The Padres’ franchise has always had trouble when it comes to developing a sense of tradition and cultivating a winning philosophy.
There are many reasons why the team has failed to become relevant in Major League Baseball over the years. Among the issues is the franchise’s failure to keep their own cultivated talent (whether they were acquired via trade or homegrown) and build a winning team around them. That’s the sad truth.
Instead, they have typically traded players, or allowed them to leave when the player is due for big money. With that, the franchise has rightfully earned the reputation as a stopover for a player before bigger and brighter things in their career. A Padres University of sorts – a place where a baseball player learns his skill and develops it, only to excel somewhere else.
From Dave Winfield and Ozzie Smith in the early years, to Gary Sheffield, to Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez, the team has dealt players or allowed them to leave simply because they did not want to pay them fair market value. You cannot be frugal when it comes to keeping core players, and you cannot keep recycling players like they are newspapers. Fans want to grow with a player and fall in love with them. During the good years and the bad years. Through it all. That is what makes a fan base strong. That is what winning baseball is all about. That is what the San Diego Padres currently lack.
Sheffield and Gonzalez were not homegrown talent, but each did find their first taste of stardom as a young Friar. They grew as players in the Padres’ uniform, only to become household names somewhere else. Mentality like that towards young players will only set a franchise back. And it has done just that for the Padres. Being in a constant rebuild is a maddening place to be.
The Padres did get Trevor Hoffman for Sheffield, and they also landed Anthony Rizzo for Gonzalez, but it’s the reshuffling of talent that stunts the growth of the team. In the case of Adrian Gonzalez, the team had a franchise player from the city of San Diego, a borderline hall of fame-caliber player, and an excellent model for young Padres’ minor leaguers to emulate. They chose to move on instead of legitimately trying to re-sign Gonzalez. We all know what kind of player Rizzo ended up being, and the Padres clearly never got that kind of production from Andrew Cashner. That’s what happens when you make trades. Sometimes you win, but more often than not… you lose.
With a solid core of Wil Myers, Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, and Austin Hedges on the offensive front, the Padres have an opportunity to keep a very young group together. Combine that with a young pitching staff of Anderson Espinoza, Cal Quantrill, Eric Lauer, Logan Allen, Jacob Nix, Joey Lucchesi, Michel Baez, and Adrian Morejon and the Padres have a very exciting future.
For the first time ever, the Padres have set themselves up for long-term success. There will be waves of talented young players hitting San Diego continuously. The first group, led by Renfroe, Margot, and Hedges, is here. And you can expect loads more talent to arrive shortly.
With A.J. Preller at the helm, there is a sense that this regime is built for the long run. The $70 million-plus spent on young international talent is another sign that this team is finally doing things the correct way. There will be no more Padres University as this franchise is now the crown jewel of the city of San Diego and its sports community. It is an exciting time to be a Padres’ fan. The franchise is in arguably the best position it has ever been as far as future possibilities. Do not let us down.