Professional sports, now so more than ever, are a “What have you done for me lately?” phenomenon. It is now time for John Moores to stop living off the successes of building Petco Park and keeping the team from moving out of San Diego...and start on the business of making this team a REAL contender. The cold truth is that this organization has not fielded a legitimate World Series contender since the 1998 season. Talk all you want about the last three seasons (’05,’06, & ’07)…but did we actually have a shot in any of those seasons?
The 2005 team did win the NL West, but it was just a matter of being the best of the worst. With an 82-80 record and the rest of the division a bad joke, the Padres were just good enough to get in and get swept. Jake’s injury certainly didn’t help, but it really didn’t matter either.
2006 was really our best chance, but a World Series was a pipe dream. Say what you will about the record of the Cardinals going into the playoffs that year, but that team was better than ours. Jake wasn’t Jake. CY was awesome, but Woody was our #3. Third base and second base were both a mess. That team wasn’t going to do it.
As for 2007, let’s all just put game #163 behind us. Even if we had pulled off a win there, we weren’t going much further than that. Jake wouldn’t have been available until Game 3 or 4 of the first round, Trevor was injured, CY was pitching batting practice and our outfield had been decimated. We wouldn’t have even gotten past Philly.
The fact is, because of the amazing work done by KT every year, this team has been built to be just good enough to compete for the division and a playoff spot…but never really good enough to go for a ring. Now with the rebuilding of the Diamondbacks and the Rockies near completion…the inadequacies of this ball club have been exposed. We really shouldn’t be all that shocked to see the position we’re in right now. It has been John Moores unwillingness to spend the money needed to be competitive that is killing this team right now.
I’m not advocating spending way more than our means. I’m not asking for a $125 million-plus payroll. But, because of past mistakes in our farm system…the days where we can piece together a team that can win the NL West with a $70 million dollar payroll are over. Yes I know the D-Backs and Rockies have a lower payroll than we do right now…but that’s because they’re reaping the rewards of making good draft choices by drafting on the basis of the best player available. While we were drafting guys based on their “signability”…they were drafting players based on their talent. Tom Krasovic printed a quote from Jerry Crasnick’s book “License to Deal” in the U-T a couple weeks back. The quote was from Mike Rizzo, who was the scouting director of the Diamondbacks at the time of the 2004 MLB Draft. Here’s the quote from Rizzo: “The Padres can spin it any way they want to spin it, but if I have the first pick on the playground, I'm picking Stephen Drew over Matt Bush 100 out of 100 times.” Reading that as a Padre fan makes me nauseous. THAT is how you pick ball-players. John Moores was hand-cuffing our scouts…and now we’re wondering why we are sitting in last place nine games out?
It’s time for Moores to step-up and spend some real money on this team. I’m not talking about ridiculous contracts like the Cubs with Soriano or the Giants with Zito. But there have been opportunities to spend more than what we normally would to land some real impact players. Look at the contract of Vlad Guerrero in 2005. Or Fukudome this past off-season. These were circumstances where it would have made a huge impact on our club to dig deeper…but they never happen. Padre fans have been getting excuses since voters passed Prop C. to build the new ballpark. From ’99 to the opening of Petco Park…the excuse was that Moores was losing money hand over to fist to get the park built. After Petco opened the excuse was basically the same, we don’t have the money because Moores is in the red due to cost over-runs and all the delays. Then when they tease us with the promise that they do have some money to spend…we hear that the market is crazy and we won’t over-pay for players. Ten f**king years and all we hear is excuses.
Every Padre fan should be appreciative of the role the Moores family took in keeping the Padres in San Diego…but at the same time, being appreciative of that effort does not mean we should also be naïve. Since the opening of Petco Park, not only has the value of the franchise risen to $385 million…but the untold boon in real estate from the development in that area has been huge for Moores. Make no mistake, John Moores did not rescue the San Diego Padres from the death-like grip of Tom Werner out of the goodness of his heart. I’m not saying he doesn’t want to see this team to win rings, or that he doesn’t love baseball as much as any of us…but John Moores saw an incredible business opportunity that would fall right into place with some clever manipulation and just the right amount of revenue spent at the perfect time.
Do we really think we can win a World Series continuing with the attitude that we set the price for players? That if they don’t like our offer, too bad? Take it or leave it? Where has the Sandy Alderson method of "negotiating" gotten us? How did the Mike Cameron situation get botched so badly? Why didn’t we fight harder for Fukudome? I’d like to find one Padre fan that was impressed that the offer made to Fukudome was "one of the two or three biggest deals" in franchise history. Show me ONE. I’d call it a joke…but the real joke is the mess that our outfield has become.
How long do we have to wait for that one jaw-dropper that really brings some excitement and makes us a true contender? Will it ever? Or is John Moores going to keep giving KT just enough to make the team respectable and keep those hot dogs, 3.2% beers and souvenirs selling?