Grasping for Hope
For many San Diego sports fans, once it became official that the Chargers were moving to Los Angeles, all allegiance shifted to the San Diego Padres. Now the lone major league team in the San Diego sports scene, fans look for any hope to grasp from a franchise that has not had a winning season since 2010 or made the playoffs since 2006.
In 2014, A. J. Preller was hired by the Padres from the Texas Rangers. During the 2015 Winter Meetings he made aggressive moves, acquiring Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays, Derek Norris from the Oakland A’s and Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves.
By the start of the season, Preller continued to make deals, signing James Shields from the Kansas City Royals and Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. from the Atlanta Braves. Many Padres fans expected this team to compete and contend for a postseason spot. However in typical Padre fashion the team disappointed, finishing with a 74-88 record.
During and following the 2015 season, many changes came to the organization. Manager Bud Black was fired, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, and James Shields were traded and young manager Andy Green was hired.
Promising young farm talent such as Manuel Margot and Anderson Espinoza were traded for and Preller began to rebuild a farm system that had been raided back in 2014. For the first time in years, the Padres organization gave fans a legitimate reason to hope for a successful future.
As the 2018 Major League Baseball season begins, the Padres have the number one rated farm system according to MLB.com. With seven top 100 ranked prospects (Fernando Tatis Jr., SS #8, McKenzie Gore, LHP # 19, Luis Urias, 2B/SS #36, Cal Quantrill, RHP #40, Michel Baez, RHP #42, Adrian Morejon, LHP #50, Anderson Espinoza, RHP #89), San Diego is primed to be a contender within the next few seasons.
What about this season? Why watch now?
There is plenty of talent on the Padres major league roster. Wil Myers hit 30 home runs last season, coming from a 28 home run season in 2016. Manny Margot provides stability, speed and offense at the lead off position and big money free agent acquisition Eric Hosmer gives the Padres a big name and a proven winner at first base. Hosmer won the World Series with the Royals in 2015.
Realistically though, I do believe that the Padres will still finish below .500 and in last place in a very competitive NL West. However, the Friars have built and excellent foundation for the future. Within the next few years, San Diego could own the NL West and who knows, maybe win a World Series or Two.