Padres Force James Shields Out of Town

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The Padres had many reasons to trade James Shields: his contract, his age, the team isn’t contending, etc.. Make no mistake however: The finalization of this deal is a direct result of Executive Chairman Ron Fowler taking to the airwaves showing his dissatisfaction with this team and Shields in particular and is not acceptable.

The Padres hit what at the time was thought to be the season lowpoint – a drubbing in Seattle at the hands of the Mariners after Shields allowed 10 runs and Christian Bethancourt and Alexi Amarista pitched better in relief than others who are paid specifically to do so. Then Ron Fowler unloaded on Shields and the team and three days later Shields is gone.

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For the record the actual lowest point came two days later when the Padres blew a 10 run lead in the 6th inning at home.

Yes, before that start Shields had pitched pretty well this season despite the poor record to show for it. Yes, we knew the Padres were working on a deal for a few weeks now with the White Sox, and of course it made every sense in the world to trade this highly paid quality pitcher to a team that has a chance for the post season instead of him staying with the Padres. Still, the way Fowler singled him out was unacceptable: why would Shields possibly want to stay and play for this team?

Here is what Fowler said if you missed it:

“I’m a very competitive individual,” said Fowler in the interview. “I think I’ve won a lot more than I’ve lost in my life. This baseball experience has been very frustrating, very embarrassing. … To have a starter like Shields perform as poorly as he did yesterday I think, is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him.”

Now, I don’t mind Fowler trying to fire up his team, that part I agree with completely. For too long the Padres have accepted losing, mediocrity, and general apathy on how the product performs on the field. I applaud what Fowler, Mike Dee, and others in the ownership group have increased payroll, invested in the stadium and done other things like helping bring the All Star Game to Petco Park.

Where I disagree is singling out a particular player; especially one like James Shields who the Padres signed to a record free agent contract not 24 months ago and who helped turn around the Kansas City Royals into a World Series caliber team and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before that.

It shows the ownership team completely distrusting in actuality their own players, manager, and other levels of management. How can anyone show up to work and think their employer even has their back?

The Padres could have traded Shields this off-season, or last season after the grand experiment failed – or been more cautious to begin with in what size and term of contract they gave to him to begin with.

In singling out Shields the entire team starts to wonder if ownership even has their back. Last June Bud Black was fired after having a nearly .500 record and the man who was given the interim manager position, Pat Murphy, was dismissed after the season without a second thought after YEARS of service to the club. GM A.J. Preller admitted afterward Murphy never really had a shot for the long term job.

Next: Padres Chairman Ron Fowler Blasts Team

Fowler should’ve taken those comments behind closed doors – though making the final move to trade Shields could’ve been an easy outward sign of those thoughts played out in action. The question now is who is next? Matt Kemp? Will the Padres try and go 2016 Atlanta Braves – who are horrible this year but have tons of young talent including a lot of former Padres talent like Matt Wisler and MallexSmith already at the Major League level producing?

Shields now goes to a contending team in Chicago and gets to join a rotation not as the ace but the likely #3 starter and help give depth with another former Padres star Mat Latos reviving his career on the South Side. So long James, you never had a real chance with the Padres.

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