The San Diego Padres have been the most consistent team in the National League all season long. After Monday night’s 9-5 win over the Chicago Cubs made the Padres the first team to reach 70 wins in the NL. They are currently 23 games over .500 and lead the San Francisco Giants by four games in the NL West.
But until two and a half weeks ago, the Padres were missing a huge element: legitimate threats surrounding All-Star Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup. Thanks to two deals near the July 31 trade deadline, the San Diego has that.
When the Friars picked up Miguel Tejada from the Orioles on July 29, not much was made of the deal. In fact, most experts said that the addition of a 36-year-old guy who couldn’t play shortstop anymore was an average get at best.
Since showing up with the Padres Tejada has typically hit in front of Gonzalez in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. In the 16 games he has played in San Diego Tejada is hitting .313, with one home run, eight RBI, 11 runs scored, a .361 on-base percentage and is slugging .418. And that’s after a slow start. Tejada has been on fire lately, evidenced by his 4-for-5 performance against the Cubs last night.
Combine the addition of Tejada with the shrewd pickup of slugging right fielder Ryan Ludwick and you’ve got quite a tandem.
Ludwick was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals and all the Padres had to give up was Corey Kluber, a decent minor league pitcher without much of a ceiling. Ludwick has stepped in to the cleanup spot in the lineup and has provided more protection for Gonzalez.
Since the trade Ludwick has hit .272 with three home runs, nine RBI, three doubles and is carrying an OBP of .333, while slugging .490.
Yes, those numbers aren’t crazy, off-the-charts great, but those two additions have changed the entirety of the Padres’ lineup.
Chase Headley, who was a square peg in a round hole in the cleanup spot, has flourished since taking over the No. 5 spot in the lineup. Meanwhile, teams have had to pitch to Gonzalez out of fear that Ludwick could make them pay for putting him on base.
Those two moves have also added more of what the Padres have had loads of all year long: confidence. They now know they have more than one guy in the lineup who can hurt opponents every time up.
Tejada and Ludwick are also known to be two of the best clubhouse guys in baseball. Unlike, say, a guy like Jose Guillen, they haven’t (and won’t) have any trouble fitting into their new clubhouse. Their new teammates have raved about them.
Since August 1, the Padres are 10-5, and have won seven of their last eight ballgames. They currently have the best record in the National League by 1.5 games over the Atlanta Braves.
When taking all of those factors into account, you have to believe that the Padres were the ultimate winners at baseball’s trade deadline. While bigger names were acquired – Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee (sort of a deadline deal) – the Friars might have made the moves with the biggest impact on their team.