Eight games under .500 isn’t the end of the world, but it’s the world we live in. The next two weeks will be the most important stretch the San Diego Padres have had in a long time. Are they going to be buyers or sellers at the deadline? Can they be sellers going into their year to host the All Star Game? These questions will be answered by what AJ Preller decides to do with Justin Upton. A super talented 27 year old playing in the second half of a contract year is a valuable commodity to have and dangerous one to lose.
The Padres could get hot and be justified to keep Upton. This would propel us into an offseason where the team will either make a real offer or something in the ball park to be able to say that they tried. It’s maddening to play the game of trying to interpret what the front office is thinking, but next year’s All Star Game is a real factor for the short term. San Diego doesn’t need five players in the game like they had in 1992, but they can’t just have one come in late in the game, slap a single, and be left on base.
AJ Preller made a bunch of moves last offseason, and the Padres named a plaza after Bud Selig. His successor, Rob Manfred, then awarded San Diego one of the great showcases in sports. The Padres can’t blow anything up, but they can get out of overpaying Justin Upton while getting some value in return if the team stumbles out of the gate in the second half. If Wil Myers returns before the deadline and plays well the Padres will be able to move Upton and maintain the ability to say to the fans that they’re still trying this year. The chances of the Padres having a winning record by the deadline are small. It would have to be a sea change transformation from what they were going into the break. For Preller, Wil Myers is the key to saving “his” outfield. This is the phase of the team that he made the biggest splash. Matt Kemp has been disappointing, Justin could leave, and Melvin Upton’s corpse has been seen in the field far too often with the absence of Myers. If Wil can be the stud he was sold to be, that will push Melvin down the bench behind Will Venable, who to his credit, has been the most consistent outfielder on the roster.
There has been talk recently about a fire sale. Some fans think we should blow this thing up and try again. People forget what the last real fire sale was. The Padres stacked their team with tremendous talent and had a huge representation of Padres players in the last All Star Game San Diego hosted. After that game, they essentially stripped the team down to Tony and a bunch of scrubs. This go around is different. The people of San Diego built Petco Park on the premise that the new stadium would allow the Padres to put a competitive product on the field and be able to host the All Star Game with a healthy amount of players representing the team. Preller made his splash and the game is ours. He now has to navigate through constructing the proper message to the fans. I’m choosing to believe that the Padres will improve in the second half and make Preller’s job more complicated. I’m still holding on to the mad genius mystique that he is still several moves ahead and thrives under scenarios that call for complex decision making. I don’t have a choice. I root for a team that actively promotes faith as a viable way to consume baseball. Tell me what I want to hear. Show me what I need to see. The deadline will come and pass, but this winter won’t be the same as the last one.
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