I’m not going to name names, but other general managers, other ownerships, should be embarrassed.
If A.J. Preller can perform this kind of extreme makeover on the Padres, a previously inert, low-revenue club, why can’t everyone else do the same?
Granted, I have no idea how good the Padres will be after adding Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron … oops, sorry, got carried away.
History tells us that winning the offseason is one thing and winning during the actual season is another. The Padres are still flawed — their lineup is overly right-handed, their outfield defense looks shaky and their infield is full of questions.
OK, fine, whatever.
Are the Padres better today than they were a week ago, before the acquisitions of the three outfielders, the trades for catcher Derek Norris and third baseman Will Middlebrooks and the additions of two bounce-back candidates, free-agent right-handers Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson?
Of course they are.
Are they more compelling? Better box office? A more intriguing television product?
Give new ownership credit — the Pads’ Opening Day payroll last season was a club-record $90 million, and now projects to zoom beyond $100 million. But this is more about creativity than money, and Preller is not done yet. The Pads’ roster still includes plenty of excess in the outfield — Seth Smith, Carlos Quentin, Cameron Maybin, Wil Venable, etc.
The best part of Preller’s reconstruction is that he has accomplished it without trading any of his established starting pitchers. He also has retained a number of the Padres’ top prospects — right-hander Matt Wisler, catcher Austin Hedges, outfielder Hunter Renfroe.
Surely, Padres fans cannot believe what they are seeing. Neither can many others in baseball. Preller is acting so quickly, it’s difficult for many of us mortals to follow along.
The Padres entered the offseason with a looming surplus at catcher. Preller actually created a new form of surplus, trading Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera and acquiring Norris, Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz. Then, just like that, he flipped Hanigan for Will Middlebrooks in a deal that is close to completion, as first reported by Yahoo Sports.
Smith is easily the most attractive trade candidate of the holdovers; the Mariners, in particular, are known to be interested in him. But frankly, the Padres would be wise to hold onto Smith, whose left-handed bat would help balance their lineup.
An outfield of Upton in left, Myers in center and Kemp in right is the most obvious possibility; Myers played 100 games in center in the minors. Another option would be to use Myers at first, where he played two games for the Rays last season.
Preller, to be sure, has this all figured out. He’s one, two, three steps ahead, the way Billy Beane and Andrew Friedman are when they are at their best. Other GMs, other ownerships, need to heed the call and take note of the unspoken message from San Diego: