a scouting role," Preller said. "Randy's also got a chance to bring is international experience to the role.

"I think any chance you have to cross different departments and combining that with his evaluation skills, it made it an attractive move."

In the last four years, seven members of the Padres player development staff have moved on to jobs at the Major League level -- Phil Plantier (hitting coach, Padres), Doug Dascenzo (first-base coach, Cubs), Gary Jones (third-base coach, Cubs), John Gibbons (manager, Blue Jays), Willie Blair (bullpen coach, Padres) and Jose Valentin (first-base coach, Padres).

Preller said one of his next hires will be a director of player development, who will then have a say in the hiring of the coordinators.

Regarding the Minor League changes, Preller said it was time to a new perspective and direction.

"I didn't think that we were lacking anything, it's just getting a different vision, a fresh start," Preller said. "We're looking to put some new faces in those positions. It's a chance to get others in the organization involved. We felt that was the way to go."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Ross among elite NL pitchers in 2014

Padres righty posted 14 straight quality starts at one point, smashing club record

Ross among elite NL pitchers in 2014

The acclaimed aces of the National League this season were Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright.

Right there with that duo in several key statistical categories was the Padres' Tyson Ross. Forget Ross's 13-14 record. Win-loss records are the most overrated statistic in baseball when it comes to measuring a pitcher's performance.


It is other areas where the Padres' 27-year-old right-hander stood out during a breakout season and ranked among the best in the Major Leagues. For example, 22 times during the 2014 season, Ross pitched six or more innings in a game while allowing three or fewer earned runs, just behind Kershaw (24 quality starts) and Wainwright (25).

Ross missed his last three starts due to soreness in his right forearm. When he went down, he ranked among the top five starters in most positive National League pitching categories.

Ross finished with the 11th-best ERA (2.81) and opponents' batting average (.230) in Padres history, while his 195 strikeouts ranked seventh on San Diego's all-time list.

"I'm happy with what I accomplished this season, but there's room for improvement," the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Ross said near the end of the 2014 season. "I really wanted to finish what I started."

Ross, of course, was on pace to reach the 200-inning, 200-strikeout milestone ahead of right-handed teammate Ian Kennedy when he made what turned out to be his last start on Sept. 13.

"Had the season lasted another week, I would have pitched again in 2014," Ross said during the final week of the season. "It was sort of disappointing the way it ended. I wanted to pitch again. But it didn't make any sense with the way my forearm felt."

Ross finished with 195 2/3 innings, and his 8.97 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate was the ninth-best mark in the National League.

At the time of his injury, he was tied for the National League lead in games started and had posted 14 straight quality starts from June 21 through Sept. 1 -- easily smashing the Padres record for consecutive quality starts by three.

During that 14-start run, Ross allowed six or fewer hits in each of those games, and it was the second-longest such streak in Major League history dating back to 1914.

"What we saw from Tyson this season is what baseball has seen from great starting pitchers over the year," said Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley, "a confidence that comes to match his stuff and command."

Ross was unanimously voted the Padres' Pitcher of the Year -- an award named after Clyde McCullough -- for the 2014 season by writers covering the team. It could be argued that he was the Padres' Most Valuable Player, too.

He was also named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in 2014.

Ross got better as the season progressed until his injury. That was particularly true at Petco Park. Ross loves pitching in the Padres' downtown home. Ross owns a 1.93 ERA at Petco Park in 30 games (21 starts). That is the second-lowest ERA in Petco Park history.

Ross was 8-5 with a 1.88 ERA in 15 home starts this season and was 5-2 with a 1.49 ERA in eight starts at Petco Park from June 2 through the end of the season.

"I think it's only natural that you pitch better at home than on the road," Ross said.

He might be right, but his home ERA was the fourth-lowest in the Major Leagues this season, as was his 1.81 ERA in day games.

"I think it's been special for all of us to see the way Tyson has developed as a Padre," manager Bud Black said late in the season.

The acquisition of Ross on Nov. 16, 2012, represents one of the better trades in recent Padres history. Ross was acquired from Oakland in exchange for infielder Andy Parrino and left-handed starter Andrew Werner.

Born in Berkeley, raised in the East Bay Area and a product of the University of California, Ross was a popular second-round pick of the hometown Oakland A's in the 2008 Draft. But he struggled with the A's, going 6-18 in parts of three seasons, while shuttling between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento -- with a 5.33 ERA in 53 games (21 starts).

Some believed the combination of Ross's height and short stride would prohibit him from developing the consistency to be a quality Major League starter unless he made major changes to his delivery. The Padres, however, believed Ross needed a minor tweak and not an overhaul.

"I love working with Balsley," said Ross, who was also reunited with younger brother Joe -- the Padres' first-round pick (25th overall) in the 2011 Draft -- when he joined the Padres.

"Bals sees the smallest of details that can be the difference."


Johnson begins throwing; Padres have '15 option on righty

San Diego can bring back starter, who missed all of '14, for $4 million

Johnson begins throwing; Padres have '15 option on righty

SAN DIEGO -- Last Thursday, without fanfare and far from a big league ballpark, Josh Johnson picked up a baseball and did the one thing he had waited five long months to do.

He threw it to someone.


Johnson, who in April had Tommy John surgery, played catch for the first time on Oct. 9 near his home in Las Vegas, the first step toward a throwing program that will continue this month and into November.

"I'm very excited. … It's been a long time," Johnson said recently.

Johnson's first season with the Padres ended before it started, as the free-agent signing, who certainly came with some risk, was sidelined after 13 innings in Spring Training and later needed surgery.

Gone was the $8 million investment the Padres made in the right-hander, but that doesn't necessarily signal the end of his time with the team.

The Padres hold a $4 million option for 2015 on Johnson because he made fewer than seven starts -- credit former general manager Josh Byrnes for adding that wrinkle to the deal.

The team has three days after the conclusion of the World Series to exercise that option or decline it. The prevailing thought is even if the team declines it and Johnson has options to go elsewhere, they would still like to have him back next season.

"With Josh, he's a guy that everyone has a positive feel for," Padres general manager A.J. Preller said at the end of the regular season. "We'll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him."

For Johnson, who turns 31 in January, the feeling is mutual.

"I look at it [his time in San Diego] as unfinished business," Johnson said. "It's been very tough to sit here and watch it all. But I think I've actually learned more this year than any other year in the past put together.

"And as far as the organization goes, I couldn't have hoped for anything better. They've been amazing. Not just the training staff, either. But everyone here … there's been a lot of support."

Johnson treated this rehabilitation period differently than previous trips to the disabled list. He didn't just pop in for treatment at Petco Park before games, dress and leave. He stuck around, dressed in his uniform for games and soaked up everything he could from pitching coach Darren Balsley.

This involved heading out to the bullpen nearly each day when Balsley would work with a pitcher for his between-start throwing session.

"Watching the bullpens and listening to Bals, he's really, really good," Johnson said. "… Everyone learns differently and people have certain words that click differently for them. He knows how to talk to each person. It could be a little key or something else that goes a long ways with them.

"I spent a lot of time this year in the clubhouse, staying late, talking to the coaches, keeping my ears and eyes open. I learned so much from being around Bals. He's such a perfectionist. He's always working. Going through this, I have such a new appreciation for what he does and for guys that do that job."

Where would Johnson fit in '15 if the Padres re-sign him?

The team could -- and some believe, will -- move a starting pitcher this winter in hopes of landing a position player to bolster the worst offense in baseball.

The pitcher the Padres could part with could come from the trio of Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner or Ian Kennedy, leaving Jesse Hahn, Eric Stults and Odrisamer Despaigne as candidates to take rotation spots with No. 2 prospect Matt Wisler perhaps ready to move up from Triple-A.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres prospects get chance to sharpen skills

Instructional League brings opportunity for 44 players to improve game

Padres prospects get chance to sharpen skills

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres recently concluded their annual Instructional League in Arizona, a three-week program aimed at individual improvement for some of the top prospects in the Minor League system.

Padres vice president of player development Randy Smith presided over the program that not only had 44 players but a handful of Minor League coaches, roving instructors and coordinators.


"The biggest thing is the student-to-teacher ratio we have. You can focus on one or two things you want to clean up before heading into the offseason," Smith said. "For pitchers, that might mean working on a changeup, a breaking ball. For the hitters, it might be working on a better two-strike approach or guys trying to get the bunt base hit as part of their arsenal."

The players reported on Sept. 11 and the last game was played Oct. 3. Most of the work was done on the practice fields at the team's Spring Training facility in Peoria, but there were eight games scheduled against other teams that offered similar programs for their Minor League prospects.

"We played games every other day, which gave guys that chance to carry the things they worked on to the games," Smith said. "It breaks up the teaching and gives everyone a chance to go out and perform. Everyone likes to play the games. It's worked well for us."

The Padres handed out several awards at the conclusion of their Instructional League. Most Improved Player went to OF Yale Rosen; Most Improved Pitcher, RHP Mayky Perez; Most Dedicated Pitcher, LHP Elvin Liriano; Most Dedicated Position Player, SS Ruddy Giron.

Smith cited the overall play of shortstop Jose Rondon, who was obtained in July from the Angels in the deal that send All-Star closer Huston Street up I-5. Rondon, 20, hit .301 with a .371 on-base percentage with Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore in 37 games following the trade. He is ranked ninth among Padres prospects by

"He played especially well and drove the ball well," Smith said. "The more I see of him, the more I like."

Smith said he doesn't anticipate any significant position changes in the works for any of the team's top prospects, though catcher Dane Phillips, who hit .285 with 12 home runs and 76 RBIs between Class A Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore in 2014, worked exclusively at first base in Instructional League.

"But we still see him as a catcher," Smith said.

The Padres are still trying to decide what to do with right-handed pitcher Ryan Butler, a seventh-rounder a year ago out of UNC Charlotte. Butler had a 2.76 ERA in 29 1/3 innings with 36 strikeouts and finished the season at Fort Wayne pitching exclusively in relief. The team is debating having him start, which he did during his college career.

Butler could probably move faster as a reliever, but the Padres like his power arm and makeup.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Rivals make GM, managerial changes to keep up in NL West

D-backs, Rockies and Padres shake up front office, dugout

Rivals make GM, managerial changes to keep up in NL West

As the Giants bid to win their third World Series title since 2010, most of the other members of the National League West have been busy restructuring in attempt to find the mix that might bring them the kind of consistent success San Francisco has gained with its stable and tenured management structure.

While Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy both stand as the longest-tenured National League employees in their respective roles, three other NL West members -- the D-backs, Padres and Rockies -- have all recently hired either a new GM or manager.


Despite winning the division both of the past two years, the high-priced Dodgers might also get into this act if rumors about GM Ned Colletti being on the hot seat prove to be true.

The D-backs further altered the NL West landscape on Monday, when they announce they have filled their managerial vacancy with Chip Hale. As he gets his first taste of managing at the Major League level, Hale will be working with recently hired GM Dave Stewart, who was serving as a player agent until his former manager Tony La Russa provided him this new role in September.

"We wanted a guy with energy, we wanted a guy that was optimistic and will energize our ballclub, but as well be a part of the culture moving forward in the Diamondbacks organization," Stewart said of Hale, who spent the past three seasons as former D-backs manager Bob Melvin's bench coach in Oakland.

Having notched just one winning record in their past six seasons, the D-backs have made the most extensive changes among NL West clubs. These recent moves have been made courtesy of the information La Russa has gathered since May, when he was named Arizona's chief baseball officer.

Before jumping into the front-office executive scene, La Russa was a Hall of Fame manager who drew great respect from many of his players including Stewart, who served as an assistant GM for the A's and Padres before becoming an agent in 2002.

"There's not like walls of demarcation here," La Russa said when Stewart was hired. "That's not how we do it. You've got your priority, but the key is going to be a lot of coming together and soliciting opinions. A lot of times out of good baseball people, you produce a common decision."

Hale and Stewart will be introducing themselves to the NL West scene that has also welcomed Padres GM A.J. Preller and Rockies GM Jeff Bridich to the scene within the past six months. Like Stewart, Preller and Bridich have never previously held this role.

So, three of the NL West's five teams have hired a new GM since the beginning of August. This number would rise to four if the Dodgers do indeed opt to part ways with Colletti, who has been in his current position since the start of the 2006 season. At the other end of the spectrum, the Giants have been under the direction of Sabean since 1997 and Bochy since 2007.

While the Padres have employed Bud Black as their manager since Bochy exited this role after the 2006 season, Preller stands as the fourth GM they have used during this stint. Though the Rockies' front office has drawn much criticism and scrutiny over the past few years, the Rockies had employed Dan O'Dowd as their GM until Bridich was elevated to the role last week.

A Harvard University graduate, the 37-year-old Bridich will attempt to bring life to the Rockies, who have not won more than 74 games any of the past four seasons. He spent the past 10 seasons in Colorado's front office, the past three as the senior director of player development.

"We are not where we want to be, we know that," Bridich said. "We are not where we expect to be, we know that. But we do have people who are determined to get there. Make no mistake, this organization wants to win and this organization is determined to win."

With his aggressive passion for finding talent in Latin American and countless other locales with the Rangers, Preller established himself as one of the game's top scouts. Now, the 37-year-old Cornell graduate will attempt to gather talent for the Padres, who have posted a losing record in six of the past seven seasons.

"The Padres have hired themselves an absolute jewel. No one will outwork him. It's impossible to do. I find it hard to believe that he will be outsmarted," former Major League manager Jim Tracy told in August. "In my opinion, the Padres have won the derby with this hire."

The D-backs and Rockies are hoping they are in fact the club that won the derby with their respective hires.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres will give new GM Preller payroll flexibility

Padres will give new GM Preller payroll flexibility

SAN DIEGO -- First-year general manager A.J. Preller will have payroll flexibility for the upcoming season, said Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler.

Fowler said in an email to on Thursday that the team has a "placeholder amount" for payroll for the 2015 season, but the club won't be afraid to stretch that number based on moves Preller wants to make during the offseason.


"That number could change significantly based on A.J.'s activities over the next 120 days," Fowler said.

Fowler did not say if that amount would be higher than the club-record $90 million Opening Day payroll the club had this past season. But Fowler has said on numerous occasions that the team intends to grow payroll over time.

The Padres have about $41 million in guaranteed contracts on the books already for next season, with reliever Joaquin Benoit and outfielder Carlos Quentin set to earn the most at $8 million each.

Several players are in line for hefty raises through arbitration, such as pitchers Andrew Cashner and Ian Kennedy.

Could Preller roll the dice and spend big on 24-year-old Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas?

The Padres have watched Tomas on at least three occasions -- twice during private workouts, the second of which was reported earlier this week by Baseball America. Preller has personally watched Tomas at least twice.

Tomas takes BP in the DR

Related video »

But as has been the case with other recent Cuban players signed on with big league clubs -- and have fared well -- Tomas will likely command a contract that could exceed $100 million over seven years or more.

The largest contract the Padres have given a player in franchise history was the extension they gave Jake Peavy after he won the NL Cy Young Award in 2007 -- a three-year, $52 million extension.

Preller declined to discuss specifics about Tomas.

"I think that's something that's our information … kind of a private deal," Preller said. "I think the biggest thing with all players -- it's not just Cuban or Latin players, or players in the Draft -- we're going to go after talented players with the makeup that we feel can help us on the field, and try to examine all those players that could potentially be plus players or upgrades for us. It's no different in Tomas' case."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres name Kemp director of international scouting

Padres name Kemp director of international scouting

SAN DIEGO -- When A.J. Preller was hired as general manager of the Padres in August, Chris Kemp was excited for him, but in no way saw it as an opportunity to leave his own post with the Rangers for a job and a chance to be reunited with Preller in San Diego.

"I never really thought about the next job because I was so immersed in the one that I had," said Kemp, who had just completed his fifth year with the Rangers as an area scout, scouring the Carolinas and also eastern Tennessee for players.


"There are so many good players here. I was happy where I was."

But when Preller recently offered Kemp the opportunity for something bigger -- director of international scouting for the Padres -- the 31-year-old simply couldn't pass this up.

"Who wouldn't be interested in finding players on a worldwide scale," Kemp said Sunday from his home in Charlotte, N.C. "The Rangers were gracious enough to let me interview. Making that call to [Texas general manager Jon Daniels and director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg] was hard. If it wasn't for them, I would still be coaching junior college baseball."

Kemp becomes the third hire for Preller, who in August hired longtime mentor Don Welke as the team's vice president of scouting operations and then last month hired David Post away from the Astros to be a special assistant to the general manager, where he'll assist in scouting on all fronts.

As for Kemp, he shares a background with former Padres third baseman Chase Headley. Kemp, who was a first baseman, was a teammate of Headley's in 2004 at the University of Tennessee. He signed with the Rangers as an undrafted free agent in 2006 and played two seasons.

He later returned to Spartanburg Methodist JC, where he previously played, as an assistant coach for the 2008 and 2009 seasons before joining the Rangers as a scout in 2010.

"Those guys brought me on board and I hit the road and didn't look back," Kemp said. "I learned a ton from A.J. in those five years."

Preller was impressed with Kemp early on and thinks he'll flourish in his new role, even if he's short -- as in none -- on international experience.

"I think the biggest think is he's an evaluator, a good judge of talent with a very, very good work ethic," Preller said. "In all jobs, there are some learning curves, but his evaluation; he's got a high motor and a big time work ethic. He understands kids and players. I think he can jump into any arena. Those things come through no matter what."

Kemp won't waste any time getting to work. He'll fly to the Dominican Republic where he'll be picked up by Felix Feliz, one of the team's international scouting supervisors.

"I've always had a bug for finding players and have always liked scouting the younger kids," Kemp said. "And with scouting the international market, you're looking at the players who are off the radar a little bit more, the 15, 16-year-olds where you have to project them a little bit more.

"We plan on hitting the ground running. My No. 1 goal is to find the players to fill it. We've got to find the players."

Preller, who made a name for himself scouting internationally, has made it be known the Padres will do the same. The team's executive chairman, Ron Fowler, even said as much last spring. The Padres have been linked to Cuban power hitter Yasmani Tomas and recently held a private workout for him.

"I think you have to put it [international scouting] on the same level and amateur and pro scouting. All three of those need to be on the same level of importance," Kemp said. "When we were with Texas, it was about being creative and outworking the competition. I expect it will be the same here."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Renfroe brings big bat to Fall League

Outfield prospect homers just days after shining in AFL Hitting Challenge

Renfroe brings big bat to Fall League

Outfielder Hunter Renfroe, the 13th overall pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, has had a busy first full professional season. He played in 129 games between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and Double-A San Antonio and represented the Padres in both the California-Carolina League All-Star Game and the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Now, he is continuing his eventful year in the Arizona Fall League.

When San Antonio's season ended Sept. 1, Renfroe was ready for a break before the start of Fall ball. He used the time off to get away from the game and relax at home.


"I didn't focus on baseball too much," Renfroe said. "I worked out to stay in shape and tried not to focus on baseball."

The time off seems to have revived Renfroe, the Padres' No. 4 prospect. He placed first among National Leaguers in the Bowman Hitting Challenge on Saturday and has gotten off to a hot start in the AFL. Thursday, he went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and a walk to help lead Surprise to a 7-4 victory at Glendale.

Through three games this fall, Renfroe, ranked No. 71 on's Top 100 Prospects list, is hitting .385/.429/.769. He has at least one hit and one RBI in each game.

"I'm seeing the ball well," Renfroe said. "The three weeks off after the season really helped."

Renfroe struggled in August with San Antonio after playing well for the first five months of the season. He hit .218/.298/.300 with one home run in the final 29 games of the season, a significant decline after hitting .281/.354/.518 with 20 home runs in his first 100 games.

But Renfroe has been at the top of his game in the AFL. He said the quality of pitching has stood out the most in Arizona.

"Pitchers throw really hard," Renfroe said. "We haven't seen anybody throw under 92 [mph], I think. Everyone's throwing really hard and there's a lot of good competition."

Surprise got some solid pitching of its own Thursday, including from right-handers Justin Hancock and Tayron Guerrero, two of Renfroe's teammates in the Padres organization. Hancock started for the Saguaros and held the Desert Dogs to one run on two hits and three walks in two innings. Right-hander Guerrero, the Padres' No. 19 prospect, came out of the bullpen to strike out the side in the fifth. It was the first of five straight scoreless innings from the Saguaros' bullpen to close out the victory.

"They did good job," Renfroe said. "They stayed around the strike zone.

"Guerrero threw hard and his stuff looked good. Hancock kept ball down. He looked really good out there tonight."

The Desert Dogs' offense was led by a pair of outfielders from the Tigers' system. Right fielder Steven Moya, the club's No. 7 prospect, went 3-for-5 with a double, a run and a stolen base. Center fielder Daniel Fields finished the night 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and two walks. He also stole a base.

Though Glendale committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs in the first four innings, its offense kept it within a run of the Saguaros until Renfroe's home run in the seventh inning put the game away.

Renfroe said he's not focused on improving any one aspect of his game. Instead, he's looking to hit balls hard, just like he did Thursday night.

"I ain't worried about working on anything," Renfroe said. "Just play my game, hit balls in the gaps, keep my strikeouts down and hunt fastballs."

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


With new GM, Padres may be in for many changes in '15

With new GM, Padres may be in for many changes in '15

SAN DIEGO -- The offseason always offers up the potential for some intrigue, and with the recent hire of new general manager A.J. Preller, Padres manager Bud Black can easily envision a scenario where this winter is anything but mundane.

And in terms of shaping the roster for 2015, Black has a suspicion that the team that ended the season against the Giants on Sunday could look dramatically different come Opening Day.


"I think there's quite possibly a lot of positions on our club where there could be new faces," Black said.

The Padres will certainly look to improve their offense after a third-place finish in the National League West, one that certainly could have been far worse if it wasn't for a better second half and a pitching staff that ranked among the best in baseball.

"With the way we played the last two months, we played with a lot of energy, we played good baseball and we were scoring runs and starting to produce like we know we can," said second baseman Jedd Gyorko.

"You don't know how the roster is going to shake out during the offseason, but I think there is a lot of excitement and energy here."

To improve the position player group on the roster, the Padres might have to part with pitching. Could that potentially mean moving Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross for offensive help? The Padres haven't shown a willingness to spend big in free agency in recent years and there's not much immediate help coming from their Minor League system.

"Given a few smart acquisitions to the offense and some depth for the pitching staff, I don't think this is a bad club," said a National League scout.

Stay tuned, it could be an interesting winter.

