Hot Stove! Let’s get fired up because it’s wheelin’ and dealin’ time. We’ve got a roster to build and probably not a lot of money to spend. At least not yet. Let’s run through the positions, look at depth, and completely ignore the starting pitching staff. If AJ Preller can, I can too.
Let me start by talking a little bit about where I come from. I grew up in a small house built in the 1950’s (which means no AC or insulation) in southwest Poway, in one of the neighborhoods off of Pomerado Road that’s an easy walk to the elementary school, the middle school, and the 7/11 in-between. People often think of Poway as that place in North County with horse trails where the athletes live, but this part of town is where people go to get into a decent school district without paying too much of a premium. That’s why we moved there when I was 5, at least.
My dad (who I love very much) has a big personality. He loves to chat, can talk your ear off for hours on end, and he’s very well-liked, but growing up with his personality in such a small space, I always felt like I had a hard time expressing myself. Add in a bit of a speech impediment, an older brother (who I love very much) who had a tendency to not realize how loud he was speaking, and a younger sister (who I love very much) with a flair for the dramatic, and I ended up with a personality much more like my mother’s (who I love very much): soft-spoken and often choosing not to share my thoughts, even though I definitely had them.
When I spoke, and when I speak still, I tend to gravitate toward one-liners, whether it’s in a joke or, equally as likely, a passive-aggressive way of expressing my dissenting opinion or grievance disguised as a joke. Before I learned the art of essay writing in high school, these quick jabs were my main outlet, my way of expressing myself and letting people know that I was actually there in the room too, not just a sweaty ball of adolescent hormones stuck to the furniture.
To this day, I have a deep-seated love and appreciation for a quality passive-aggressive one-liner. One of the all-time greats is “is this it?” Those three tiny words, thrown like a jab, spoken with no angst of voice, just a hint of confusion, and a dash of deflation, hit their target like a hay-maker. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a true knock-out punch when perfectly placed.
So today I say to my beloved San Diego Padres: is this it?
The natives have become quite restless.
As the 2015 off-season enters the 2nd half of it’s 2nd month, while it has seemed like nearly every major transaction of this winter hot stove season has involved one of the other teams in the NL West, the Padres have basically the same holes with which they entered the off-season. They’ve made some moves, yes, but because those have been moves meant to add depth, clear payroll, and rebuild the team’s depleted farm system, there has been little done to add to the major league roster for 2016. After last off-season, everyone is waiting for the sequel to start.
The phrase of the year appears to be “contend and rebuild.” The Padres, wary of losing revenue in the short-term for what could be a better chance at success in the long-term, are unwilling as an ownership group to commit to a complete tear down and rebuild, such as what we’ve seen recently from the Astros and the Cubs. The club’s majority/minority owner Peter Seidler, by way of the Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin this past summer, and brought back to the forefront by Chris from Padres Public’s own The Sacrifice Bunt just last week, is talking about “competing year after year after year.” Whether you fear or hope for a complete rebuild, this is not ownership’s vision for the franchise.
In other words, #Padres plan to continue on path described earlier: Trying to compete while collecting prospects and possibly shedding $$$.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2015
Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday on this offseason plan for the Padres.
Traditionally, because gathering resources is difficult, teams try to focus on acquiring players that complement a team expected to win, or they try to use remaining resources of a bad to acquire players for the future. This is an oversimplification of course, but it’s generally true that focusing priorities into one area helps from being spread too thin everywhere.
The Padres, according to Rosenthal are trying to do both: acquire assets to compete in the future, while simultaneously turning a team with 71 context neutral wins (known as baseruns) the previous season into a winner. And also, they want to spend less money in the process.
In case my skepticism isn’t yet apparent, let me be explicit: I’m skeptical of such a plan. It sounds like the plan an ownership group with high ambition, but little patience or baseball operations experience would think is a good idea. Here’s Peter Seidler in July: “We think we’re smarter to put all of our energy into competing year after year after year.”
Ownership might be especially willing to agree to that plan if promised by a young, brazen general manager looking to make good on what were likely similarly risky promises made a year before. Sounds great as a plan, but is also difficult to pull off in reality.
In what has become an all-too-familiar tradition, by early September I began looking around at teams whose bandwagons I could jump on. Typically in making these picks I root for interesting stories, forlorn franchises, and players I particularly like to watch play. With an MLB.tv package and pointless Padres games, I found myself watching a lot of Blue Jays, Nationals, Cubs, Pirates Royals and Astros games. For the record, those remain the teams I’m most interested in watching succeed in October unless the Angels hang on to their Wild Card spot. Then go ahead and slide them in to that list if for no other reason than the fact that Mike Trout is always fun to watch and more fun to watch in October.
But this is about the Astros. In many ways I feel like I had found a kindred spirit in the Astros. A controversial and much talked about strip down a few years ago left the Astros with a pretty poor on-field product but an amazing Minor League system. The fruits of all of that losing and embarrassment started blooming in 2015, a year earlier than most expected. Until last night, the Astros had been in 1st or 2nd place in the AL West every day since April 18th. Until last night.
Here are some thoughts on the Padres’ offseason, formatted kind of like Twitter but with fewer abbreviations.
Other people deserve credit for acquiring the players AJ Preller traded away
There’s a reason the Braves were willing to trade the current Padres’ best hitter for a prospect recovering from surgery, it’s that Max Fried is a good enough prospect to still be valuable.
AJ Preller likes Hector Olivera. Not only did he watch on the field in showcases and private workouts in the Dominican Republic, he went to his house for some QT and things have even gotten physical. Now the question becomes how much does AJ like Hector? Does he really like him? Does he really really like him? Does he really really really really really like him, Carly Rae Jepsen style?
This is where we gather from time to time to talk about something big in the Padres world or just the Padres or just baseball. It’s a roundtable discussion. Except, you know, no round tables. This is a Public House . . . so we’re at the bar.
Hey there. Long time no drink. I, for one, missed when we all get together to do this.
It’s been an extraordinary offseason for the Padres. Thanks to “Rockstar GM” A.J. Preller’s trades and free agent signings, the Padres roster has been revamped. Their latest — some would say biggest — acquisition, starting pitcher James Shields, adds a — *COUGH* — final piece to their already impressive rotation.
What do you think of the Shields signing?
Amongst Padres fans, 2014, as a calendar year, was not one that any of us will likely want to remember. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with painful memories, it is also a year we are unlikely to ever forget.
Five days into the new year, mere hours after the Chargers had gone on the road to Cincinnati to win a playoff game, news came out of the passing of Jerry Coleman. At 89, the voice of the Padres for as long as anyone reading this can remember, had left us. Coleman’s death was a crushing blow to a team and a fanbase. What was unknown at the time was that it was merely a harbinger of things to come.
The on field product wasn’t much better. A 12-16 April began a season in which the Padres posted near historic offensive futility. Further injuries continued to mount. Casey Kelly returned to the 60 DL, Cashner hit the DL, Maybin, Gyorko, Alonso and so on and so on. And then came June 16th, 2014. The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Tony Gwynn, Mr. Padre, had succumbed to cancer. That he is no longer with us is a fact that I still find hard to believe.