I’m not optimistic about the San Diego Padres future plan, but I want to be.
I have tremendous faith in A.J. Preller as a scout and believe the Padres will draft well under his leadership. However, even the best of scouts misses the mark—a lot. If we are banking our future on long off prospects in the pipeline as that pipeline is now constructed, both the Padres and their fans need a reality check. They are putting their faith in a high-risk, long-term (not short-term or mid-term) plan.
The Padres admitted their initial Plan A didn’t work. Fine. Plan B, however has left the Padres with a surplus of talent in the lower-minors, swimming in outfielders, void of a quality shortstop, and sparse MLB-caliber talent on the big league squad.
Every perennially successful organization in MLB seems to be able to chew gum and walk at the same time. I believe the Padres could too, if they chose to. No franchise has to get rid of its credible MLB talent for scrubs and minor-leaguers in order to endure a multi-year process of rebuilding—with no guarantee the attempted rebuild will in fact work. Statistically, the odds are it won’t.
Why? Let’s look at a few reasons:
LACK OF QUALITY PITCHING
The Padres have limited quality pitching in the high minors and on the big league roster. Pitching prospects below the high minors are notoriously high-risk, and you can’t build a franchise on the shoulders of Paul Clemens, Jarred Cosart, Edwin Jackson, Luis Perdomo, Clayton Richard, and others with ERA’s near or above 5…and even 6. Don’t even get me started on the bullpen. God only knows what’s happening with Tyson Ross who was lit up in Lake Elsinore the other night…but consensus is he’s likely to be traded as soon as he reestablishes his value.
The organization’s top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza is struggling at Ft. Wayne (low A-ball). Cal Quantrill is fresh off Tommy John surgery and thus has limited innings with which to develop—though he is pitching well.
In fact, Espinoza, Quantrill, Lauer, Morejon…all are years away—if they make it at all. We won’t see them full-time until 2019 at the earliest (Assuming they make it to the big leagues). In fact, nearly all of the Padres premier pitching prospects are years away and any of them could suffer serious injury (Cory Luebke, Robbie Erlin) or fizz-out (Casey Kelley) at any point.
My sense is Eric Lauer is the cream of our young crop. He is fantastic. But, he too is years away. Bottom line: The Padres have little credible pitching at present…and they are going nowhere without pitching. Jared Cosart and Luis Perdomo show flashes of promise…but both carry high ERA’s and lack any real track record to sustain genuine optimism. I know, I know: Keep the faith.
Statistically, very few prospects ever see the majors…as in one out of six, statistically. But, if they do and succeed—will the Padres be willing to pay to keep them?
History says, “no.” The fire sale we just had says, “no.”
The Padres are ridiculously lean at shortstop, third base, and pitcher at any level above A-Ball (not good if you’re building for the future), and have far too many outfielders. Of course, A.J. Preller could fix this through trades, but we’ve seen no desire to do so.
Take center field as an example. Right now, there’s John Jay (who the Padres are trying to re-sign), Travis Jankowski, with Manuel Margot waiting in the wings and Michael Gettys progressing through the minors rapidly. It’s great to have depth, but fact remains the Padres can only play one guy in center field.
If the Padres move one of these guys to another outfield spot, you have to move someone else, and there are prospects in LF and RF as well—as well as the existing Alex Dickerson, Wil Myers, Jabari Blash, Patrick Kivelehan, and others in the minors (Nick Torres, etc.). The organization is just tremendously out of balance at the position and limited at key positions like shortstop and pitcher. There’s that word, “pitching,” again.
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