The Bar: Great Expectations

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.

The Bar

It’s been awhile since we’ve sat in our comfy stools at The Bar, but what we now lack in tolerance we make up for in enthusiasm, so let’s get back at it.

Today we’re chatting about expectations for the Padres 2016 season. We all have different, changing perspectives, so what “expectations” means will be unique for each of us. Oh yeah, when we got here, Ghost of Ray Kroc was passed out down at the end of the bar.

Sac Bunt Chris
For me? 2016 is about balancing the present and the future. The Padres appear to be attempting to build for the future while avoiding hemorrhaging short term attention in the present. Whether that strategy is wise is up to debate, but it will be interesting to watch.

I’ll consider the 2016 season a success if they apply the salary relief received in the Jedd Gyorko trade and other 2016 payroll reductions to this year’s international free agents class. They’ll need to be at or very near the top of MLB in terms of spending. They’ll also need turn whatever short term assets they can (hello Andrew Cashner) into long-term building blocks when the opportunity arises. And, because they’re not in complete rebuild mode, win something like 80 games in the process. That’s a tall order, but I think it’s doable.

Billy Lybarger
I really wish the expectations for this team were low. The forecast from most prognosticators and Vegas is about 74 wins. To me, that means this is probably not a good baseball team. And the future is not so bright because the farm is almost completely barren. And in terms of pitching, the dearth is dreadful. Honestly, I have no idea who is going to pitch for this team once Ross and Cashner are dealt. And they should be dealt.

The Padres should be sellers at the deadline and guarantee a protected pick for 2017. They also should spend like crazy in international free agency. They are set up nicely for the Rule 4 draft, but then so are the Dodgers, so really, to play catch up, they have to do incredibly well internationally. Like the Dodgers do. And now I’m sad.

You make me sad more than the Padres ever could, William. First off, I disagree with your wrong as hell proclamation of a “barren farm system.” Just because it isn’t the fucking Astros’ system doesn’t mean it has no talent. Margot, Guerra, Renfroe, Giron, and Hedges, with more to come from the draft and J2 signings, I think the farm is improved and will get better.

Second, why compare the Padres to the Dodgers, an org with the smartest front office in baseball and unlimited resources? We’re never going to be the Dodgers, and if that’s your barometer for success, you should stick with the Astros full-time.

ANYWAY, I won’t be judging this team on wins and losses. What Billy does have right is that this team’s gonna be bad, record-wise. Here’s what I’d consider a successful season: Wil Myers becomes and all-star, Spang establishes himself as the second baseman of the future, Margot et al take their next step forward in development, spending like crazy on J2 kids and the draft, and trading the Andrew Cashners of the world for controllable assets.

I’m pretty optimistic!

Sac Bunt Chris
My expectations of the season involve the over on Oscar saying ‘fuck’ a dozen times every blog post.

Billy Lybarger
That is a beer bet I won’t make.

The farm will get better. But your list of prospects was woefully devoid of pitching. Just like the farm actually is. And taking credit for Hedges being on the farm is okay, I guess, but he no longer is a rookie.

And we have to compare the system to the Dodgers system because that is who the competition is. The competition is kicking our ass, and we didn’t have much ass to begin with. The LA boys have exceptional aim. Look at who the Dodgers graduated last year and still they rank in the top 3. Once Margot and Guerra hopefully graduate, the Padres system will be good only in the Dominican Republic, Rookie ball, or maybe Low-A. Preller has his work cut out for him, and I am very optimistic he will get there. But we need to realize how high the bar is. And that message is for the Front Office. LA is kicking your ass at every level. It’s time to seriously allocate resources to the farm, or be happy with revenue sharing.

Anyway, I’m Team Spang. I considered Team Myers, but I think that bandwagon is pretty full. And of course I’m riding high with Padres Jagoff on Team Blash. I am a Padres fan, after all.

The pitching depth sucks, no question. I don’t think it’s a good system, but I do think Preller’s off to a good start in remaking it in his image. Hedges barely played last year, so hell yeah I still consider him a prospect.

Ghost of Ray Kroc
[The Ghost passes out again]

Billy Lybarger
The Padres will definitely get there. I am confident in AJ Preller. I am expecting him to have an excellent summer. Pay no attention to the happenings on the field of play, dear Padres fans. It is all about what goes on in the draft and signing period.

So you’re pro-rebuild but you still want to see a good team on the field? K.

Sac Bunt Dustin
I think, as ya’ll have discussed, if there are high expectations for this year’s Padres team, they’re off the field ones. How well can they draft, how much will they spend internationally, and how well can they develop prospects into productive major leaguers? For the better part of the past decade—and, really, much of the franchise’s history—they’ve failed miserably at those things, and it’s tough for a small(er)-market team to consistently win without a pipeline of young, cost-controllable talent to rely on.

Sure, last offseason was fun, but look at most of the successful teams the league . . . the Cubs, the Astros, the Cardinals, the Giants, the Mets, the Royals, etc. Most of them are successful because of solid, homegrown cores, not because they went out and “won the offseason.” Even big-market clubs like the Red Sox are viewed as contenders this season not because of their recent free agent signings or high-profile trades, but because they have young players like Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts to go along with a loaded farm system.

The good news is that the Padres turned Craig Kimbrel, part of last offseason’s ultimately failed experiment, over to Boston for players like Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra, and I still think Austin Hedges can be a first-division catcher. There are high-upside pieces on the farm, and the Padres need to focus most of their resources into both making sure those players succeed and finding more of them—even the best-run player development groups fail at a high rate.

Billy Lybarger
There’s the word we’ve been missing—development. I would love Javier Guerra to be the poster-boy of Padres development as he works though San Antonio and El Paso. He is the crown jewel of the farm system and the Padres do need to cultivate his skill into a first-division starter. The expectations for 2016 is for Guerra and Manuel Margot to have great seasons.

Sac Bunt Dustin
It’s funny how one trade can sort of shift perspective on the entire farm system. Now, with Margot and Guerra as the top two guys, and Hedges and Colin Rea and Hunter Renfroe and Ruddy Giron behind them, and forgotten guys like Michael Gettys further back, and last year’s draft picks in the mix, you can spot a lot of high-upside talent without feeling like you’re stretching it. I don’t think that means it’s a good system yet, but there’s plenty of talent, and when you throw in what should be a loaded collection of amateur players added this year—through both the draft and internationally—it might not take long for the Padres to turn the farm into an organizational strength. They’ll have to do that, really, if they want to compete annually in the NL West.

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  • vapadres

    1B – could stay healthy, cant be worse than last year offensively
    2B – might be a major leaguer
    SS – better than last year, can’t miss
    3B – sneaky good
    C – deep, trade DINO when value peaks, still OK
    CF – something to prove, too expensive to move
    RF – there is an all star in there somewhere, maybe somewhen
    LF – Rule 5 for the future, Vet at #4 – combined to half the war
    SP – Big three all need to be better, not much else to count on yet
    BP – Total experiment
    78 wins, fourth in the division, 3 very high upside new prospects and a few solid others as a result of trades
    2 rule fives make it through
    hopeful draft
    Major international spending
    Oscar over

  • Robby Deming

    I really like Dustin’s last comment. I think that’s a perfect encapsulation of the system right now. As you guys rightfully noted, they have to develop. Too many guys have just fizzled out. It’s been painful to see guy after guy just stay at the AAAA level.

  • kevintheomanharris

    Prediction: In a season where off-field fan experience is extremely important, Mike Dee will find new creative ways to fail and alienate the fanbase.