Hired Guns – Padres Load Up

Posted by on February 10th, 2015  •  0 Comments  • 

The man must never sleep, or if he does, it probably is during the day because he is always working late at night.
Witness the timing of the signing of free agent pitcher James Shields of the Royals, just before midnight on Sunday evening.  Remembering the texts at 3:15am during the Winter Baseball Meetings, when Matt Kemp came from the Dodgers in the middle of the night.
AJ Prellar continues to operate on his own timetable, obviously, in his own time zone.
HIs winter shopping spree seems complete, this makeover of the embarrassment the Padres franchise had become.
If you are keeping score at home, the Padres new General Manager has added 26-players in all to the organization.  11-established major leaguers thru the series of trades and some free-agent signings, 5-young minor league prospects, and 10-additional minor league journeyman free agents..
He engineered 7-trades within a 7-week period, with 26-players departing.  6-established major leaguers were moved, 10-key players in the farm system were used as bargaining chips, and 10-other minor leaguers were cut loose.
The payroll has taken a bump up to about 107M for the coming season, from the 90M it was at last year, when the Padres version of the Broadway production “Eight Men Out ‘ concluded a disgusting slump-ridden, injury prone season.
Think about this group.  When the Winter Meetings began here in the Gaslamp District in December, the Padres starting outfield was Seth Smith, Cam Maybin and Will Venable.  As the Hot Stove League ends, the Friars outfield is now Matt Kemp-Wil Myers and Justin  Upton.
Think about a starting rotation last year that was made up by a couple of established hurlers, a bunch AAA-arms, stragglers, fringe free agents, and guys you hoped could come back from surgery.
Today your rotation is headlined by a horse, James Shields, a warrior Ian Kennedy, a flame thrower Andrew Cashner, and a fast track live arm in Tyson Ross.  And that does not include former Blue Jays arms Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson, both front line starters till arm injuries hit.  Added to that is Viva Havana Odri Despaigner and the young lefthander Robbie Erlin.
The bullpen, forever deep and talented, is even more so.  Kevin Quackenbush grew into the closers role to join Joaquin Benoit; Brandon Mauer and Shaun Kelly arrived in deals; the holders remain Dale Thayer, Alex Torres and Nick Vincent.
And on the outside of the circle, hoping 2015 leads to a return to health are Casey Kelly and Corey Leubke.
We go to the Cactus League in a week, and it safe to say that the landscape in the NL West is changed.  Despite eternal optimism from anyone wearing Dodgers Blue, you’d have a hard time convincing anyone that LA has replaced Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Dee Gordon in that batting order, with Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick..
The Giants turn players over every December, but there will be no more Panda Bear sightings by the Bay, and without Pablo Sandoval and the power of Mike Morse and the grit of Marco Scutaro, San Francisco is not the same.
Arizona has overhauled much of its talent, but the cornerstones of who they were just a couple of years ago, have never been replaced.  Not Justin Upton, Chris Young, Steven Drew, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Webb..
Colorado didn’t have any pitching last year, and seems to have less this year.
San Diego is ready for a winner.  God knows ownership’s decisions in the past five to eight years, nearly washed away the trust and enthusiasm the community had when shiny new Petco Park opened.
For the first time in a long time, Padres fans don’t have to ‘hope’ these guys will be good.  Instead, they know these guys ‘have been good’.  AJ Preller won the ‘off season’.
For the first time in years, the term “Pitchers & Catchers” report, leads to excitement and expectation.  “Pitchers & Catchers report”  words that now have meaning and credibility in  San Diego. 
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