Are the San Diego Padres contenders now?


With a flurry of transactions over the past 48 hours, the San Diego Padres have at least vaulted themselves into the conversation when it comes to the NL West. Sure, the defending World Series champions and the always talent-rich Dodgers are in the division, but let’s not focus on that just yet.

San Diego has acquired the services of Wil Myers, Justin Upton, Derek Norris, Matt Kemp and Will Middlebrooks all within a small timeframe, leaving the baseball world in a state of flux. Are the Padres going for it? Where the hell did they get the money or resources to pay these guys? Should THE PADRES be feared?

The short answer to this question, at least for me, would be no. New Padres general manager A.J. Prefer has done an excellent job at retooling the previously boring cast of characters, but each of his new toys comes with its own set of questions.

Kemp looked like a shell of himself prior to his sudden resurgence during the second half of last season. Even if those arthritis rumors seemed a bit far-fetched, Petco Park is usually the place that hitters go to die, not suddenly regain their MVP form. Kemp is going to smack plenty of balls right into the heart of the marine layer that encompasses Petco Park, turning would-be homers into lazy flyballs.

After watching Myers play in person while in Tampa, I got the feeling that something was off about his demeanor. He is lackadaisical, nonchalant, and gives the impression (through his body language and facial expressions) that he has arrived in the big leagues despite the fact that he is only made a small dent. If my eyes weren’t already telling me something was off, Myers recent comments only heightened my concerns about him:

Myers is a young, controllable asset that will surely come into Spring Training with a chip on his shoulder, but for all of his undeniable talent, his work ethic appears to be in need of some straightening up. Perhaps a change of scenery will be a good thing for him.

Upton’s acquisition further reiterates Preller’s thirst for right-handed power bats over this course of this winter. The Padres managed to retain Upton without giving up all of their upper-echelon prospects, making this a risk worth taking.

The 27 year old outfielder has been the root of some criticism in recent years for not maximizing his ungodly potential, but he did hit .267.348/.478 during his time with the Braves. He will be entering his walk year, meaning that the Padres will have the ability to tender him a qualifying offer before he gets the opportunity to test the market.

At the very least, San Diego will get a motivated Upton looking to hit pay dirt in a contract year and then most likely a draft pick once he decides to leave town.

For all of their aggressive ploys, the Padres seemingly still have more moves to make given the state of their crowded outfield and question marks along the infield. Seth Smith looks to be the likely casualty of this reality because of his bargain contract ($6,750,000 this season with a $7,000,000 team option next season) and potent left-handed bat destined to be placed in a platoon.

Preller has taken a stock up on bats approach to rebuilding the Padres; a curious adventure because of the not-so friendly confines of Petco Park. The Padres are more fit for a team playing in Coors Field rather than within the dreaded marine layer.

Keep in mind, Preller is far from done, as the parts still have not completely fit into place. More movement is coming, leaving euphoric Padre fans even more anxious for what awaits.

Whether you like the trades or not for San Diego, you gotta hand it to them for putting all of their chips into the table to going for it. For a team that was one of the worst in baseball history for most of last season offensively, there was a dire need for change. Dick Enberg can only keep fans’ interest for only so many 2-1 broadcasts.

Baseball is fun in San Diego again, at least falling short of the playoffs will be a more fun-filled ride this season.