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.

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It’s an amazing time to be a Padres fan. At 11pm last night local time (2am for me in Cleveland), free agent starting pitcher James Shields agreed to terms with the Padres on a 4 year deal worth $75 million. It’s a landmark deal for the Padres and represents a sea change in the franchise’s approach to free agency in an off-season full of sea changes in the franchise’s approach to being a MLB franchise.

Then we found out today that not only were the Padres working out Cuban free agent super-stud infielder Yoan Moncada, but were expected to be aggressive in bidding for his services, and maybe weren’t too worried about the penalties that will be imposed to whatever team ends up with his services.

This is damn exciting stuff, and with Shields signed and all the trades the team has made, why shouldn’t the Padres be expected to get whatever they want right now? If AJ Preller wants Yoan Moncada, he’s going to get him, right? Well no, probably not.

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After a long ass weekend of suspense that went from surprising to exciting to almost irritating to the point of just wishing it was over and he picked someone else, it appears that the Padres have indeed signed free agent starting pitcher James Shields. The deal is done pending physical, says teenage heartthrob Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, and that’s good enough for me.

Shields, 33, was one of the top free agents available this off-season. He was said to be seeking 5 years and over $100 million, but as the season neared and those types of offers didn’t materialize, the Rancho Santa Fe resident seems to have dropped right into the Padres price range. Let’s go to Twitter for some hot takes:

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Seth Smith was never meant for the label The Final Piece, given to him by over-confident former GM Josh Byrnes after acquiring Smith from the A’s last winter in exchange for Luke Gregerson. He ended up being a nice piece to add, like many Josh Byrnes acquisitions that didn’t actually add wins to the team record, but he was never going to be good enough to carry the offense like he needed to, no matter how well he played.

Smith ended up being the only piece of that 2014 outfield worth a damn, finishing the year with a team leading 133 wRC+ and trailing just Rene Rivera for position player team lead in fWAR, all while as a platoon player, getting 87% of his plate appearances against right-handed pitching. During his hot first-half, he was for weeks on end one of the top 5 hitters in the league by wRC+.

Smith cooled off considerably in the 2nd half of the season, but it was still a very positive year, and the post-Byrnes, pre-Preller Padres rewarded him with an oddly timed contract extension and a handshake, unofficial one off-season no-trade clause. Then AJ Preller went shopping for outfielders, Smith became the odd man out, and the Padres and Smith agreed that there wouldn’t be a “no takesies backsies” policy on his handshake deal, and he was off to the Mariners to platoon in Safeco Field’s outfield with Justin Ruggiano, as their Final Piece.

Now that the Padres have reshaped their roster with 3 new outfielders, 2 new catchers, and a new 3rd baseman, Preller and Co. will be looking to add the finishing touches to a roster that they hope will compete to go deep in the playoffs in 2015 and beyond. While there are still question marks in the infield, the new Final Piece isn’t going to be a position player. What the Padres really need now to move from playoff contender to World Series contender is a front-line starting pitcher. Read More…

Why is this happening? Is this gonna be forever?

After being snubbed by both Pablo Sandoval (BOS) and Yasmany Tomas (ARI) the Padres offseason looked to be just more of the same — overpromising and under-delivering — by the time the Winter Meetings started.

It was even reported that the new GM A.J. Preller’s laptop was broken right before the meetings started.  Out came the “Padres are too cheap to even replace a computer” jokes.

Padres’ fans started to show their frustration.  We all knew what this team needed to do, but it seemed that Preller was just like the old GM.  Refusing to drink the iced coffee instead of trying to upgrade the roster with quality players.

It was beginning to look like an almost exact repeat of the previous two offseasons, with only Brandon Morrow and Clint Barmes added as free agents for “roster depth.”

Clint Barmes

Padres sign IF Clint Barmes to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with a club option ($2 million or $200k buyout) for 2016

C’mon.  After Everth Cabrera was DFA, you didn’t really think the Padres were going to put all their faith in Alexi Amarista at shortstop, did you?  Although. Barmes is basically Amarista without the outfield experience.  He was basically signed for infield backup and as a veteran presence.

Why Clint Barmes?

Brandon Morrow

Padres sign RHP Brandon Morrow to a one-year, $2.5 million deal (with incentives)

Tim Stauffer Part Deaux, is what it boils down to.  Doesn’t cost much and if he doesn’t crack the rotation he’ll be the long reliever, most likely.

