8 Reasons Why The Padres Are The Nicest Organization In MLB
8. Giving Jason Lane a chance
At 37 years old, Jason Lane has made a remarkable comeback to the major leagues – as a pitcher – and the Padres granted him this opportunity despite average stuff. He appeared in two mop-up situations out of the bullpen in early June and then was promptly designated for assignment. Lane cleared waivers, was recalled to make a spot start on July 28th and pitched pretty darn well through six innings, but ended up with the loss. Afterwards, he was designated once again. Truth be told, the Padres are not in contention and can afford to partake in these feel good stories. Still, it’s so nice for them to fulfil the dreams of a player wishing to make a comeback attempt.
7. Keeping Bud Black as Manager
Bud Black is such a well respected person and baseball man that he, well, deserves to keep his job regardless of his teams’ success, right? He’s always available to the media, does lots of community work in the area, even bought a condo right in San Diego, so clearly he loves the area and wants to stay! That’s so sweet! The truth of the matter is that he hasn’t had a winning season since 2010 and including 2014, has had only two seasons above .500 in eight years. Sure, it’s not all his fault – I get it. Two owners and three GMs isn’t the kind of environment to foster long-term continuity and success.
6. Padres let quality front office people leave
First, San Diego let former GM Jed Hoyer and Assistant GM Jason McLeod leave in October, 2011 to join their buddy Theo Epstein in Chicago. They received a player to be named as compensation. Still, San Diego hired this front office duo from the Red Sox just two years prior and then decided to change course and let them go. It doesn’t make much sense.
Secondly, they let former manager Bruce Bochy leave while still under contract to go manage the division rival San Francisco Giants after the 2007 season – for no compensation whatsoever! Giants GM Brian Sabean even remarked at the time that he was stunned to learn that Bochy was available. It’s unbeknownst to me what the Padres were thinking.
5. Granting Josh Johnson his deepest desire
In the offseason Josh Johnson wanted to play in San Diego to re-establish his value and as such, took a below market $8M deal with a club option of $4M in case he failed to make even seven starts. While this kind of deal represents some impressive creativity, it fails to alleviate the risk involved for Johnson in 2015. For comparison sake, the Red Sox signed John Lackey to a contract that contained a clause stating that they could choose to get an additional option year at the league minimum salary if he missed an entire season to an elbow injury. Sure enough, that happened.
Granted, the richness of the contracts between the two pitchers was varied, and maybe Johnson wouldn’t have signed with San Diego if they presented him with the same clause as Lackey. However currently, it’s hard not to see which player has the better value going forward. Clearly the Padres will have a decision to make if they even want to retain Johnson, who will be trying to come back after his second Tommy John surgery.
Still, rather than Johnson, why couldn’t the Padres make an investment in a better pitcher, i.e. Matt Garza, which would have brought about more stability at the top of their rotation? On the other hand, perhaps this Johnson deal was a worthwhile risk for the Padres. Besides, former GM Josh Byrnes did have some people excited about his team’s potential back in the pre-season.
4. Padres’ brass didn’t skimp out in treating their GM candidates to fancy meals
It was reported by MLB.com’s Corey Brock that Padres President and CEO Mike Dee (pictured), Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, and investor Peter Seidler undertook an extensive interview process, and through it all, treated their interview candidates to fancy lunches and dinners! Okay, that’s pretty much chump change, but it’s sure nice of them to do that!
Brock’s article also noted that Dee, Fowler and Seidler were all interested in learning about how outsiders viewed the Padres’ organization. Hmm, well then, you’d think that they would just read their local media like here and here and they ought to get a pretty good idea about it.
3. They hired Preller despite MLB disciplinary issues
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports reported that Padres’ new GM A.J. Preller “received a one-month suspension in the late 2000s for an incident that occurred while he was scouting for the Rangers in the Dominican Republic,” which involved “negotiating with a player who had been suspended for an age/ID discrepancy.”Granted, this is a rather minor issue, since according to the article MLB gave Preller a “clean bill of health,” however it’s just so amusing poking fun of the Padres who make it so easy to do so. With all due respect, Preller seems like a smart hire given reports of his ability to think ‘outside of the box’.
2. They like to sign players that like playing in San Diego
It seems as if the Padres always sign players who either live or like playing in San Diego – Carlos Quentin, Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Tony Gwynn (including his son) all are from the area. Sure, many of those are star players, however numerous players say they love playing for the Padres and want to stay there long term – Huston Street, Cameron Maybin and Seth Smith (pictured) for example. Who wouldn’t though amongst the latter group if the Padres are throwing around money to players who, aside from Street, have yet to have sustained, consistent success at the MLB level.
If I’m Smith, a journeyman role player, and I get a chance to play for a non-competitive team and they offer me an extension, what am I going to say? It’s a no brainer. We’ll see how the Smith deal plays out in the future, but for now, it seems apparent that the Padres have a real bias to these kinds of players instead of, I don’t know, developing and acquiring real impact talent.
1. Preller considers his starting staff good?
Upon first look at the names in his front four (Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross and Jesse Hahn), there really isn’t anyone that sticks out as being over the top impressive, nor is there anyone you can really build around aside from maybe Cashner. However, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock, Preller is impressed with his inherited rotation! Yeah, I wouldn’t be. In all fairness though, after reviewing the numbers, those first four guys are performing pretty well with WHIPs all around 1.20 or lower, and according to ERA+ (which adjusts for ballpark), all of them are considered to be performing at an above average level aside from Kennedy who is close to league average (ERA+ of 97 where average is 100).
Overall, when I think of the Padres, I think of general mediocrity. They have been described as the black abyss that has become Padres’ baseball. Surprisingly, they somehow won 90 games in 2010, and made the playoffs by winning their division in 2006 and 2005 with 88 and 82 wins, respectively (yes, that’s not a misprint – 82 wins!). However they haven’t had any staying power, no run of success, no huge stars developed. Just look at their underwhelming 2010 roster: Clayton Richard is gone, Jon Garland is gone, Wade LeBlanc was bad, Kevin Correia was bad. They were playing Miguel Tejada and David Eckstein up the middle. You can say that Bud Black got the most out of his roster that season and deservingly so, won the NL Manager of the Year.
It’s time for San Diego to stop being so nice – quite rewarding mediocrity just because players like playing there. Start generating supreme talent through the draft and development, and get the foresight to extend their worthy players like the Rays did with Evan Longoria. They could have done it with Mat Latos. Sure I understand they’re a small market team and they received some good prospects at the time in return. At this moment though, it hasn’t exactly worked out. And if they’re going to try to lock up Andrew Cashner again, they had better well do it because they gave up a pretty good first baseman to get him in the first place…whom they traded to their former GM in Chicago. How nice!