The Audacity of Hope


The first “half” of the season is over and the Padres sit at 34-53 and in 4th place in the NL West. Sure, it’s not where we want to be, or even close to resembling what we think we are before looking into the morning mirror, but it’s definitely not dreadful. I mean, we could be in last place or even worse we could be the Chicago Cubs. Actually, right now I really like where the Padres are and what they’re doing with this seemingly inept group of little leaguers. They’re bringing up the young guys and beginning the long process of contending on San Diego’s terms. These are not fun terms and this process will be grueling and at times downright painful, like stubbing your toe over and over again then having your friends laugh at you for twenty minutes straight. This team will not (and should not) contend for at least two more seasons. The reason for this is simple:

We need to grow.

We need to let this group of meat develop into a well-cooked steak. We need to let the elder statesmen decide to either mentor or quickly fade away into the obscurity of Houston or Cleveland or Palm Springs.

We have a few solid role players who have been around the block a few times, like Mark Kotsay and Jason Marquis who can teach these rookies to swagger. And, by bringing these guys up we can get some breathing room and see exactly what we have. We don’t have to put the weight of a franchise on the narrow shoulders of Chase Headley and the weakened, scarred knees of Carlos Quentin. Let the fans get excited about Yasmani Grandal and Alexi Amarista and even Logan Forsythe! I mean hell; people are actually casually talking about Andrew Cashner! The last time people casually talked about the Padres was after we traded away Adrian.

For the first time in a while we actually have hope…

…And that’s scary. We’re following the tried and sometimes true methodology of growing a team and leaving yourself with enough money to fill the holes with established talent when the time is right. The Rays, Angels, Giants, Marlins, Nationals and Pirates have all done this, and it has paid off.

But herein lies the rub, well two rubs really, and not foot rubs, those are good, these are bad rubs.

1) This methodology takes time. It will be tough to go through and a lot times will be tough to watch and support. Think about being a Pirates fan and sitting through a decade of pure crap. But, every year they stacked up picks and young talent. They let those guys breath and take their lumps – a lot of lumps, but the last two seasons it’s started to pay off and Baseball is alive again in one of the most legendary franchises in the history of the game! The Padres will not have a winning season in 2012, or 2013 and by 2014 we should start to eek over .500 while raising a few eyebrows. If all goes according to plan and the following rub is avoided we could contend for a pennant in 2015 and well beyond. Which, brings us to that second rub…

2) We’ll get all antsy in our pantsy. The likelihood of trading these guys away will get more and more appealing as fans complain and the possibility that attendance will dip. Don’t do it. By the end of this season we should have a firm grip on who our core is for years to come. My amazingly professional guess: Grandal, Corey Luebke, Yonder Alonso and Cashner. Players on the cusp: Forsythe, Amarista and Headley. Also, I’d keep Quentin for one more season and let Clayton Richard retire a Padre. These are “our” guys. Keep them together for at least an entire second season. Let the fans complain and even stop coming to the park, but they’ll come back. Once we start winning they will burst through the turnstiles and swear they always loved this team quicker than you can spell Jedd Gyorko.

If we can avoid those two rubs and focus on the lavish foot rubs we’ll all be receiving on PETCO Park’s “foot rub night” after we take the NL West in 2015 then we’ll be better fans for it. I get a little worried that with new ownership we’ll have a new mindset and have to start all over again. They might want a new GM and start spending money hand over fist for washed up guys just looking to end their careers in sunny San Diego. I don’t want this and neither should you. We have something going here and for the first time in a while I feel like the squad might actually have a plan. We just have to be willing as a franchise and community to stick with it. We don’t need heroes trying to save Friar Baseball by acquiring Johnny Damon or going all out on Josh Willingham. We need to stay the course and avoid signing the wrong guys just to pique the interest of convention goers somewhat excited to see if Torii Hunter can still field. Let a plan unfold before you jump ship just because season ticket holders won’t renew. They already won’t renew and the Padres haven’t done anything to change that, so this thought process should be old hand by now.

But, we as fans have to also be on board. We have to be okay with this. We have to give them a few seasons of just laughable Baseball to get where we need to be. If we can do that then we might just have a reason to cheer.

Letting the players grow together, gives us hope.

Trading them away and trying to rebuild every other year, makes us hate our own team.

I’d rather hope for a pennant than hate my way through an 80-82 season every other year.

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