Arbitration-eligible: SP Ian Kennedy, SP Eric Stults, SS Everth Cabrera, SP Andrew Cashner, SP Tyson Ross, 1B Yonder Alonso, RP Dale Thayer, INF Alexi Amarista, C Rene Rivera, SP Joe Wieland, and RP Blaine Boyer.

Free agents: RP Tim Stauffer, SP Josh Johnson (the team owns a $4 million option on Johnson since he made fewer than seven starts in 2014).

Rotation:The Padres could enter the season with Cashner, Ross and Kennedy, all capable of posting double-digits in wins, throwing 200 innings and compiling 200 strikeouts. If the team deals one of them for a bat, they could still retain veteran lefty Eric Stults, who pitched considerably better in the second half to go with promising rookies from 2014 -- Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne, who likely pegs as a No. 5. Don't forget about Matt Wisler, the 22-year-old who took some lumps in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but who has good stuff and good makeup. Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland could be options. Johnson, even if the team opts to decline his $4 million option, could possibly return.

Bullpen: The Padres will retain closer Joaquin Benoit, who will make $8 million in 2015 in the second year of a two-year deal. Rookie Kevin Quackenbush showed promise closing games when Benoit rested a tired right arm in September, but he might not be ready to handle the job on an everyday basis. Nick Vincent, Dale Thayer, Alex Torres and Blaine Boyer all figure to return, and the team is very high on R.J. Alvarez, who came to the team in the Huston Street deal. Look for the bullpen to again be an area of strength.

Catcher: Rene Rivera made the team as a third catcher out of Spring Training and then promptly took the starting job and ran with it. He led all of baseball in caught stealing and stole enough strikes and made an impression on the pitching staff at the age of 31 to qualify this as a career revival. The bat played well, too. He reached several offensive bests. The Padres used Yasmani Grandal at first base a lot in the second half, but haven't given up on him as a catcher by any means. Top prospect Austin Hedges is a plus-defender, but he's just 22 and had a down year offensively in Double-A. Rivera and Grandal should handle the catching duties moving forward.

First base: This is where things get interesting. Alonso, he of the 39 doubles two years ago, needs to reestablish himself after injuries derailed him the last two years. Grandal played some first base and fared well, and Tommy Medica also saw time there, but didn't hit much. If the Padres are looking for an offensive upgrade this winter, this could very well be the spot where they do it. However, given how well Grandal can turn on a ball from the right side, he could be a fit there, spelling Rivera behind the plate as well.

Second base: Gyorko is certainly hoping his third season in the big leagues resembles his first one of 2013 when he hit 23 home runs. He got off to a slow start and things snowballed on him, though he began to hit in September after a few mechanical fixes, including a better swing path that included a shorter path to the ball. There are some who think he could end up at third base, but there are no current plans to make that move. The team can use Amarista and Yangervis Solarte at second base, though Solarte's lack of footwork pegs him better at third base. Rookie Cory Spangenberg showed potential and an exciting skill set in September, but he likely needs a little more Minor League time.

Shortstop: Another position of intrigue for the Padres moving forward, as no one is quite sure what to make of Cabrera's future with the club. An All-Star in 2013, he was suspended for the final 50 games of that season, had two disabled list stints this season because of his left hamstring and then ran afoul of the law after being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. Does the organization try to move him in a trade? One thing is for certain -- a .272 on-base percentage won't fly. Amarista has shown he can handle the position defensively, though probably not on a full-time basis This is a premium position and these spots are hard to fill.

Third base: For so long, this conversation solely revolved around Chase Headley, who was dealt to the Yankees in July. Solarte can play several positions, but third base is where he fits the best. But will he hit enough to hold down the position full-time? If you're getting your offense elsewhere, maybe. But, again, this could be a spot where the team looks to upgrade, especially through a trade. Could the Padres, for example, land someone like Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates, who Pittsburgh could look to move in the winter? His power would play at Petco Park. Sure there are defensive deficiencies, but he would be an upgrade over anything you have internally.

Outfield: The Padres will enter 2015 with four outfielders under contract -- Carlos Quentin, Seth Smith, Will Venable and Cameron Maybin. But with those four, there are questions. Can Quentin, who has averaged 72 games in each of the last three seasons, remain healthy? Can Maybin? Smith can crush righties, but who will platoon with him? What happens with Venable, who slumped in 2014 after a big 2013 season? Rookie Rymer Liriano showed flashes of an athletic, toosly skill set late in the year, but he doesn't appear ready to win an everyday job.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Over its 23-year history, the Arizona Fall League has developed a reputation as a finishing school for baseball's top prospects. This year, once again, many of the game's best young players will gather in the desert, hoping to prove themselves in the same league that helped catapult Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Trout to stardom.

When the AFL opens play Tuesday, the concentration of talent will again be readily apparent. Two of the three Opening Day games feature premium pitching matchups, and the third game is highlighted by two of the best shortstops in the Minor Leagues.


The action begins at 3:35 p.m. ET when Peoria and right-hander Kyle Zimmer, the Royals' No. 2 prospect, visits Surprise and right-hander Taijuan Walker, whose last start was a complete game for the Mariners in the midst of their pennant race.

At the same time Tuesday afternoon, Glendale and shortstop Corey Seager, the Dodgers' No. 1 prospect, will host Mesa and shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs' No. 2 prospect. The day ends with another pitchers' duel, as right-hander Tyler Glasnow, the Pirates' No. 1 prospect, will take the mound for Scottsdale at 9:35 p.m. ET at Salt River, facing right-hander Archie Bradley, the D-backs' No. 1 prospect.

Games with that level of talent are commonplace in the AFL, where 23 players ranked on's Top 100 Prospects list will play this season.

For the second year in a row, Byron Buxton, baseball's top ranked prospect, is among the top prospects playing in the desert this fall. Last year, the Twins' No. 1 prospect hit .212/.288/.404 in 12 games as a 19-year-old for Glendale. This year, he will be playing for Salt River as he tries to make up for lost time after missing most of the regular season due to injuries.

Buxton played in just 31 games during the regular season. A wrist injury he suffered during Spring Training delayed his start to the season and continued to hamper him throughout the first half with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. Then, in his first game after being promoted to Double-A New Britain in August, he suffered a concussion in a harrowing outfield collision and was sidelined for the final three weeks of the season.

Now healthy again, Buxton will be one of the most-watched players in the AFL. But his is far from the only storyline to watch over the next six weeks.

Making up for lost time
Like Buxton, several other players are headed to Arizona to make up for time they lost to injury during the regular season. Others who are taking advantage of the extra developmental time include outfielder Jesse Winker, the Reds' No. 2 prospect, and shortstop Tim Anderson, the White Sox's No. 2 prospect.

Many of the starting pitchers in the AFL are there because injuries prevented them from reaching their innings caps during the regular season. Bradley, Glasnow, Zimmer and Walker all spent part of this season on the disabled list, as did right-handers C.J. Edwards, the Cubs' No. 5 prospect, and Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays' No. 5 prospect.

Recent Draft picks
Last year, just four months after he was selected second overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, the Cubs sent third baseman Kris Bryant to the AFL. He hit .364/.457/.727 with six home runs in 20 games. He was named MVP and helped Mesa to the league championship game. That performance helped serve as a springboard for his historic '14 season, when he hit 43 home runs and reached Triple-A.

It is unlikely any player will be able to repeat Bryant's spectacular performance this season. But three members of the '14 Draft class will play in the AFL, led by shortstop Trea Turner, the Padres' No. 5 prospect. He was selected 13th overall in June and hit .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases in 69 games between short-season Eugene and Class A Fort Wayne.

In addition to the small group of '14 draftees, several members of the '13 Draft class will play in the AFL. Right-hander Mark Appel, the first overall pick last year, headlines the group. The Astros' No. 2 prospect had a rocky start to his first full professional season, but pitched much better after his promotion to Double-A Corpus Christi in July. He will try to build on that progress while pitching with Salt River this fall, where he joins Bradley and Buxton to form one of the most star-studded rosters in the league.

Pace of play
Major League Baseball announced last week a set of experimental rules designed to speed up the pace of play would be used in the AFL this year.

• A hitter must keep one foot inside the batter's box throughout his plate appearance, unless one of a few exceptions, such as a foul ball, occurs.

• Intentional walks will be called for by the manager and the batter will automatically take first base.

• There will be a maximum break of two minutes, five seconds between innings, with hitters required to be in the batter's box by the one-minute, 45-second mark. If either team doesn't comply, a ball or strike will be assessed accordingly.

• There will be a maximum of two minutes, 30 seconds allowed for pitching changes, including those that occur during an inning break. A ball will be called if a team takes too long.

• Each team will be permitted three "timeout" conferences covering any meeting involving pitchers and catchers, managers, coaches and batters. Timeouts during pitching changes and those that result from an injury or other emergency will not be counted toward the limit. Additionally, at Salt River home games, a 20-second pitch clock will be used. Those games will also include instant replay, as MLB continues to study potential modifications to the review system.

The experimental pace of play initiatives continue the AFL's tradition of being a testing lab for MLB's potential rule changes. Last year, the instant replay system was debuted in the AFL.

Defensive moves
Position changes often happen in a less-competitive environment than the AFL, but the league gives players who are moving around the diamond another chance to get experience.

This year, Josh Bell, the Pirates' No. 3 prospect, will be the most prominent player learning a new position. He has exclusively played the outfield in the Minor Leagues, but the Pirates already have a star-studded trio of young outfielders in the big leagues. So, this fall, Bell will try out first base, where he began taking ground balls during the regular season.

Although Peter O'Brien, the D-backs' No. 7 prospect, won't be changing positions when he catches for Salt River this fall, his progress defensively will be closely watched by evaluators. The 24-year old was a catcher in college, but has played four positions since the Yankees drafted him in the second round in '12.

The D-backs acquired O'Brien at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in exchange for Martin Prado, but injuries limited him to four games with his new club. The D-backs are sending him to the AFL as a catcher, and how he performs behind the plate over the next six weeks could inform his ultimate defensive home.

No matter where O'Brien ends up defensively, his offensive prowess gives him a chance to reach the Major Leagues. He hit 34 home runs in 106 games this season, ranking fifth among Minor Leaguers.'s Top Prospects in AFL
1. Byron Buxton, OF, Twins
4. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians
5. Addison Russell, SS, Cubs
9. Archie Bradley, RHP, D-backs
13. Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
16. Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Pirates
29. Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates
38. Raul Mondesi, SS, Royals
40. Jesse Winker, OF, Reds
41. Mark Appel, RHP, Astros
47. Kyle Zimmer, RHP, Royals
49. D.J. Peterson, 3B, Mariners
53. C.J. Edwards, RHP, Cubs
60. Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets
71. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Padres
82. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox
84. Nick Williams, OF, Rangers
85. Daniel Robertson, SS, A's
86. Hunter Dozier, 3B, Royals
87. Miguel Almonte, RHP, Royals
88. Dalton Pompey, OF, Blue Jays
96. Trea Turner, SS, Padres
98. Matt Olson, 1B, A's

Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Ten finalists named for Frick broadcasting award

Ten finalists named for Frick broadcasting award

The list of 2015 Ford C. Frick Award finalists has been narrowed to 10, with the winner set to be announced on Dec. 10 at the Winter Meetings.

