Author's Note: This is part of a five-part series examining players on the San Diego Padres roster who need to improve during this offseason if the Padres are to be successful, and if the paychecks given these players are to be legitimately earned. The other players examined are Chris Denorfia, Orlando Hudson, Edinson Volquez and Jason Bartlett.
After a surprising 2010 season in which they narrowly missed a postseason berth, the San Diego Padres and their fans entered the 2011 cautiously optimistic, despite the loss of Adrian Gonzalez.
That optimism was misplaced, however, as the Padres finished the season with a 71-91 record, good enough for dead last in the NL West.
The offseason so far also has been rocky, as the Pads have lost their top two starting pitchers from last season, Aaron Harang and Mat Latos. The transactions the club has made to replenish the roster bode well for the future, but make the forecast for the upcoming season quite bleak.
If the Padres are to have any hope of once again pulling off a surprising season and overachieving, they are going to need several of the players currently on their roster to step it up big-time and improve dramatically this offseason.
One of those players is outfielder Will Venable.
He is certainly a smart individual, having attended Princeton; what Venable has not been, however, is a productive player at the plate (at least during the 2011 season).
Venable made 370 plate appearances during 2011, quite enough from which to gauge his performance. It is disappointing, then, that Venable batted only .246 with nine home runs and 44 RBI.
If a player goes to the plate almost 400 times, he needs to do a lot better than 44 RBI, especially if he is hitting under .250.
Venable's numerous plate appearances seem to have been due more to a lack of better options on San Diego's roster than they are to his offensive talents.
As the Padres upgrade their roster, Venable needs to improve in order to continue seeing anywhere near that many plate appearances again.