If you were to ask any casual baseball fan to name the San Diego Padres’ starting rotation to end last season, they would likely have some trouble.
In fact, out of the five pitchers from last season’s team who started 15 or more games, only two players – Christian Friedrich and Luis Perdomo – remain in San Diego. Gone are the likes of Drew Pomeranz, Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea, a group who, out of 51 possible starts, posted 26 quality starts in 2016.
Rea will be back in 2018, however; he will miss this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November.
In an effort to improve the prospects of winning games in the short term, as well as garner the experience that will help make it possible for the team’s younger arms to continue developing, general manager A.J. Preller added former Angels ace Jered Weaver and journeyman Trevor Cahill to the team’s pitching staff this offseason.
Weaver, 34, accumulated the second-most wins (150) by a pitcher in the history of the Los Angeles Angels throughout his 11-year tenure with the organization. However, since his career season in 2011, his play progressively started to drop off – his ERA continued to trend in the wrong direction from 2.41 in 2011 to 5.06 in 2016.
In his first season with the Padres, Weaver knows his role goes beyond winning games, which is also an aspect of his game he hopes to get back to this season.
“I’m going to bring a winning attitude,” Weaver said. “I’m a competitor, no one wants to compete more than I do and if I can instill some of that on some of these young guys then that’s what I’m here to do, you know. I think it’s getting kind of lost in translation that I’m here to mentor more than anything, but I’m still here to perform and go out there and win games.
“I think that we have a lot of young talent in here and it’s not what the outsiders think, it’s what we think as a group and how we got out there and perform.”
While the Padres don’t have the talent on their roster that some of the other teams in the NL West boast at this point, Weaver has also said that he wont let this team get complacent regardless of what happens in terms of wins and losses.
“We’re going to be a team that can’t make too many mistakes,” Weaver said. “[We’re going to] try and be a thorn in some of these teams in the NL West’s side, you know, go out there and prove — not to look at the outsiders — but prove it to ourselves is the most important, not to just go through a season and say, ‘oh, you know, we’re just going through the motions out here.’ I’m not going to allow that to happen.”
In Cahill’s case, his reputation isn’t as established.
He served as a reliever for the World Series champion Chicago Cubs last season, where he appeared in 50 regular season games and posted a 2.74 ERA and 66 strikeouts over 65.2 innings pitched.
The Padres are Cahill’s fifth team over the course of his eight-year career. In that time, he’s started in 174 games.
It was the opportunity to start that drew Cahill to San Diego, where he signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal.
“It seemed like they were going to give me a fair shot to crack the rotation,” Cahill said. “I’ve heard nothing but good things about the coaching staff and it’s where I grew up.”
Having played with the Cubs last season, Cahill understands what kind of an atmosphere it takes to win baseball games. He understands implementing that isn’t an overnight process, but it’s still something he hopes to add to the pitching staff.
“Trying to keep that winning attitude,” Cahill said. “I know it’s a young team and, you know, the expectations aren’t there, but if we keep the expectations just to win, day in and day out, I think all of the rest will take care of itself.”
Second-year skipper Andy Green has been encouraged by the early impressions that both Weaver and Cahill have made to this point in spring camp.
Based off of his observations, Cahill is in as good a physical state as he’s seen.
“I think this is the best I’ve ever seen Trevor,” Green said. “I saw him in Arizona, we were both in the same organization together, the confidence in which he’s carrying himself, how comfortable he looks in the clubhouse, the way he’s throwing the ball on the mound, all of those things are lining up right now to a guy who feels real comfortable in his own skin and trusts his stuff and knows he’s good enough to start in the big leagues.”
For Weaver, who Green hopes will notch his first spring start in the coming days, his transition to the Padres has looked promising.
“He’s only thrown a couple of live (batting practices), hasn’t seen cactus league action yet, but his arm looks freer than last year,” Green said. “His body looks good and he’s got the confidence that you would expect a guy that’s done all that he’s done in the game to have, so we’re hoping that confidence rubs off on the rest of our players.”
By Colton Dodgson