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Old 01-13-2019, 07:17 PM   #21
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Padres Trade Henderson for Fernandez

Tuesday -- January 1st, 1991

Henderson to Jays, Fernandez to Padres in Mega-Deal
San Diego acquires former Gold Glove shortstop in exchange for stolen base king



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Making good on his commitment to shore up San Diego's defense, Padres GM/Manager Jack McKeon pulled off a blockbuster trade with Toronto on Tuesday, acquiring shortstop Tony Fernandez from the Blue Jays for Rickey Henderson and a package of prospects.

"Fernandez is one of the top defensive players out there," McKeon said at an introductory press conference at Jack Murphy Stadium. "You're talking about a Gold Glove shortstop who can hit for average and steal bases."

Fernandez won two Gold Gloves while with the Blue Jays in 1986 and 1987. He is under contract through the 1995 season, though Toronto will pay roughly $1 million of his annual $3.3 million salary. He hit a career-low .266 in 1990, yet still stole 40 bases and scored 84 runs. Fernandez's acquisition allows Roberto Alomar to return to second base, though that position was occupied by NL Rookie of the Year Carlos Baerga last season.

"It's all part of a bigger plan," McKeon said. "Our defense and our batting order are going to be very different than what you saw last year."

In parting with Henderson, the Padres give up arguably the best leadoff hitter in baseball, and one of the best of all-time. Henderson led the league in runs (135), walks (115), and stolen bases (62) in 1990. He still has two more years remaining on his contract, though he does have a player option after the 1991 season.

"Losing Rickey is a real blow," McKeon said. "But we've got so many dang outfielders, I felt we had to open that up. We've got (Tony) Gwynn in right field, but after that, it's now wide open in center and left. May the best man win."

Joe Carter (.258, 21 HR, 94 RBI in 1990) was the team's starting center fielder last season, but could now move to left field. John Kruk (.282 batting average in 234 at bats last season) could also see playing time in left. Steve Finley, Shane Mack, and late-season call-up Darrin Jackson could all compete for the starting job in center field in a crowded outfield.

The Blue Jays also receive prospects Lance Painter, Brian Beck, Tim McWilliam, and Brian Cisarik from the Padres. Painter, 23, went 15-7 with a 3.15 ERA while striking out 191 batters in Triple-A Las Vegas last season.


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Old 01-13-2019, 07:57 PM   #22
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Padres Trade Baerga, Kruk for Sheffield

Wednesday -- January 2nd, 1991

Top Rookie Baerga Shipped to Milwaukee for Brew Crew's Sheffield
Padres trade five players for former top prospect



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- For a second time in four years, the Padres have traded away the National League's reigning Rookie of the Year. San Diego parted ways with Carlos Baerga, along with utility John Kruk and three prospects, to get Gary Sheffield from Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"Man, this is la-la land compared to Wisconsin," Sheffield said at an introductory press conference, smiling to the media in San Diego. "This sunshine reminds me of my hometown."

Sheffield, born in Tampa, Florida, hit .270 with 13 homers and 25 steals in 158 games last season for the Brewers. He was the #1 overall prospect in baseball before begin called up during the 1988 season. He has 49 career homers in 387 games and just turned 22.

"He'll be one of the best in the game," San Diego manager/GM Jack McKeon said, pointing at Sheffield while at the Padres podium. "Already is."

To get Sheffield, the Padres had to pay a steep price. Baerga hit .324 in his rookie season last year. Kruk is a lifetime .284 hitter in five seasons in San Diego, hitting 50 homers for the Padres. Tim Worrell, a top prospect in the Padres farm system, was a candidate for Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year, winning 12 games while striking out 140 batters for Triple-A Las Vegas in 1990.

Sheffield will be San Diego's Opening Day third baseman, according to McKeon, which means incumbent starter Ken Caminiti will be relagated to a backup role in a crowded infield. Caminiti, 27, is out of minor league options and hit .257 with 11 homers in 159 games last season.

"These trades give us a clear direction for 1991," McKeon said. "We hit the ball like crazy last season, and we'll be every bit as good doing that.
But these boys are paid to use their gloves, too. They say defense wins championships. We'll find out if that works for baseball."

