Who can’t be excited for what A.J. Preller and the San Diego Padres have done this winter so far? An entire outfield replaced with certifiable boppers, offensive upgrades at third base (assuming Will Middlebrooks returns to his rookie form) and behind the plate, one of the elite bullpens getting even stronger by added depth and veteran leadership, and of course the starting rotation remaining intact from spots 1-3. But…what if things go horribly wrong?
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Recently, I appeared on our podcast, the Friars On Base Show with host Devin Sparks. It was the day of the Seth Smith deal to Seattle for reliever Brandon Maurer. I had discussed how I believed that Smith should be packaged with Carlos Quentin, and sent to Baltimore for free-agent-to-be, Chris Davis. I’m not sold on Yonder Alonso. I’ve made that abundantly clear, most recently in my campaign to get prospect Cody Decker a legitimate shot during spring training. I don’t care that Alonso claims to be 100 percent. Even when he was, he’s never lived up to expectations, yet as of right now, Preller and the boys are going to run him out there every day. What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over with the expectation of a different outcome.
The Friars still have some glaring holes that need to be addressed. They are too right-handed. They blew their shot at upgrading the shortstop position by passing on Stephen Drew. Instead, Preller and Bud Black think that a combination of Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes are the answer. I’m not GM, but I can tell you, no. Just no. It won’t work.
I am as excited as anyone to see the 2015 Padres in action, and I hope this team takes baseball by storm, and re-energizes a city that has longed for a contender for years. But what if they don’t? What if Andrew Cashner, instead of suffering minor injuries that plague him all season, suffers a major set back and requires, say, Tommy John surgery? What if Tyson Ross was a one-year wonder, and reverts back to his so-so days toiling in the A’s farm system? What if the rotation ace is Ian Kennedy? If any of these suggestions occur, the Padres are in serious trouble.
There’s no guarantee that Matt Kemp is going to be anywhere near what he was last season. He’s brittle, he has a pair of arthritic hips that are only going to get worse with age. What if Wil Myers is indeed the Wil Myers of 2014 rather than his AL Rookie of the Year season of 2013? What if Will Middlebrooks still can’t figure it out, and is the dumpster fire he’s been much of the past two seasons in Boston? Again, if any of the above occurs, the Padres are in serious trouble.
So what does A.J. Preller do if the team is toiling with the Rockies and Diamondbacks for slots 3-5 in the NL West come July, with the trading deadline approaching? His farm system has been practically wiped out through big league roster upgrades. I said it on the podcast, and I’ll repeat my thoughts here: if the Pads are struggling, and the wheels have come completely off by the deadline, Preller will use his one big chip–Justin Upton, who is slated to hit free agency next winter, and he’ll replenish the farm by fleecing a World Series contender of THEIR prospects.
Mandatory Credit: Billy Brost
I certainly hope it doesn’t happen. Hell, I just added to my personal Padres cap collection by adding three beautiful old school caps from ’69, ’72 and ’84. I don’t want to have to think about the better days of 1984 and 1998 to get me through another long summer of ho-hum baseball as usual in San Diego if things go terribly wrong. Here’s to hoping I am COMPLETELY off-base with these thoughts.