Padres Editorial: A.J. is Building HIS Own Team

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Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

There has been a ton of talk about what the San Diego Padres are doing and more in particular what general manager A.J. Preller is doing. Fans are up in arms labeling the series of trades early this offseason as a fire sale or a rebuilding process.

That is the immediate reaction to any moves in which the Padres deal established talent for minor league players. I get that. I have been a Padres fan my whole life. I vividly remember the early 80’s teams and understand the pain Padres fans have gone through.

In 2015 the Padres were supposed to compete. The team dealt a ton of young prospects for veteran players who gave a sense of excitement to the city once again. The fan base was energized at the thought of playoff baseball once again. The team failed to play with any cohesiveness and was unable to have success in 2015. With that the team is currently being reorganized with a commitment towards fixing its deficiencies.

A.J. Preller inherited a farm system that he did not draft. A farm system that has been traditionally weak. The Padres had little to no resources in the Latin American countries and were way behind in that department. With Preller’s experience in dealing with Latin American players you can expect for the Padres to start cultivating young talented Latino ball players. That will eventually pay dividends at the major league level.

The trade of Craig Kimbrel was too good to walk away from. I realize Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot are just prospects, but they both easily make the Padres top three in terms of value on the minor league level. Carlos Asuaje is a young scrappy infielder that could be very useful in the major leagues and Logan Allen has a tremendous upside. Getting four plus prospects for a closer is a deal that you have to make. Kimbrel is great, one of the best out there, if not the best. However he can be replaced on a much cheaper level. Probably not with the ability of Kimbrel, but they can find an adequate closer somewhere. The Padres need a future, and the Kimbrel trade helped to provide that.

This years upcoming MLB draft will give the Padres three potential picks in the top 50 of the draft. They have an opportunity to really impact the farm system with young talent and with these picks the future can really be solidified. Add the three picks to all the young talent acquired this offseason and suddenly the Padres farm system has been overhauled with talent that Preller hand-picked. Suddenly the  farms system looks identical if not better than it did when the overhaul began. Consider the fact the major league talent is better and I really don’t know what all the fuss is about.

Preller also took over a coaching staff that had a long tenure here. He gave Bud Black a shot at managing the team, but he was not the type of leader Preller was looking for long-term. The Padres general manager’s biggest blunder was not moving on from Black earlier but the GM decided to give himself some time to try to warm up to Black. That did not happen and Black was dismissed after a slow start.

Along with Black the team moved on from Dave Roberts and Mark Kotsay. Roberts, who won the Dodgers managerial search wasn’t even interviewed by the Padres. Kotsay took a job to be the bench coach in Oakland and will be reunited there with former Padre Yonder Alonso who was acquired in a December trade. The Padres general manager had an opportunity to bring in people who share the same vision he has. Andy Green can be described as a well spoken leader with a positive attitude.

Credit: UT San Diego
Credit: UT San Diego

Green and his modern philosophy of the game and its metrics will be a refreshing addition to what has traditionally been a very slow team to adapt to new ideas. The Diamondbacks were the best team last year in defensive runs scored. Green was directly responsible for the placement of the players and should be given much credit for the improvement in the D’Back defense. The Padres should see immediate dividends defensively with him implementing new guidelines and techniques along with his general knowledge of the National League West specifically.

Preller is finally able to get his staff in place. The 2015 season was a shot at trying to catch lighting in a bottle. The team went for it. They sacrificed young talent for established major leaguers in an attempt to create a winning team. The formula was not as easy as initially believed, but the team tried. You have to respect that. They did not tear down the team in July when it was obvious the Padres were just spinning their wheels. They made a commitment to winning and they stuck to it.

Now where are we now? The team has been mostly quiet after the flurry of trades sending Joaquin Benoit, Craig Kimbrel, Casey Kelly, Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso. You can see the upside of each deal, but none of the deals addressed the teams need at shortstop. You have to figure something is in the works. There are a ton of quality free agents out there and the Padres will likely be bargain shoppers right before spring training, like they did last year signing James Shields before spring training and trading for Kimbrel the day before the season.

So perhaps judging the team right now is foolish? There are no games played in December or January. There is no standings. The team can improve and will. There are still moves to be made. A shortstop must be acquired somewhere. With that there are limitless potential scenarios that can happen. San Diego Sports fans have long been suffering. I understand that. However this regime is really trying to change that. In changing the culture of this franchise, it will take time. Preller is building his team with his minor league players and staff. The team will have a new attitude to go with its new uniforms. Will that translate into wins on the field? Only time will tell.

1 thought on “Padres Editorial: A.J. is Building HIS Own Team

  1. Mr. Clark: Good article. Mr. Preller is moving faster than any GM I have ever seen in overhauling both a farm system and the 25-man ML roster. Both really need it. A good future exercise: compare the Padres’ 40-man roster on the day Preller was hired with the 40-man roster as of opening day, 2016.

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