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Old 01-13-2019, 09:03 PM   #23
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Alomar named All-Star Game MVP

Tuesday -- July 9th, 1991

Alomar Named MVP in All-Star Game Debut
Padres second baseman laces two doubles in 5-4 NL win


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Old 01-13-2019, 09:22 PM   #24
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Padres Move Into 1st Place

Tuesday -- August 13th, 1991

Sheff's Big Day Sends Pads to Win, 1st Place
Padre third baseman homers, doubles, drives in 5 in 9-7 victory



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Gary Sheffield hit a 2-run homer in the third inning and a bases loaded double in the sixth to drive in five runs as the Padres moved into first place in the NL West with a 9-7 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday.

"I'm just seeing the ball real nice this season," Sheffield said in a jubilant Padre locker room. "We've all been working so hard to get here. Our work's not done, but we'll enjoy this win."

San Diego overtook the Cincinnati Reds for sole possession on the NL West division lead for the first time this season with the win. The Padres have won two in a row while the Reds hae lost their last two.

"I like where we are, but we could get better," Padres Manager Jack McKeon said, puffing on a victory cigar. "The Reds aren't going away anytime soon."

San Diego closes out a three-game series with the Astros on Wednesday and continues its ten-game home stand with the Atlanta Braves coming to Jack Murphy Stadium Thursday through Sunday.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:52 PM   #25
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Padres Win '91 NL West Title with Sweep of Reds

Sunday -- October 7th, 1991

Padres Sweep Reds to Win the West on Final Day of Season
McGriff homers in 4-0 win over Cincinnati to overcome 2-game deficit going into series



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The Padres entered the final weekend of the regular season trailing the first-place Reds by two games in the National League West. Nothing short of a sweep of Cincinnati would give San Diego the division title. On Sunday, they delivered.

Led by Fred McGriff's 44th home run and 9 strikeouts by Omar Olivares, the Padres (100-62) shut out the Reds (99-63) 4-0 to clinch the NL West on Sunday, the final day of the regular season.

"Nobody believed we could do it, but we did," McGriff said, after winning his second straight National League home run crown. "It wasn't just one player. It was all of us."

McGriff's .340 batting average wasn't second only to Willie McGee's .353 for St. Louis. He also drove in 139 runs, the most in Major League Baseball. Teammate Gary Sheffield hit .320 with 26 homers and 118 RBI in his first season in San Diego, giving the Padres a potent 1-2 punch in the middle of his lineup going into the postseason.

"I wouldn't want to play us right now," Sheffield said, wearing goggles to protect his eyes from champagne being sprayed in the home clubhouse at Jack Murphy Stadium. "Between me and 'Crime Dog,' Robbie (Alomar) and Tony (Gwynn), we're going to punish you. And we've got arms, too."

The Padres rotation was anchored by four starters who won 15 or more games in the regular season. Sunday's win by Olivares was his 16th this season, to go with a 2.96 ERA. Greg Maddux (18-14, 2.55), Kevin Brown (18-8, 3.02 ERA), and David Wells (15-3, NL-best 2.29 ERA) helped post a collective 2.86 ERA for the team's starting rotation, the second in baseball.

The division title is San Diego's second in franchise history, and its first since 1984. The Padres will face the Mets (101-61) in the National League Championship Series, while the defending World Series champion Kansas City Royals (103-59) will take on the Boston Red Sox (91-71) in the ALCS.




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Old 01-14-2019, 12:18 AM   #26
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Padres Win 1991 World Series!

Wednesday -- October 23rd, 1991

Murph Magic: Padres Win World Series!
Alomar wins WS MVP honors as San Diego beats Boston in Game 6



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The championship drought is over. San Diego won its first World Series in the 23-year history of the franchise, defeating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 to win the championship Wednesday night at Jack Murphy Stadium.

"Just that Murph Magic, right?" veteran outfielder Joe Carter told reporters. "To do it here in front of these fans, it's extra special."

Padres second baseman Roberto Alomar hit .481 (13-for-27) to win World Series MVP honors.

"Cherry on top of the cake," Alomar said.

