OVEREXPOSURE TO HIGH-RISK INVESTMENTS – PROSPECTS
Trading quality, established MLB talent for prospects is like trading investments with long and strong records of returns for lottery tickets—or to be more fair—junk bonds. I know some are thinking, “all the scouts say these guys are going to be great…what do you know?” Well, the scouts’ batting average isn’t very high. One in six signed draftees will ever see a single minute of MLB action. Even fewer play for any length of time—and still fewer excel in that length of time. If they excel over that time—the Padres would need to be willing to pay those players good-sized contracts to see them stay. Is it all possible? Absolutely…like tornadoes in San Diego. It’s possible. It just isn’t probable.
Even high first-round picks rarely pan out. The Padres have had eight Top-Ten first-round picks since 2000. How’d it go? The best of them was Tim Stauffer. Some were traded away (Trea Turner, etc.). Then there were the Matt Bush‘s and Donavan Tate’s. I’m not saying none of our prospects will pan out. I’m saying VERY few of them will pan out. That’s the data.
At the beginning of the season, one publication remarked, “Your number one prospect Javier Guerra is your shortstop of the future.” Now batting .200 at Lake Elsinore and injured he clearly isn’t. Today, the comment next to him in Baseball America’s Top 100 now reads: “Guerra’s 2016 season has been a disaster. He’s still ranked solely on the memory of the power and defense he showed in 2015.” He could rebound, but the odds are looking longer every day. That’s baseball.
THAT’S THE WAY THE BASEBALL ROLLS
Prospects are a high-risk business. To build with that risk as the future’s foundation without a plan to balance the franchise at the MLB level isn’t a plan. It’s foolhardy, and leads me to believe the Padres could be entering the Jeff Moorad cycle of perpetual, cheap “rebuilding for the future,” instead of a concrete, balanced plan of wise, broad, organizational renewal from MLB on down.
I’m not all negative on the Padres future. I’ll write soon on reasons for optimism. Here, I’m offering a reality check for both my fellow Padres fans and yes, even Padres management. Based on the imbalance in the organization and the youth of the current star prospects, we are looking to 2019 or 2020 before the playoffs are likely to be sniffed, and that’s only if the Padres make some free agent signings and have unusual success with their prospects.
Most of the Padres best talent is in the low minors (high-risk), and the talent in the high minors largely plays the same position—and that position isn’t pitcher. A.J. Preller needs to tweak his plan by re-balancing the franchise, acquiring some prospects who are old enough to vote, and bringing in some legitimate major league talent to provide leadership and play alongside the youngsters as they mature.
Help us see a more well-rounded plan, A.J. We want to keep the faith.