A.J. Preller HAS Made Huge Mistakes With the Padres

Padres A.J. Preller

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Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to what most believe, A.J. Preller has made huge mistakes when it comes to trades and transactions for the San Diego Padres.

He has done well to adjust the franchise’s mindset and cultivate young talent. You shouldn’t take that away from him.

The farm system is currently ranked #1 in all of baseball. He had a huge hand in that, and the present #1 ranking has far more merit than when the team had a #1 ranking just before he took over as the Padres’ G.M. in August of 2014. The talent in this farm system is very young and sustainable. There will be more than just one grouping of prospects that reach the major league level. This is about longevity and turning the whole franchise around. There finally is a future for this team.

Mistakes happen. You make enough trades, and sooner or later, you will get burned. That is fine. Defining and predicting a player’s worth is not an exact science. It is difficult to do. Every team makes mistakes in this regard. The Padres have done well in identifying young players and bringing them aboard. They have struggled at evaluating major leaguers and their value, but hopefully, the additions of people like Dave Cameron will help solve that issue. It takes time to turn around what has been historically a mess in San Diego.

A.J. Preller is not perfect. He has made errors. We are all human.

Here are five major mistakes he has made with this team. To all those haters. Enjoy.

Kemp trade

In my opinion, this was the worst of all his transactions. At the time, I, personally, was very angry about this addition to the team. Kemp grew on me to be tolerable, but baseball fans knew that he was not motivated on a daily basis, and committing that kind of money to him was just plain stupid. The Padres needed a face. A star. I get that. But the team could have done better if they had some patience.

The fact that the Padres had to take on someone with a checkered past, like Cuban’ infielder Hector Oliveras from the Braves, and eat his entire salary to rid themselves of Kemp is a joke. The plot thickens, as Matt Kemp is now on the Dodgers and has all the motivation in the world to terrorize the Padres every chance he gets. To top it off, the Padres dealt the Dodgers a serviceable catcher in Yasmani Grandal in the deal, plus prospects. This one is a head-scratcher. I honestly don’t know what they expected out of Kemp. His numbers were in a decline, and he had a bad attitude that was infectious.

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Turner/Myers trade and then an extension

This one gets all the hype, but I still don’t have a major issue with it (yet). I know Turner looks like a perennial all-star, but Myers still has a chance to be productive and help justify the deal to some degree. The Padres needed to take a chance, and acquiring a very young talent like Myers was exciting for this franchise on the rise. He had never played an entire season and looked poised to possibly break out as a major leaguer. He did to some degree in 2016 but fell back to being inconsistent last year. This 2018 season, he has been DL’d twice, and fans are really starting to get inpatient with him.

The trade was bad, don’t get me wrong. However, the extension of Myers after only one productive year might be the worst decision of all. The trade is what it is, but that extension of Wil could hurt the team down the road and be way worse of a transaction. The team had no reason to extend him. He was not due for free agency for years, and they committed to him far too early. It was a nice sentiment to extend a young player, but Myers had too many question marks to invest heavily into his future. In time, he may work out, but he has a long road to climb to justify this deal, and Jake Bauers is just about to start his career in Tampa. You will hear more about him as he was a young prospect thrown into the deal for the Rays. He looks to be the real deal.

Signing James Shields

Speaking of big money. The team gave James Shields four years and $75 million to lead the staff, and that’s just what he did. He led the staff right down the crapper and was called out by his owner (Ron Fowler) in his second year with the team. Shields was flipped for Fernando Tatis Jr., so this signing turned out to be a positive in the end. If not for Tatis turning into the golden child, Preller sure would hear more about this move. Shields was signed late in the free agency year, and you have to think that he had very few suitors when the Padres guaranteed him that kind of money. The need for a pitcher was there, but in the end, this was a bad move for the organization.

Credit: AP Photo

The Headley/Mitchell mess

Taking on $13 million from the Yankees with Chase Headley and Bryan Mitchell sounds alright when you factor in the Padres only had to send Jabari Blash to New York. However, Headley proved to worthless for the team with the emergence of Christian Villanueva, and Mitchell was horrendous in the starting rotation.

This was a gamble for the team, as they obviously valued Mitchell and his potential. The right-handed pitcher has great stuff, but that doesn’t always translate to success, and he has proven that once again. Mitchell could still have value in time, but this deal looks horrible presently. The fact the team had to eat $13 million of Yankee money and waste almost two months of a 25-man roster spot with the veteran Headley is embarrassing. Not A.J.’s best moment, as this one brings plenty of fuel to the current Preller Haters’ fire. Rightfully so, as it is very fresh in the minds of all the suffering Padre fans.

