This actually transitions well into our next point. The new Padres ownership could not stand pat and bank on the farm system as had been done in years past. This strategy had yet to work for the Padres and was not going to work with what they had following last season. Jazayerli says that he believes that Preller “confused activity with progress.” But for a Padres organization mired in mediocrity with a fanbase mired in apathy, this sort of activity was progress. While the Padres may not be what was expected on the field there has been a renewed interest in the team both locally, as well as nationally. Something that is completely overlooked and ignored in the contents of the article.
To me it seems that Jazayerli is trying to make broad assumptions about a franchise that he really does not have a clue about. I doubt he watched one game last year. The Padres were painful to watch last season and more than anything else A.J. Preller and the Padres ownership group wanted to put butts in the seats. And they have succeeded with that despite not fielding a necessarily “good team.” Again this lack of knowledge about the Padres organizational history and issues seems glaring in its omission from this article.
Moving on from the general lack of awareness of the Padres organization, and why the need for action was great, I also disagree with Jazayerli about what the Padres would have been this year and in the future without all of these moves. I can agree completely with his assessment of Yasmani Grandal to an extent. Trading him for Matt Kemp was a poor decision. But it was a decision that was meant to breathe life back into the franchise. And it did just that. Beyond that Grandal was a guy that had worn out his welcome in the Padres clubhouse and simply needed to go, regardless of his potential as a long-term asset for the Padres.
Yes the Padres gave up Jesse Hahn to acquire Derek Norris to replace Grandal. But given their pitching depth at the time could you blame them? And you have to think that Shields is an upgrade over Hahn in the long-term despite his age and larger contract. Yes the Padres gave up quite a haul for both Wil Myers and Justin Upton. But Jazayerli referring to Justin Upton as “not a superstar” is really quite laughable. They gave up some talent to get him but that talent had question marks. On the top of the list was Jace Peterson, a guy who has outperformed expectations, and would have the Padres third string second baseman at best, behind both Gyorko and Spangenberg. Beyond that, Max Fried is a Tommy John recipient with a high risk. The other players in that deal could be good but who really knows at this point.
One of the most laughable points Jazayerli makes when discussing Padres off-season acquisitions is mentioning the Seth Smith for Brandon Maurer trade and saying Smith has been better than all of the Padres current outfielders. This may be true on some statistical basis but would you rather have Justin Upton or Seth Smith? How about Brandon Maurer or Seth Smith? I rest my case. Seth Smith is a serviceable back up outfielder with terrible platoon spits. Not a guy to write home about. Beyond these evaluations, Jazayerli is overvaluing the production so far of Matt Wisler and Joe Ross and treating them like they are Cy Young caliber pitchers, when in reality they are perhaps solid three starters at best. Beyond that, who really could have predicted Cameron Maybin would actually stay healthy for once and not suck completely?
Of all the points in Jazayerli’s piece that I disagree with most, it is his statement near the end of his piece; “The tragedy is that Preller didn’t have to do anything.” Beyond that he states that the Padres future actually could have been “exciting” had they chosen to not do anything. This belies the point made earlier about the Padres ownership needing to do something, ANYTHING, to show that they weren’t going to run the Padres on mediocrity and promises as had been done in the past. For the sake of the Padres fans, these changes needed to happen whether the team was going to be promising or exciting long-term or not. Which they weren’t.
Let’s compare the Padres current roster this season, with what the roster could have been had Preller not decided to tear everything down.
|Current 2015 Padres||Possible 2015 Padres|
|SP: James Shields||SP: Tyson Ross|
|SP: Tyson Ross||SP: Andrew Cashner|
|SP: Andrew Cashner||SP: Jesse Hahn|
|SP: Ian Kennedy||SP: Joe Ross|
|SP: Brandon Morrow/Odrisamer Despaigne||SP: Matt Wisler|
|C: Derek Norris||C: Yasmani Grandal|
|1st Base: Yonder Alonso||1st Base: Yonder Alonso|
|2nd Base: Jedd Gyorko/Cory Spangenberg||2nd Base: Jedd Gyorko/Cory Spangenberg/Jace Peterson|
|3rd Base: Yangervis Solarte/Will Middlebrooks||3rd Base: Yangervis Solarte|
|SS: Clint Barmes/Alexi Amarista||SS: Trea Turner|
|Left Field: Justin Upton||Left Field: Seth Smith|
|Center Field: Wil Myers/Will Venable/Melvin Upton||Center Field: Cameron Maybin|
|Right Field: Matt Kemp||Right Field: Will Venable|
What this chart does demonstrate is that, despite Jazayerli’s evaluations and assumptions, the Padres did not lose that much talent and would really not be in that much of a better position long-term than they are now. The Padres farm system is obviously more depleted than it was in the offseason but that is not an irreversible problem. Despite his statement that the Padres cannot get back the same talent that they gave up in getting Kimbrel, Upton, Kemp, Myers, and others, it still stands to reason that the Padres still have a chance to improve their team. The trade deadline is notorious for teams that are in playoff position buying assets at a premium and the Padres hope to extract that premium. Beyond that, Preller is a master in the international market, and that is a part of his job that he has yet to show his talent for up to this point.
A.J. Preller has made some mistakes let’s let that be known. Whether they were his own mistakes or mistakes wrought by following the wishes of the Padres ownership is unknown, but at this point it really doesn’t matter. A.J. Preller did something. And something was just what the Padres needed. They may have lost some minor league talent but not nearly enough to consider the franchise destroyed. A.J. Preller is not yet even one year into his reign as general manager and should still be given the benefit of the doubt. A.J. Preller may be a teardown artist. But you can’t say he stood by and did nothing.