San Diego's championship ends a four-year drought by the National League in the World Series. The New York Mets last won a title for the NL in 1986.





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Old 01-14-2019, 12:43 AM   #27
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1991 World Series Championship Trophy

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Old 01-14-2019, 12:56 AM   #28
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1991 Award Winners

Padres Postseason Awards -- 1991

Tony Gwynn -- Gold Glove (RF)
Jack McKeon -- Manager of the Year
Most Valuable Player -- Fred McGriff

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Old 01-14-2019, 01:39 AM   #29
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1992 Preview: San Diego Bullpen

1992 Season Preview: San Diego
Padres upgrade bullpen in hopes of repeat title



If there was one wart on the San Diego Padres during their 1991 World Series run, it was their bullpen. San Diego's pen had the fourth-worst ERA in the National League last season at 4.15. Craig Lefferts saved a Major League-best 45 games, but also blew nine save opportunities while posting a 3.74 ERA. That might explain the Padres' middling 21-20 record in 1-run games, and 8-6 mark in extra innings. There was certainly room for improvement.

Enter Randy Myers.

The Padres front office made the bullpen the top priority -- the only priority -- in the offseason, and immediately began negotiations with Myers from day one of free agency. Though Myers had only saved 9 games in the previous two seasons, he was part of Cincinnati's "Nasty Boys" bullpen, and is expected to take over as San Diego's new closer. He's not alone.

Free agent Jesse Orosco, a crafty lefty with twelve years of Major League experience and 123 lifetime saves, came over on a six-year deal that will pay him a total of $3.9 million through the 1997 season.

San Diego also landed reliever Rod Beck from the Philadelphia Phillies. Beck lost 8 games and had a 6.11 ERA, but Padres scouts are high up on the 23 year-old, who has a low-90's sinker and an "out" pitch in his splitter.

"He's just the kind of pitcher that bullpen needs," a National League scout said of Beck, on the condition of anonymity. "He'll roll up lots of grounders for (Tony) Fernandez and (Roberto) Alomar in that infield."

The Padres were also able to trade for young relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman, who pitched spectacularly in a late-season call-up for Toronto last season, striking out 14 batters in 11.1 innings. Hoffman may need another season of minor league baseball before getting promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas.

If the Padres offense and starting rotation is anything like it was last season, and the bullpen comes through as expected, 1992 could be another banner season in San Diego.

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Old 01-14-2019, 12:32 PM   #30
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Brave New World -- Atlanta Wins West, Padres Finish 3rd

Monday -- October 5th, 1992

Padres End Season on 5-Game Skid, Bow Out to Braves
Bullpen struggles down stretch as Myers faulters against Giants, Braves



ATLANTA, Ga. -- Even from the visitors clubhouse, the Braves could be heard celebrating at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. And why not? Atlanta had just clinched its first place berth since 1982, and the Braves did it at the expense of the defending NL West champs.

"It should be us doing that right now," Padres third baseman Gary Sheffield said, clearing out his locker after a season-ending loss to Atlanta.

Statistically, it was another banner season for San Diego, which had a batting champ (Tony Gwynn, .348), a home run champ (Fred McGriff, 47), and a wins leader (Greg Maddux, 23). So where did things go wrong?

"Our defense took a step back this year," Sheffield said. "You can point to me if you like. Put it on me."

Sheffield committed 31 errors at third base this season, but he did at least hit .323 with 26 home runs and 110 RBI. Tony Fernandez cannot say the same. The shortstop was not at his typical Gold Glove level this season, and regressed on offense, to the tune of a career-low .249 batting average. Sandy Alomar Jr. struggled at the plate and behind it, hitting .238 with just 2 homers, eventually losing his starting job to Rick Wilkins in September.

"We're going to have to take a long, hard look at ourselves this offseason," manager Jack McKeon told reporters. "Maybe I should've mixed things up and moved people around. I don't know."

Randy Myers had a mystifying finish to the season as the Padres new closer. Through September 5th, he was 30-for-35 in save opportunities. But his ERA ballooned from 3.33 to 4.56 over the next twenty-five days, blowing two saves and losing six games. Set-up man Rod Beck, who went 9-4 with 5 saves and a 1.64 ERA in 67 appearances, seems like a likely candidate to take over as San Diego's new closer.

