Another game and another case of the San Diego Padres struggling at the bat. It is understandable why manager, Bud Black is giving the lineup some different looks, but eventually it will be time to find a steady lineup. Like any other sport, consistency is key and for players to find consistency, it often helps if they find themselves in familiar territory.
The last couple of games, Will Venable has been moved into the starting lineup to replace Everth Cabrera, but things do not seem to be getting any better. Venable, who is batting just .190 on the season with a very troubling .248 on-base-percentage, is not the type of player that should be batting leadoff. Much of the troubles continue to point back in the direction of Cabrera. He should be their go-to guy at the leadoff spot, but he continues to hit below his career batting average of .252 and well below his career on-base-percentage of .326. He is currently at .246 and .267 in those respectable categories. He has now been moved into the number two slot, which has seen a steady fluctuation from Bud Black. In 36 games, the second spot has already seen eight different players hit, for a combined batting average of .239.
While Cabrera’s name continues to surface as one of the factors in the San Diego Padres struggles, he is by no means the scapegoat and the only issue that continues to weigh down the Friars club. For the most part, nobody is hitting, at least on a consistent basis. Hopefully, once the Padres get Chase Headley and Carlos Quentin back into the lineup, they will be able to find some type of solid footing, but for right now the Padres look like a team that is trying to keep their balance aboard a wobbling row boat out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Shuffling the batting order is a way for a manager to find someone that will step up and make things happen, but too much shuffling can also cause confusion. Just like anything else, baseball players become creatures of habit. They approach the batter’s box the same way each time, go through the same routine that they have been doing over and over since they played Little League Baseball, and they go to work. Just seeing a different player up in the batter’s box, as players take practice swings in the on-deck circle can throw them off. Then they start seeing different types of pitches, depending on who is coming up behind them. There is no consistency in the Padres lineup, and it is starting to become apparent that this is a major issue.
In just 29 at-bats on the season, the San Diego Padres center fielder, Cameron Maybin appears to be swinging the bat better than anyone. He is currently hitting .379, and has a .419 on-base percentage, so he is proving early on that he is able to get on base. For now, it might make sense to toss him into the leadoff spot and hope to create a spark for the Padres offense. Eventually, Cabrera has to stop striking out so much, take some pitches and draw more walks from opposing pitchers. If he can improve in these areas, he can go back to the number one spot, and if Maybin continues to produce, he can fill in at the number two spot. Once Headley and Quentin return, hopefully their bats get hot quick and they can start driving in some runs. For now, Bud Black is going to have to find some type of consistency, otherwise this season is going to start mimicking their batting lineup.
Commentary by Johnny Caito