Brandon Morrow looking to make comeback with Padres

Then, the last day of the Winter Meetings happened.  And that all changed.  Big time.

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It’s Tuesday evening in Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve got the day off work. I went grocery shopping, cleaned the kitchen, and I should be doing laundry, but I’ll save it for a bit later. I’m fully moved into my new apartment, for the first time in my life, I have a washer/dryer right outside my bedroom, and yet I’m still just letting the dirty clothes pile up. Instead, I’m having a back and forth with a Dodgers fan on Twitter who really didn’t like the trade proposal I tweeted about how the Padres could sensibly land Matt Kemp.

He thinks I’m high and know nothing about baseball. I’m not really engaged, just throwing barbs back. There’s no point actually dealing in facts with this kind of Dodgers fan. Scrolling through his tweets and re-tweets, he really doesn’t want to trade Kemp. I get that, but not understanding what might actually make sense for both teams in order to get a deal done is just being an arrogant Dodgers fan.

The problem is that the Padres will absolutely have to over-pay to get a deal for Kemp done. I’ve come to terms with that. The Dodgers have the upper hand. They don’t need to trade Kemp and they don’t care about money because they’re literally billionaires. They’re asking for the moon, and like a celebrity who actually wants to go to the moon, they’re willing to pay tens of millions of dollars to get it. If they don’t get what they want, there’s no deal. Negotiating with that is not easy.

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Before we start, allow me to direct you to two important pieces that Sac Bunt Dustin has posted on this site in the last week or so. One, discusses the value of Yasmani Grandal somewhat in a vacuum (that is to say, before his name was so strongly tied to a team/player). The other, posted today, is directly related (and ultimately, not in favor of) trading Grandal to Los Angeles for Matt Kemp. 

I’d recommend both of those before we continue. I’ll give you a few minutes.

Ok, welcome back. Well reasoned, well researched, logic arguments, right? Couldn’t agree more.

Except, I’m going to disagree. Despite my better judgment.

This morning, I tweeted the following (while citing too myself is not really an ideal strategy, it’s useful in this case as a jumping off point):

That’s the short version. Here’s the long version.

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It’s time to play f*ck, marry, kill with the Padres pitchers and catchers. Pardon my crassness, but I couldn’t think of a better name, and anyway, how can I be creative at a time like this? Yasmany Tomas has still not signed with a team, the Padres are still being linked to him as a strong contender, and in late-breaking Sunday night I-should-be-asleep-but-I-have-to-write-this-stupid-blog-post news, John Heyman reports that the Padres have entered the Pablo Sandoval Pan-derby. It’s Panda-monium! Puns! Heavy-ish baseball players! Wooooo!

My response:

So that’s all fun and good and not happening, but there are other things to talk about that are actually possibly/probably going to happen this off-season, and I wanna talk about that stuff in a stupid way.

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The World Series is over. For the third time in five years, the San Francisco Giants, members of our NL West, have managed to pull off an unlikely Championship. Once again, our Padres finished the season disappointingly. As the off-season begins in full force, we set out as Padres fans in a different position than perhaps at any point in franchise history.

After a brutal start to 2014, the Padres fired General Manager Josh Byrnes. This was a good move. Byrnes lacked vision and creativity, choosing to fill obvious holes rather than build a roster. They hired Texas AGM AJ Preller to replace Byrnes. I sense that Preller wants to implement a vision, but he has not given us much to go on as to how he is going to go about doing so.

In 2014, the Padres had the highest payroll in franchise history, approaching $90 million on paper if never actually in practice. In comments with local media, Ron Fowler has stated that in terms of setting payroll for 2015, “Given all the options that AJ is considering, we are not prepared to release a number.” Based on what Fowler is saying, payroll could just as easily go down in 2015 as it might go up.

As a fan, heading into this off-season, I’ve tried to find a balance between what I want and what I think is reasonable, but the more I think about it, the harder it is for me to reconcile the differences between my head and my heart. Read More…

Earlier today, MLB Trade Rumors disseminated a report emanating from Yahoo! Sports’s Japanese outlet (link in Japanese) linking Orix Buffaloes pitcher Chihiro Kaneko to the San Diego Padres. Okay, we’re getting ahead of ourselves; the report was that he was visiting the US to watch the World Series and get a first-hand look at MLB atmosphere, where three teams were mentioned to have recently scouted the 30-year-old starting pitcher. Along with the Phillies and Red Sox, the Padres reportedly sent people to scout Kaneko last month.

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