I wish to start this session of the Editor’s Desk, by wishing each one of you a safe and happy holiday season, as we just concluded Thanksgiving, and now the official holiday season is underway. The countdown to Christmas is on, and those who like to shop, are looking for the best deal both online and in town. Not this kid. As someone that works in retail, I do my time, and I check out. I don’t try to spend any additional time out and about if I don’t have to. I’d rather spend my time at home with my two small children, throwing my son whiffle ball BP, and playing catch with my little daughter, whom I’ve nicknamed “Lefty”.
Leading up to Thanksgiving, the Padres and their dedicated fans, most likely felt like they were on the outside looking in. Not only did they have the most money on the table for free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but they had felt pretty good about their chances with Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. Let’s try 0-for-2. Sandoval took less money and headed to Boston. Tomas took more money, and went to the desert. Padres’ fans will get an up close and personal look at Tomas as he’s patrolling right field for the Diamondbacks. Here’s a chance Padres’ fans, to have a certified villain in your midst, each time he dare set foot onto the field at Petco Park.
As a Yankees fan that also has rooted for the Padres throughout my life, I understand your anguish. That feeling that things are never going to change, and that no matter what, the Padres are simply not going to matter. Rest assured Friars fans, things will get better. While it would’ve been nice to get one or both of these free agents, it’s not the end of the world. There are still quality free agents on the market. Not IMPACT free agents, but complementary pieces that can help make the offense better than it was this past season. Lord knows the Padres have some holes to fill, and a couple of affordable, upgrade talents can make the difference. Are the Padres going to win the World Series in 2015? No. Were they if they had signed Sandoval and Tomas? No.
I feel when I read on social meda, the frustration of fans that think the Padres’ day is never going to come, like these specifically:
The fans want a winner in San Diego. I recently wrote a piece about how UT-San Diego Padres’ writer Dennis Lin heard that Tomas could make or break A.J. Preller as a GM. Some fans probably believe Preller didn’t do enough to get both of these guys in Padres’ uniforms. Guys, it’s not always going to pan out the way you plan it. Going back to being a Yankees fan, the old adage that the team “buys their championships.” I grew up in the 1980s and early 90s. There was a time when the best of the best on the free agent market WOULD NOT SIGN in New York no matter what. Greg Maddux, Mark Langston, and hell, even Mark Davis coming off of his Cy Young winning season in 1989 turned down more money to go to Kansas City of all places.
I remember that feeling of helplessness, wanting a winner back in the Bronx more than anything in the world. I was 5 the last time the Yankees had made the playoffs, let alone making a World Series run. I was 19 when they made the playoffs the next time, and 20 when they finally brought that elusive title home. I remember wondering as a child “Why wouldn’t you sign with the Yankees? Doesn’t everyone want to play for the Yankees? If they offer the most money, what else is there?” It took time. As major free agents ignored George Steinbrenner’s advances and craziness, it only took one free agent to make the difference. That guy? Jimmy Key.
Key was never a Cy Young winner, but he had been one of the best left-handed hurlers on the open market after winning a pair of World Series titles in Toronto in 1992 and 1993. All the Yankees needed to do was convince one solid free agent that the organization was about winning, and that the days of “The Bronx Zoo” were over. Players didn’t want the drama, nor the pressure of Steinbrenner coming down on them. Luckily, The Boss was suspended, and it allowed for an organic environment of change to take place.
The same thing I believe, is happening in San Diego right now. Jed Hoyer and Josh Byrnes left a bad taste in fans mouths. Watch Adrian Gonzalez get dealt, then watching the guy the Friars got for him, Anthony Rizzo, be rushed to San Diego, fail, and then get dealt to Hoyer’s Cubs, only to see Rizzo become what everyone knew he could be. Straight up, it upsets people. Fans have the right to be mad. But, to say this is the same old Padres outfit is a bit premature and honestly, not fair to A.J. Preller. He has assembled a wonderfully talented front office staff, one that knows talent, knows analytics, and knows how to find talent.
Turning around a franchise that has struggled for almost a decade doesn’t happen overnight. Sure, it would’ve been great to have both Sandoval and Tomas, but failing to get either player doesn’t make Preller a failure. The failure to sign both is a minor road block to a better atmosphere, a better culture, a culture of winning that has to be organic, and start from the bottom of the barrel and works it’s way back up. With a loaded farm system, a ton of big league arms that other teams covet, the winter and off-season if far from over for the A.J. Preller and the Padres. I know you fans want so badly to say, yeah, the Padres are the best. They will be. It just takes some time to do it the right way. You’ve kept the faith through much, much worse. Try to have a little more and see how things come together come next spring!