In one year, the 2016 Major League All-Star Game will take place in San Diego. There will be a lot on the line. The city will have an opportunity to display Petco Park on the national stage and the NFL will be watching. The Ron Fowler/Mike Dee/AJ Preller combo has brought the team up to speed in a smart and responsible way, adding exciting new players in moves that contributed to locking down the prized Midsummer Classic. It would be great to have left fielder Justin Upton on the field for that game. As he excels through his contract year, the call to #ExtendUpton is the natural impulse for fans. However, if the Padres are sellers at the trade deadline and a contender calls with an offer for him, they’ll have no choice but to listen.
I’m turning 35 this summer and would like nothing more than to have Justin Upton locked up and playing left field for the Friars as I move into my 40s. But San Diego is a mid-market team that for years spent like a small one. I don’t want to go back to that. More importantly, I want this ownership group to feel good about the money they’ve spent and continue to do so without ever getting gun shy. That being said, it’s no secret that after this season Justin Upton could garner a contract that would take the Padres into a level of spending they might not be able to recover from if things go bad. Teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox can make mistakes that the Padres can’t. That isn’t a reflection of who we are as fans, or the ineptitude of these owners. It’s just math. There is plenty of data that suggests paying a human being well over $100mil for any length of time to play baseball is a risk that can sink your ship.
Justin Upton is an exciting 27 year old heading into probably his last monster pay day. All indications point to him liking it in San Diego, but he’s only been a Padre for 62 games. We didn’t draft him and he didn’t make his name here. A trade wouldn’t be devastating to either party, especially if it looks like a long shot for a Padres postseason run by the July 31st trade deadline. Trading him for more starting pitching, prospects, or a much needed replacement for the Alexi Amarista/Clint Barmes platoon at short stop would help the team and keep things freed up to make more offseason moves. AJ Preller has made baseball fun again in San Diego. We should let him work and not be tied down to one player.
This year, the Major League Baseball All-Star Game will take place in Kansas City and it looks like the Royals might display seven guys. They had a rough couple decades. Let them have their fun. As of right now, the Padres have three real candidates that will ultimately come down to the decision making of Bruce Bochy. James Shields will likely make the National League pitching staff. He was the best pitcher on the Royals team that just last year lost to Bochy’s Giants in the World Series. Shields won’t slide into the back of the mound when his number is called and Royals fans will get a chance to thank him. Derek Norris could make his way onto the National League roster slotted behind Buster Posey, but it’ll be close. Justin Upton is having the best offensive season of any Padre, but in all likelihood won’t crack the top three in Outfield voting. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the madness of All-Star voting. Next year is our year to go crazy. I’ve only filled out one ballot so far and will continue to fill out ballots as the game approaches. I voted for Justin Upton and Derek Norris and no Giants or Dodgers. I have my beliefs.
If Upton continues his level of play through June, he will deserve to be on the All Star team. Regardless if that happens, he is an All Star player. I want to #ExtendUpton more than anybody, but I want to extend this feeling of being relevant for longer than the payday the team will get next summer when San Diego hosts the big party. After the 1992 All Star Game in San Diego, everything went to hell with The Fire Sale. In the back of my mind, the thought of Preller’s magical December, the advent of Bud Selig Plaza, and the awarding of the 2016 game are all connected. I’m conditioned to not trust anybody who runs the Padres. In a perfect world, we drop $150mil for 7 years to Upton and keep on spending around him. But the world isn’t perfect. I’ll put my faith in AJ Preller to navigate through it. Essentially, “his” team, along with Justin Upton, has only played 62 games. AJ is cheaper.
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