The Padres’ side of the Peoria Sports Complex has a different vibe this year.
OK, so what if I just got here and have yet to see Matt Kemp or Wil Myers. And who cares that I’ve never met A.J. Preller? These are minor details.
What I’m talking about is bigger picture.
People here are talking about…winning. And I don’t mean the type of winning that every baseball club talks about this time of the year so I’ll spare you the “hope springs eternal” spiel that I’ve delivered more times than I care to count.
Everything that happens here this spring will be evaluated on the basis of what best helps the team win in 2015. Roster spots, trades, starting lineups — the whole shooting match. To paraphrase what a Padres staffer told me Monday — the best 25 guys are making this team.
(Some of you might be wondering why this isn’t always the standard and you’d be right to ask that question. The answer is simple. Baseball is dumb at times and decisions aren’t always made with a “win now” mentality. A player’s salary might demand he stay on the active roster so the GM doesn’t get embarrassed; a minor-league player isn’t promoted when he should be to save the organization money; meddlesome owners want their favorite players to play, etc.)
The message has been sent from Padres ownership that winning is what’s expected in 2015. Competition for roster spots should reflect that message.
For example: If Cameron Maybin outperforms Wil Myers during spring training, then there shouldn’t be any hesitation in starting Maybin in centerfield on opening day or vice versa.
Robbie Erlin may have built some equity with the club and the coaching staff last season but that was last season and if Brandon Morrow gives the Padres a better chance, then he should be the fifth starter.
I can’t imagine the Padres breaking camp with three catchers like they did in 2014, a decision that hamstrung the manager until the day Nick Hundley was traded.
Bottom line in Peoria and for the upcoming season is this: Buddy Black is being evaluated on the wins and losses more-so this season than any other Padres season in recent memory and perhaps for his entire managerial career. “Winning” – though tough to specifically define – matters most in 2015, not development or the future.
For a change, all decision are expected to reflect that.
+ Contact Darren Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org