"We'll learn from this," Gwynn said. "We have to."

Though the team has just two players heading into free agency this winter -- relievers Craig Lefferts and Joe Bitker -- the Padres have half a dozen notable players who will be eligible after the 1993 season. Roberto Alomar, David Wells, Sandy Alomar Jr., Ken Caminiti, and Shane Mack will be in their final year of arbitration, and Larry Andersen will be in the final year of his contract. Big decisions await the Padres in 1993.



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Old 01-14-2019, 11:02 PM   #31
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Good stuff! Congrats on the ‘91 title. I like the presentation and enjoy all the trades. I never gave much thought to all the great players SD had over the years. I also like that you have a set end plan for this project. I look forward to the next big name trade!
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Old 01-15-2019, 02:36 AM   #32
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1993 NL Preview

Monday -- April 5th, 1993

NL West Preview: San Diego Padres Built to Contend


It was a tumultuous offseason for the San Diego Padres. They lost half a dozen players to the expansion draft, most notably starting shortstop Tony Fernandez, starting pitcher Bob Tewksbury, veteran outfielder Joe Carter, and reliever Larry Andersen. But with that about $6 million in salaries came off the books for the team to get started on some long-awaited extensions.

Roberto Alomar was the first to extend, inking an 8-year, $36.4 million contract to stay with the Padres through the 2001 season. Ken Caminiti soon followed, signing an extension through 2000. David Wells signed a 7-year extension that will pay him $3 million a year until 2000. Steve Finley signed through 2000 as well, and will earn almost $16 million over the lifetime of the contract. Sandy Alomar Jr. was the last to sign, coming to terms on a 6-year, $7.2 million extension during Spring Training.

"The bulk of our roster is signed through at least 1996," Jack McKeon said. He has a vested interest in keeping players long term in San Diego. He is both the team's manager and general manager.

While teams fell over themselves in an unprecedented free agent market, the Padres were reserved. San Francisco landed NL MVP Barry Bonds on a 7-year, $35 million deal. The Yankees nabbed five-time AL batting champion Wade Boggs on a 4-year, $15.4 million offer. Cal Ripken joined the Dodgers for five years and $22 million. And the Tigers wrapped up six-time AL Cy Young winner Roger Clemens for $30.8 million over the next six years. San Diego patiently waited until February to sign veteran shortstop Ozzie Smith to a modest 3-year deal worth $1.5 million annually.

A trade with the Cubs marked the return of utility man Bip Roberts to San Diego, along with young outfielder Reggie Sanders. Another utility, Matt Stairs, arrived via trade along with pitcher Andy Ashby and backup catcher Mark Parent for Omar Olivares, a 26-game winner for the Padres over the last two seasons. The team's depth was ravaged by the expansion draft, and would be replenished at the expense of serviceable starters.

Despite all of the turnover and lack of a splashy offseason acquisition, the Padres are the consensus pick to reclaim the NL West ahead of defending champ Atlanta, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, all of which could win at least 90 games. One thing's for certain: it's going to be a wild west in 1993.


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Old 01-15-2019, 02:51 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beechnut View Post
Good stuff! Congrats on the ‘91 title. I like the presentation and enjoy all the trades. I never gave much thought to all the great players SD had over the years. I also like that you have a set end plan for this project. I look forward to the next big name trade!
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoy the presentation. It's funny to think of all of the great players who have been through San Diego, if only for a season or two. One of my favorite things is loading up a new season and seeing if any notable future MLB players get imported into my minor league system. A 17 year-old Derrek Lee was a pleasant surprise this offseason. Looks like Fred McGriff will have an heir apparent at first base someday.
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:04 AM   #34
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Alomar Earns Player of Week Honor

Monday -- July 19th, 1993

NL Tabs Alomar as Player of the Week
Padres 2B goes 9-for-18 with 7 RBI for weekly National League honor



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- With his team in the thick of a heated NL West pennant chase, Roberto Alomar is playing the best baseball of his career. On Sunday, the National League rewarded the San Diego Padre second baseman for his excellence at the plate with Player of the Week honors.

