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2016 Padres… The Year of Challenges 

After a disappointing 2015, the Padres will embark on a new journey with a new manager at the helm. Although, I don’t know what to expect from Green, I’m excited to see how he handles himself, as well as young players, the bullpen, the lineup, the culture, holding players accountable, etc. All things that were sub-par with the previous manager, and no doubt played a part in the Padres post-season drought. Addition by subtraction.

This looks to be an interesting year for the Padres. Although after Mike Dee sold the fans’ soul in exchange for an All-Star game, the Padres themselves have left a lot to be desired in terms of this roster. Don’t get me wrong, the team has plenty of meat, but considerably less than it did last season. In a small twitter poll (238 votes), 41% of our followers picked the Padres to finish in 4th or 5th place.  Let’s face it, with the exception of Andy Green, this team isn’t doing much besides spending money and creating this fantasy that they are trying to win.  Meanwhile the Giants, and D-Backs have stepped up, and, similar to the Padres, the Dodgers have shed dead weight by turning Don Mattingly loose (addition by subtraction). Thank goodness for the Rockies!

As usual, I’m not here to sugar coat things, after all, I don’t work for the team, I’m not a cronie, and I don’t need or desire special access to anything, which allows me to really tell you how I feel, for better or worse. Now that doesn’t mean, I’m here to spew all sorts of negative thoughts about the team. In fact earlier today I wrote a post about reasons to watch the Padres this season. Yay!

However, this post is more about the reality of this organization. The short-comings, and inabilities of the team. You may ask why I would post this on opening day? Simple… Given the state of the team, this will be the highest traffic day of the year, with the trade deadline coming in a close second. So if I’ve got something to say, now is the time. Dear Padres… I challenge you to…  Improve?

Mike Dee – Padres fans have really had the poor fortune of bad executives in the past, but Dee takes this to another level.  From the moment I met the guy at a charity event and he was more concerned about standing alone in the walk way for everyone to see than introductions, I knew we had a problem. From his pissing contest with Byrnes, to PA auditions, to Selig plaza, to moving the retired numbers for the sake of more signage. Dee has shown that he not only has no interest in what the fans want or the fan experience, but he’s willing to take a dump on us, and then try and tell us over and over why it’s good for our skin. He’s an embarrassment. It’s one thing to be a “Richard” when you’re a bad ass at what you do, but he’s terrible. Not only has the team under performed to epic proportions, but he’s set the organization back years, AND he’s taken one of the most beautiful parks in baseball and turned it into a billboard — an ugly billboard at that. At least have a little style, be creative, don’t just throw up some text and call it a day. I’m not saying that a giant slot machine on the batters eye would have been the way to go, but I’m not saying it isn’t either. The man would probably sell ad space on his dome for the right price. Let’s not even get started on the uniforms. For goodness sake, at least use gold, not yellow! Rant over.

Dee’s challenge – Learn how to think like a fan, and stop feeding the fans nonsense. At a time most of San Diego hates the Chargers, Mike Dee is pushing hard to become the most hated man in San Diego sports. Just come clean about the rebuild, and execute. Also, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea that once the payroll starts dropping that they drop ticket prices as well until the team can compete.

AJ Preller – From Rockstar GM to the guy that traded away a bunch of talent all in one season. Perhaps not all of the talent, but the wave that Padres fans had been waiting half a decade for was wiped away in one offseason. Names like Ross, Wisler, Andriese, Barbato, Smith, Turner, and more for the opportunity to watch the team go 74-88? One could say it was worth a shot, but considering the playoff drought fans have had to endure, I don’t see the point of trading away the majority of the wave of talent that was about to crash on the shores of Petco Park. Now the Padres are well set up to lose 90 games with bad contracts inflating the payroll. Most if not all fans ultimately care about the success of the major league team, so talking about draft picks and international signings is great, but if you’re not winning at the major league level then it’s just noise. Keep in mind, Preller took over a top 10 minor league system, and turned it into a bottom 10 system in one year, while tying up a ton of payroll in diminishing vets.

Preller’s challenge – Field a winning team at the major league level, while rebuilding a farm system to the level of the one that he traded away in his rookie season.

Wil Myers – This is the year that Myers’ wrist gets its own twitter account, right? How that hasn’t happened already is beyond me. You know what’s also beyond me? How you take a young, solid right fielder and put him at first base, but leave the worst defensive right fielder (with a set of bum knees) in right field? I like Myers, not as much as I’d rather have (six years of control) Joe Ross, Trea Turner, and Jake Bauers, but I do like him and think if he can stay healthy he’s the Padres best offensive player. This is Myers 4th season in the majors, time to step up.

Myers Challenge – 500 ABs and start to treat baseball like a professional. Play time is over.

Matt Kemp – At least he’s not Carlos Quentin! The Padres are on the hook for another $85MM for Kemp, the worst right fielder in baseball. In all fairness, Kemp was outstanding with the bat after July 1st. The problem is that he was miserable prior to it, which not only hurt the Padres in the W/L column, but also Kemp’s trade value.

Kemp’s Challenge – Earn that cheese! No one cares when you hit when no one is watching. The Padres aren’t going to win big while Kemp is productive and under team control (the next 2-3 years), so if he can hit well enough to allow them to move his salary and reallocate those funds that would at least allow them to salvage the poor decision in acquiring him in the first place.

Melvin Upton – Those new prospects from the Kimbrel deal look great, however we can’t forget that we have MUpton to thank for that. Yes, and for only $32MM over the next two season you too, can enjoy Melvin roaming your outfield. Similar to Kemp, the Padres are not going to be a playoff team while Upton is on the roster, however he’s also not worth anything close to what he’s getting paid. Which means, the Padres need to cut bait at the first opportunity and let Blash/Jankowski get those AB’s.

Upton’s challenge – Help yourself out. You are two years away from either another inflated contract or signing a minor league invite with some team.  Play yourself out of San Diego, keep your head up, hustle, and try to smile once in a while.

James Shields – It’s not Shields fault that Preller threw $75MM (and threw away a draft pick) at Shields, but it is Shields fault that he gave up a billion dingers last year. Shields does have an opt out option after this year, and even though he’s due $45MM in ’17-’18, if he can put together a solid campaign he could opt-out and cash in on what will be one of the weakest free agent pitching classes in a long time.

Shields challenge – Just like two years ago, players get overpaid when they can perform down the stretch and in the playoffs. Shields just needs to return to the form he showed the previous four years to put himself in a position to get moved at the deadline. Either way, he’s going to make at least $45MM in 2017-18, but if he wants to cash in and pitch in games that matter, he needs to reestablish himself as a top tier pitcher in San Diego first.

Side note: I started writing this in the am, watched the Padres lose 15-0 to the Dodgers, and came back to finish this. Not a great start to the season, but as you can read from my post, this organization is in complete disarray, to the point they may actually believe the lies they spew at fans. My hope is that Preller will be able to cut loses, and establish a new wave of talent, hopefully to the level that Byrnes left him. Lastly, when the trades do start flying, I hope that Green has the foresight to play the kids. It will mean more loses, but I’ll take the short term pain, for long term gain. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. Go Padres!

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About the author: Steve Adler

Steve is the founder of Friarhood.com. A native San Diegan, he grew up watching Dan Fouts and Tony Gwynn. A former sports talk show host, but always a fan of the Padres and Chargers.