We’ve seen the ugly. A payroll of $90+ million go awry. Money thrown away on players that simply did not live up to expectations. A starting pitcher in Josh Johnson who didn’t throw a single regular season pitch in a Padres uniform, yet collected a check of $8 million or so. An overpaid Chase Headley, dealt to the New York Yankees for super-utility man Yangervis Solarte and a minor league pitcher who hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. We can’t forget the crippled left fielder who it seems, every time he has to field a ball, can’t, and then goes on the disabled list shortly thereafter with more knee issues. The extended second baseman who just happens to be the franchise’s all-time home run king at his position.
Where do the Padres go this winter and beyond? Does A.J. Preller dare ask ownership for the same amount of money, or worse, an increase to be able to augment his young horses with some short-term, veteran leadership? One nice piece to consider on a three or four year deal might be free agent to be, outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz. He has a previous relationship with Preller from their days in Texas, and Preller’s involvement with international talent. Cruz would be a HUGE bat for a team that needs one desperately.
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If the Padres are sold on Rymer Liriano, who is struggling in his extended audition at the big league level, then the Friars could look at shoring up the infield and behind the plate. I know, the Padres have Austin Hedges. His bat isn’t big league ready. That’s just the reality of the situation. Perhaps a Russell Martin comes in and grooms him, and again, adds more pop to a lineup that needs it. He’s a pro’s pro, and could come on a relatively affordable deal.
The way September call-up Cory Spangenberg has been playing at third base, that situation may have just solved itself, with a player from the sixth-ranked minor league system, a player who is under team control and is cheap. It doesn’t get much better than that. Third base might appear to have several qualified candidates, each has an issue and won’t come cheap. If push came to shove, I’d consider platooning Solarte with Spangenberg rather than overpay for a has been.
The point is, the Padres could smartly spend money this winter, and bring in some solid pieces on affordable deals. It’s not like this team is made up of trash and old men. They are young, inconsistent, and have yet to string together consecutive seasons of excellent play. With Preller’s experience in the international market, along with spending wisely, and I keep repeating that, because Josh Byrnes did not spend wisely, on a piece here and there, with this pitching staff and bullpen, could be a Wild Card team a season from now. So, the only question is, which way will the Padres go in 2015?