I have to admit I liked the addition of Shields. He said all the right things and did always take the ball every fifth day. However there was something about him that rubbed his teammates and the front office the wrong way. He was critical of his teammates with his “Accountability” sign he hung in the locker room last season. That clearly bothered some on the team and from there the situation seemed to get worse. Nobody outside the team will know exactly what the issue was with him. I do know that some people resented the fact he refused to let his infielders shift from batter to batter. That contradicts what Andy Green believes as a baseball man and that had to be at the root of many issues with Shields. He had an attitude about him you want to see from your ace pitcher, but in the same regard he was tough to handle. His results on the mound also clouded the situation as he was constantly hit hard.
In hindsight Preller should have never given Shields the richest free agent contract in franchise history. There were warning signs to his demise and the Padres ignored that fact. The Padres also allowed him to have that opt out clause in his contract which is nothing but trouble. If he fails to opt out this season the Padres will be paying $11 million of the $21 million he is owed for the 2017 and 2018 season. That would not be beneficial to the team as every penny counts and that $11 million could be allocated towards another potential player. The return from dealing Shields to the White Sox hasn’t started out well either as Erik Johnson was shelled for the Padres. Fernando Tatis Jr is the real prize though. The young teenager should develop into a decent prospect eventually. Which big name acquisition was worse; Kemp or Shields? Either way Preller learned a valuable lesson about the perceived value of veteran players. It can fluctuate easily and it is way better to sign young talent long-term while it is still blossoming (Cough, Cough– Wil Myers)
WHERE’S THE SHORTSTOP?
This has been a common issue for the San Diego Padres and still A.J. Preller has not addressed it. The long-term looks fine and dandy as the team has numerous young shortstop prospects like Luis Almanzar, Gabrial Arias, Javier Guerra and Ruddy Giron. Guerra was supposed to be close to being major league ready but he has really regressed this season in Lake Elsinore and will need some more time. The Padres have a gaggle of journeyman infielders manning the position presently. Nick Noonan, Alexi Amarista, Adam Rosales and Alexei Ramirez are not going to cut it. The Padres need help.
Luis Sardinas was recently acquired and he may be the answer, but he is a work in progress. Though he is able to play exceptional defense, he has some issues with his switch-hitting swing. The Padres, at this point are going to need Sardinas to man the position in 2017 if they don’t find anyone else. Sardinas is a work in progress but with all the before mentioned kids at least two seasons from sniffing major league playing time, someone needs to play. Preller is certainly taking his time to find a shortstop and the fan base is growing tired of seeing below average players at a position that is so vital in the game. Dragging his feet in providing a steady shortstop has definitely been a negative in his tenure.
THE HANDLING OF BUD BLACK
To me this was probably the worst move by Preller. I was not a fan of Black and his calm serene ways. I prefer my manager to have more emotion and show more fire on the field. That is just me. Black was held onto by the team with all the new talent arriving in 2015. It seemed obvious that Preller and Black did not see eye to eye, but yet the first year G.M. decided to keep him. The team struggled to find an identity as the veteran manager had to learn all his new players and inform them of what he expect as a manager. The team should have started off fresh with a new face in 2015 at the helm. There was just so much turnover that it would have been wiser for Preller to end Bud Black‘s uncertainty.
It is unheard of for a major league manager to be in their last year of a contract without an extension. The Padres mishandled that. They clearly did not see Black as the long-term answer, so why was he kept on? Why was he strung along and fired when the team was barely under the .500 mark? With no surprise the team tanked under a new interim manager (not Pat Murphy‘s fault) and the criticism of the way Bud Black was handled is real. It really is bizarre that the Padres did not fire him before the season only to do it at the midway point. The managing of personnel like that is detrimental to the future of this franchise. They must handle business in a correct manner and with dignity of they wish to take the franchise to the next level. That brings us to the next Preller issue.
COLIN REA INJURY ISSUE
I’m not quite sure what to make of this at the moment as MLB is still investigating to some degree. Colin Rea was being monitored by the team prior to the being dealt by the Padres. That the Padres cannot deny. He was purposely held to the #5 spot in the rotation after the all-star break as the team indicated he needed some additional rest. That should have been a big clue to the Marlins. They should have done their homework in that regard. The Padres still maintain that Rea was perfectly healthy at the time he was dealt. That may be the case. His elbow may have been tender, but it should have been the Marlins job to find out. To my understanding the Marlins are the ones who asked about Rea so I fail to believe the Padres were trying to pawn him off on someone.
There is a certain amount of risk involved in player’s health. Especially if you are a pitcher. The Padres did the correct thing in shipping the young fire-ball throwing right handed pitcher Luis Castillo back to the Marlins to make the situation better. Major League Baseball should be content with that. Hopefully future potential trade partners do not hold this against the Padres and A.J. Preller. A bad reputation and making deals in bad faith can really be bad for the team. The smoke seems to be clearing for the most part, but Preller needs to be cautious not to be labeled a shrew trader. He will find it hard to consummate deals with that bad reputation.
A.J. Preller has made mistakes. That is 100 percent correct. He would be the first to admit to that. However the man has quickly made adjustments after his mistakes and has not been hard-headed in admitting his errors. Well maybe not publicly, but the fact he ate salary in moving both Shields and Kemp proves that the man will easily change gears if his initial plan does not take hold. That kind of mindset is exciting. Some people will view it as neurotic, but I applaud him for his baseball philosophies.
Call me what you want but I believe in what he is doing for this franchise. I am also willing to wait a little while for years of relevance from this team. Once these waves of young talent start to reach Petco, there should be numerous years of enjoyable baseball in San Diego. I believe that and so should you. Go Padres!