Sometimes I think the San Diego Padres only exist to make the White Sox feel better about themselves. The teams became linked by surprising baseball with a surge of activity, and have struggled to distinguish themselves since, but the Padres always find a way to be a little more extreme about it.
When the White Sox decided to go for it in the 2014-15 offseason, only the Padres did it harder. The White Sox made one big trade and three big signings, while the Padres made five big trades (Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Craig Kimbrel) and one big signing (James Shields).
While the White Sox ultimately disappointed with an 86-loss season, the Padres were even less of a factor, going 74-88. At least the Sox improved by three game. The Padres lost three games from 2014 despite all the activity.
The expenditures from the previous winter handcuffed both teams in another critical offseason, although the White Sox were able to add Todd Frazier before settling for marginal adds. The Padres had to draw back more, most notably trading Kimbrel (although they did net Drew Pomeranz from the A's in a nifty swap).
Both teams were often mentioned in the same sentence when it came to areas of need, including shortstop. The Sox ended up having the priority in the matter. The Padres ended up with Alexei Ramirez only after the White Sox passed on Ramirez for Jimmy Rollins.
Eventually, the White Sox' investments started paying dividends. They did blow a sizable early lead, but they're 29-25 after a series victory against the Mets, 1½ games out of first place. The Padres are 21-34, and they haven't even been over .500 at any point, getting shut out in the opening three-game series.
And while the White Sox blew three leads against the Royals over a painful sweep last weekend, the Sox managed to minimize discord. Afterward, the Padres dropped three out of four to the Mariners and showed the benefits of organizational harmony.
First, after a 16-4 loss to Seattle at Safeco Field, Padres chairman Ron Fowler blasted his team, singling out supposed White Sox trade target James Shields in particular:
It's been embarrassing. I don't know how else to put it. The performance on the road trip, 1-7, was pathetic. I'm a very competitive individual and I think I've won a lot, more than I've lost in life. This baseball experience has been very frustrating, very embarrassing. Performance by our team yesterday was -- I can understand how Kroc would have grabbed the microphone-- it's that frustrating. To have a starter like [James] Shields to perform as poorly as he did yesterday I think is an embarrassment to the team and an embarrassment to him. It's about as frustrating as it can get but we've got to get through.
They then returned home to face the Mariners for two more, and after the two-game sweep at Safeco, the Padres looked well on their way to returning the favor. They thumped Seattle 14-6 on Wednesday, and then took a 12-2 lead on Thursday through five innings ...
... until the Padres gave up five in the sixth inning and ninth in the seventh inning, and ended up losing 16-13. In some ways, it's not quite as striking as blowing a six-run lead with two outs remaining, as the Sox did in Kansas City on Saturday. In other ways, it was an even more remarkable collapse.
The Mariners went 11-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They went from being ranked 16th in the majors with a .252 batting average with runners in scoring position to 10th for the season at .271.
Matt Thornton, pitching his third game for San Diego after missing the most of the first two months with Achilles tendinitis, ended up giving the final two runs.
There isn't a whole lot to gain from knowing this, except the always-valuable lesson that Your Team's Problems Aren't Unique. It'd be more beneficial if San Diego had these issues as an American League team, as their 21-34 record is worse than every other AL club except Minnesota (it's only the third-worst in the NL).
I suppose if you want something a little more significant, the first two months indicate that the shortstop swap was a wash: