In the history of the San Diego Padres, the team has struggled to find an identity. There have been tons of ups and down in the franchises relationship with its fans. Last offseason, with the addition of A.J. Preller, the mostly dormant fan base had been revitalized.
When you add James Shields, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers in one offseason, the fans will come out of the woodwork to pledge their allegiance to the team. That happened, but with the inconsistent play of the team, slowly Padres fans began to go back into their holes. It was inevitable with the play of the team last year, as the Padres were frustrating to watch to even the most die-hard of fans.
The feelings of displeasure within the fan base have increased even more after the most recent series of trades. Joaquin Benoit, Craig Kimbrel, Yonder Alonso and Jedd Gyorko were all moved to save money. Fans immediately cried foul and began using the dreaded word “rebuilding” when referencing their displeasure with the team.
The team has shed salary. There is no debating that, but the Padres have wisely shed salary and gathered prospects at the same time. The Padres will receive five draft picks within the first 94 picks in June’s draft. They will also receive a sixth pick from the Upton signing resulting in six total picks within the first 100 draft selections. That is something a G.M. dreams of.
Add those six picks to the names of Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Jose Rondon, Michael Gettys, Logan Allen, Austin Smith and Enyel De Los Santos and the future is bright for the Padres and their formerly-depleted farm system.
Fans are being asked to be patient again. The team in 2016 will not set the world on fire. They will instead rely on heart, hustle, and defense. Things that Padres teams in the past have not shown on a regular basis. What that will result in is anyone’s guess. To claim the Padres in 2016 will be horrible is a completely false statement. We really just don’t know what the team will bring to the table.
The overhaul of this teams franchise philosophy is currently in progress. With that change in philosophy there are going to be rough spots. A.J. Preller has been on the job for 17 months. You CANNOT judge him after that minimal time period. Especially with the franchise being in such disarray when he walked in the door.
The Padres past is just that. It is the past. There is nothing that anyone can do about it. The franchise has made several key mistakes that have alienated their fan base. They have made moves with no intention of competing and have at times run the team strictly like a business.
Yes, a major-league franchise is a business. The bottom line is being profitable. However, there is no way that any major-league franchise is not turning a profit. Fans are not naive to that. They expect their team to want to compete and expect the ownership to go the extra mile. If an owner and his investors do that, then they are rewarded with sellout crowds and wins on the field. If that happen then everybody wins and there is no mention of being a small market team.
A.J. Preller and the Padres have a plan. This upcoming draft is huge for the team. If they can find serviceable major-league players or stars with three or four of the selections, then the future will be bright in America’s Finest City. A.J. Preller has a history of being a great evaluator of talent. He will need that talent to hold true of he plans to change the identity of this club.
The team has no plans of being in neutral. The team is in a restocking mode and in doing so is attempting to find talent that suits the Padres new style of baseball. Andy Green will implement a new aggressive style of baseball within the organization. Both defensively and offensively the team will try to force the other team to make mistakes. They will attack the other teams weakness and exploit that inadequacy until they are victorious. It will be an exciting brand of baseball.
Look for the Padres to acquire defensive-minded players with great speed. That has been the recipe to succeed at Petco, but for some reason the previous general managers have never fully embraced that idea. The Padres team needs to show improvement over the next few seasons. The fan base will allow for one more effort like this as long as it is done correctly and the team stays the course. When awakened, the Padres fan base can be one of the most passionate in the game of baseball. Look at what happened in 1984 and 1998 when the Padres had successful runs. It has been far too long since those days, and hopefully we are on the dawn of something very special.
Fan since 1975. Can’t even recall the number of times I’ve been asked to be patient with this team. I’m beginning to feel foolish.