"I may need a few more weeks like this if we're going to catch the Braves," Alomar quipped after San Diego's 9-0 win over the Phillies on Sunday. "It's nice to be recognized, but it's all about the team."

Alomar went 9-for-18 last week, while driving in 7 runs in his last six games, including a 4 RBI performance against Philadelphia on Thursday. He is hitting a career-high .336 and already has 10 home runs, just one off his career best first set in 1989, and equaled last season.

San Diego (62-31) is currently 3 games behind the Atlanta Braves (65-28) for first place in the National League West. The Padres open a three-game series with the NL East-leading New York Mets (60-32) on Monday.
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Old 01-15-2019, 03:53 AM   #35
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Second Fiddle to Braves... Again

Monday -- October 4th, 1993

Padres Record Season Ends with Second Place Finish
San Diego's 103-59 campaign a distant second to NL West Champion Braves



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Any other year, 103 wins would be enough to win a division. 1993 was not any other year.

The Padres cleaned out their lockers at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium on Sunday, incredulous that their 103-59 was a distant second to the NL West champion Atlanta Braves (110-52). They were one of three 100-win teams in the division this year, joining the third place Los Angeles Dodgers (101-61). The fourth place San Francisco Giants (99-63) also very nearly joined that list.

In the history of Major League Baseball, no division has ever had three 100-win teams in the same season. It's a feat that the Padres are not happy to be a part of.

"This was a ridiculously tough division," Padres pitcher Andy Ashby mused after Sunday's 5-3 season-ending loss to the Chicago Cubs. "I really hope the Commissioner looks at doing something about this. There are some really dang good teams that won't be playing in the postseason this year."

Missing out on the postseason for a second straight year will be a tough pill to swallow for Padres fans, who came out in record numbers this season. Their 3,624,083 total attendance was the second-highest in baseball, and it smashed last year's attendance record by nearly 1,000,000 fans.

"It means everything," Padres third baseman Gary Sheffield said of the team's fan support. "They packed the Murph every single game."

Sheffield had an MVP caliber season for San Diego, leading the league in homers (46) and RBI (143) while finishing third in batting average (.354). All are career highs. Kevin Brown also had a career year, going 25-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 190 strikeouts in a Cy Young worthy season.

With the entire roster intact and under contract for 1994, one has to wonder when, or if, the Padres will ever catch the front-running Braves in the NL West.

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Old 01-15-2019, 06:47 AM   #36
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Blockbuster Deal: Sheffield for Piazza

Saturday -- January 1st, 1994

Seismic Shift: SD Trades Sheffield for LA's Piazza
Padres deal National League MVP to Dodgers for 3-time All-Star catcher



SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- San Diego's 103-win second-place finish was enough to prompt Major League Baseball to institute a new wild card and divisional format. It wasn't enough for the Padres.

On Friday, the team pulled off one of the biggest trades in MLB history, trading National League MVP Gary Sheffield to the Los Angeles Dodgers for All-Star catcher Mike Piazza. The trade also sends utility outfielder/infielder Matt Stairs and two prospects to LA for speedster Eric Young.

"I honestly just had enough of finishing second to the Braves," Padres manager and general manager Jack McKeon said at Friday's press conference, smiling while puffing a cigar. "Atlanta's time is over. It's our time."

Piazza earned his third consecutive All-Star bid in his third full season in the big leagues in 1993, finishing second in the NL batting chase with a .357 average, just .03 better than Sheffield. Piazza also belted 42 home runs, tied for second in the NL behind Sheffield. Sheffield accumulated 98 homers and 371 RBI during his time in San Diego, averaging 32 homers and 123 RBI per season, along with a .332 batting average.

"Sheff had maybe the best three years I've ever seen a guy play," McKeon said. "If we didn't have one heck of a third baseman waiting in the wings, this trade never happens."

