Welcome to San Diego, where the money flows likes the sunshine. OK, maybe not that much but how else to explain two recent developments?
San Diego decided investing $2.1 million of taxpayer dough into an environmental report for a Mission Valley football stadium which doesn’t have a financial plan or the blessing of its main tenant is wise.
And the Padres, despite this year’s disappointment, confirmed it’s full steam ahead via their route of signing pricey veterans to become competitive. No matter that their farm system resembles Central California’s drought-stricken crops. They’re not in a rush to restock the minors.
First the Chargers and is the city throwing good bucks after bad?
We get that by moving forward via Tuesday’s City Council vote the city gains favor with the NFL. Just remember it’s a league which cares little (none?) about how motivated municipalities are to retain their teams.
Just look at what St. Louis is doing to convince the NFL to help it keep the Rams. More than $500 million has been earmarked for new Rams digs and the collective response is a shrug of the shoulders from those on Park Avenue.
The NFL’s business model is to stay in the news 365 days a year and try to make financial killing on each of those days.
You do remember it allowed the Browns to flee Cleveland long ago and that’s been the precedent since.
San Diego was hoodwinked by the NFL batting its eyes at Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council. It’s a no-brainer the NFL wants to keep San Diego in the hunt for a bargaining chip when playing the Los Angeles card.
It’s equally as obvious the Chargers want nothing to do with Mission Valley. But San Diego keeps milking the former dairy farm site in udder disbelieve to some.
The Chargers want to be downtown — period.
San Diego wants the Chargers to be in Mission Valley — period.
The city’s rush job of the EIR is just that and lawyers are already lining up to contest it. Even if it passed the smell test — it doesn’t — what is the Chargers’ motivation to play in a venue it doesn’t want, in a location it despises?
Maybe the Chargers leave and San Diego flips the 166-acre chunk of Qualcomm asphalt into something more than condos and eateries. But don’t hold your breath for another NFL team and where again will San Diego State acquire funds to turn it into San Diego State South?
The Padres (41-49) know all about that direction; their compass has pointed there since breaking 10-5 from the gate. But despite a formula which isn’t working, and usually doesn’t, the Padres’ brass is eager to reload, not rebuilt.
We get it and the TV ratings and Petco Park attendance figures prove their approach is successful on some levels.
But records don’t lie and the standings aren’t printed upside down. The fourth-place Padres are just that and how again is this going to change with another round of veterans?
General manager A.J. Preller has pieces to work with and we couldn’t say that when he took over last August. But unfortunately he’ll be selling low on rentals like Justin Upton, Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy. Few are paying top dollar on players that could flee after the season.
Although, maybe Preller can take a page from the Brewers’ book.
They peddled Zack Greinke to the Angels in 2012, just before he became a free agent; he didn’t re-sign with the Angels. Milwaukee got shortstop Jean Segura and wouldn’t the Padres thirst for a similar return.
The Padres are smart and they know to be a sustainable, winning organization, shoving young talent into one end of the pipe line is how its done. At some point it spits out talent — if savvy in scouting and development — at a fraction of the cost.
But we understand why the Padres are gun-shy about that approach and why their fans revolt at such a scenario. The Padres tried doing just that and the result was four straight losing seasons and no pay off on the other end.
Another story is the first-place Astros. They got there after averaging 100 losses in four years but now have a core of peach-fuzz players that will have them in contention for years. Same goes with the Cardinals, Rays, Cubs, Pirates and Nationals.
That’s not to say a free-agent isn’t plugged in occasionally, and all the clubs above did just that. But to rely on veterans — that cost mucho — to stay competitive for long stretches is a fallacy.
We understand the Yankees have 27 world championships, but if it was just about the money, they would have a lot more.
The Dodgers have attempted that path and do you remember where you were in 1988, the last time they reached the World Series?
Preller could also mine the international market and that’s an area when he allegedly shines. But again, those gems from around the globe usually aren’t cheap.
So we await what happens with the Chargers, with one hand on our wallet as the City placates a family with a $1 billion asset.
So we await what happens with the Padres, with both hands over our eyes after Baseball America’s released its list of top 50 prospects. Not one Padre is among the nifty 50, although two former Padres are noticed in pitcher Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner.
But they’re gone and we’re looking ahead and really, it’s quite easy. Just follow the money trail.