For those that have written the San Diego Padres off, it would be wise to reconsider that poor decision.
After posting an atrocious 7-17 record in April, it is no wonder why the majority of their fanbase has trickled away. However, for the fans that have stuck it out, they are starting to catch hold of the Friar Fever.
Following the All-Star break, the Padres look like a brand new squad. And they aren't just doing it with their stellar pitching. Yes, an offense does exist in San Diego.
In fact, they are turning out numbers without the likes of their rumored trade bait, Carlos Quentin. Timely hitting and the production off the bench has been the recurring wave that has kept the Padres afloat.
On an individual scale, Quentin has had a rather forgettable month of July. In his last 53 plate appearances, he has only knocked around 10 hits and sprayed two fly balls over the fence. Despite his slumping play of late, the Padres would like to keep his bat around in their lineup for the next few years.
He quieted all the trade rumors Sunday afternoon after inking a three-year extension to stay in San Diego. Now they have Quentin locked up through 2015, the Padres are working on an extension with closer Huston Street, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
So far, the Pads have weaved together a solid 12-6 record for the month of July.
They have begun to slowly gain some ground back into the division after escaping their temporary homestead of last place. They now rest 13 games back as they head north to face the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
As the month dwindles to a close, the trade talks begin to illuminate. Teams that are vying for a spot in October are beginning to aggressively flirt with other teams' gems. Take Chase Headley for example.
Headley appears to be the deadbeat subject of much discussion across the league. There are now six teams in discussion with the Padres according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
Despite all the heated buzz circling No. 7, the Padres would prefer to keep him grounded. Teams must be willing and able to give up a healthy portion of their talent for Headley. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, one team said the Padres have pinned Headley with the highest asking price on the market. A perceivable threat that may deter teams from pursuing him.
Another attractive piece of the puzzle is Edinson Volquez. After the Padres witnessed Volquez's dominating one-hit complete game shutout victory over the slumming Astros, you can be sure theys won't leave him hanging out to dry on the trading block much longer.
The encouraging signs of the team's early second-half success has helped reconfigure the burning areas of need and direction for the team's future.
Are they in the hunt? I wouldn't go as far as labeling them contenders, but they appear to be making the appropriate strides back into the teeth of the division.
Don't be surprised if the Padres add a bat or veteran arm to their roster before the trade deadline alarm sounds.