McKeon had reportedly contemplated shaking up the team's roster despite a 103-59 regular season. He was unhappy with the team's defense and had been looking to move Sheffield to the outfield, and Ken Caminiti to third base. But McKeon pivoted from his plan when he was able to land former Gold Glove outfielder Ray Lankford from the California Angels for relief pitcher Jesse Orosco and a pair of prospects. The Padres outfield now consists of Tony Gwynn, Steve Finley, Ray Lankford, and Reggie Sanders. The infield is expected to feature Caminiti at third base, Ozzie Smith at shortstop, Roberto Alomar at second base, and Fred McGriff at first base. Sandy Alomar Jr. will now back up Piazza at catcher.

"Don't close the door on Sandy, guys," McKeon said. "He's been an All-Star for us and he's still a Padre. He'll find a way to make his mark with this team."

The trade for Piazza salvages what has been a rough offseason for the Padres. San Francisco pulled off a coup just days into free agency, signing former Seattle Mariners star Ken Griffey Junior to an eight-year, $52 million contract to pair him with Barry Bonds in the Giants outfield.
The Padres front office was close to signing outfielder Shane Mack to an extension before talks fell apart on the eve of the free agent filing deadline. Mack, who hit a career-high 22 home runs for the Padres last season, then signed a 4-year, $12.6 million deal to join the Minnesota Twins. San Diego also had a deal in place to sign former Padre Joe Carter to a free agent contract, before he spurned San Diego for the New York Mets.

"We took our lumps before today," McKeon said. "We're in a really, really good division, even with the new Wild Card. The Giants won 99 games, and now they've got Griffey. The Dodgers won 101, and they'll be really good with Sheff in that lineup. I hate trading in the division, but I think L.A. and us figured we better help each other out before San Francisco tries to run away with this thing."

The Padres have been rumored to be in talks with free agent Kevin Mitchell, as the team is believed to be well below its budget for 1994. Team owner Joan Kroc reportedly gave McKeon and the front office two clear directives for the offseason: improve the team's defense - which ranked 10th out of 14 NL teams last season - and upgrade left field. The departure of the error-prone Sheffield at third base should immediately change things on the defensive front.

Stairs is a four-year big leaguer, but spent all of last season in Triple-A Las Vegas, where he hit .317 with 12 home runs and 26 stolen bases. He is expected to battle for a spot in the Dodgers outfield in Spring Training. Young has three years of big league experience and should play a similar role to veteran Bip Roberts as an option in San Diego's infield and outfield.

Amid the news of Piazza's arrival, the phones at the Jack Murphy Stadium ticket office rang off the hook. A team official said the club sold nearly 1,000 season tickets in the last twenty-four hours.


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Old 01-15-2019, 09:52 AM   #37
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This is OUTSTANDING!!! Keep it up!
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Old 01-20-2019, 04:45 AM   #38
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1994: 130 wins and nothing to show for it

December 27th, 1994

"It's On Me": McKeon Reflects on Padres Lost Season
San Diego still reeling after 130-32 season, then sweep at hands of Atlanta


SAN MARCOS, Calif. -- Jack McKeon takes a series of quick puffs from his Cohiba at a local pub in a nondescript suburb in Southern California. Whether it's loading a roster meant with no regard for the competitive balance of Major League Baseball, or ignoring the No Smoking sign at a restaurant, "Trader Jack" isn't one for rules.

"They let me sneak in a smoke here," McKeon tells this reporter, cracking a devilish smile "Another year like we had, I'm not so sure though."

By all accounts, the San Diego Padres General Manager had assembled one of the most prodigious lineups and stifling pitching staffs in MLB history. The offseason acquisition of Mike Piazza was tantamount to the NBA Champion Houston Rockets adding John Stockton or Karl Malone to an already star-studded lineup. No one else even had a chance.

