In response to Rany Jazayerli, San Diego Sports Insider writer Tucker Peterson breakdown the article “http://grantland.com/features/aj-preller-mlb-san-diego-padres-national-league-west/”.
This past week, Grantland.com writer Rany Jazayerli teared apart the 2015 Padres. More specifically, the aggressiveness of first-year General Manager AJ Preller and his many off-season moves to acquire talent. Rany refers to Preller as the “sucker at the table” when it comes to other GM’s in the league. Although he may have some valid points, he missed the big picture… Jazayerli is not a Padres fan.
The Padres have not made the post-season since 2006 with Bochy. They went to the playoffs the previous season as well under Bochy, yet had an underwhelming record of 82-80. The Padres have not won a post season series since their World Series run in 1998. They haven’t had a player voted into the All-Star game by the fans since 1998 (Tony Gwynn of course). They had a chance to make the post season in 2007 but melted at the end of the season when they could have clinched the division. Similarly, in 2010 they won 90 games but had a late season breakdown losing ten straight during the summer. They ended the season losing their last 3 games, including a 1-game playoff against the San Francisco Giants. See the trend…
As a San Diego native, what does it mean to be a Padres fan? Our team has little track-record of sustained success. Padres rarely have had big names on their roster, but when they have they have been successful. Look at the last 5 years; their roster has consisted of a bunch of nobodies or washed up players in the twilights’ of their careers. The last time they had a player that anyone could remember was Adrian Gonzalez.. that was 2010.
The point to be made is that their has been little buzz around the Padres in the last decade. There are the die hard fans that will always be there, but lets face it, no one wants to see a losing team. Worse yet, a losing team with the only identifiable player being Chase Headley. What AJ Preller did this offseason was bring that buzz to the city of San Diego again. Yes, the team has been inconsistent and at times down right awful. They have also brought excitement to the ball park. Padres’ management showed the city of San Diego that they are making winning-baseball a priority. Putting big names out their like Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, James Shields, and Craig Kimbrel make people interested again. It makes fans want to come out to the park. It makes them want to stay until the 9th inning. It makes them prideful that they have players they can look up to and root for.
Let’s break down the trades and moves that were made this offseason. Who did we acquire? Obviously the 5 aforementioned players, all previous All-Stars with a good track record. Let’s start with Upton. 4 prospect/minor league players; IF Jace Peterson, OF Dustin Peterson, P Max Fried, and OF Mallex Smith. Some may argue that Jace Peterson is developing into a consistent major league player, but the same cannot be necessarily said for the other players. For years the only good thing to say about the Padres is their farm system. For years fans have heard this and when we see players develop they get traded away. This time we actually got something in return. Now I know Justin Upton may only be here a season (and maybe even less), but he is a premiere player in the MLB. We have not had a home run hitter like him since Adrian Gonzalez. It may come to a point where we need to trade him to get some farm system in return, but you never know how the rest of the season will play out.
That leads me to my next player, Matt Kemp. say what you want about his numbers, he is still an every day starter in the middle of your lineup and has played exceptional defense this year. I have heard many analyst rip on Matt Kemp and his defense which baffles me; the guy leads the NL in outfield assists and is consistently making plays. Again, Rany is an outsider looking in. He doesn’t watch Padres games every night, let alone probably ever. Furthermore, barely half the season is over. Matt Kemp has historically been a second-half player (see 2014), and it is the second half. Look at his stats over the last month. Look at his stats over the last 6 games – 11/24 3 HRs, 6 RBI. It is too early to judge an off season of trades half way through a season. It is actually ridiculous…
Who did the Padres give up for Kemp? Yasmani Grandal as everyone knows is having a great season. With that said, Padres cannot be blamed. It is safe to say that Grandal did not have a good rapport with the Padres pitching staff. He was also busted for PEDs after only 1 season of pro baseball. He also had injuries. In many people’s book it was a great trade, and it still may be. No one knows what will happen to Grandal moving forward. I also feel like Rany completely overlooked the Derek Norris addition. He has well surpassed any starting catcher the Padres have had since… honestly I don’t know because we have rarely and a consistent starting catcher. Although Derek Norris is in the middle of a slump, he still has 11 Home Runs, 45 RBIs, leads the league in extra base-hits by a catcher, and also leads the league in caught stealing. In my personal opinion, if Norris had not slumped his batting average towards the end of the first-half (strike outs went up dramatically), he should have been considered an All-Star snub over Grandal.
The rest of the moves seem to be a wash. Although I really liked Seth Smith last year and the Padres are hurting for left-handed hitting, they still had a surplus of outfielders. Relief pitcher Brandan Mauer, who was acquired for Smith, has done an outstanding job out of the bullpen this season. Although we had to take on the contract of Melvin Upton Jr., we still obtained arguably the best closer in baseball over the past 4 seasons and also dumped an 8-million dollar year of Carlos Quentin, who is now out of baseball. They also dumped an injury prone, no-show at the plate Cameron Maybin who had $15 million due on the remaining 2 years of his contract (club option in 3rd year). Although he is playing well, he became expendable after the addition of all the outfielders.
This brings me to Wil Myers. Another big name who recently won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Someone who people can identify with and be excited about blossoming into a consistent All-Star in San Diego. Although his injury concerns have continued, he started the season on a tear and showed a lot of promise. The Myers trade did see the departure of SS Trea Turner, who the Padres could use. On the contrary, Will Middlebrooks has been recently switched to SS and seems to have alleviated some of the poor play at the position from an offensive standpoint, while holding it down defensively.
The bottom line of this articles perception is that of the San Diego fan base. Rany Jazayeri may see San Diego as an easy target, and who wouldn’t with how the season has been going. However, it is quite obvious that Rany does not feel or know the heartbeat of a San Diego Padres fan. He does not mention the increase of attendance (top 15 in MLB; Bottom 10 last year) nor the increase of merchandise, etc. Though this team has not been playing to expectations, at least their are those expectations. At least someone in the head office cares about putting a winning product on the field. At least we have excitement.
By Tucker Peterson