San Diego Padres: They Can’t Find A Better General Manager?

The San Diego Padres should be the poster child for everything that can go wrong with a bad hire for the critical position of General Manager. In August 2014, they signed A.J. Preller to a unprecedented (for a man with no prior GM experience) five year deal. The franchise has never been the same since then, and that’s not a compliment.

The San Diego Padres have always seemed to exist pretty much as a afterthought in the NL West Division. And their year by year record proves it, except for one brief flurry more than a decade ago when they won two Division titles, one which they won with a record of 82-80 in 2005. Attendance has been consistent, always between 2-2.5 million, which you would expect in a climate blessed city. And maybe because of that, Padres fans haven’t been known for being passionate about their team. Because if the team is going bad, you can always go to the beach that day.

The Padres Do The Deed

A.J. Preller had it in his mind to change all of that. But unlike other GM’s who come in exploring and explaining a three or a five year plan to get the franchise headed back in the right direction, Preller wasn’t waiting around for anyone or anything. He was a man who had been described as “eccentric”, “in the shadows” and a “baseball rat”.

So if nothing else, Preller made the Padres relevant in late 2014. He made everyone sit up and take notice. In a 36-hour span, he traded away 15 players and received 11 in return. By the time the dust had settled , the Padres had acquired a new outfield consisting of Justin Upton , who is now floundering around the outfield for the Tigers, Wil Myers, who hit .259 last year (and led the team!), and Matt Kemp , whose lifespan with the Padres ended last season when he was unloaded to the Braves. All of which amounted to one of the most famously constructed outfields in the game, if not necessarily one of the best.

Preller wasn’t anywhere near done though. Because by now he had had everyone sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see what he was going to do next. Even Padres fans had taken notice, and some reportedly were seen reading about the Padres at the beach. And some of the beach goers were even seen leading the old high school cheer, “James Shields, he’s our man, if he can’t do it no one can”.

I’m making light of it, but none of it turned out to be very funny, especially when James Shields was acquired and proceeded to self combust last season, forcing the Padres to unload him to the White Sox.

Major League Baseball was taking notice too of what was going on in San Diego too. And the proverbial “it” hit the fan, Preller would wind up with a 30 day suspension issued by MLB for deliberately deceiving other teams during trade negotiations. It later became known that Preller consistently engaged in this tactic, but the one that stood out was the deal he made with the Red Sox when he sent Drew Pomerantz to them along with doctored medical records.

Are The Padres Paralyzed

His defense for doing so at the time, “Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?” was like the lame one given to the police all the time, “Gee officer, I didn’t know the speed limit was only 35 here”,  nevertheless was inexplicably accepted by MLB and he was only given a slap on the wrist.

The point is this though. Why haven’t the Padres suspended him further by firing and replacing him with a competent person who can pick up the pieces and move the franchise forward. Is it the five year contract thing? Too much money to lose? And that’s worth seeing the team having to survive another two years with this guy?

Sometimes, a franchise gets exactly what they deserve from the decisions they make. And just yesterday, I wrote about another franchise, the Cincinnati Reds, who tied themselves up with chains with the contract they gave Joey Votto. So maybe this is the same case with Preller. In any case though, it’s hard to find a legitimate reason why he is still the GM of the Padres. And still worse, why isn’t anyone (that I could find) in San Diego asking the same question.

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