San Diego Padres’ fans are well aware of the consequences of a baseball club which lacks chemistry. This season, they can only hope that general manager A.J. Preller has learned his lesson.
While Matt Kemp received most of the criticism for helping to create a toxic clubhouse culture in 2016, apparently Derek Norris also contributed. According to Darren Smith on the Mighty 1090, he was surprised that Padres players mentioned Norris often as one of the culprits.
Norris apparently spread his negative attitude around but also zeroed in on Austin Hedges, the player he was supposedly mentoring. To make matters worse, pitchers didn’t like throwing to him either.
Surely Norris’ lousy attitude could not have just developed in San Diego and been a complete secret, so one has to wonder why A.J. Preller traded for him and sent Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers where he’s become the primary backstop. Even more ironic, the major return for Grandal was none other than Kemp himself.
If Preller had even glanced at Molly Knight’s book The Best Team Money Can Buy, he would have learned that the Dodgers yearned to get him out of the dugout and off the field, and to shed his gigantic contract. The Padres, of course, obliged and did one of their major rivals in the National League West a huge favor. In fact, the team continues to line Kemp’s pockets, to the tune of $8.5 million dollars this year.
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Ironically Grandal has not been the catcher of choice for Dodger’s ace Clayton Kershaw. Instead he preferred throwing to A.J. Ellis, who was traded last summer. Both cried when they received the news.
A stat head like Preller, Andrew Friedman obviously disregarded the importance of the level of comfort Kershaw had working with Ellis. Of course, the best pitcher on the planet will not wither and turn into a journeyman with a 5.00 ERA, but the change undoubtedly carried a psychic cost.
In his brief history with the Padres, Preller also traded another catcher favored by the pitching staff. He sent Rene Rivera, who had become Andrew Cashner’s personal catcher, to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2014.
Padres’ fans can only hope that Preller, not known for his attention to personal relationships, has grown to understand the importance of team chemistry.