The so-called "MLB Dream Team" immediately bore fruit. Consider the following feats that happened in San Diego during the 1994 season:
  • 19-game win streak, tied for the sixth-longest in MLB history
  • 1-2-3 finish in the batting chase among Padres Roberto Alomar (.352), - Tony Gwynn (.363), and NL batting champ Mike Piazza (.373)
  • 1-2 finish for the NL ERA crown featuring two more Padres -- champion Greg Maddux (2.26) and runner-up Joey Hamilton (2.35)
  • 1-2 finish for wins -- Maddux (25) and Kevin Brown (24)
  • 51 saves by Trevor Hoffman, breaking Dave Righetti's single season record of 46 set with the Yankees in 1986
  • 4,218,193 -- the highest regular season attendance number in MLB history, not including 233,934 fans walking through the Jack Murphy Stadium turnstiles during the postseason
  • 130 regular season wins, obliterating the MLB record held previously by the Chicago Cubs, who won 116 games in 1906

Despite all of that, and MVP and Cy Young seasons from Piazza (.373, 42 HR, 127 RBI) and Maddux (25-6, 2.26 ERA, 218 K), and a Manager of the Year Award for McKeon, the Padres fell short. Again.

The 64 year-old cigar smoking rule breaker blames himself. As the team's general manager and manager, the buck stops with him. Literally. He approves every dollar and penny for payroll, and is the one signing off on every trade. Padres owner Joan Kroc, the heiress to the McDonald's fast food empire, has given McKeon complete control of the franchise. It's hard to argue with the results. That is, until the Padres lost in the postseason.

"It's on me," says McKeon, leaning back in a vinyl bench seat, resting the back of his head in his clasped hands, letting out a billow of smoke. "I mucked up the rotation, didn't have us ready for the Braves. Completely on me."

There is a truth to what McKeon says. He let his team chase the unthinkable mark of 130 wins, getting that number in the 162nd and final game of the regular season. McKeon stubbornly kept to his same starting rotation, letting Maddux, Brown, and Wells each reach and then surpass the 20-win milestone. The All-Star team he had put together had little to no reinforcements once roster expansion came in September. In a truly remarkable gaffe, the ace Maddux until Game 3 of the National League Divisional Series. Though the Padres emerged with a 3-game sweep of the Dodgers, the rotation was out of whack by the time the team reached the NLCS.

"Your number one (Maddux) sets the tone for the entire series," McKeon sighs. "If he pitches the opener in the NLDS and everything goes as planned, he's starting Game 1 against the Braves in the NLCS."

Ah, yes. The Braves. The perennial thorn in the side of the Padres, costing them trips to the postseason in both 1992 and 1993. An expanded playoff format and division realignment sent Atlanta to the East and kept San Diego in the West. The teams were on a collision course for a trip to the '94 World Series, and neither team disappointed.

While the Padres continued to rack up wins in the NL West, the Braves dutifully controlled the East to the tune of a 105-57 regular season. It was a foregone conclusion that they would meet in the National League Championship Series.

"F---ing Blauser," McKeon says, throwing a pickle off his pub burger.

Jeff Blauser tormented the Padres in the best-of-seven playoff series, getting 7 hits in 17 at-bats, including a defining home run in Game 4 of the NLCS in Atlanta. The Braves won in a sweep.

McKeon is now planning for the future. He says he can't stomach another season of managing and serving as the team's GM. He insists that bench coach Ted Clark will call all the shots in the dugout in 1995, though McKeon will remain on the bench as the manager in name only. His hope is that he will have a full-time manager in place for the 1996 season, and continue to focus on sculpting the roster to play for championships in the 1990's and for years to come.

"I want this to be a dynasty," McKeon says defiantly. "I want Gwynn and the Alomars to retire as lifelong Padres with a championship ring for every damn finger on their hands. That's my dream."

Already the sharks are circling. The Dodgers pulled off the biggest move of the offseason, signing 3-time AL MVP Jeff Bagwell away from Boston for the next seven years. His $7.5 million salary will make him the highest-paid player in baseball history. The Giants still possess two MVP caliber outfielders in Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Junior.

"It's not going to be easy," McKeon says, picking up the tab for a grateful, underpaid sports writer. "But nothing worth doing ever is."



1994 Standings


1994 San Diego Padres


1994 MVP Mike Piazza


1994 Cy Young winner Greg Maddux
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1995 Season Preview

Sunday -- April 2nd, 1995

1995 NL West Preview: Padres Ready to Defend Title
San Diego keeps 130-win team intact while Dodgers, Giants try to topple NL West power



In a relatively calm offseason, the Padres did little to improve their prospects after a record-breaking 130-win season this year. In fact, you might argue San Diego took a step back.

