In the game of modern baseball, you either have to be rebuilding for the future or going for it all. There is no middle ground.
For years, the Padres have been in that middle ground, and that has definitely set back this franchise.
Presently, the team has a plan and they are executing it. That is a wonderful thing for Padres’ fans, as they have longed to root for a team that is relevant in Major League Baseball. It will take time though, as there is no easy fix for what previous regimes have done to the Friars.
When A.J. Preller was hired at the end of the 2014 season, there was a feeling that things would change. And they have.
For years, the Padres had not cultivated any talent from the international market. Not since the days of Roberto Alomar, Sandy Alomar Jr., and Carlos Baerga have the Padres had a constant production of international talent reaching the professional team. Rymer Liriano was about the closest thing, but he is hardly considered a successful prospect. Read about that here.
Things have changed, as the Padres have spent nearly $80 million on the market since it opened in July of 2016, and they still have time to spend some more before the current period ends in mid June. Luis Robert has been rumored to be a possibility, though a signing of the Cuban outfielder would come with a 100 percent penalty tax to the team.
With the addition of players like, Luis Almanzar, Jorge Ona, and Adrian Morejon leading the way, its like the Padres had two separate drafts this past summer. The team selected Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Hudson Potts, and company in the MLB draft, within months of these international signings. The farm system boomed into a top-5 system within a month, and would probably be higher except for the fact the majority of the talent is at the lower minor league levels. It’s an exciting time to be a Padres’ fan. You just need to have a little patience. Not an easy thing for a fan base that has been constantly battered though.
Not since the days in the mid 80’s (Tony Gwynn, Kevin McReynolds, Carmelo Martinez), have the Padres had a solid nucleus of young players in the major leagues to go with a burgeoning farm system. Hunter Renfroe, Wil Myers, and Manuel Margot represent the future. They are all establishing themselves currently on the roster, and they will be joined shortly by the next wave of continuous talent that will arrive at the shores of Petco Park. A tsunami-sized wave should hit around the 2019-2020 season, when the majority of the Padres’ young minor league players will be knocking at the major league door.
As for now, the team is in full rebuild mode (Shhh don’t tell ownership), and that is perfectly fine. As long as they do it right, then everything should be ok. They need to steer clear of big contracts right now, and need to keep all their current prospects, unless they are blown away with an offer that makes sense. Formulating a “Padres Way” is vital for long-term success. Players must be brought up within the system, and taught to play the game a consistent way. From rookie ball to the major leagues, there must be a consistent philosophy of the game and that must be embraced by all in the organization.
The team is not in the middle…they are presently towards the bottom end of the standings. All the “Tank” talk you hear currently is from a portion of the fan base that realize the team isn’t going to win. If your team is not set up to succeed, then there is no sense acting like you can. Giving a half-assed attempt to compete only damages your franchise in the long run, and the Padres have continually done exactly that. They have finished in the middle of the pack for over a decade. In doing so, they have collected draft picks in the mid round.
Since the team drafted Matt Bush with the first pick of the 2004 draft, they have selected Cesar Carrillo (18), Matt Antonelli (17), Nick Schmidt (23), Allan Dykstra (23), Donavan Tate (3), Karsten Whitson (9), Cory Spangenberg (10), Max Fried (7), Hunter Renfroe (13), Trea Turner (13), and Cal Quantrill (8) with their first selections. That averages out to the 13th pick in the draft, and that is pretty much smack dab in the middle. Reading through that list, you will not be impressed with many of the names, except for those within the last few years. That is a problem.
The failed attempt to draft and cultivate talent is not the complete issue, although that has been a glaring weakness for this franchise. Having the third pick in this upcoming June draft will help the team build a solid core of players. If they are able to secure another top-5 pick in the June 2019 draft, then more power to them. The “Tank” talk is real and it does have merit. Being in the middle is no way to build for longevity. A.J. Preller understands this, and that is why this team is stockpiling prospects like they are lottery tickets to a billion-dollar raffle. He is improving the team’s odds for success and nothing can stop this franchise if they stay the course. Keep piling up those prospects, and when the time is right, strike for success. The Padres are no longer in the middle and that is a great thing. There is now only one way to go from here. And that’s up.