Galvis for De Los Santos

Presently, this one is up for evaluation, but the early returns aren’t good. Enyel De Los Santos is pitching really well for the Phillies’ Triple-A team and looks poised to make the major league team this season at some point. Galvis is a free agent at the end of the year and, though he has stabilized the position defensively for the Padres, hasn’t hit consistently for the team.

A straight one-for-one deal, this one will be easily evaluated in time. It will take just that, though, as De Los Santos and his mechanics are debatable, and so is the value of Galvis to this current team. If the Padres are somehow able to obtain a prospect for Galvis towards the trade deadline and possibly retain him after free agency opens, then this deal will look better for the team. That is a totally hypothetical situation as Galvis isn’t likely to fetch much in return, and he should be exploring a top-dollar multi-year deal on the open market. Something the Padres should be hesitant about handing out. De Los Santos is young and unproven, but this deal really looks bad.

***This piece was written with the intention to prove that the team is not perfect. Yes, they have made mistakes. It happens. For every bad acquisition the team has made, they have made ten quality ones. In my honest opinion, this franchise has never been in a better position for long-term success than they are set up for now. As a fan, it is difficult to watch. I realize that. Especially when it comes to the errors mentioned in this article. However, there is a future, and it is bright. You CANNOT judge the cultivation of the prospects now as 95% have yet to even arrive at Petco Park from Preller’s regime. Stay the course, and I predict this team will enjoy continued success in the game of baseball. I appreciate the comments. Thank you

33 thoughts on “A.J. Preller HAS Made Huge Mistakes With the Padres

  1. Nice rundown, thanks. I am glad they won last night, 6 of 7. IMO, this division is very winnable. I would really like to see AJP start make informed sound decisions. The Headley and Mitchell move was just terrible. Still dealing with Mitchell, he doesn’t have options, we have other arms, he needs to DFA’d period. I guess it is not his money. Compound that with the trade of Fan Fav Solarte, who as of tonight is hitting a cool, .256-.316-.796 w/ 12 HR & 35 RBI. That puts him for the team lead here in RBI’s and would be 2nd on the team on HR’s. He is a switchitter also. So in this combo move we went backwards, IMO. Hosmer has been very solid but not fantastic, he is providing the team with leadership and has a very good overall attitude, IMO, worth every penny for now. Urias should be in the big leagues, IMO. Catcher is got a solid back-up starting in Ellis, but Hedges before he got hurt still is not hitting well enough to be the full time starter, IMO. We need to trade for J.T. Realmuto like yesterday. Whatever it takes. Top tier arm in MiLB, and another player. I give them Gore, Quantrill, or Baez whichever one they want plus Austin Allen for Realmuto and get a prospect like, Brayan Hernandez added in also. We need AJP to start along with scouts to raise their game on evaluation and projecting who is part of the core going forward and who should be moved while they still have HYPE VALUE. Last but not least, Wil Myers, he started off OK at the plate in only 40 AB’s, hopefully he will make it back so he can add another 80 AB’s work some walks along the way and start hitting the ball out of the park, maybe he could get in a series in Denver in the mix, and then ship him out for whatever anyone will give for him BUT DON’T TAKE BACK ANY SALARY. I would load up a couple of offers at the deadline for Morton with the Astros and Gonzalez with the Nats, both who will be FA next year. I might even consider using Hand to the Astros as part of the package and then send Ross to the Nats as part of the deal there. Then sign both to 3 year extensions before the end of this year. I would consider Trading Renfroe and/or Margot at this point to get this done. Maybe Myers could be part of one of these moves. 90 Wins gets the Division Crown at the pace of this division. We need AJP to seize the moment. GO PADS!!!!

    1. Aj preller I don’t like first instead of getting a la russa or a veteran coach he gets twice kids that know nothing of major league baseball second we needed a starting pitchers badly on the dead line who we get another relief pitcher why we have tons

  2. You could add Winfield to the list of homegrown players.
    But for Preller he should have been fired after the medical records scandal. Just a sleaze bag.

  3. You should also add the decision not to trade Justin Upton for Michael Fulmer at the 2015 trade deadline.

  4. Interesting the timing. I had to check twice if this was an old link that popped up from two years ago. Hasn’t the Kemp and Myers topic been covered enough? They are the two pitch forks for the Preller critics cite the most. Look I am clearly one not bothered by either trade. After 40 trades you are gona have some not work. It was refreshing to have a new group at the controls not afraid to go after a chance compared to the last two decades of dumpster diving and reclaimation projects gone bad. It didn’t work and so we go through it post mortem.

