The future is bright in San Diego and there are reasons to be excited, but the 2019 season is a year where the team needs to get collectively better at the major league level.
For the past few seasons, all the talk from the current San Diego Padres ownership has been about “the future.”
Since 2016, A.J. Preller has been overseeing an actual rebuild. After his big experiment in 2015 where he acquired All-Stars that amounted to nothing, he has shipped off those players and rebuilt a farm system he tore down shortly after he arrived.
The result is the top farm system in Major League Baseball. The Padres have nine players ranked in the Top 100, headlined by Fernando Tatis, Jr., who is ranked the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball.
The Padres have been absolutely dismal in 2018. The team finished with a 71-91 record in 2017, good enough for fourth place in the NL West. It was nice to finish ahead of the San Francisco Giants and look down on their misery. In 2018, the Padres are on pace to lose 100 games. They are the worst team in the National League, and are on track to select a player with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 MLB First Year Player Draft.
Last season was all about the “tank.” This season should not be about the tank, but here we are. Even after signing Eric Hosmer, the team is worse. The offense has been stagnant. The pitching has been tough to watch. The bullpen, however, has been the bright spot for the team, even after trading Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.
The Padres have called up Luis Urias, and just the announcement brought some excitement to the fan base. Imagine the response when Tatis, Jr. is added to the 40-man roster. That could be as early as Opening Day 2019. Fans might be watching a shortstop battle between Tatis, Jr. and Freddy Galvis after signing an extension. (Just kidding… or am I?)
Padres fans have been hearing for a while now that the future is bright. Fans want to believe it, but watching this team lose so much in 2018 makes it difficult. Sure, half the people in the current starting lineup won’t be around going forward. The chances of watching Jose Pirela and Cory Spangenberg lessen by the day.
The 2019 season cannot be anything like 2018. Fans are tired of hearing “the future is bright” when the present is so bad. People can read farm recaps and look at prospect rankings, but what they want is a winning major league product. Fans don’t want to see Clayton Richard run off of the mound, just like they don’t want to see the offense get no-hit for more than half of a game. Even if they don’t contend in 2019, the Padres at least need to be a team worth watching.
This offseason will say a lot about how committed this regime is to turning the future into the present. The Padres don’t have a legitimate staff ace. They need to address a cluttered outfield. They have several prospects to protect from the Rule 5 draft. The offense needs to find a way to get on base (I’m looking at you, Matt Stairs).
If 2019 is anything like 2018, Padres ownership might as well talk to themselves when they talk about the future. Building a contender is a matter of progression. This team has regressed in 2018. However, as bad as this team has been, the front office should know what needs to be addressed before next season.
Your move, Padres.
Mike is the sports editor for the Fayette Advertiser, and has been with East Village Times since 2015. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report. He is an avid Padres fan who is keeping the faith and trusting the process.