Every day is a journey between two feelings. When I wake up, my mind is mush. The world in its entirety comes from all directions and I have no shot to overcome anything. Yet, I have potential. With the help of coffee, twitter, and possibly a piece of fruit, I start to show glimpses of being a fully functioning human. Usually around noon, I’ve reincarnated into something close enough to myself to find a path. I don’t need gloves to combat what comes my way. Obstacles may arise, but there’s still hope to fulfill my purpose. Then I have lunch. By the evening, when the sun finally gives up, I’m completely formed. There are no more mysteries about my place in the universe. When I shut my eyes to go to sleep, I’m exactly who I am.
The Wil Myers extension and the Eric Hosmer signing will always be important to the San Diego Padres. They’re connected in a way that will likely determine a huge part of how this ownership group is ultimately perceived. Myers was supposed to be the face of the franchise going into 2017. Then, in the following offseason, the team tried to cover that package with Hosmer, a similar face printed on thin paper. Upon Hosmer’s arrival, their two images were smashed together and designed to serve the same purpose. The outlines didn’t fit and it felt like that reality could easily be in place for the duration of both contracts.
Then Wil Myers started taking grounders.
Having just come off a 10 day stint on the DL, Wil Myers played his first three games at third base as a major leaguer during this week’s Angels series. He looked comfortable, made a ton of routine plays, and almost broke the team’s single game 3B assist record on Monday night. Myers displayed the natural athletic ability that we already knew he had and it was absolutely thrilling to watch him not look lost.
Despite the first few games of the hot corner experiment going well, the conventional belief that most Padres fans share is still in place: Myers needs to figure out his position and stay healthy to achieve the greatness inside him and Hosmer needs to display the greatness that he was billed to have. This informs every conversation about the two players and will continue this way until they settle into the essential pieces of foundation the team has intended. If this doesn’t work at third base, it will be another chapter in the saga of figuring out what Myers is on a National League roster if first base isn’t an option.
Eric Hosmer is the veteran who has a ring and will make over 200 million dollars in his life playing baseball his way. Even if fans hate his ground ball rate, he is viewed as a fully formed asset because that’s how he was presented to us. This is who Hosmer is, was, and will always be. Unfortunately, this becomes a problem because it feels deeply connected to Myers’ success. Hosmer started off his time with the Padres on a trajectory to have a pretty standard season for him and the discussion around the team was mostly that his production was close enough to market value in 2018. Then he fell off a cliff just as Wil Myers returned from his first stay on the DL and hasn’t really recovered. His ground balls are still a problem and it doesn’t appear that it’s going to change this season.
Now Hosmer is viewed as a misplaced win-now move and the fact that he came from the same core of Kansas City players as James Shields doesn’t help. Even though we don’t completely know who made that decision, there are threads involved that are hard to ignore. Wil feels like more of a real Padre than Hosmer, even though Eric is the manifestation of what we’ve always wanted the Padres to be: a team that spends.
The dust has essentially settled from the Sell The Sizzle team of 2015. Preller’s first significant act that has had a lasting consequence was the trading away of top SS prospect Trea Turner for Wil Myers. Because we have to believe in Preller, we want Trea Turner to fail and Wil to succeed. Turner recently getting revealed as a high school racist was a win we needed. But because that period of Padres history is viewed so negatively, it forces us to view Myers as a phoenix rising from the ashes. When the James Shields money and the Matt Kemp blog fades away in our collective memory, Myers will be there, still standing and hopefully mashing in the playoffs. If we’re to follow the arc of Sizzle to Tank to 2020+ Glory, Wil is the key player to all of it. He needs to be great and not be viewed as someone to merely have the potential to achieve it.
By Wednesday night, I was texting a friend from the beach just before the 6:10pm start and asking him to let me know if Wil made an error during the game. The stakes were high. Nothing significant happened on Wil’s end, and even though the Padres still got swept by the Angels, it felt like a successful series because the development folded inside this non-disaster could unlock a huge part of the future.
Like Wil, the Padres are a project and the fans have to continue on that journey. We woke up from a bad dream and Myers was there. Now, after watching him play third base successfully at the start, it feels like we have a path to becoming something real. It’s still a long throw from third to first. At the end of the day we have to close your eyes and let it get there.
Follow @Nicholas_McCann on Twitter.
Come to the The Kept Faith’s Ice Cream Social August 19th at Bay City Brewing Co.!
Trivia starts 5pm
Live Pod at 6:30pm