    I think the question to be asked is why Matt committed more to Atlanta and LA than he did to the Padres. After leaving, he got in better shape and changed his attitude. He has shown value in both places and even here so in a vacuum there is some reason to trade for him. Grandal was a cancer after he got popped for roids. Right or wrong his days were numbered and the Hedges era was gona start. Could they have made a better deal, sure. But for all those calling for a Yaz breakout, he lost starts to Austin Barnes. Man he has to hate people named Austin. Just look at what Cinn got for Chapman, it not unusual to undersell players everyone knows you have to move. Put Grandal back on the Pads and they are better but how much better?

    Trea Turner to date is hard to stomach but if Fernando Tatis is legit, he can make that one disappear. Keep in mind as good as Trea is his numbers have come back to earth from his ROY season. BA is down each season, SLG is down each season, and his OPS+ is just above league avaerage. The league has adjusted and now we will see if he adjusts back. The last point on him is while he’s just one of the band in Wash. he would be the lead man in San Diego with not much else around him. The Hosmer signing would make him a better fit than Wil. It’s water under the bridge so it doesn’t really matter.

    As far as the Galvis trade goes I go back to the arguement I started with. The new group doesn’t just sit there and say it’s another year in the cellar, more of the same like the Moorad years and the end of Moores years. The Mitchell move and Galvis move in my mind both addressed needs and if it works out a WC spot could be possible. This was before Lamet injury, Perdomo not advancing, Chase not providing the on base bump they were hoping for carrying over from NY. Wils body falling apart. Hunter Renfroe being non existent. Manny not being able to shake the soph slump. Asuaje and Spangenberg just treading water. And even with all that and the April they had; they are still 7.5 back in the division and 9 in the WC. Although EDLS is closer to the big leagues and appears to be in the ML before the ASB, Galvis deal had to be made. You remove Galvis defense from this team and they are the worst record in the league. The naysayers will say yeah, they weren’t gona be competitive anyways should have just kept EDLS and finished DFL. To me I like the fact Andy try’s to win the game every night. There has been too much loosing to long and conditioning the new kids that’s ok isn’t the message to send.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not married to AJ regardless. If there is a viable option that would get better results I will embrace it but who? AJ is nowhere close to the worst GM. Fans in Miami (Mike Hill), Cinn (Riggleman)Chicago (Hahn), Seattle (Dipoto), Baltimore (Duquette) although Angelos is the problem. Detroit (Avila) would all take AJ to what they currently have.

    1. And if they had the worst record in the league it would be a blessing in disguise because they wouldn’t be giving fans any false hope of a playoff push this year and would draft higher in 2019. Galvis trade was stupid.

  5. Thank you for the honesty James, I feel like many of the writers on this site really ignore any kind of analysis, especially when it comes to critique. In my opinion, I think Preller’s job is to put a major league team on the field and have them competitive. The Padres are not professional, competitive, or even fun to watch. He is failing at his job. And if marketing and media hype is going to continue to promote the idea that the best is coming because of our prospects, please let me know who the Padres have produced from the minors under Preller, or the many years before that. For all we know, our Tatis, Urias, whoever, become the next Ruben Rivera, Renfroe, or Margot… or god forbid Anthony Rizzo. This is the reality of this organization.

    1. You left out Sean Burroughs and Shane Abner….you are correct that you have to produce at the MLB level, otherwise what’s the point?

      1. I fact checked what James wrote about “The Padres having the #1 Farm system in MLB before Preller arrived” and it is true. In 2012 the Padres did indeed have the #1 rated system in MLB. I think alot of fans who hang their hat on our current farm system should be reminded of that. It does not guarantee success.

  6. Great article! I agree with all, except, to paraphrase Casey Stengel, “You see this guy here, Turner? He has a chance to be a perennial all-star. You see this guy here, Myers? He has a chance to be 30.”

    It is really frustrating, to see the Padres not only pay players to not play for them but to have them quish them. Secondly, for those that point to the farm system as highly rated, just what does that mean? Is there anyone on the planet, that says in 2014, “Boss, we won’t see any results until 8 seasons from now, and BTW I need to make a trade for a washed up pitcher, take on about 13M in salary, for a draft pick, that we gave up in the Hosmer deal. Oh, and I still think than Bryan Mitchell is a top flight prospect. I talked to Chase today, and recommended an advisor to invest the $13M we are paying him. Uh, he politely declined.

    What further evidence do we have in order to get someone in here who actually thinks that MLB matters more than the Fort Wayne Tin Caps?