The finalists are Richie Ashburn, Billy Berroa, Rene Cardenas, Dizzy Dean, Dick Enberg, Ernie Johnson Sr., Ralph Kiner, Ned Martin, Joe Nuxhall and Jack Quinlan. The award is presented annually "for excellence in baseball broadcasting" by the Hall of Fame.


The winner will be honored during the July 25 awards presentation as part of the Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, N.Y. To be considered, an active or retired broadcaster must have a minimum of 10 years of continuous Major League broadcast service.

The list of 10 includes three fan selections (Enberg, Kiner and Quinlan) and seven that were chosen by the Hall of Fame research committee. Cardenas and Enberg are the only two living candidates.

Final voting will be conducted by a 20-member electorate, comprised of the 16 living award recipients and four broadcast historian/columnists.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Pitching thrives, but Padres' bats falter in inconsistent '14

Pitching thrives, but Padres' bats falter in inconsistent '14

SAN DIEGO -- There was a palpable tone of lament in Jedd Gyorko's voice recently when he talked about the offensive struggles that essentially waylaid the Padres' season as far back as April.

And, no matter how good the team's pitching was, the dearth of runs made it extremely difficult to win, according to the Padres' second baseman.


"Anytime you have the pitching we did, there is no reason why we shouldn't have been better than we were," Gyorko said. "All we needed, on most days, was three or four runs a game. That's all. But when you dig yourself a hole like we did, it's tough to climb out."

The Padres' struggles cost general manager Josh Byrnes his job in June, as he was dismissed after two and a half years.

The team hired a first-year general manager in A.J. Preller from the Rangers, giving him a five-year deal, convinced his eye for talent evaluation will help get the franchise -- one that hasn't been to the playoffs since 2006 -- headed in the right direction.

They'll certainly need a whole lot more offense to get there.

The Padres, who were shut out 19 times in 2014, were hurt early by injuries to key players in addition to underperformance, especially offensively. There had been years in manager Bud Black's previous seven seasons where three or four hitters were cold at once, but not six or seven.

Yonder Alonso, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley (traded in July to the Yankees), Cameron Maybin, Cabrera, Gyorko and Yasmani Grandal -- players the team was depending on -- all finished below where they had been before in batting average and, for many of them, overall offensive production.

"The position player grouping is platoon oriented, and that can work, but it required a few big guys in the middle to provide an offensive foundation for which the platoons can be worked around," said an NL Central scout. "Even if some of the players they have overachieve, there still isn't that force which scares other clubs anywhere in the lineup. I'm not sure I see that player on the roster right now."

Strong pitching kept the Padres afloat, as Tyson Ross took a very big step forward in 2014, Ian Kennedy logged 200 innings and finished with over 200 strikeouts. Andrew Cashner was very good. The bullpen was strong, even after All-Star Huston Street was traded to the Angels in July.

The team played better from July on, oddly enough after Headley and Street were moved in deals before the July 31 Trade Deadline.

'I think [manager Bud Black] deserves a ton of credit for what he's done," the NL Central scout said. "… They have played extremely hard for him and the fundamentals look to have improved. He and his staff deserve a ton of credit for what they have done."

Record: 77-85, third place, National League West.

Defining moment: By the end of May, the Padres were in fourth place and 10 games back in the NL West and had already had their share of offensive trouble. But nothing like what awaited them in June, as the team hit just .171 -- the lowest single-month mark for a team in the modern era (or since at least 1914).

There was a Tim Lincecum no-hitter in there during the team's June swoon as part of four shutouts. All told, the team scored two or fewer runs in 18 of their 27 games. They finished the month 11 games out of first place in the division, meaning if they hit even a little, they could have made up some ground.

What went right: The way rookie pitchers Jesse Hahn and Odrisamer Despaigne, both of whom began the season in the Minor Leagues, more than held their own after earning promotions. Both figure in the team's rotation plans in 2015 in some capacity.

Ross, whom the Padres got from the A's in the winter of 2012 for two Minor Leaguers, took a big step forward in his development, becoming one of the top starters in the league, approaching 200 innings and 200 strikeouts while landing on the NL All-Star team.

Rene Rivera, who made the team as a third catcher, outplayed Nick Hundley and later Grandal, winning the job and never giving it up. At 31, Rivera set several career-best marks in offensive statistics and led all of baseball in caught stealing while also stealing strikes -- pitching framing, anyone -- for his pitchers.

Outfielder Seth Smith, acquired in the winter to combat the team's woes against right-handed pitching, was good against lefties, especially in the first half.

Super utilityman Alexi Amarista filled in more than admirably at shortstop for oft-injured Cabrera and his defensive metrics were better than average.

Also, the pitching -- starters and relievers -- was strong and consistent all season, despite a change at the back end of the bullpen when Street was dealt.

What went wrong: A lot, mostly on offense and then (again) in terms of keeping players healthy.

First, let's tackle the health issue. Quentin played in 50 games, Cashner missed 71 games with two disabled list stints. Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013, slumped badly and found the DL twice. Alonso, Headley, Gyorko and Maybin missed time with injuries.

Pitcher Josh Johnson, a free-agent signing, never threw a single inning and needed Tommy John surgery. Cory Luebke needed a second Tommy John surgery.

Biggest surprise: How about the emergence of Hahn, who was acquired in the winter from the Rays, as well as the emergence of Despaigne? Hahn was good from the moment he arrived from Double-A, tossing six scoreless in his second start against the Mets in New York. Despaigne tossed seven shutout in his first start in San Francisco and was very good pitching at spacious Petco Park and was a good value on a Minor League deal for $1 million.

Hitter of the Year: Smith. He filled a specific need (crush righties) and he did that well during the first half of the season and all 12 of his home runs came against right-handed pitching. Smith hit .354 in May and .358 in July and earned a two-year contract extension. Rivera wasn't far behind, though, as he reached career bests in most offensive categories.

Pitcher of the Year: Cashner had two shutouts and Joaquin Benoit had a sub-2.00 ERA, but if you are looking for the best pitcher in 2014, then look no further than Ross. An All-Star for the first time, he won 13 games and had a club-record streak of 14 consecutive quality starts. He's becoming a complete pitcher, as evidenced by the three-hit shutout he threw against the Reds on July 2.

Rookie of the Year: Has to be Hahn, who didn't pitch much like a rookie, showing he could fare well away from pitcher-friendly Petco Park just as well as pitching at it. He allowed only four home runs and went eight starts without yielding a long ball, unheard of for a young kid trying to find his way and cut his teeth at the big league level.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Renfroe logs top score of NL prospects at Bowman Challenge

Renfroe logs top score of NL prospects at Bowman Challenge

SCOTTSDALE, AZ. -- Hunter Renfroe started his Arizona Fall League season with a huge jolt Friday night, when he logged the top score of any National League prospect at the Bowman Hitting Challenge. Renfroe, San Diego's No. 4 prospect on the list, went deep four times in total.

The Bowman Hitting Challenge is the first event on the AFL schedule, and games won't start until Tuesday. Renfroe wowed the Salt River Fields audience with his round Friday, which included a shot to the power alley. The event was won by Hunter Dozier, one of Kansas City's top prospects.


"It's a Hunter thing," quipped Renfroe moments after receiving his souvenir bat.

Indeed, it was a Hunter thing on Friday night, and Renfroe had his own moments to shine. Renfroe, selected by the Padres with the 13th overall selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, went deep four times and hit his bonus ball tee-shot to the United Healthcare power alley in left-center field.

Renfroe, listed as the No. 71 prospect on's Top 100 chart, also showed some precision in an unexpected area. Renfroe successfully dropped a bunt into one of the targets in front of the plate, one of just three scoring bunts all night. Only three bunts scored out of 132 bunts attempted.

Renfroe, who will play for the Surprise Saguaros during the AFL campaign, said that the Bowman Hitting Challenge felt just like a normal batting practice round. There may have been fans in the stands and targets all over the field, but Renfroe just tried to get in the batter's box and take his hacks.

"I knew there were people watching at first," he said. "You get a few swings out of the way and then you just get in your zone. You zone everything out and then you see the ball and nothing else."

Renfroe, 22 years old, started last season with Lake Elsinore in the Class A California League, where he batted .295 with 16 home runs in 69 games. Renfroe was later promoted to Double-A San Antonio, and he hit .232 with five home runs in 60 games after his climb to the higher level.

The AFL is an opportunity for Renfroe to grow even more against advanced pitchers, and he couldn't help but feel that he got off to a positive start at Salt River Fields on Friday evening. Renfroe hit off former big-league catcher Jody Davis, who will serve as hitting coach for Surprise this year.

"I had a good time," said Renfroe. "I was getting jammed at first. I had to choke up a little bit. Jody was throwing a little inside, but after that, I got into a groove and I was crushing balls pretty good."

Despite his strong night at the plate, Renfroe finished sixth in total scoring. Two American League players -- Dozier and Minnesota prospect Max Kepler -- doubled his scoring output. But the final score didn't really matter to Renfroe, and he said it was just great to be a part of the event.

"Any time you watch a show like this and everybody is hitting home runs, it's phenomenal," he said of the hitting challenge. "To see the balls fly out and how far they go, it's a lot of fun."

Renfroe has played in just 172 games at the Minor League level, and he's hitting .268 with 27 home runs and 100 RBIs combined across four different stops. The youngster is hoping to add another line to his resume in the AFL, and he knows that playing fall ball can make a huge difference for him.

"Hopefully, it will only go up from here," said Renfroe. "But if it doesn't, this was a lot of fun."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Preller breaks down early plans for offseason

Preller breaks down early plans for offseason

SAN DIEGO -- A day after the Padres put the finishing touches on a 77-85 season, their eighth consecutive season without a postseason berth, new general manager A.J. Preller faced reporters to talk about what has transpired during his seven-plus weeks on the job.

And, more importantly, what lies ahead for the franchise.


When he was asked on Monday about specific moves that could be in the works, Preller instead spoke of the general process of how the offseason needs will be met before Opening Day of 2015 arrives.

"It's how to improve the big picture in general," Preller said, sitting on the top bench of the dugout at Petco Park.

Preller inherited a team with roughly $41 million in payroll. There are several players on the roster who are due for big raises through arbitration, like pitchers Andrew Cashner ($2.4 million in 2014), Ian Kennedy ($6.1 million) and Tyson Ross ($1.98 million).

San Diego executive chairman Ron Fowler said Monday he doesn't "have a position on payroll at this time" and that he'll meet with Preller in the next few days to get his thoughts.

Preller, who wasted little time diving headfirst into meetings with the coaching staff Monday, addressed a number of topics:

• As he told on Sept. 20, Preller reiterated that manager Bud Black, who just completed his eighth season, will return in 2015. Black was already under contract for next season.

"What I saw from afar, what I heard, he's intelligent," Preller said of Black. "The club played hard for him throughout and I think that he did a good job with the coaching staff … delegating in certain areas and taking responsibility. I feel good about him here. Really, from Day 1 it's been a positive relationship."

A decision on Black's coaching staff could come by the end of the week.

• Preller was also asked about shortstop Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 whose star has faded in a big way. Cabrera was limited to 90 games because of two DL stints for left hamstring injuries. He was also arrested earlier this month for driving under the influence of marijuana and his on-base percentage dropped from .355 a year ago to an anemic .272.

Does Cabrera, who is under team control, have a place on the 2015 roster?

"I think in Everth's case, we'll get started with our staff and our scouts, look at who fits and other ways to make improvements in all spots," Preller said. "In his case specifically, you need to see where he's at physically, the off-field deal, and make a decision going forward about what. In the next month or two months, we'll see where he's at."

