This afternoon, after the trade deadline passed with the Padres making just one small move, trading OF Abraham Almonte to Cleveland for LHP Marc Rzepczynski, Padres GM AJ Preller was not made immediately available to the media, let alone me, not the media whatsoever. However, I decided to interview him anyway.
The following is the full transcript of the interview that did not occur this afternoon between myself and AJ Preller. I repeat, these are not quotes from AJ Preller.
VM Nate: AJ, this is Nathan from The Vocal Minority, what’s going on man?
AJ Preller: Not much, dude.
VMN: First, I have a personal question: Do you know Kimble?
AJP: Whoa! EQ Kimble, the insurance man?
VMN: good enough! Nice to speak with you, brother. Fullerton Chapter, Delta class, fall 2000.
AJP: Nice. Fullerton? That’s Costner’s chapter right?
VMN: Yeah, never got to meet him though. Anyway, so the trade deadline just finished up, and you guys were the talk of baseball leading up to it. Then, as the deadline passed, you guys didn’t really do anything. What happened?
AJP: Well, you know, we did get Zeppy (Rzepczynski) from Cleveland, or Silent R as Steiny (Assistant GM Josh Stein) likes to call him. We like him a lot. Really good strikeout numbers, experienced lefty reliever, under control through 2016. We think he’s really going to help us down the stretch.
VMN: Right. But leading up to the deadline, the Padres were expected to sell, shed some future payroll, and look to move free agents like Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy, and Joaquin Benoit. None of that happened, and you actually added a little bit of payroll, both this year and next.
AJP: I don’t worry much about payroll, man. I feel like I can do pretty much whatever I need to do. Ron, Pete, and Mike…I mean, can we speak off the record for a second? (silence) I pretty much have those dudes wrapped around my finger. I could convince them to move to Los Angeles, if I wanted to. (laughs)
VMN: Burn. (laughs)
AJP: As far as selling versus buying, I don’t really like either of those terms. I always like to explore the market, but what I’m focused on is assets, added them, maintaining them, making the team better now and for the future. We had a bunch of stuff going on, we had talks with just about every team over the past week or so, but we just weren’t getting what we were looking for. We really like the team we have, we think we’re really just starting to see the guys gel and hit their stride, and we’re going to ride this out and see what happens, reassessing after the season’s over.
VMN: A lot of rumors centered around Tyson Ross and Craig Kimbrel, maybe even packaging them for a big prospect haul. Can you comment on that?
AJP: Love those guys. Obviously the rest of the league does too. They are both under team control for a couple more years, and we’re going to try to win with them rather than without them. All I really want to say about trade speculation though is that we had a lot of discussions about a lot of players, and we put our cards out on the table, but we never felt like we were getting offers for any of our guys that would make us better than if we kept them.
VMN: Over the winter, you traded a lot of young prospects to get better immediately. Do you feel any pressure to quickly rebuild that prospect base?
AJP: I don’t feel much of anything most of the time, dude. Sometimes I get a little pumped when something awesome happens, but most of the time I’m just like this, a little tired and a little hungry and even keel.
VMN: Let me rephrase: do you want to quickly rebuild your prospect base?
AJP: Yeah, I think it’s fair to say that we’re always trying to get better at all levels of our organization, We’re confident in our staff now, and we feel good about a lot of young guys. Hunter (Renfroe) is looking pretty good right now, Ruddy (Giron) down in low-A has had a break out year, and you could see (Colin) Rea up for a sneak peak later this summer. We’re always looking for talent, but like I said, pressure? Definitely not.
VMN: Last couple questions then I’ll let you go. I hear you’re a big fan of chicken fingers. Is that right?
AJP: Bro, love me some fingers.
VMN: I knew it! Where are your favorite places to get ’em?
AJP: Excellent question. Well, my favorite place isn’t in San Diego, and you’re in Ohio, right? I think they have some locations there. It’s this place called Raising Cane’s. All they do is fingers, and they’re spectacular. Another place that has great fingers is DQ. People think they just do ice cream, but they got a great chicken fingers basket that comes with fries and texas toast. Always stoked when I can dig in on that. Late night? Denny’s fingers are decent enough. Better than their pancakes, for sure.
VMN: Dipping sauce on the fingers?
AJP: I like everything. I mix it up. BBQ, ranch, blue cheese, sweet & sour, honey mustard. I really dig when a place has a house sauce. Gimme that, ya know? (laughs)
VMN: Awesome. Thanks so much for the time, AJ.
AJP: Anytime, bro. In the bond.
VMN: For sure.
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