Gone is Joey Hamilton, whose 2.35 ERA in 1994 ranked second in the National League in just his second full season as a Major League pitcher. The 24 year-old was traded to the Cleveland Indians for promising outfielder Brian Giles, once considered the top prospect in Minor League Baseball. GIles isn't expected to start in a crowded San Diego outfield that already features 4-time NL batting champion Tony Gwynn, reigning RBI leader Reggie Sanders, and former Gold Glover Ray Lankford. Steve Finley, a .280 lifetime hitter, is also in the mix after batting a career-high .319 last season.

The team also parted ways with three prospects to acquire Phil Nevin from the Houston Astros. Nevin, 24, hit .235 in a late season call-up for the Astros and will be stashed away in the minors for the foreseeable future. The only additions to speak of are Fernando Valenzuela and Jim Deshaies. The veteran pitchers were both signed to minor league contracts in the offseason, with only Valenzuela making the Opening Day roster in San Diego's bullpen.

The biggest news of San Diego's offseason might be the announcement that Tony Gwynn had signed an extension that will make him a Padre for life. Gwynn hit a career-best .363 during the 1994 season, and was rewarded with a six-year extension that will pay him $29 million. He will be 42 years old when the contract expires in 2002.

Bolstered by the addition of 3-time American League MVP Jeff Bagwell (.351, 38 HR, 140 RBI, 24 SB), the Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to give the Padres a serious run for their money for the West crown. Their lineup includes former NL MVP Gary Sheffield (.303, 42 HR, 128 RBI), Raul Mondesi (.303, 37 HR, 113 RBI, 30 SB), Cal Ripken Jr. (.278, 25 HR, 101 RBI), and NL Rookie of the Year catcher Paul Konerko (.313, 18 HR, 61 RBI). LA's pitching staff is anchored by 23 year-old All-Star Pedro Martinez (16-7, 2.50 ERA, 277 K) along with Japanese pitching sensation Hideo Nomo, who makes his U.S. debut this season. The Giants could pose a threat in San Francisco, leaning on a quartet of power hitters -- Barry Bonds (.330, 41 HR, 114 RBI), Ken Griffey Jr. (.301, 40 HR, 118 RBI), Matt Williams (.297, NL-best 47 HR, 133 RBI), and Cecil Fielder (29 HR).

As always, the National League West is loaded. Whichever team gets out of the division can look forward to an inevitable date with defending World Series champion Atlanta.




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McGwire hits 68th homer, Piazza bats .388

Monday -- October 2nd, 1995

McGwire Finishes Season with Record 68th Homer
Piazza comes up short in bid to bat .400, finishes at .388 for NL batting title



ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Mark McGwire put one final exclamation mark on his record-breaking year, swatting his 68th home run of the season on Sunday in the A's finale against the California Angels.

"It was a nice way to go out," McGwire told reporters following Oakland's season-ending 7-3 win over the Angels. "I'm sure someone will have fun chasing down my record some day."

The previous record of 61 was broken back on September 16th, when McGwire hit home run number 62 to eclipse the mark set by Roger Maris set with the Yankees in 1961. He added six more for good measure.

"Like I said last month, it was an honor to just be a part of the chase and have Roger's family there for that moment," McGwire said. "I hope I'm able to be there for someone if they ever have the opportunity to hit 69."



While McGwire's home run chase captivated the baseball world, Mike Piazza's chase for .400 ended with a whimper in San Diego. The Padres catcher lifted his average to .426 with a 4-for-5 performance against the Marlins on April 22nd while riding a 31-game hitting streak, and outside of a brief two-game stretch in late May, that batting average didn't fall below the mythical .400 until September 20th when he went 0-for-5 against the Rockies. His average never climbed above .400 again, leaving Ted Williams as the last MLB player to hit that number in a season.

"I really would've liked to get .400, knowing what it means in baseball history," Piazza told reporters in San Diego. "I'll still take .388, but I know this was a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Piazza's Padres finished the season with a 4-1 victory against the Dodgers to improve to 105-57. San Diego will face Los Angeles (102-60) in the National League Divisional Series.




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