Community Sports

Jay Paris: For the Padres, their rise to the top starts at the bottom

After another Padres loss a radio talking head invited fans to stay tuned: ”Coming up next, hear what manager Andy Green has to say!’’

One nearby fan said to his buddy with a faded Padres cap: “I’d rather hear what the owners have to say.’’

Touché and is the Padres’ season really over before the San Diego County Fair’s second week?

Pretty much. Then again, not at all.

This confounding season treks on with Padres executive Ron Fowler’s frank assessment of the club among the disappointing year’s highlights.

Excuse Padres followers if they find pleasure where they can. They’re mad as hell and can’t take it anymore but really, there’s more pain on the horizon.

Hopefully that path to relevancy will take some steps with this week’s baseball draft. The can’t-miss prospects were snatched up on Thursday, and we hope the Padres — among the teams passing on Mike Trout in 2009 — struck gold.

As they gather steam toward their sixth straight losing season, the Padres have to channel Tony Gwynn and hit everything just right in this draft. And the next one. And the one after that.

Speaking of Gwynn, his favorite quote that graces his Petco Park statue was delivered by Charles, his father: “If you work hard, good things will happen.’’

This applies to the Padres, but in different ways.

The Padres attempted a shortcut before last season, decimating their farm system to acquire established players. But their rock star general manager, A.J. Preller, assembled an ensemble that was more suited for wedding receptions than headlining stadiums.

The Padres finished last again and oh, how we’ve heard that tune before.

That approach went against what Tony’s pop preached. The Padres tried to go from first to third without touching second. It looks good when you’re standing on third with your chest puffed out, but at some point the shortcut finds you.

This year is another disaster and for Fowler to act surprised is a tad troubling.

No one outside their Peoria clubhouse thought the Friars were fit for contention.

It was a baffling roster that seemed destined to make new manager Andy Green’s first year a stinker.

So while baseball people knew it, fans held their noses and rooted for their team. Few things trump the loyalty of the Padres faithful, save a trusted Golden Retriever.

So Fowler squawked, an overpriced James Shields was peddled, and welcome to the dark ages.

Teams that get good build through the draft. Teams that get real bad, can build faster through the draft. Teams that get good picks and are good talent evaluators turn into the Chicago Cubs, the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros.

If misery loves a companion, a Padres honk should find an Astros booster. Houston averaged 100 losses a season before setting its foundation.

The Cubs? Anyone can have a bad century but it wasn’t until the drafting genius of Theo Epstein’s gang arrived on the north side that prevented the team’s southern slide into oblivion.

Same with the Royals, and really, any good organization.

It’s OK to add pieces through free agency and trades, but when a team relies on it?

We present the 2015 Padres, which turned into the 2106 Padres, which had a prideful Fowler turning away while his team was still on the field.

We turn back to Gwynn, but we do so with reservation. Getting ahead takes sweat but the Padres need to kick back to get better.

If the Padres go bad, that’s good, as painful as that is to type. At rock bottom come a wealth of draft picks and you got any better ideas?

Those draftees the Padres welcomed on Thursday might all be Hall of Famers. But they won’t start their careers in the Majors for three or four years.

Maybe the Padres score on this summer’s international picks.

But determining what that brings is a head scratcher, much like Yasiel Puig going from an All-Star to a fourth outfielder with the Dodgers.

We’ll let all that develop, or better yet, wait for Fowler to grab the mic.

Contact Jay Paris at Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.

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