At some point this season, the San Diego Padres will most likely trade Adrian Gonzalez (2009′s team leader in batting average, home runs, RBI, and OPS), and begin their residency in last place, staying there longer than most doctors take to complete their own residencies. It’s bargain-basement time in San Diego, which is actually a return to the quality of play from my youth in San Diego. Yes, a whole new generation of Archie Cianfrocco’s and Phil Plantier’s are going to make their way through Petco Park at some point in the next few years. Woo-freaking-hoo.
But hey, at least you can drink $5 beer while the team sucks. On a side note, the Padres’ brass knows drunk fans boo longer and louder than sober ones, right?
I hate the concept of “rebuilding,” “going young,” or “stockpiling talent.” It’s all just code for being awful for a few years and maybe, MAYBE the team will be able to afford to keep enough of those young players to compete a la the Tampa Bay Rays. Otherwise it’s small-market hell for another indefinite period of time. But we don’t need a salary cap in baseball. No sir. Things are already totally fair.
I don’t know anything about Jed Hoyer, but Kevin Towers built, destroyed, and re-built this team so many times that I have to wonder if it screwed up his baseball acumen in the end. What else could explain keeping Brian Giles on the roster until this year? Or the front office’s inability to draft, sign, or otherwise genetically engineer a hitter to protect Adrian Gonzalez?
Baseball GM’s need a clear, consistent mission. If Hoyer’s is to go young and get as talented as possible while keeping the team’s average age right around 25, then fine. But that means we can’t suddenly decide to go all veteran and old just so we can contend like the Padres did the last time they were competitive. The history of the Padres organization proves that this team is only young when it needs to save money. See: 1994, 1999, 2000, 2002 etc
They also can’t go young (like they are now), get good (like they very well could with this roster), and then decide it’s too expensive to compete and instead go young again. It’ll give Phillips a hard-on for the draft every year, but it’ll drive the fans away no matter how cheap the beer is. Hopefully the new ownership didn’t buy the team just to pull a Pittsburgh Pirates for the next 10 years.
But this is what the have-nots in baseball do when they don’t have the money and horses to compete. They get all their prospects onto the major league roster, deal their best guys for more prospects, and then play the “if” game. For example: IF we get another fantastic season from Adrian Gonzalez and IF Kyle Blanks, Chase Headley, and Will Venable can hit the ball, then we might have a competitive team. Or, IF a rotation featuring Chris Young, Kevin Correia, Jon Garland, Mat Latos, and Clayton Richard can keep it together, then maybe we can pretend the middle relief isn’t god-awful and maybe we can win some games without needing to score six runs.
The “if” game gets you every time if your team is “stockpiling talent.” I’ll admit that while I haven’t yet drunk the Kool-Aid on this team, I’ve definitely sipped a little bit of it. You know, just to look cool at parties. That rotation I just listed could be amazing IF everyone stays healthy and on-point. Plus, the team can’t be worse offensively than they were last year, right? Um, right? And hey, if we make a run at this thing, then maybe ownership decides to pony up and we keep Adrian Gonzalez. Could happen, right? Right?
Yeah, we’re screwed.