• The Padres hold a $4 million option for 2015 on pitcher Josh Johnson (Tommy John surgery), as his contract stipulated that he could return on the option if he made seven or fewer starts. He's indicated that he would like to, even if the team declined the option.

Preller said the feeling is mutual.

"With Josh, he's a guy that everyone has a positive feel for. We'll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him," Preller said.

• Preller already has a good idea what other teams will be asking about this winter -- pitching. The Padres, while not exactly having a surplus, do have some interesting pieces they could move in a deal to get offense. Could they, say, deal Cashner, who they approach last winter about an extension, but were rebuffed by his agent?

"I definitely get the sense already that we have pitchers that are attractive to clubs. It's going to be an area where teams hit us this offseason. It's an area where we have guys who are attractive to other clubs," Preller said.

Would Preller be amenable to moving a frontline starter?

"I think you look at anything to try and improve. We've had good starters, frontline starters, depth. We don't take that lightly. You've got to listen to any situation."

If the team does move, say Cashner, they would retain Ross and Kennedy (both under control) and add them to Jesse Hahn, Odrisamer Despaigne and Eric Stults with Matt Wisler seemingly ready to move up and join the rotation.

• Preller said the Padres will continue to monitor and be active in terms of pursuing players on the international market. But Preller refused to comment specifically on players, such as 24-year-old Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas.

"It will be a case-by-case basis," Preller said of pursuing players internationally.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Season-finale loss showcases glimpse of future

Padres end campaign with 77 victories, their most since 2010

Season-finale loss showcases glimpse of future

SAN FRANCISCO -- The game and the season hadn't been finished more than 20 minutes Sunday when Padres manager Bud Black caught himself already looking ahead to 2015.

Even while he was queried after a 9-3 loss to the Giants in the regular-season finale for both teams at AT&T Park, Black spoke at length about the September auditions several young players went through this month and what it might mean for the future.


Some went better than others. Some of those players, a handful who appeared in Sunday's loss, might figure prominently in the team's plans moving forward.

Players like infielder Cory Spangenberg, who had two hits and knocked in a run Sunday and hit .290 during his first month in the big leagues. While many of his older teammates were no doubt ready to shut things down after a six-month season, the 23-year-old seemed energized, like he was ready to keep playing.

"This [experience] definitely helps," he said. "It's an exciting time. I'm looking forward to next year. I can't wait to get started. The experience was good."

The Padres (77-85) started fast, scoring two runs in the first inning against Giants pitcher Chris Heston. They began with four consecutive hits, including an RBI single by Spangenberg. Seth Smith later had a sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning.

The Padres added a run in the third inning when Spangenberg singled, stole second base and scored on a single by Yasmani Grandal, who had eight RBIs in the series.

"He's shown well for himself," Black said of Spangenberg. "This was good for him. The short time that he was here … he performed. He's young, but we think he's got a future ahead of him."

The Giants (88-74) responded quickly, getting a two-run home run by Buster Posey in the bottom of the first inning off Padres pitcher Robbie Erlin (4-5), who allowed four runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings. He had two walks and one strikeout before giving way to reliever Tim Stauffer in the second inning.

"It was a lot of balls in the middle and counts not in his favor," Black said of Erlin. "The fastball funneled back to the middle."

The Giants put the game away by scoring five runs against the Padres' bullpen, who went into the day with the second-lowest ERA in the game (2.68).

Aside from Spangenberg, rookie left-handed reliever Frank Garces was good, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.00 in nine big league innings. Like Spangenberg, Garces began the year with Double-A San Antonio

"We put him in some tough spots," Black said. "Frankie has responded for the most part. We think that there's enough stuff there."

Some of the problems that plagued the Padres all season reared their head Sunday, namely the lack of offense. The team got three runs in the first inning and one more in the third inning and nothing else. In fact, the final 14 hitters were retired in order.

The Padres finished the season with the lowest batting average (.226), fewest runs (535) and the lowest on-base percentage (.292) among all 30 Major League teams. That the team won its most games since 2010 (90) is a testament to its pitching staff, the manager and coaching staff.

The Padres finished with the fourth-best team ERA in baseball (3.27).

"They did a pretty good job," catcher Rene Rivera said of the pitching staff. "I think early in the season, if we scored a little more, we could have won a few more games. But they kept us in a lot of games."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Winter ball important for Grandal, Liriano

Winter ball important for Grandal, Liriano

SAN FRANCISCO -- After Sunday's regular-season finale, when Padres players scatter to various points to begin their offseason, a handful will begin only a short period of unwinding before beginning to play yet again during winter ball.

For two Padres -- catcher/first baseman Yasmani Grandal and rookie outfielder Rymer Liriano -- playing time this winter rates far more important in terms of development than it does for many of their teammates who will also play this winter.


Grandal, who has caught 75 games but most recently has seen time at first base, will mostly catch this winter in the Dominican Republic.

"He's a guy who wants to play; he's motivated to play," said Padres manager Bud Black. "His knee feels good. He'll be the first to tell you his knee wasn't 100 percent in the first half of the year. But he's very confident in the knee."

Grandal, 25, was limited to 88 at-bats last season after missing the first 50 games due to a suspension and then needing surgery in August to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee following a collision at the plate in a July game in Washington.

"I think with Yazzy, it's just getting at-bats. He missed most of last year with the suspension and the ACL ... so he missed almost a full year of at-bats," Black said. "And this year, he was on a little slower program in Spring Training and early in the year, and now the at-bats are high enough now for him to feel good about where he is physically."

Grandal hit two home runs in Thursday's 9-8 loss to the Giants, including a grand slam. A switch-hitter, he's hit all 15 home runs from the left side and is just now to the point where he's able to turn on a ball from the right side.

Even though he played his 35th game at first base Friday against the Giants, and the team hasn't closed the door on him playing there in the future, it still thinks of him as a catcher.

As for Liriano, 23, he entered Friday hitting .226 in 106 at-bats since being promoted from Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 11. He had struck out 38 times in 117 plate appearances and, according to Black, just needs more seasoning. That could come this winter in the Dominican Republic.

"He needs a lot of at-bats against good pitching," Black said. "... His at-bats can be conducted a little bit better. He's got to be ready for the fastball, be ready in fastball counts.

"There are some technical things in the swing that [hitting coaches Phil Plantier and Alonzo Powell] are working with him on. Here, he's let some good fastballs go without a swing."

Liriano missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery to his left arm. He hit a combined .291 this season in two Minor League stops with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Facing Peavy an odd experience for Padres' Balsley

Former San Diego ace opposes Friars for first time since leaving in '09

Facing Peavy an odd experience for Padres' Balsley

SAN FRANCISCO -- From the top step of the dugout Saturday, Padres pitching coach Darren Balsley stood and watched as Jake Peavy slowly walked from the Giants' dugout to the mound for the top of the first inning.

For a moment, Balsley had trouble digesting it all: right player, wrong dugout and certainly the wrong uniform, right?


"Absolutely. About the only thing I can compare it to was when Trevor [Hoffman] faced us for the first time when he was with the Brewers," Balsley said.

"I think the best way to put it is it's almost like competing against your kids. You want to win, but you also want them to have success, just not against you."

For the first time, Peavy, the former Padre, faced his former club. He allowed one run over five innings Saturday and didn't factor in the decision as the Giants defeated the Padres, 3-1, at AT&T Park.

Peavy, who won the National League Cy Young Award with the Padres in 2007, was 92-68 in parts of eight seasons in San Diego (2002-09) and had a 3.29 ERA in 212 starts. He pitched in the postseason twice (2005-06) before being dealt in the summer of 2009 to the White Sox.

The team he faced Saturday didn't resemble the one he left, as only outfielder Will Venable and pitcher Tim Stauffer are holdovers from when he was with the Padres. But the coaching staff, Balsley and Bud Black, manager of the team, remain.

"I have the utmost respect for that coaching staff, and I always do that when I know or respect the other manager. I always wish them well and good health," Peavy said.

Peavy developed a close relationship with Balsley going back to their days together in the Padres' Minor League system before Balsley was promoted to his current post in May 2003.

"He means a lot to the Padres," Balsley said of Peavy.

Peavy, who threw six shutout innings on Opening Day 2007 here against these Giants, Black's first win as manager, is a different pitcher now. He's 33, the delivery isn't as violent as it once was and his slider, that hard, nasty slider, has mostly been replaced by a cut fastball.

But he still knows how to pitch, how to get hitters out. Since joining the Giants on July 26 in a trade from the Red Sox, he's 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts.

"It was a little different," Black said of watching Peavy pitch in person for someone other than the Padres. "We've seen him on television and in Spring Training before. It's a little different mix of pitches now. Today, he mixed those pitches pretty well. We stressed him a few times. But Jake pitched well."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Jonathan Mayo

Padres' Alvarez on MLB Pipeline All-Prospect Team

Sluggers Bryant and Gallo make the cut, as do pairs of Dodgers, Nationals and Red Sox

Padres' Alvarez on MLB Pipeline All-Prospect Team

Last week, handed out year-end awards for top hitting and pitching prospects. As much as Kris Bryant and Tyler Glasnow were deserving recipients, it was clear there were many other fantastic performances in 2014 that deserved some attention.

With that in mind, announced its 2014 All-Prospect Team on Friday. There's a prospect for each position, including three outfielders, a DH, a right-handed and left-handed starting pitcher and one reliever. The only requirements were that a player appeared at some point on a team's Top 20 list on Prospect Watch and spent the majority of the year in the Minor Leagues.


1B: Matt Olson, Oakland A's
Perhaps lost in the shadow of the power displays of Bryant and Joey Gallo, Olson finished third in all of the Minors with 37 home runs. The A's No. 2 prospect also walked 117 times to lead the Minor Leagues, allowing him to finish with a robust .404 OBP and .947 OPS.

2B: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Betts has more than held his own in the big leagues, playing center field and second base. He began the year as the No. 62 prospect on the Top 100, then moved up to No. 14 on the re-ranked list this summer. The jump was thanks to a huge season at Double and Triple-A. Betts hit .346/.431/.529 with 33 steals in 99 games before getting called up to Boston.

SS: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
The fact that Seager hit in the California League surprised no one. Neither did the fact he kept on raking when he reached Double-A. The Dodgers' top prospect hit a combined .349/.402/.602 to win the Minor League batting title, and his .602 slugging percentage was also good for fourth in the Minors. All coming from the shortstop position, while reaching the upper levels of the system at age 20.

3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
He was the Hitting Prospect of the Year, after all. The Cubs' top prospect led the Minors in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He was second in OBP, third in RBIs, and he even stole 15 bases while reaching Triple-A in his first full season.

C: Blake Swihart, Red Sox
Ranked as the No. 2 catcher, Swihart began the year in Double-A and finished it with the International League champion Pawtucket Red Sox in Triple-A. Combined, the switch-hitting 2011 first-round pick hit .293/.341/.469. He also threw out 46 percent of would-be basestealers and improved his defense behind the plate.

OF: Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
Quick quiz: How many professional baseball players went 30-30 in 2014? One: Pederson. At No. 16 on the Top 100 and No. 3 on the Dodgers' list, Pederson was the only player at any level to accomplish the feat. The outfielder did it in just 121 games and 448 at-bats with Triple-A Albuquerque before receiving a September callup. Pederson not only had 33 homers and 30 steals, he also had a 1.017 OPS, good for fourth in the Minors. Sure, he struck out 149 times, but he also drew 100 walks en route to a .435 OBP, third among Minor Leaguers.

