First post in the books, so how did I do? Well, Bryant wanted to fire me, as he can in no way condone the mass consumption of Budweiser American Ale. Actually he doesn’t condone pretty much any consumption of an AB-InBev product. And as I was sipping on a Not Your Father’s Root Beer I thought I probably shouldn’t support non-craft beer either. I fetched my wife her go to Stella Artois, made sure we had chilled down the Zeigenbock, and plotted a path to be more craft supportive. It’s going to be tough, but I’ll keep you posted.
I also thought I was a little to mean spirited in my post. I was trying to be funny, but may have come across with too much hate in my snark. I also want to apologize to Taylor Lindsey. I’ve never met his mom, nor seen her, but I am sure she is a lovely lady and her looks had no bearing on him remaining in the Padres Top 30 Prospects list. I read this week that he cleared waivers and was designated to the Padres AA team, the San Antonio Missions. He is no longer on the 40 man roster and has struggled the entire season. It reminds me how difficult this game is to master, even for those highly touted from the start of their career. It’s too easy to be a critic, and I really didn’t need to pile on.
This leads me to my current state of fandom of the Padres. Anybody that considers themselves a fan of this franchise knows it isn’t easy. I honestly admire fans like Jess (@MissPadre) who can stay positive no matter their record, the score, who is playing short, anything. Sure she voices disappointment when her man Matt Kemp doesn’t hit her a home run each time he is up, but I’ve rarely seen someone who pulls so hard for the home team. You can’t read what she says and not feel compelled to at least smile. She is like my happy fandom muse, and I strive to be more positive because it is too easy to be negative, and too easy to criticize.
This isn’t to say we can’t be critical of the Pads though. They just finished the easiest part of their schedule (34 games) at 20-14. They still sit behind the Diamondbacks and two games under .500. Fangraphs projects them to finish the season with 80 wins, which would give them the 15th best projected record. No protected pick. No playoff either. But does 80 wins mean something? They could beat the projection by a couple of wins and be above .500 for the first time since 2010. If you were to tell me this team was going to finish just above .500 for the season when this year began, I might have been disappointed, but realistically, I’d consider this season a positive step forward. I liked what AJ Preller did this past off-season, but always considered 2016 as the year to really push for the playoffs.
That’s not to say a finish above .500 wouldn’t be welcomed. After years of meandering to 76 or 77 wins, a step over 81 will be fine. The push for bigger and better things for next season will seem a bit more realistic from the vantage point of a team that finishes with a winning record the preceding season. At least if the core unit is kept together. But will this team be kept together? Will the leadership change? If Pat Murphy can get this team playing winning baseball, does he force the front office’s hand in retaining him for next season? Would this team be able to be cohesive if they enter next spring with their third manager? I was a proponent of letting Bud Black go. It was time for a new direction. I do fear keeping Murphy is keeping most of the same directives, and I don’t really think this team can be molded under Preller’s vision if he is not being supported by “his” guy. But I will go on record saying I think Preller needs to sweep the entire coaching staff out, and bring in a new guy that brings in his own staff.
As to the team, I stated in my last post I thought Yonder Alonso would be out. I still see him being sent away. The Padres seem to like Wil Myers as a first base option, but long term, I wish Nike would develop a decent mitt that Matt Kemp could use. Long term I can’t see Kemp staying in the outfield. Let Myers play a corner spot and have Kemp spend the entire spring getting comfortable at first. An outfield of Justin Upton, Travis Jankowski and Wil Myers would be an upgrade in defense, while maintaining high productivity on offense. This of course is predicated on resigning Upton. It’s time to see if Ron Fowler can truly live off food stamps once they break the bank extending Upton. I’ve had a few exchanges with @poglankford about how to back-load a deal while the higher contracts of Kemp, James Shields and Melvin Upton Junior play out. Preller has shown a knack for being creative, and @poglankford has proposed very interesting ways to allow flexibility. By the way, if you don’t follow Pog, you are doing Twitter wrong. He once blogged as Ray Lankford for the Sacrifice Bunt, but is retired from blogging, but stays current on the Padres when tweeting.
I could also see Derek Norris being dealt and Austin Hedges being promoted to the number one catcher. The team will have to add a competent back-up, but the last month or so has shown Hedges is making great strides in becoming a primary guy. This is not a bash against Norris. I am a fan, but I think he could be valuable on the market and may bring the elusive competent shortstop the Padres so desperately need. If the Padres can add a shortstop, bring back a healthy Myers, extend Upton and find a replacement for Ian Kennedy (or retain him), I think this team truly has the makings of a playoff team for ’16.
I’ll wrap this up by previewing future posts. I was hoping to get a uniform put together as a suggestion for next season, but my Paint skills have failed me. I am a supporter of bringing back brown as a primary color. I’ll even say the hint of yellow shown in the All-Star logo could be viewed as a positive. I really think the Padres can figure out a classy way to have brown and yellow work again. And then if the team insists on blue, have an alternate uniform be blue. Just think of it. Ronny Fowler can be all hipsterish wearing throw back blue. That is, if he could afford the gear.
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