The lighting is correct, there is a buzz in the air. The crowd is eagerly awaiting the show. The stage is set and we are all anticipating what is the inevitable. A.J. Preller is surely about to do some Rock Star G.M. things, right?
Well…. forecasting the young G.M.’s moves is hardly an exact science. He likes to keep is cards close to the vest and that is a good thing for the franchise. Say what you like about Preller, but he does things his way and he has a plan. Most of us are not privy to said plan, but ownership brought him in because he wanted to change things with this franchise, he wanted to change their philosophy. He certainly is doing that.
Some fans want instant gratification from this franchise, but that is just unrealistic. The farm system and the philosophy of the team was an absolute mess. I’m not talking about the players themselves or the coaching staff. It had more to do with the direction of the team and where they were headed. It’s a very common cliché that a team needs to pull together in the same direction in order to be successful. In that same respect a franchise and their philosophy must be consistent. With all the change in ownership and front office personnel the Padres have drafted players that represent different philosophies of the game. Some players address certain needs, while other needs were ignored completely because each regime was not allowed to continue their respected rebuild. The result is a mess. The result is a fan base that is battered and beaten.
A.J. Preller represents a young philosophy but at the same time he has Don Welke working with him. That is brilliant in my eyes. Preller is a new-school sabremetrics G.M. like most of this era, but yet he is not ignorant to the way the game was scouted 100 years prior to Bill James and his philosophies. Obviously the SABR method is here to stay and old timers with straw hats are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Still, you have to applaud Preller for recognizing Welke’s knowledge and talent. The Padres G.M. realizes that he will never know it all when it comes to the game of baseball (nobody ever will). However he is always willing to listen to those that have that knowledge of the game and provide a perspective different from his own.
The Padres will make moves. The trades of Fernando Rodney and James Shields shows that. Expect the team to be very active in the trade rumor mill. A.J. Preller will explore all options when it comes to making the San Diego Padres a better team. That is why he is here and that is why the team will get better. Losing current stars is rough for the fan base but you must look at the big picture. I know you have heard this before, but this time it is for real. This ownership group is committed and with the Fox Sports deal the team should have no problem putting in a decent effort with their payroll. Once the team clears some hefty current contracts, they will have a lot of extra cash to spend. It will be exciting to see what they do with it. The following group of players have a high likelihood to be dealt in the next month. Nothing is a given when it comes to Preller but the following players each make sense to be former Padres players.
He is the most likely to be dealt. Straight up. There is no way to sugar-coat it. Fans of Norris can no longer ignore the fact Austin Hedges is absolutely on fire in triple-A. Yes, I know El Paso is a hitter park and the Pacific Coast League is a hitters league, but his numbers are amazing. Hedges has a slash line of .393/.442/.812 with 14 homers and 41 RBI in 117 at bats. Those numbers are just ridiculous. The 23-year-old has obviously made the adjustment necessary to become a viable major league catcher. I wouldn’t expect Hedges to be a .300 career hitter in the majors, but he looks like he will now be serviceable at the position.
Christian Bethancourt is also blossoming under Andy Green‘s watchful eye. With Bethancourt and Hedges both playing well, Norris is just expendable. Not that he is a bad player, but he is older than Hedges and Bethancourt and due more money. The trade rumors and the speculation might be getting to Norris this season as he has had a terrible offensive start to the year. If he can pick it up with the bat, he could be dealt at any time by the team. Do not expect Preller to just give him up either. If nobody pays fair market value for the catcher, the team will just wait it out with Norris and try to move him in the winter. I still believe when crunch time comes, a team will step up and Norris will be moved. It just makes sense for both sides for the team to move him.
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