OF: Michael Taylor, Washington Nationals
A raw, toolsy shortstop-turned-outfielder, Taylor had a breakout year, largely in Double-A, in 2014. The Nationals' No. 3 prospect had a 20-30 season (23 home runs, 37 steals), went to the Futures Game and earned his first big league callup. His strikeout rate is still quite high, but his walk rate and OBP improved this year, signs he's moving in a very good direction.

OF: Steven Souza Jr., Washington Nationals
Souza may not have the same marquee value compared to others on this list -- he's one of only two players not on the Top 100 -- but it's impossible to look past the year he had before joining the Nationals. Souza started the year No. 14 on the Nationals' Top 20 and moved to fifth after hitting .345/.427/.577 over 100 Minor League games. His 1.004 OPS was sixth-best among all Minor League hitters, and he stole 28 bases to boot.

DH: Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers
Gallo certainly belongs on this list, but he was blocked at his normal position by Bryant. The Rangers' top prospect finished just one homer behind Bryant, narrowly missing out on his second straight Minor League home run crown. More impressive than his power output -- though his Futures Game display will be remembered for a long time -- are the adjustments he made to earn a promotion to Double-A. His approach at the plate matured, and as a result he drew more walks and made more contact, giving him more chances to tap into his plus power.

RHP: Tyler Glasnow, Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pitching Prospect of the Year, Glasnow shook off an early back issue to absolutely dominate the Florida State League. He finished the year with the lowest opponents' batting average among Minor Leaguers and the third lowest ERA. He struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings, which actually lowered his K/9 rate to 12.0 for his career. He also lowered his BB/9 rate by nearly a walk per nine from last season to this one.

LHP: Daniel Norris, Toronto Blue Jays
There were several quality lefty prospects to consider -- four received votes for Pitching Prospect of the Year, and five are among the top 30 overall prospects -- but Norris' season truly does stand out. The 2011 second-round pick began the year in the Florida State League and ended it in the big leagues, putting up eye-popping numbers along the way. The Blue Jays' No. 1 prospect finished fifth in the Minors with 163 strikeouts, held hitters to a .212 batting average and finished with a 2.53 ERA. His 11.8 K/9 rate was coupled with a 3.1 BB/9 mark.

RP: R.J. Alvarez, San Diego Padres
Alvarez began the year as the Angels' No. 7 prospect, but was dealt to the Padres in the Huston Street deal. He's not on the Padres Top 20 currently, but he's pitched as though he belongs. Between the two organizations, Alvarez posted a 1.25 ERA in 38 relief appearances, striking out 12.7 per nine while walking 2.7. Hitters managed just a .192 batting average against him in the Minors, and he's been just as stingy during his big league debut this September.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Stults finishes strong as Padres lose late

Starter allows one run in seven innings; Thayer gives up pair in eighth

Stults finishes strong as Padres lose late

SAN FRANCISCO -- In danger of losing his spot in the rotation and with his ERA seemingly headed toward infinity, Padres starting pitcher Eric Stults looked for help in July, asking pitching coach Darren Balsley for ideas on how to remedy all that was troubling him.

There was a mechanical fix and the addition of an upbeat tempo in delivery that paid dividends during the second half, as Stults looked like a completely different pitcher, a pattern that continued Saturday even as the Padres fell to the Giants, 3-1, at AT&T Park.


Stults didn't factor in the final decision -- the Giants scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Dale Thayer -- but he did what he's mostly done since the start of August: kept his team close, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Whereas Stults' first three months weren't much to look at -- he was 3-13 with a 5.22 ERA in 21 starts -- his final 11 starts were more than just competitive.

The left-hander went 5-4 with a 2.74 ERA, and that record might have been even better had he not been saddled with the fourth-worst run support in baseball.

"The biggest thing was wanting to find some consistency," Stults said. "I picked up my tempo and made a mechanical fix [a higher leg kick]. I tried to keep the mindset that I wanted to finish strong."

Stults was gone by the time this one turned in favor of the Giants.

In the eighth inning, Gary Brown reached on an infield single and was forced at second base on a ground ball by Matt Duffy that second baseman Cory Spangenberg threw away attempting to finish a double play at first base. That allowed Duffy to advance to second base.

Thayer (4-5) intentionally walked Brandon Belt and walked Andrew Susac to load the bases for pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval. He struck out Sandoval but allowed the single to Crawford on the first pitch.

Former Padres pitcher Jake Peavy made his first start against his former team, allowing one run on four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out three, needing 92 pitches to get 15 outs.

Peavy pitched parts of eight seasons for the Padres from 2002 until 2009, when he was traded to the White Sox at the Trade Deadline.

Trailing, 1-0, the Padres (77-84) tied the game in the fifth inning as Will Venable -- who with pitcher Tim Stauffer are the only Padres players who previously played with Peavy -- singled and went to third base on Spangenberg's double. He scored on Yasmani Grandal's sacrifice fly.

"It was a little different," Padres manager Bud Black said of watching Peavy pitch in person for someone other than the Padres. "We've seen him on television and in Spring Training before. It's a little different mix of pitches now. Today, he mixed those pitches pretty well. We stressed him a few times. But Jake pitched well."

The Giants (87-74) got a run off Stults in the first inning as Duffy -- who had two hits -- singled and scored on a double to right field by Belt.

Rookie Hunter Strickland got the victory in relief for the Giants, his first big league win.

Spangenberg had two hits and two stolen bases. He's hitting .276 in his first 19 games since he was called up from Double-A San Antonio earlier this month.

"It's a learning curve for him," Black said. "He has above-average speed and plays with an aggressive style. His speed is a weapon."

The two teams will play the regular-season finale Sunday.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Kennedy closes out season with strong win

Starter passes 200-innings mark, allows no earned runs vs. Giants

Kennedy closes out season with strong win

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wins are wonderful and strikeouts can be stupendous, but for Padres manager Bud Black, there's always been one statistical mark that truly measured the impact of a starting pitcher the best -- innings pitched.

On Friday, pitcher Ian Kennedy reached a notable statistical plateau, allowing one unearned run as the Padres edged the Giants, 4-1, before a sold-out crowd at AT&T Park.


Kennedy surpassed the 200-innings mark, limiting the Giants to four hits in seven innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He finished the season with 201 innings, a 13-13 record and a 3.63 ERA. And, no, he said, the innings total didn't sneak up on him.

"It's one of those goals you set -- 200 innings means a guy stays in the game, that he stays durable," said Kennedy. "Durability is important is me. It means you're staying healthy."

It means everything to Black, a former pitcher himself who pitched during an era where 200 innings wasn't the benchmark it is in today's era, with starting pitchers' workloads being monitored more than ever and with bullpen specialization being more prevalent.

"Two hundred [innings] is a high standard in today's era. For me, the responsibility of a starting pitcher and what he means to a team is huge," Black said.

Kennedy (13-13) became one of nine starting pitchers in 2014 to eclipse 200 strikeouts and 200 innings in the same season.

The victory gave the Padres (77-83) their most victories since 2010, when they won 90 games and were not eliminated from postseason consideration until the final day of the regular season.

On Friday, the Padres scored first, getting a run in the first inning before Ryan Vogelsong settled into a groove.

With one out, Will Venable singled and later moved up when catcher Andrew Susac was charged with a passed ball. With two outs, Venable was able to score when Yasmani Grandal -- who hit two home runs Thursday -- singled up the middle, a ball that second baseman Joe Panik nearly flagged down.

San Francisco starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (8-13) looked good early, allowing an unearned run over the first five innings of the game.

But he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, allowing a one-out double to Jedd Gyorko and then a walk to Grandal. Seth Smith followed with an RBI double off the wall in right for a 2-1 lead. Rene Rivera broke his bat on a soft single to center field that scored two more runs.

Vogelsong allowed four runs, three earned, on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.

The Giants (86-74) got their run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Brandon Crawford.

Then, in the sixth inning, the Giants put two runners on against Kennedy, but he struck out Travis Ishikawa and Susac to end the inning.

Kevin Quackenbush worked a scoreless eighth inning and Joaquin Benoit worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 11th save.

But this one was more about the guy who began the game, not about the ones who finished it.

Kennedy's first full season with the Padres saw him make all but one of his starts. A minor oblique injury kept him from one start and he admitted that he wasn't quite 100 percent for four or so starts after he came back, though he was still plenty good.

"It's a testament to Ian," Black said. "He's held his stuff from April to right now."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Homer barrage doesn't hold up for Padres

Grandal slugs two of four long balls, including first career grand slam

Homer barrage doesn't hold up for Padres

SAN FRANCISCO -- No team in the big leagues has scored fewer runs than the Padres, so you can imagine the relief and elation that rolled through the visiting dugout at AT&T Park on Thursday as San Diego not only got back into a game it once trailed by six runs, but actually took a late lead.

But on a night when the Padres and Giants combined for 17 runs on 23 hits -- including six home runs -- it was a squeeze bunt by rookie Matt Duffy that made the difference as the Giants saved the final rally for themselves, holding on for a 9-8 victory.


See if you can keep track of this one:

The Giants (86-73) led 6-0 after five innings, allowed eight runs over the next two innings before then managing to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the seventh with three runs, the last on Duffy's bunt, which allowed Hunter Pence to race home.

Trailing, 6-0, the Padres (76-83) scored three runs in the sixth inning and five more in the seventh inning to take an 8-6 lead, as Yasmani Grandal's second home run of the game, a grand slam, proved to be the big blow in the inning. Rene Rivera also had a home run in that seventh inning.

Grandal's grand slam, his 15th home run of the season and first slam of his career, came off Giants reliever Jean Machi. It gave the Padres a 7-6 lead. He raised his right arm after dropping the bat in celebration.

"Just to get the opportunity to put that up on the scoreboard after being down by six was huge," Grandal said. "A lot of balls were flying out today."

It was the Padres' first four-homer game since hitting four against the Giants on July 14, 2013, at Petco Park.

"[Four home runs] in a ballpark not conducive for homers, either," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We put some good swings on the ball and on their bullpen."

Earlier in the game, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford each hit home runs and Pablo Sandoval knocked in three of his four runs as the Giants took what appeared to be a safe six-run lead into the sixth inning.

All appeared well, as earlier in the day, the Giants clinched a spot in the National League Wild Card game when the Brewers lost to the Reds.

The Giants scored at least one run in each of the first five innings against pitcher Andrew Cashner, who yielded six earned runs on eight hits in five innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

"Their game plan was different than the other night," Cashner said. "... There were a couple of tough at-bats here and there and a couple of close pitches. But overall, there were more balls left up in the zone than down in the zone."

The six earned runs tied the most Cashner has allowed as a starter with the Padres. He also allowed six against the Rockies (Sept. 14, 2012) and the Nationals (July 5, 2013).

"They were looking for the ball up and he couldn't get his slider in a good spot," Black said. "He couldn't locate his pitches early in the count."

San Francisco pitcher Yusmeiro Petit allowed a single to Will Venable with one out in the first inning and then set down 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.

The Padres started their comeback in the sixth inning when Cory Spangenberg singled and scored as Will Venable hit an opposite-field home run to left-center.

