Get this: Padres are the team to beat

On Monday the San Diego Padres signed right-hander James Shields to leave them with a formidable rotation to complement their new power-driven lineup.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Sorry to mess with your WPA+ and Rtot ratings, and whatever else you hold dear to your little sabermetric hearts this week, but the Padres are now the team to reckon with in the National League West.

That’s right, the hard-to-watch Padres, the almost forgotten team from way down Southern California.

Think the Dodgers made a lot of moves this off-season? The Padres went the full re-invention route. Cleaned house and then called in the hazmat suits.

Then on Monday they signed right-hander James Shields to leave them with a formidable rotation to complement their new power-driven lineup.


Like the Dodgers the past two years? You should love the new Padres. Hit for power, don’t worry too much about playing to their ballpark, don’t exactly overthink the defense and catchers’ framing.

Compared to what’s been going on with the Boys in Blue under their new front office, the Padres have almost become the anti-Dodgers. Or at least the old Dodgers. Maybe we could just trade the Geek Squad for new Padres General Manager A.J. Preller and have him bring back Logan White. Party hats all around!

The astonishingly aggressive Padres signed Shields for four years and $75 million. Not bad for a workhorse, even if he’s 33. Their rotation now looks like this: Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Brandon Morrow, with Josh Johnson scheduled back from surgery by the second half.

Their projected daily lineup: Yangervis Solarte (3B), Wil Myers (CF), Matt Kemp (RF), Justin Upton (LF), Yonder Alonso (1B), Jedd Gyorko (2B), Derek Norris (C) and Alexi Amarista (SS).

Oh, yeah, and the only starter who’s 30 years old is Kemp, my favorite player on your new favorite team. They can rake, they can pitch and Joaquin Benoit can close. These are serious contenders, kiddies, and they may not be done.

Cole Hamels is still expected to be traded, and the Padres are reportedly in the hunt. That would hurt the Dodgers, and so would this: Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan Tweeted the Padres are working out Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada today and plan to be aggressive in bidding for him.

What in the name of the Swinging Friar is going on down there?

Rest assured, adding Myers, Kemp and Upton to the middle of the lineup had already stirred a somewhat laconic fan base. Now they’ve added Shields to the rotation and they’re starting to think the unthinkable: The new Padres can overcome the World Series champion Giants and division champ Dodgers.

That would be a crazy turnaround for a team that was last in runs scored and finished 17 games back of the Dodgers last season, but you know me, I love the numbers.

Spring is for believing, and they’re believing and excited in San Diego. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ big off-season moves were to add 36-year-old Jimmy Rollins and 31-year-old Howie Kendrick to the infield, both in the last year of their contracts. They signed 31-year-old Brandon McCarthy for four years and $48 million and 27-year-old Brett Anderson for one year at $10 million.

That could all work out, but I don’t think it has the locals enthused and flooding the ticket phone lines. Maybe they’re just not all excited about UZR ratings.