Paging ESPN baseball insider Paul Swydan, after predicting the Padres as his sleeper team this season.
What say you, sportsnet.com, after a preseason poll of a dozen MLB general managers concluded:
“The Padres weren’t a particularly good team last year, when they went 76-86. They didn’t have a particularly splashy off-season, either. But executives say they could be really good in 2014 — potentially winning as many as 90 games with a shot at a Wild Card berth.”
And that Jay Paris hack? He reported the optimism oozing from Peoria wasn’t all hot air.
Paris here, reporting for a dose of crow.
Let’s face it: the Padres stink. Just like last year, and the year before, and the year before that.
Whatever sunny disposition the squad exited Arizona with was erased in a tsunami of 0 for 4 showings and one shut out after another.
The prized pitching? It’s been a plus, but what a negative when starter Josh Johnson grabbed his surgically repaired elbow before taking the Petco Park mound.
Can’t fault pitching coach Darren Balsley’s charges as they’ve pitched well enough to be circling around wild-card contention instead of the drain.
The trouble is the bats, and haven’t we been down this road before?
The young seeds of offense which were planted and promised to blossom this season have died like dandelions in a drought. It’s a string of batters with averages around the Mendoza Line and no catchy walk-up music can disguise that.
The Padres finished a recent stretch with 15 hits in five games. I’m no math whiz, but averaging three knocks a contest will have you riding the NL West caboose.
That’s where the Padres reside, trading cars with the Diamondbacks on occasion.
Whatever the front office is doing is no way to run a railroad — a winning one anyway.
So who takes the fall?
Is manager Bud Black on the hot seat? Yep, and he should be.
But asking him to make lemonade with the citrus he’s handed is ludicrous.
Are general manager Josh Byrnes’ britches warm to the touch? Yep, and they should be.
Byrnes is a swell guy. But this is a production-based business and his tenure in San Diego is more down than up.
Which gets us to the recent draft and did the Padres really snag Johnny Manziel?
Afraid so, and if you’ve come across a cheaper publicity stunt, please forward it to email@example.com.
The Padres are in no position to give away anything. Especially a 28th-round selection, which got them 24 hours of publicity and a someone last lacing up baseball cleats his junior year of high school.
Would the player picked instead of Johnny Football become Johnny Major Leaguer? Probably not. But what he does is fill your system with a prospect that could possibly push someone that does reach The Show.
Look at the Lake Elsinore Single A team. Maybe seven, eight guys will potentially land in the majors, and that’s being gracious. But it’s the balance of the squad which drives the others.
Run that Manziel pick past scouts and you’ll be grabbing the Dramamine. One could get seasick as they roll their eyes with gusto.
It’s a shame this baseball hot bed — two of the top six selections were locals — get nothing but simmering Padres coals to walk across.
While the budget-conscious A’s thrive, while the Astros have a better record than the Red Sox, while smartly run organizations rise regularly, the Padres offer Groundhog’s Day.
At least their low-scoring games have the masses prepared for the World Cup, but is that really the goal?
Nope, which makes us revisit the Adrian Gonzalez trade which led to the Andrew Cashner swap.
The Padres sent their hometown all-star to Boston, with first baseman Anthony Rizzo the key piece headed this way.
The Padres soured on Rizzo, shipping him to Chicago for the hard-throwing Casher and he’s developed into an ace.
But sluggers wearing the home uniform are rare at Petco and that’s what Rizzo morphed into.
The Padres can’t develop any long-ball hitters; their one threat, Carlos Quentin, is too fragile. And a free-agent slugger isn’t going to sign where the marine layer is a constant visitor.
So if getting your mitts on a Rizzo, keep him!
Pitchers can be constructed at Petco, considering the environment and Balsley’s smarts — we present a resurrected Ian Kennedy as evidence.
But guys with pop are harder to seize, as well as being more entertaining.
The Padres are bad and boring. That combination gets you a meager Saturday crowd of 29,172 on Beach Towel night.
Throwing in the towel in mid-June? Welcome to Padres baseball.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports