Preller made no moves, and that's A-OK

Notes on Kennedy, Jankowski, Norris and more

Preller made no moves, and that's A-OK

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

I'll make this short and sweet.

Years ago, singer -- and would-be member of the Padres lineup -- Garth Brooks had a popular song called "Unanswered Prayers."

The theme of the song, one of my favorites by the country western legend, is that sometimes you are best served by dreams that don't come true.

I was reminded of unanswered prayers at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon, as the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed without the Padres making a major trade. All the rumors turned out to be false.

Yes, I'm sure general manager A.J. Preller tried to make some deals. We know he had talked to a number of teams recently. But no triggers were pulled. Preller said the offers were not acceptable to the Padres.

I say great. Good for Preller. He didn't sell off real estate for trinkets. Yet, he is being blasted in some circles for not making a deal.

Look, I don't hold out much hope for the Padres making the playoffs this season. They have to gain 6 1/2 games and pass five teams to make it happen. They'd probably have to win almost 70 percent of their remaining games to make it happen. Miracles can happen.

But the fact is the Padres are playing better ball these days -- they were 11-4 over the past 15 games entering Saturday. These Padres have both excited and exasperated their fan base. No one can claim they're boring anymore.

I'd rather ride out this process for a while than throw in the towel and start over with prospects.

Does this team have shortcomings? Absolutely. The Padres need a shortstop. They need a leadoff bat. There are things to work out at the corner infield spots. And they could use a starting pitcher or two.

But I disagree with those experts who believe that the Padres needed to make wholesale moves. I'm still wondering where thy would be these days, had Wil Myers and Brandon Morrow not been hurt after a month into the season. I like the nucleus.

From the scorecard

• Not only did right-handed starter Ian Kennedy answer the call Friday night at Miami, but he also extended a strong run that is even stronger if you discount the home run pitch. As we all know, Kennedy was originally scratched from Friday's start, as he tried to race home to join wife Allison for the birth of the couple's fourth child, a daughter. But when he couldn't get a flight out of Miami, he returned to the ballpark and re-inserted his name into the lineup. The result: Two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven innings. The two runs scored on a homer, the 23rd that Kennedy has allowed this season.

Kennedy is 2-0 over his last three starts with a 2.37 ERA. Over his last nine starts, Kennedy has a 2.53 ERA, although he has allowed at least one homer in each of the nine starts and 11 total. Those 11 home runs account for 17 of the 24 runs allowed by Kennedy during the run. Since the start of June, the Padres are 7-4 in games started by Kennedy, whose ERA has dropped from 7.15 to 4.44 during the run.

• I have nothing to base this on, but I'm thinking Travis Jankowski might be a Major Leaguer sooner rather than later. When you combine his Double-A San Antonio and El Paso Triple-A stats, Jankowski is hitting .334 this season with a .410 on-base percentage and 26 steals. The left-handed hitter has 39 walks against only 44 strikeouts in 314 at-bats. In eight recent games with El Paso, Jankowski is 16-for-32 with a .541 on-base percentage.

Jankowski, the 44th overall pick in the 2012 draft, is a center fielder and a leadoff hitter. He's also a spray hitter with high on-base marks and excellent speed. He gets high marks on defense, particularly range, although his arm is average at best. On the bases, he is not only a threat to steal, he gets high marks on going first-to-third, second-to-home and first-to-home. And what is high on the Padres list of needs? A leadoff hitter who gets on and can run.

• Entering Saturday, catcher Derek Norris was 7-for-9 with a grand slam, five RBIs and four runs scored in his last two games, raising his batting average from .227 to .241. Before his 5-for-5 game on Thursday, Norris was in a 7-for-50 (.140) slump, with one double and one run scored. His last RBI was in his two-homer game on June 28, and until Friday, he was 10-for-68 (.147) with a .171 on-base percentage and one run scored.

• Streaking Padres: Second baseman Jedd Gyorko was 7-for-12 in his last three games with a double and three RBIs entering Saturday. Third baseman Yangervis Solarte was 10-for-27 with two doubles, a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored in a six-game hitting streak. Center fielder Will Venable was 8-for-22 with a double, three RBIs and four runs scored in a five-game hitting streak.

• Right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel's run of 21 successful save conversions ended in Miami on Friday night on Derek Dietrich's two-out homer. In 28 appearances between blown saves, Kimbrel allowed four runs on 17 hits and 10 walks with 39 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings -- an ERA of 1.30.