Grandal added his first home run of the game, a solo shot off the right-field foul pole, later in the inning to cut the lead to 6-3 and end Petit's night.

Tim Lincecum, who has thrown no-hitters in each of the past two seasons against the Padres, earned the victory in relief -- win No. 100 for his career -- by throwing two pitches. He's 11-9. Blaine Boyer (0-1) took the loss for the Padres with rookie Frank Garces being tagged with a blown save.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Wieland's first win fueled by Medica's home run

Padres now have most victories at home in Petco Park history

Wieland's first win fueled by Medica's home run

SAN DIEGO -- In 11 seasons at Petco Park, the Padres have won two NL West titles and factored in two other playoff races that ended on the season's final day. But they had never won as many as 48 games in their downtown San Diego home -- until Wednesday night, that is.

With a 4-3 victory over Colorado -- the first career win for embattled righty Joe Wieland -- the Padres wrapped up their most successful home campaign since 1998 and tied their third highest home win total ever.


And the victory was sweetest of all for the 24-year-old Wieland, who missed almost two seasons after Tommy John surgery in July 2012. He allowed three runs on three hits in 5 1/3 innings and was admittedly on pins and needles as the bullpen closed it out.

"To be honest with you, I had to hold back some tears," Wieland said. "It's been a long road. Getting called up, I didn't think it would take 29 months to get the first win. It just makes it that much more special."

Wednesday marked Wieland's second start and fourth appearance of the season. Until this month, he hadn't pitched since May 26, 2012, because of the surgery.

After the game Wieland was greeted by teammates with a beer shower in the clubhouse, and he took home the game ball, lineup card and his jersey as keepsakes.

"It's a lifelong dream to be a winning pitcher in a Major League game," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Not many people who start out playing Little League baseball ... can say that they've won a Major League game. It's a very good feeling, and it's a great sense of accomplishment."

The Padres fell behind instantly, when Wieland hung a 1-2 curveball to Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who launched it into the right-field seats. But no sequence demonstrated Wieland's poise on Wednesday night better than Blackmon's next at-bat.

Once again, Wieland worked a 1-2 count, and he didn't shy away from the hook. In fact, Wieland threw the same pitch in the same spot, only this time he executed -- and he fanned Blackmon on a nasty down-and-in curve to end the third.

"For that second at-bat: same count, same sequence, this time I backed off a little bit, got some more depth and I put it in the dirt," Wieland said. "Big difference."

The Padres closed out their home slate with a typical 2014 Petco Park display -- impressive starting pitching, enough offense and a shutdown effort from the league's best bullpen.

In the bottom of the first, Tommy Medica gave the Padres the lead with a three-run homer off Rockies righty Yohan Flande. The ball landed in the first deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

"He threw a couple sinkers in, and I couldn't pull the trigger," Medica said. "I wanted to hit them, but I just couldn't. He went right back to it, and I got the head out and hit the home run."

The Padres extended the advantage in the fourth, aided by a Medica double that kicked up chalk down the right-field line and was ruled fair only after the first of two challenges by Black in the frame.

The Rockies plated two off Wieland in the sixth, but right-hander R.J. Alvarez worked out of a jam, and the bullpen continued its dominance with 3 2/3 shutout frames.

"In the sixth inning I didn't exactly leave them in an easy spot," Wieland said. "I put R.J. in a tough situation. So I just thank those guys for shutting the door."

The home crowd of 38,589 gave the Padres a season figure of 2,195,373 -- the largest since 2008. The Padres rewarded those fans by finishing the second half undefeated (9-0-1) in series play.

"Look at the schedule and look at the teams that came in here," Black said. "[Forty-eight wins] is a good number. These guys can feel good about that."

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres to focus on bats in offseason

Padres to focus on bats in offseason

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black got a bit nostalgic Wednesday afternoon during his final pregame media session at Petco Park this season. More specifically, he spent some time revisiting where the Padres stood at this point a year ago.

Entering the offseason last September, the Padres felt as though they had a lineup that was more or less set, Black said. This year, it's the pitching staff that looks stable, and the offense that could see a bit of a reshuffling come Hot Stove season.


"If you look back a year ago, and you look at our roster, it looked pretty steady at what was going to happen the following spring," Black said, before listing this season's originally projected starters, position by position.

"We were pretty set, and I think that's definitely changed this year. I don't know whether uncertain is the word. But I do think there will be some roster construction more so than last year."

A number of position players who put up solid years in 2013 have struggled this season, including (but not limited to) Jedd Gyorko, Will Venable and Everth Cabrera. As a result, the Padres' 515 runs entering play Wednesday are the fewest in baseball, and it's not even close.

Conversely, the pitching staff is on pace to set a franchise record for fewest runs allowed per game and features a bullpen -- the best in the National League ERA-wise -- with just one free agent (right-hander Tim Stauffer).

The obvious question is just how valuable that pitching is, and whether it's worth dealing parts of it to acquire bats.

"I'll answer it this way: We've pitched well all year, and there's an adage that good pitching beats good hitting," Black said. "... If you trade out of a strength, you'd better have guys to replace them. You'd better make sure that you're getting the right guy back."

The quartet of Gyorko, Cabrera, Venable and Yonder Alonso averaged a 45-point dip in batting average this season. And Gyorko, Cabrera and Alonso all spent significant time on the disabled list.

Ultimately, it's new general manager A.J. Preller who will be calling the shots as far as offseason moves are concerned. Before it comes to that, he'll have to conjecture which returning players might revert to their form of 2013 or earlier.

"We had a lot of guys that had down years," Black said. "Can you bounce back? Of course. Are they going to? I don't have the crystal ball."

Worth noting

• During the eighth inning of Wednesday's home finale, the Padres announced they will be installing an HD scoreboard in place of the model currently overlooking the left-field seats at Petco Park. The club said further details about the scoreboard will be announced in the near future.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

Fortunes split on pair of replay challenges

SAN DIEGO -- Padres manager Bud Black challenged a pair of close plays down the first-base line in the fourth inning of Wednesday's Padres-Rockies game, and he finished the frame 1-for-2.

With a man on first base and no one out, Padres left fielder Tommy Medica used the entire field for his fourth-inning double -- a double that wasn't even awarded until a review proved the ball had landed fair, kicking up chalk on the right-field foul line.


But first-base umpire and crew chief Jerry Meals ruled the ball foul, prompting Padres first-base coach Jose Valentin to march toward Black in the dugout, asking for a challenge.

Turns out, Valentin got it right, and Medica was awarded second base after a review overturned the call. Yasmani Grandal went to third.

Grandal later scored, making it 4-1 Padres, but Medica was stranded after Padres pitcher Joe Wieland was tagged out trying to beat an infield grounder. Rockies shortstop Josh Rutledge threw wide to first base, but first baseman Justin Morneau applied a leaping swipe tag.

After a replay, the call was confirmed and Wieland was outl.

Black has now been successful on 17 of his 33 challenges this season.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres' five-game win streak halted on late homer

Thayer allows solo shot in eighth; Rockies defense robs Friars

Padres' five-game win streak halted on late homer

SAN DIEGO -- You're probably aware by now about the noise and mark the Rockies can make with their bats, but on Tuesday the biggest difference between victory and defeat against the Padres might have actually been because of their defense.

Left fielder Brandon Barnes and second baseman DJ LeMahieu each made run-saving defensive plays in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Rockies hung on for a 3-2 win over the Padres in front of a crowd of 33,669 at Petco Park.


Drew Stubbs hit an opposite-field home run for Colorado to start the eighth inning, breaking a tie before the Rockies (66-92) got two decisive plays in the field to hold on for the victory in the second game of a three-game set. The series concludes at 6:10 p.m. PT on Wednesday.

Barnes saved a home run by making a well-timed leaping grab of Rene Rivera's line drive at the fence in left field to start the eighth inning.

"I hit it well, good hard contact," Rivera said. "I hit it fine. He made a great catch. Sometimes you've just got to tip your hat."

Barnes admitted to having a little fun with some fans before and after the catch.

"One of the guys [in the stands] said, 'He's going to hit a homer right here,' and I said, 'No, I'm going to rob it.' I robbed it and when I got up, I said, 'I told you so,'" Barnes said.

"That's fun. We're here for the fans."

Later in the inning, with two runners on, LeMahieu robbed Alexi Amarista of an RBI single by smothering a ground ball in the hole between first and second base. He then threw to first base for the final out of the inning, preserving the one-run lead.

"That was a big play as well," said Padres manager Bud Black.

The Rockies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, getting a run in the third inning as Justin Morneau had a two-out, run-scoring single to score Rafael Ynoa, who doubled with one out.

They added a run the following inning on the third of three singles, this one by LeMahieu, as Barnes -- who singled to start the inning -- raced around for a 2-0 lead.

San Diego pitcher Robbie Erlin, getting a start for Tyson Ross, allowed two runs on six hits over his four innings of work. Erlin walked two, struck out two and needed 83 pitches to get 12 outs.

"The fastball into righties, he just couldn't get there," Black said. "He ran some deep counts and just wasn't about to execute the fastball."

Erlin was filling in for Ross, who was shut down for the remainder of the season Tuesday after he came down with soreness and fatigue in his right arm that was later diagnosed as a slight strain of his flexor tendon muscles.

Colorado pitcher Jorge De La Rosa allowed two runs on seven hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. Juan Nicasio (6-6) got the victory by tossing a scoreless seventh inning.

The Padres (75-82) got a run back in the sixth inning as they got to De La Rosa for three hits, including an RBI single with two outs by rookie Rymer Liriano that scored Jedd Gyorko. Amarista later singled into left to drive in Tommy Medica with the tying run.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Free-agent-to-be Stauffer could head elsewhere

Free-agent-to-be Stauffer could head elsewhere

SAN DIEGO -- Pitcher Tim Stauffer, the longest-tenured Padres player, could very well be in his final week with the only organization that he's ever known.

Stauffer, who is in his 11th season in the organization, will be a free agent after the season and there's a chance he could end up pitching elsewhere in 2015.


"I don't think it's quite hit home yet," Stauffer said. "We'll see how things shake out but there's a pretty good chance I may be somewhere else. I'll try to save these last days if they are the last days. Whatever happens, I'll always have good memories of here.

"I can only say good things about the Padres. They stuck with me through some tough times."

It's certainly been a wild ride for Stauffer, 32, who was the fourth-overall Draft pick in 2003. He made it to the big leagues in 2005, starting his first game for the team. He won a big game against the Dodgers in 2006 and counted current bench coach Dave Roberts as a teammate.

"I've spent about a third of my life here," Stauffer joked.

Stauffer missed 2008 after having shoulder surgery and then in 2012 had elbow surgery, which led to him signing a Minor League deal with the team before the 2013 season. In between, he established himself in 2010, posting a 1.85 ERA in 82 2/3 innings and started Opening Day in 2010.

Oh, and don't forget the time that Stauffer performed a self-diagnosis of what became an emergency appendectomy with his iPhone in 2010.

Get all that? Because, at times, Stauffer probably isn't quite sure it all really happened.

"There were a lot of little things here and there, some ups and downs. Injuries are the tough part of the business. But I've been resilient," Stauffer said. "The 2010 season was pretty memorable for me … that group of guys, I felt I had a hand in that, getting to that last game, it wasn't for lack of effort."

