The Padres inactivity this offseason has perplexed many Padres fans. The team has not made many moves this offseason and fans do not believe that the team has gotten better since the end of last season. Unlike many Padres supporters, this does not really bother me. Sure, I want the team to be as competitive as possible, but now is not the time to go crazy. Let me explain.
The Padres are a small market team. This is a fact. The Padres will simply never be able to spend as much as the Dodgers or Yankees. The Dodgers play in a huge market, with a fiercely devoted fanbase. This is not an excuse, its just a simple fact. According to Nielsen, the company that measures television ratings, Los Angeles is the 2nd largest television market, with 5.6 million homes with televisions. Where does San Diego measure up, you may be wondering? San Diego ranks 28th, just ahead of Nashville and Kansas City, with slightly more than a million television households. To put it simply, more eyeballs equals more money.
Conversely, the Padres got a sweet new television deal with FOX, with is supposed to pay the team $1.2 billion over a 20-year period. It would seem that the Padres have money to burn and in their defense, they have spent some.
The Padres did extend Huston Street and Carlos Quentin before last season ended. The team has explored an extension with Chase Headley, although the sides are still far apart. The Padres should open the 2012 season with a payroll in the mid-$60 million range. The payroll has increased each year since 2010, when it was at a pathetic $37 million.
San Diego has done a terrific job of increasing spending in the minors. The Dominican academy is starting to pay dividends and the Padres do have one of the deepest farm systems in the game. Many prospects are close to making an impact at Petco Park.
Some in the media have clamored for the Padres to make a “big splash” in free agency. $25 million a year for Josh Hamilton? No, thanks. Sure, Hamilton is a star, but the risk would be too far too great. He is 31, has had injury problems, in addition to a checkered past. If the Padres had a $100 million payroll, would Hamilton be worth 25% of that number. I do not think so.
The Padres absolutely need to spend money. I would like to see them continue to build from within. Lock up Headley and continue to spend on the draft. Perhaps use prospects to acquire another arm. Spending in free agency is a slippery slope and it is a process I would approach with a great deal of trepidation. Spending on free agents is not necessarily a recipe for success.
Call me a homer, an apologist, or what you will, but I am a Josh Byrnes fan. He acquired Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal(suspension aside). The Padres have gotten high marks for their recent drafts. I like the direction the team is going in and I hope the team can add one more arm. The team played well in the second half and hopefully the growth of certain players can supplement the momentum they gained at the end of the year.
The Padres need to keep the plan in place, then look to sign free agents at a reasonable price, or deal prospects for a difference maker. The Padres time will come, it just won’t likely be in 2013.