There is an old saying that says be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. Well, a huge portion of the San Diego Padres’ fanbase wished for a Pablo Sandoval signing, they did not get it – and that’s a good thing.
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Given the Padres’ history in regards to free agent signings, or lack thereof rather, many Padres’ fans have let the excitement of the actually having a legitimate pot on the hot stove this off-season cloud their judgment a bit. While Sandoval is no slouch, giving a $95 million dollar deal to a player who hit .279 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI last season, never exactly screamed smart to me.
While Sandoval definitely has the name-brand appeal that Padres’ fans have been clamoring for, and while the marketing team could do wonders with the whole Panda thing, the fact of the matter is Sandoval has been a .300 hitter only one time in the last five seasons, while reaching 20 home runs only once in that same time span. To be honest his numbers have been more decent to good than good to great of late, and they have shown a subtle decline from year to year.
The Padres’ need production more than they need a bunch of Panda mask in the stands, especially for the amount of money it would take to give Padres’ fans the right to wear them. To put the matter into perspective, can anyone with full confidence say that current Padre Yangervis Solarte couldn’t duplicate Sandoval’s 2014 season numbers with a full season of at-bats at third base? The fact that it’s even debatable speaks volumes.
Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Another perspective placing example would be a quick comparison to the Padres best offensive player in 2014, Seth Smith. Smith hit .266 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI’s, with an on-base percentage of .367 last season. That’s a mere 13 point advantage in batting average for Sandoval, and while the power numbers are also in Sandoval’s favor, Sandoval had only four more homers and 25 more RBI’s while having a whopping 145 more at-bats than Smith last season.
Don’t get me wrong, if we were talking about the 2009 Sandoval who hit .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI’s, I would fully support a financially limited organization like the Padres spending 95-million dollars on him. I could even be on board with the 2011 version of Sandoval who hit .315 with 25 home runs and 70 RBI’s. The 2012-2014 Sandoval? For that amount of money? No thanks.
An organization like the Boston Red Sox can stomach spending huge money on a player that has never hit 30 home runs or 100 RBI’s in a season. Why? Well for one they have deep enough pockets to minimize the possible impact of Sandoval not living up to the contract. Secondly, they have so many other impactful players to put around him, he wouldn’t have to be the 2009 or 2011 Sandoval for the team to succeed.
Speaking of impactful players around him, Sandoval wouldn’t have a Buster Posey or David Ortiz type presence around him in the Padres’ batting order. Who’s to say he would succeed in the middle of the Padres order without all-star players protecting him? That makes a difference. Smart money says the Padres have only one huge contract in them, so the team needs to spend wisely on that one player, as they can ill-afford to get it wrong.
Lastly, a Sandoval signing would have not only cost the Padres a boat-load on money, it would’ve also cost the team a draft pick as well. Given how well new General Manager A.J. Preller and the Texas Rangers have drafted over the years, a lost Padres draft pick in result of a Sandoval signing could have been costly.
Unfortunately the Padres’ organization picked a very limited free agent class to finally decide to open the wallet on. While I get that Preller and the organization would love to make a statement by bringing in someone notable to excite the fan base at any cost, I would rather focus less on the name brands and more on spending big for a quality player that makes sense and would really make a difference to a franchise that sorely needs a difference maker.
With all that said, as we head into Thanksgiving, Padres’ fans should be thanking the Red Sox for saving the Padres from a potential mistake.
Now go sign Tomas!