The past off-season will go down in San Diego Padres history as the most exciting and active in franchise history. The expectations for the 2015 Padres were high, but ultimately the deficiencies in the team were exposed and the team failed to play with any consistency. Management has not thrown in the towel however and is still attempting to take this franchise back into relevancy.
It is no secret that the Padres have problems and the team is far from being a dynasty. Inflated payroll from the contracts of Matt Kemp, James Shields and Melvin Upton Jr.are troubling. The team went wild last season eating up contracts in return for young talent, and that move may have difficult repercussions in the long run.
Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Johnny Barbato, Burch Smith, Jake Bauers, R.J. Alvarez, Jesse Hahn, Max Fried, Matt Wisler, Zach Eflin, Mallex Smith, and Dustin Peterson were all the future of the team. Each could eventually be quality Major League talent eventually but nothing is ever guaranteed in the game of baseball. A.J. Preller took a chance in gaining some quality Major League players, but only the future will indicate if his trades were bad or not.
In order to fix the Padres, the team must delve into gaining a new franchise philosophy. For far too long this team has prided itself on being competitive. Not in the terms of competing for a championship, but competitive in terms of remaining average. The goal every year of the Padres always seemed to be finish at the .500 level. With a goal like that, the team has only frustrated fans to a whole new level.
Even worse is the fact that finishing at or around the .500 mark doesn’t get you a top draft pick. The Padres have consistently drafted in the middle of the first round. There last five first round selections were with the 13th (Trea Turner), 13th (Hunter Renfroe), 7th (Max Fried), 10th (Cory Spangenberg) and 9th (Karsten Whitson) picks. Decent selections with their first round picks with the exception of Whitson in the 2010 draft. However they consistently miss a chance at a top 3 overall selection. There last top three pick was in 2009 (3rd overall) when the team selected Donovan Tate out of high school. Tate has fizzled as a professional and the selection will go down as one of the worst in recent history.
There is no way to undo what has already been done. The team has made some horrible draft selections in the past and instead of dwelling on that fact, they must move on. A.J. Preller has an extensive background in scouting and player development. He should be able to improve the future of this team as far as draft picks go. There is no easy fix to overhaul your player development and Minor League systems. The Padres have traditionally been very weak in the development of players in the Latin countries such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. With Preller that too should improve but it will take time to reap the benefits of him as general manager.
The arrival of a new manager on the field should provide some clarity in the Padres search for an identity. Hopefully the team chooses a man who can teach and guide this team. They need a manager who can help develop talent and provide a “Padres Way” of playing the game of baseball. After selecting a new skipper the team will have some big decisions to make regarding the 2016 season.
For this team to compete next season they must improve on the team’s defense and also must obtain balance throughout the lineup. The Padres team struggled to hit consistently and the pitching was an overall disappointment too. The team can succeed in 2016, but they must be careful not to sacrifice too much of the team’s future for players via trade. A.J. Preller was crowned a genius for his efforts last season, but in reality he will earn that label with a playoff appearance from the 2016 Padres. Not an easy task, but he is certainly putting in the effort to do so. That in itself is a positive thing for Padres fans.