Spring is in the air and is a bummer of a summer around the corner?
The Padres have checked into their Peoria, Ariz., digs promising better days are ahead. But greeting those good times could be years away.
The Padres are young. The Padres are unproven. The Padres are the Padres.
With that baseball is back and at least it didn’t move away.
It figures to be another long season for the local nine, an organization that has produced six consecutive losing seasons. If you’re into the odds that Las Vegas produces, No. 7 is on the horizon.
With the lack of major-league talent and a payroll, which will hover near the league bottom, some have suggested the Padres have thrown in the towel before the first post-game shower.
The word “tanking” is being used by those outside the franchise. The speculation is being bad now will make the team good later.
“I think that’s been said a lot in baseball the last 5 to 6 years,’’ said general manager A.J. Preller, an Encinitas resident. “The Cubs and Astros had high picks and came out of that process in a decent spot. For the Cubs it resulted in a championship, but is that the way to build championship teams?’’
Most agree, as being mediocre can keep a team straddling the fence of respectability. But it can make hurdling the barrier to being a playoff contender steep.
“We’ve seen teams that draft high and do well and we’ve seen teams draft high that didn’t get that result,’’ Preller said. “For us, our process is every single day making good decisions. If that’s done really well and you do it with the right talent, you can turn things around fairly quickly.’’
But flipping a floundering club is like changing directions of an aircraft carrier. A steady hand and patience is needed for both.
At least the Padres have a plan, a blueprint to build a sustainable club. Two years ago they went for big names with big accomplishments on the back of their baseball cards. That was a disaster and the Padres are still paying for those sins.
But in the fire sale that followed the cannon ball into free agency came some compelling pieces in return. It’s a haul that, when viewed through the telescope years later, shows promise.
Still the players need to earn their stripes. Many can’t-miss prospects have done just that, which gives everyone pause when predicting the next big thing.
The outfield is chocked with talent if not much experience. With the powerful Hunter Renfroe in right, the exciting Manuel Margo and speedy Travis Jankowski in center, and Poway’s Alex Dickerson in left, that’s a plus.
The corners are established with Wil Myers at first and Yangervis Solarte opposite him. Second base will be a spirited battle between Ryan Schimpf and Cory Spangenberg. Shortstop is a contest between two-glove, no-hit guys in Luis Sardinas and Erick Aybar.
Finally, the defensive-minded Austin Hedges settles in behind the plate and here’s to him feeling as comfortable when next to it in the batter’s box.
The starting pitching? Do we have to go there?
Luis Perdomo, Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin will lead it. Where it will go is the scary thing with numerous shaky arms behind that trio.
The bullpen is being rebuilt, but there are some interesting arms in Brandon Maurer, Brad Hand, Ryan Buchter and Carter Capps.
If the Padres reach .500, we’ll tip our lid to Preller.
“I like where we are,’’ he said. “It’s an exciting time of the year.’’
Follow Jay Paris @jparis_sports. His book “Game of My Life Chargers” is available at books stores an at amazon.com.
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.