If A.J. Preller was in the batter’s box, we know the count: 0-2.
Preller, the Padres’ general manager, swung and missed with his offseason overhaul of the roster. His second strike arrived when canning manager Bud Black for Pat Murphy.
Thank goodness you get three strikes in baseball. Preller’s at-bat is still alive even if his team is left for dead.
The Padres continue their road trip to oblivion this afternoon in Pittsburgh. In what some called a season-defining trek, the Padres made one wrong turn after another. They’ve gone 2-4 away from Petco after Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pirates.
In five of those six games, San Diego scored two runs or less. In none of those six games, did it eclipse the goals (five) the US Women Soccer team put on the board in winning the World Cup.
All this kick-in-the-shins excursion is missing is a whinny kid in the backseat asking if we’re there yet. Yep, pip-squeak we are, so pipe down.
The Padres (39-47) are at that fork in the baseball highway, the one labeling you as a buyer or seller. The trading deadline arrives on July 31 and Preller needs to choke up and put the ball in play.
It’s a bummer, for sure.
Nothing was more certain in March than that Padres playing meaningful games in October. Instead they’re playing out the string and when that happens before Del Mar’s first horse race, that’s nothing but a road apple.
But the season which has the Padres 1.5 games from the cellar isn’t kaput and we’re wondering about Preller’s next move as well.
After two grand swings which did little but generate air, can Preller save a lost year? Can he dig in and at least make contact, and this has nothing to do with Alexi Amarista. But in listening to Preller, he’s not convinced a “For Sale” sign needs to be planted at Petco.
“I think it’s that type of year where you’re evaluating and the focus is on being prepared for the next three weeks and being prepared for different scenarios,” Preller told mlb.com. “It’s not a record thing from our standpoint, but what the value is on the market, if we think there’s going to be good deals, whether that’s adding to the club or changing the look of the club a little bit, that’s what this time of year is for. We’re still in the process of evaluating that.”
We’ll save Preller some time and kick the tires ourselves as the Padres stagger toward their fifth straight losing season. The Padres are that car on the roadside, with the hood up and Dad scratching his head, trying to decipher what’s wrong. It’s tough to resurrect a blown engine with fresh spark plugs and that appears to be Preller’s approach.
We understand where Preller is coming from, as waving a white flag is no way to draw fans or build interest. But in the long-term interest of the franchise, pieces need to be moved, like outfielder Justin Upton and pitchers Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit.
Those players have value, especially to teams fighting for a playoff spot. Just don’t expect many major-leaguers coming San Diego’s way. Teams aiming for the postseason won’t shoot themselves in the foot by purging their rosters of proven talent.
Instead coming back will be prospects and this is the spot where Padres fans roll their eyes. Prospects are suspects and those cheering for the Padres know how that usually works.
Still it’s critical to refurbish a farm system which was decimated by Preller’s buying spree and if you can find a shortstop at any level, let the rookie GM know.
It’s no mystery why the Padres can’t score, what with Matt Kemp hanging his shingle in the .240 neighborhood.
Catcher Derek Norris has worn down — why, again is Austin Hedges in the big leagues if seldom used? – as he lives on Kemp’s .240 block, too.
Wil Myers might not play again this season, but when putting your faith in injured players, something often happens: they get injured again.
The exception, of course, is Upton. What a crime that the man robbing Andrew McCutchen of a homer on Tuesday should be wearing another uniform on Aug. 1.
Upton is the team’s lone All Star and it’ll be fun watching him in Cincinnati. Maybe he can talk to other ex-Padres at the mid-summer classic. Like them, Upton should soon be a former Padre and let’s hope Preller gets something stellar in return.
That didn’t happen when the Padres peddled Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. All will be at the Great American Ballpark on July 14 while the Padres suffer through another great letdown. Then there’s the NL manager, some cat named Bruce Bochy.
We accept that Preller and most the players he acquired botched this season. What’s left is Preller building for the future, in the wake of the Padres playing like their dreadful past.
Preller’s always looking for good two-strike hitters. Now he has to prove he’s one of them.