  7. Great article! I agree with all, except, to paraphrase Casey Stengel, “You see this guy here, Turner? He has a chance to be a perennial all-star. You see this guy here, Myers? He has a chance to be 30.”

  8. I hate to pile on Preller – AGAIN – but we should NOT forget who suspended him 30 days for cheating! Yep, MLB found him guilty of that too. To me and others, that was huge! But our owners did nothing except give him an extension. Are you kidding me? Even national baseball writers with great reputations were astounded that Preller wasn’t fired! Anyway, I love reading all the other posts by super serious Padres fans. So many of you have a firm grasp of the situation as we see today. I do feel bad for Andy Green. He’s a good man and doing what he can but let’s not forget he didn’t buy the groceries. That was AJ Preller…. Enough said.

    1. I agree Gary. I do not like the image Preller presents to the rest of the league for our team. He is like a used car salesman. Suspended not once, but twice by MLB. No spot for this guy in a classy organization.

      The more I watch the current Padres the less blame I put on Andy Green. Most of what he does is understandable given the tools he has to work with.

  9. Thanks for the article James, and for addressing the non-positive side of Preller. He (and all of us) should get credit where credit is due, whether it is for a success or failure. He has made some good moves (especially with Paddock and Naylor, and maybe/hopefully w/Espinoza), and he (and staff) should get credit, but both sides of the ledger should be weighed in measuring a GM. I guess I would disagree with the severity of how bad his moves are/were, particularly the Myers deal. That has set back the franchise in so many ways (lead off; an always sought after shortstop who plays defensive and offense; not to mention Bauers and Ross), which led to “having to” invest even more in Myers, which, when that busted, led to (apparently) having to an absurd overpay of a below-average first baseman who wasn’t really needed, and for EIGHT years! But perhaps the biggest grief and concern is how poorly he does with leverage. Other GM’s (or agents) seem to leverage him, rather than the other way around … or even if it was a “fair trade” that helped all sides. The Mitchell move wasn’t just bad, he profoundly helped the Yankees, and he could have done much better. With Hosmer, he didn’t have to go 8 years, or even 7 or 6 (or perhaps 5! … no one else was really in the bidding), nor did he have to pay $20 mil/year. So it is not just about if a trade or signing worked out (that is important) it is how much was actually gained at the time, given the leverage. That is what good traders do (in all walks of life) and Preller routinely gets taken (he did the Dodgers a favor just taking on Kemp’s contract, he didn’t have to give anything away). Anyway, thanks again

    1. Agreed on Myers Tommy T, well put. I am still baffled that anyone on any planet trades a potential starting SS for a potential starting OF, and that’s essentially what the Trea Turner trade boiled down to. Historically, great teams are strong up the middle and we as Padre fans know how massively hard it is to get a quality SS. Even if Myers somehow rallies and equals out in offense and defense with Turner, it’s still a massive misstep by Preller- I don’t know who in the world was going to pay Wil anything close that (just as you mentioned with Hosmer, which agreed, just sort of looks like a cover-up move). Oh well, this is the same GM that threw 80 mill at the Giant Panda……….. i guess it could be worse?

  10. The Myers extension is puzzling. That Preller signed another first baseman to an even bigger deal a year later is borderline insane.

    Myers always struggled to stay healthy playing in the OF. In 2016 & 2017 they move him to 1B and he plays 155 games a year. So what do you do? Sign someone else to play 1B of course!

    Honestly I cannot even blame Andy Green anymore, it flat out isn’t his fault. Preller won’t send Margot down because AJ traded for him, so Andy bats him 8th that’s all he can do. Preller trades for Mitchell and we cannot send him down either so Andy has to use the bullpen to start games with Erlin or like Sunday use the whole pen.

    Jankowski IMO is not getting a fair shake with this team because he isn’t an AJ guy. He has outplayed Margot in every way (yes even defensively) yet the Padres are still hesitant to make him an everyday player. Why?

  11. Appreciate the hard-hitting article, James!
    I admire Preller, but he is hardly perfect and we need to recognize that fact.
    Still, look at all the talent he has acquired: Tatis, Paddack, Naylor, Espinoza, Lucchesi, Buddy Reed, Esteury Ruiz, Baez, Morejon to name a few — I seriously doubt any other GM could have done what he’s done in such a short period of time.

