Preller’s Dizzying Deals Has Fans Giddy With Excitement
It’s a great day to be a Padres fan! With yet another impressive acquisition in signing starting pitcher James Shields to a reported four-year, $75-million contract, general manager A.J. Preller has bolstered the Friars’ rotation heading into the season. As pitchers and catchers are 10 days away from reporting to Peoria, I can hardly remember a more exciting time to be a Padres fan. Adding talent from top to bottom in Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Meyers, Will Middlebrooks, and Derek Norris, the new-look Padres have sent a strong signal to the NL West that they are ready to compete for the division, NOW.
From a fan’s standpoint, it’s refreshing to see the organization spend money and bring in players that have the talent to contribute at the major-league level – a contribution that both the front office and fans are expecting to translate into wins. Long gone are the days of frozen payrolls and minor-league talent that plagued the Padres during the John and Becky Moores divorce and failed ownership transition to a conglomeration of investors led by Jeff Moorad.
With the dust settling on the 2012 purchase of ownership by Ron Fowler and Dodgers icon Peter O’Malley’s relatives, the front office has finally began to “put its money where its mouth is.” That’s epitomized by Preller’s moves that have national pundits shedding light on San Diego and questioning whether the Giants or Dodgers will be running away with the division.
Based on Preller’s handiwork, Padres fans finally have something to be thrilled about – a feeling that seems distant and unfamiliar. It’s been nine years (and counting) since the San Diego was in the postseason. But with the news of Shields’ expected signing, the city and its fans are bustling with the hopes and dreams of once again returning to October baseball.
Skeptics will be quick to question exactly which James Shields did the Padres just make its largest financial commitment to in franchise history – eclipsing the three-year, $52-million Jake Peavy received in 2007. Did we just sign “Big Game James” that posts 200-inning seasons as sure as the sun will rise?
Or did we just sign “Three Frame James” that has a 3-6 record with a 5.46 ERA in the postseason and struggled in the World Series to retire San Francisco hitters. One thing is undeniable: Shields is an immediate upgrade over the likes of Eric Stults, who went 8-17 with a 4.30 ERA last year with the Padres.
As the impact of the San Diego players have yet to be felt where it counts most, between the lines, Padres boosters can rejoice that the front office has finally given manager Bud Black the talent he needs to compete for a division title. That’s something that would bring respect back to a proud organization only one year removed from losing its greatest hero, Tony Gwynn, and quite possibly saving Black’s job.
+ Dennis Gulyas is a longtime Padres fans and an intern with The Mighty 1090