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.

Old-Fashioned-Bar

Hey there. Long time no drink. I, for one, missed when we all get together to do this.

So…

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?

Vocal Minority David

This offseason has been an elaborate trick we’re having played on us, right? RIGHT!? I don’t know how to accept these things.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

Is this real life? Is this going to be forever?

SacBunt Chris

Surprise! The Padres actually just signed Clint Barmes then called it an offseason.

The James Shields signing says a few things. First, is says the Padres are willing to sign a long-term, high dollar free agent contract. I’m not a big believer in ownership making a “statement” having much long term value to fans. But still, it feels good knowing that ownership at least has that kind of money at its disposal, considering the previous regime.

As for baseball things on a baseball field, signing James Shields shows that A.J. Preller perhaps didn’t see the rotation as bulletproof as some local media made it seem. Each of the Padres’ previous top three pitchers has serious question marks, including Ian Kennedy‘s inconsistency, Tyson Ross‘s emergence out of nowhere and elbow injury risk, and Andrew Cashner‘s ability to stay healthy (and strike people out). James Shields comes without inconsistency issues, nor injury red flags that aren’t simply inherent to being a pitcher. In addition, last year’s rotation as a whole benefited in a very not obvious way by pitching to two of the game’s best pitch framers. With a more average defender catching in 2015, the core of the rotation are more likely to come down to earth, making Mr Shields a welcome and necessary addition (among other reasons, namely, that’s he’s real good at pitching).

SacBunt Dustin

Forget what this deal says about the Padres ability to compete on the free agent market or their commitment to investing in a perennial winner. Those might be interesting points to discuss, but in the short-term, like Chris says above, adding James Shields gives the Padres a legitimate ace for the 2015 playoff push.

A.J. Preller and Co. used the winter to reshape the roster, trading a number of young, controllable assets for players in — or past — their primes. The Padres made a serious bid at turning last year’s forgettable 77-85 ensemble into a playoff threat, but without Shields (or a similar starter) all of the deck shuffling felt somewhat incomplete. Shields fills a slot at the top of the rotation that was previously vacant.

As Chris also mentioned, each member of the Padres former “big three” — Cashner, Ross, and Kennedy — have a significant question mark or two surrounding their 2015 outlook. Shields, other than the fact that he hurls a little white sphere toward home plate at speeds in excess of 90 miles-per-hour, an act known to cause injury, is about as reliable as they come. Without him, the Padres felt like fringe wildcard contenders. With Shields, there appears to be little blocking the Padres — well, little besides that pesky 162-game season — from their first playoff appearance in nine years.

RJ’s Fro

Back on January 23rd, I had this to say on Twitter:

Hey, what do you know? It actually happened!

It’s been such a strange and wonderful off-season here in San Diego, and Preller is the one to thank. I spoke with a few baseball insiders (SOURCES!!) during the hiring process and they all said that Preller would definitely shake things up and turn this team around. They were right.

Before Shields signed, the Padres payroll was around the same as it was last season. But I think with all the previous moves, he made believers out of the owners and they decided to pony up a little bit more money so they could sign Shields. Speaking of Shields, his contract is back loaded. He makes $10 million this year and then $21 million the remaining life of the guaranteed contract. When someone who ranked in the top 5 of every “Top Free Agents” list this off-season, signs a deal that helps out the team a bit, it makes you think he’s a believer as well. And hearing how the rest of the team has spoken all off-season and this Spring it leads me to believe that they all believers.

So let’s recap. The owners are believers. The current players are believers. Outside players are believers. I’m a big believer in belief!!!

Ghost of Ray Kroc

Ugh… Can we finally take that “big believer in belief” thing out to the country and let it run free? I’m so over that.

And by “let it run free” of course I mean shoot it in the head.

It’s refreshing to actually see a free agent that wants to be in San Diego get signed by San Diego. And not a cheap one, either. Hopefully the days of the biggest splash of the Padres offseason being signing free agents the likes of Josh Johnson or Mark Prior are dead and gone.

RJ’s Fro

You can take the Josh Byrnes version, where everyone knew he was full of it, and give it the Old Yeller treatment.

However this version is different. This team legitimately thinks they are going to win and you’d be surprised at how far that mindset can take a team. It also can quickly send a team crashing down in a blazing inferno of destruction if things don’t start out so well though. Damn Catch 22’s.

Ghost of Ray Kroc

I’m glad you mentioned starting out well. What if Shields starts out more like Edinson Volquez circa 2013, rather than Big Game James (A nickname I still hate, by the way.)? How quickly do you think Padres fans will storm the gates of Petco and demand he be designated for assignment? Because, that’s what we as Padres fans do, right?

I need another beer.


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  • Billy Lybarger

    I think the ominous slow start is only a small veil of a cloud dimming Bud Black’s world. I do think they are poistioned to win this year, and a 5-15 start could spell the end for Blackie. I really don’t know though, as AJ Preller does nothing but sing his praise, so we will see with what kind of leash he let’s Buddy run.

    • ballybunion

      I’ve suspected the slow starts are related to Bud’s excessive lefty-righty switches early in the season, that hinder the starting eight’s jelling as a team. Bud prepares the rotation in Spring Training to be ready out the gate, but not the position players. AJ may have solved that by giving Bud so few lefties in the rotation, bullpen and lineup that he can’t make the substitutions he has in the past.