Stauffer, who is 6-2 this season with a 3.66 ERA in 41 relief appearances, has a 3.36 ERA since 2010 over 402 innings in 148 games, including 42 starts. He would like to start again, which is why Stauffer would consider an offer to pitch elsewhere.

"I still feel, physically, as good if not better than I did when I was in my mid-20s," he said. "Getting that opportunity [to start] would be nice. I just want to pitch. But I'm pretty open to different roles."

San Diego manager Bud Black isn't quite ready to close the door on Stauffer's time with the Padres.

"I've seen Tim grow up in a lot of different ways," Black said. "He showed determination through his time here. It's been great to witness him grow up, a guy who fought through shoulder surgery and become a valuable part of our most successful team in 2010 and be unselfish. A great teammate and always could be counted on to do the right thing.

"I've told Tim that I'm so happy he's healthy and that he's throwing the ball well. So we'll see what happens, but let's hope that it happens for him here."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Cashner collects NL Player of Week Award

Cashner collects NL Player of Week Award

Padres starter Andrew Cashner was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday after leading the Majors in innings and going 2-0 from Sept. 15-21.

The righty allowed two earned runs while striking out 14 and walking two over 17 innings. It's his first career weekly award.


In Cashner's first start of the week Monday, he notched his second shutout of the season -- and third of his career -- by blanking the Phillies. He struck out seven and walked one, needing just 92 pitches in the two-hitter.

By doing so, Cashner became one of just four active pitchers to have thrown three or more shutouts in his first 50 career Major League starts (Derek Holland, Jaime Garcia and J.A. Happ). The 92 pitches were also the second lowest for a Padres hurler in a shutout (Clay Hensley in 2006).

As an encore, Cashner held the Giants to two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts. He improved to 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA in six starts since returning from the disabled list on August 23.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Stults, Rivera carry Padres past Rockies

Lefty tosses 6 1/3 scoreless innings; catcher drives in lone run

Stults, Rivera carry Padres past Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- At 34 years old, and as someone who has pitched professionally since 2002, Eric Stults has been around long enough to know when to step on the gas and when to pump the brakes.

He did a little bit of both in the fifth inning of the Padres' 1-0 victory over the Rockies on Monday and it paid big dividends as the left-hander worked himself out of a potentially sticky situation at Petco Park.


With two outs and runners on second and third base, Stults attempted to get All-Star Charlie Blackmon to chase after a few pitches out of the strike zone, essentially pitching around him with first base open. That led to a walk, which brought up Josh Rutledge.

"I knew with a base open I didn't want to give him [Blackmon] anything good to hit there. I felt confident going up against Rutledge and was willing to challenge him. He was fighting off fastballs and I was finally able to sneak one by him," Stults said of the 90 mph fastball he pushed past Rutledge to end the inning.

All told, Stults (8-17) allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings with one walk and five strikeouts and the bullpen did the rest as the Padres (75-81) won the first game of a three-game series before a crowd of 19,770.

Stults' ability to work out of that jam in the fifth inning was one of the few hair-raising moments in this one, even though the Rockies (65-92) had twice as many hits (10) as the Padres.

Colorado starting pitcher Tyler Matzek (6-11) allowed one run over six innings on four hits. He walked three and had eight strikeouts.

It went for naught, though, as Stults and relievers Nick Vincent, Frank Garces, Dale Thayer and Kevin Quackenbush held the Rockies without a run.

"We couldn't cash in. We had a couple of opportunities. He's [Stults] been tough on us," said Colorado manager Walt Weiss. "He keeps you in a rocking chair. He adds and subtracts, on both sides of the plate, pitches backwards and commands the ball. He was pitching tonight."

The Padres got the lone run of the game off Matzek in the first inning as Jedd Gyorko walked with two outs and scored as Rene Rivera doubled to the gap in right-center field for his 41st RBI of the season.

The Padres loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning against Matzek, who struck out Tommy Medica and Rymer Liriano to end the inning.

DJ LeMahieu and Justin Morneau each finished with two hits for the Rockies. Morneau had a leadoff double in the eighth inning but the Rockies couldn't capitalize as Thayer got the next three hitters out. Quackenbush followed with three outs in the ninth inning for his sixth save.

But this one was all about Stults, who struggled early in the season but has a 2.92 ERA over his last 10 starts.

"He's kept at it, because that's how his mentality is," Gyorko said. "He'll battle his [rear] off. The way he has pitched in the second half has been impressive."

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


Padres back Kennedy in sweeping Giants

Maybin singles home two in four-run sixth; Grandal drives in three

Padres back Kennedy in sweeping Giants

SAN DIEGO -- If you didn't know better and weren't privy to the National League standings, you might have thought it was the Padres and not the Giants who were deep in the hunt for a spot in the playoff race based on what happened at Petco Park.

The Padres, long since eliminated from the postseason chase, completed a three-game sweep Sunday with an 8-2 victory, getting strong starting pitching, several good defensive plays and enough hitting to make it all work.


"Good games -- I'm proud of the way we played," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That's a tremendous team over there [the Giants]. They have experience, they have All-Stars.

"But we play hard. That's a good series for us. I'm happy for the guys."

For the third time in as many days, the Padres (74-81) got another strong performance from a starting pitcher, as Ian Kennedy (12-13) took a three-hit shutout into the seventh inning before eventually allowing a two-run home run to Chris Dominguez for his first big league hit.

"I executed pitches," said Kennedy, who allowed two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts. "I'm getting ahead of guys and staying on top of my fastball."

Kennedy's seventh-inning strikeout of Hunter Pence gave him a career-best 200 strikeouts and allowed him to become the first Padres pitcher to reach that mark since Jake Peavy did so in 2007, when he had 240 strikeouts. Peavy won the NL Cy Young Award that season.

Kennedy's start followed gems by Odrisamer Despaigne (seven shutout innings) on Friday and Andrew Cashner (two runs in eight-plus innings) on Saturday.

"We've pitched really well," Black said.

San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong (8-12) didn't allow a hit until Seth Smith doubled to start the fifth inning. That hit directly led to the Padres' first run, as Smith later scored on Alexi Amarista's sacrifice fly to center field, his eighth RBI during the first seven games of this homestand.

Leading, 1-0, the Padres added four runs in the sixth inning, two on outs -- a sacrifice fly by Yasmani Grandal and a ground-ball out by Rene Rivera. Cameron Maybin added a two-run single.

A throwing error in the inning by third baseman Pablo Sandoval led to two unearned runs.

The Padres added three more runs in the seventh inning, two on a double by Grandal and one more on a single by Rivera.

The Padres are now 46-32 at Petco Park this season.

"This is a tough place. They have a good staff and you have to play your best ball. We didn't do it. They outplayed us and that's the bottom line," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Vogelsong allowed four runs, two earned, on four hits in five-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Amarista saved a run from scoring in the fifth inning when he smothered a ball up the middle off the bat of Vogelsong that was headed into center field. Vogelsong was credited with a single but the Giants left the bases loaded as Gregor Blanco flied out to center field.

The Giants (84-71) are now tied with the Pirates for the Wild Card lead and will likely face each other Oct. 1, though if the teams end up tied, the Pirates -- who own the tiebreaker -- would host that game.

Corey Brock is a reporter for Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Preller looking forward to working with Black

New GM's quest to improve Padres will include current manager

Preller looking forward to working with Black

SAN DIEGO -- As A.J. Preller has gone about the task of evaluating the Padres in his first months as general manger, he has defined one area that is not a problem: He is bullish about the job Bud Black is doing as manager.

Preller is so pleased with the play of the team since he was hired Aug. 6 to replace Josh Byrnes, there is no doubt Black will be back to manage the Padres in 2015, his ninth season.


"Like I said from the beginning, I viewed it as Buddy is our manager," Preller said during an interview this weekend outside San Diego's clubhouse at Petco Park. "I had a chance to really enjoy the last month, to get to know him more on a day-to-day basis, getting to be around him and getting his thoughts on the team and his thoughts on baseball in general.

"I came from afar and had a very positive feel for Buddy. I think being up close, being with him day to day, probably strengthened that bond, honestly."

Asked pointedly if he looked forward to working with Black for an entire season, Preller responded:

"Yes, I'm looking forward to that for sure."

So there you have it. The Padres exercised an option on Black's contract for the 2014-15 seasons on Nov. 19, 2012, shortly after the current ownership took over the club. He has his deal. Black is coming back for the final year of his contract.

"I love managing here in San Diego," Black said. "This is where I've managed my entire managerial career. I think all of us managers never take lightly the responsibility that we have. I'm excited to continue to be a Padre."

Preller said this is the core reason for that decision.

"You see the fact that the team plays hard every night," he said. "They've definitely taken this thing to the finish line. As a group, they play with energy, they're coming hard, they're playing pretty good baseball overall. And I think that's reflective on the coaching staff and the manager, for sure."

Preller's candor and honesty is quite refreshing. Black has a 612-676 record and a .475 winning percentage (heading into Saturday night's action) since he was hired to replace the departed Bruce Bochy at the end of the 2006 season.

Black was an accomplished left-handed pitcher with 121 Major League victories and a well-respected pitching coach with the Angels under Mike Scioscia before the Padres gave him his first chance to manage. Twice during his tenure, Black had San Diego on the brink of reaching the playoffs. In 2007, the Padres lost a tiebreaker game for the National League Wild Card in the bottom of the 13th inning at Coors Field when Trevor Hoffman blew the save. In 2010, they missed the chance to reach another tiebreaker game for the NL Wild Card when the Giants beat them in San Francisco on the final day of the regular season.

Otherwise, what has happened this year has been the hallmark of Black's managerial career: resurrecting a team that floundered during the first half and returning them to some modicum of respectability before the end of that particular season. Preller is the fourth GM Black is working for during his tenure, and the roster has been marked by inconsistency and a constantly changing cast of characters. For Black to have survived all that tumult and remain as manager is unusual, to say the least.

"No matter who's been in that position, these were baseball guys dealing with the state of the club, and I've always been part of those discussions," Black said.

Preller himself survived an arduous interview process this summer and signed a five-year contract as San Diego sought a replacement for Byrnes.

Preller's main job is rebuild a farm system that hasn't produced an impact first-rounder in the First-Year Player Draft since Kevin McReynolds in 1981, the same Draft in which then-GM Jack McKeon also selected the late Tony Gwynn in the third round.

Working under Jon Daniels as an assistant GM with the Rangers, Preller gained a reputation for sorting through international talent. The Padres harvested Puerto Rico in the 1980s for Benito Santiago, Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Jr. and Carlos Baerga. But despite San Diego's proximity to the Mexican border, the club has never developed an impact player born in that nation. Likewise, despite spending millions of dollars a decade ago to build a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic -- a country that produced the likes of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alberto Pujols and Pedro Martinez -- the Padres have never had a Dominican on their roster of any repute.

Preller said he will go into the offseason looking for impact players rather than earmark special needs or specific positions, although it's obvious that San Diego, with an NL-leading 3.25 ERA and a Major League-low .226 team batting average, is desperately in need of hitting over pitching.

"We'll look at any area where we need to improve," said Preller, adding that management is on board to make the Padres competitive again in the NL West.

"I definitely think I have the support of ownership. From the first interview, I felt like at end of the day it's an ownership group that shares a vision and basically is trying to build something successful for both the short and long term. I feel they're going to commit, that they're going to do what needs to be done from an atmosphere standpoint, from a player's standpoint, that the resources will be there to make the right acquisitions."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.