Time for Preller to decide path and own it

AJ Preller

Strong pitching, timely hitting, sound defense.

Pretty simple recipe for success.

Yet, the Padres have been searching for a way to harness all three, at the same time, the majority of the season.

Now, they seem to be figuring it out.

Before Sunday’s rain-shortened contest with the Rockies, the Padres had won four straight games, tying the team’s longest win-streak of the season.

There’s something different about these four games, though. The Padres seem to be clicking and have shown flashes of passion and confidence. Although down 1-0 with two outs in the top of the fifth, Andrew Cashner was dealing and Matt Kemp continued his resurgence, stroking two doubles to left field.

It felt like the Padres were going to pull it out.

Yes, it’s a small sample in what has been a dismal season. But it is progress.

It’s just that it might too little too late.

General Manager A.J. Preller is in a tough situation with the trade deadline just 12 days away and the question remains, should the Padres be buyers or sellers?

Upper management has insisted over the last few weeks that the team won’t undergo a full-fledged fire sale. On the other hand, some pundits think the Padres should tear the whole thing down, and rebuild for the future.

But what happens if the Padres, say, sweep the Giants, or even take two of three? San Diego would be three or four games back from second place in the NL West, and they would be in a similar situation with the second Wild Card as well (San Francisco remains one game behind the Chicago Cubs).

Well within striking distance.

The problem for Preller, though, is that he already messed with the clubhouse mojo once this season when he fired Bud Black, and it’s a big reason why this team is in the position it’s in.

Imagine you’re a player on the Padres. You’re feeling good about the way the team is playing post All-Star break, a glimmer of confidence is starting to return in the clubhouse, and then Justin Upton is traded (likely for a few prospects and/or maybe an average, at best, big leaguer).

Power bat gone. No immediate replacement. (The Padres could be long out of it by the time Wil Myers returns to the team).

What about James Shields? Sure, his numbers aren’t what many expected, but the value of his leadership in the clubhouse is unquestioned.

Staff ace, clubhouse leader, gone. No immediate replacement.

(VIDEO:Marty Caswell caught up with James Shields and asked him about the possibility of being traded)

What if both Upton and Shields are moved?

The point is, the Padres should just decide which side of the fence they’re on, buyers or sellers. Shipping out talented veterans in exchange for what’s likely to be prospects or average big leaguers, and then continuing to hope for a second half push is useless, and it won’t fly in the clubhouse.

Preller should either go all in on the season or all in on setting this team up for the future.

Not both.

Playing the middle ground won’t work because of the way he assembled this year’s team, and with the money the Padres are on the hook for in 2016 and beyond.

One way or the other, after the Giants series, he should pick a path, and own it.

 

Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)

 

Do you think Preller should buy or sell before the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments below. 

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