Sarah's Take: Proactive Padres eye contention

Sarah's Take: Proactive Padres eye contention

The 2014-15 offseasons have shown that the San Diego Padres have a desire to compete for the National League West title. After many seasons in which the club kept its payroll low, it has spent money to have an improved team. Yet in '15, the Padres certainly underachieved.

The Padres must figure out how to score at Petco Park before they will be a serious contender in the NL. They scored the 10th-most runs in the league last season.

Although Petco is the best pitchers' park in baseball, the Padres had the 10th-best ERA in the league. It doesn't make sense, but the pitchers didn't perform the way they should have. The defense seemed satisfactory, ranking middle of the pack in the NL in errors, but errors alone don't tell the whole defensive story. The outfielders didn't have adequate defensive range and often misplayed routine fly balls into hits. The Padres didn't have a true center fielder, and that hurt them.

Jedd Gyorko, once considered an offensive star for the Padres, had a poor 2015. The Padres thought obtaining Justin Upton and Matt Kemp would lessen the pressure on Gyorko so that he would perform better offensively. However, that didn't happen. In December, the Padres traded Gyorko to the St. Louis Cardinals for a true center fielder, Jon Jay, whose defense should help the Padres.

Padres sign Ramirez

Last week, the Padres signed veteran shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Since 2009, the Padres have used 18 shortstops, including four in 2015. No team can have an elite defense with a revolving door at shortstop. The Padres hope that issue has been solved by adding Ramirez.

At 34, Ramirez has spent his entire Major League career with the Chicago White Sox. Before coming to the White Sox, he played on the Cuban national team. Besides bringing his superior defense to San Diego, Ramirez brings speed and power. He has won two Silver Slugger Awards and has been to one All-Star Game. Since 2008, he has averaged 134 games a season. For a shortstop, which is the second-most demanding position on the field, that is excellent.

The Padres reportedly are close to signing Fernando Rodney, a veteran closer. They needed a closer after trading premier closer Craig Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox for prospects.

The Padres have avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players. They still have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but waiting for their young players to mature so that they can perform well on the Major League level is difficult. New manager Andy Green and his coaching staff need to be willing to teach on the Major League level and know when they need to show patience with young players. Chip Hale -- the manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, where Green was the third-base coach -- said that Green knows how to expose opponents' weaknesses better than anyone in baseball.

It may be tough for the Padres to make it to the playoffs in 2016, but they should be able to go in the near future if their management exhibits patience and figures out how to score at Petco.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.