  12. Agree 100 % with the article. I consider by far that Preller is the worst GM in baseball & just a so so scout.

      1. We have the best rated talent Phil. Keep in mind that really no one has emerged from our minor league system and done anything in recent years. The Padres have always had massive issues with player development and outside of Tony Gwynn and Kevin McReynolds, I’m having a hard time naming starting players that we developed (who then stayed on the team). A lot of us are “drinking the koolaid” that the system is the best but until players emerge from our system consistently and remain with us in the majors, it doesn’t matter how good we are “on paper”. Look at teams like the Giants, Dodgers, Cards, Yankees, Red Sox, Braves, etc… they all develop talent or take ours and develop it. Look at Rizzo with the Cubs and our current glut of similarly rated players who can’t quite get there.

  13. For every mistake, he makes several good trades.

    First off, the Mitchell/Headley trade doesn’t really affect the Padres other than money. Blash would have been released and they took a flyer on Mitchell. No harm/no foul.

    James Shields signing got us Tatis. Sure we paid a lot of money, but we got our #1 prospect out of it. He was told to go for it by ownership, so he did. It didn’t work out, but we won that trade.

    De los Santos hasn’t even put on a Phillies uniform yet. A lot of players are great in AAA and then stink it up. We needed a solid SS and Freddy is just that. He’s been on fire lately at the plate and is solid defensively. Tatis is not ready yet and I wouldnt be opposed to a two year extension

    Preller had definitely won more than he’s lost.

    Kimbrel (both times), Ruiz/Strahm from KC, Rodney, Cashner, Shields, etc.

    The one I think he really screwed up on was the Gyorko trade.

    1. Well said

      No GM is going to score on every trade, it’s not bloody human to expect that. You can blame three of those on the “win now” BS that I think should be placed at the feet of Mike Dee more than AJP. And FWIW in regards to the Myers trade, Turner hasn’t played over 100 games in a season for his entire MLB career and J. Ross has been meh. I’m not sure that’s as big of a loss as Padre fans like to beat their breasts about, though the Myers extension has lead to responsive moves like Hosmer.

      Kemp to me is his biggest failing ESPECIALLY in basically throwing him aside to eat Oliveras contract when that off-season the number of DHs was very low, that was stupid. You could’ve got something more valuable for him than that.

      DLS is still a question mark and I’m not ready to claim it was a failure until DLS starts putting up numbers in the majors. It wasn’t an ideal trade but I salute AJP’s thinking to end the SS issue and Galvis has played much better than the last few years of padres shortstops.

      But still the number of big big successes IMHO outweigh ALL those failures.

    2. People are quick to point out all the bad trades but what about Fernando Rodney for Chris Paddock or how about just think how did we get DLS in the first place. A straight up trade for Joaquin Benoit.. I would say that’s a good trade but don’t hear about that trade.. or Derek Norris for Pedro Avila? At the end of the day you brought us 2 legitimate bad trades and we can talk about 5-6 great trades he already made..

      1. Paddack has played a combined 25 games in 4 years, never pitched in anything higher than A ball.

        Avila has played more but he is still hovering at the single A level in now his 4th year as a professional.

        These are the players that AJ Preller is trying to convince people will return the Pads to the playoffs?

        I agree with James article 100%. Preller is treading water at best.

        1. So fire him because none of the teen-early 20 yr olds have made it to the Majors yet? Not applaud a man who built the deepest and most talented system in baseball because the kids haven’t made it yet. Basically you’d fire every GM after 1-2 years.

          Nice dude.

          1. Yeah but Loren, the talent still has to develop. The Pads are awful at that, to put it lightly.

    3. Galvis is only going to be a solid shortstop for us for one year! And don’t say “We can extend him” because we didn’t have to trade for him to do that.

  14. Nice article – very honest and well written and yes, I am a Preller hater! With all we have seen and so much of it misguided and wrong in my eyes, I’m not sure how many “owners” would give a GM like him more time and rope. I’d remove him now. Why? Because the Padres are downright boring and bad to watch. I’d love to know what the TV rating are. Anyone know? I can certainly see too many empty seats at Petco. We will see what happens at the end of the year.

    1. They are # 16 out of 30 teams in attendance this season. Which is up from last year.
      I’m not sure what the exact numbers are, but I recall reading an article that said the Padres are the the top rated prime time programming in the San Diego area. Beating both broadcast and ad supported cable competition head to head.

      1. Well we all know why attendance will always be decent at Petco as long as our on-field product sucks. Thank the fans of the Giants, Dodgers, Cubs, Mets, Braves………..

    2. Well Fowler is only concerned with money and spectacle (and while that’s his job, he literally is only concerned with that) so Preller is safe for years i’d imagine. The Padres can be this bad and the club will make tons of cash anyway. Why spend more to get better (ummm add freakin pitching) then?

      1. I don’t agree otherwise he wouldnt have allowed $80 million to be spent on J2 and draft signings in 2016

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