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Padres signing of James Shields is FRESH!

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Padres improvements during this off-season have definitely been exciting but the acquisition of James Shields early this morning, in my mind, gives them the push they need to finally contend in the NL West.  Suddenly it's at least seems possible that it could happen.  I'm now willing to let my imagination take me to a place where the Padres are in the hunt, not 15 games back at the All-Star Break.  When you take into account that deal cost the Padres in the neighborhood of $76 million and not all the team's best prospects, it looks even better.

The media and blogs like the deal, some though aren't quite convinced that the move was the best use of the team's limited resources.  It leaves the Padres with a relatively small window to succeed, with aging players eating up a good deal of the team's payroll in coming years.  It's certainly a risk, but one I'm willing to take every day of the week.

I'm still collecting reactions from around the internet and if you see more, leave me a link in the comments.  For now we've got a signing that is 82% fresh, on par with such movies as Super 8 and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

Ok, now we're at 87% like Star Trek: Into the Darkness, X-Men: First Class and Black Swan.

And finally at 85% fresh like Donnie Darko and 21 Jump Street.

85 Fresh

Apologies to RottenTomatoes.com

Rotten_mediumJames Shields and the Value of Relevance | FanGraphs Baseball
If the Padres end up as a .500ish team, and then have to pay the piper in future years when Upton leaves as a free agent while Shields and Kemp absorb one-third of the team’s payroll, this experiment could easily be viewed as an expensive failure.

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James Shields Splash Cements San Diego Padres as 2015 NL Threat | Bleacher Report
But what this signing assures is that the "Big Game" part will arrive with Shields, only as a descriptor for what the Padres will play each day in 2015 rather than as an individual moniker. Shields now in the house. Matt Kemp. Justin Upton. Wil Myers. Derek Norris. Will Middlebrooks. All this while retaining their front three starters Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner. You bet the Padres will contend in the NL West in 2015.

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James Shields Can’t Solve The Biggest Padres Problem | FanGraphs Baseball
They’ve at least taken steps in the right direction this winter, and Shields is yet another one.

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James Shields agrees to deal with San Diego Padres - ESPN
The agreement adds one of baseball’s biggest innings-eaters to the Padres, who continued a busy offseason with the deal.

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@BusterOlney
Simple facts: in '14, the Padres were arguably the most unwatchable team in the majors. In 2015, the sport will be paying attention to them.

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Shields signing makes others worthwhile | UTSanDiego.com
Without adding one pitcher like Shields, it wouldn’t have been enough. We still would have been saying "if." Now Black has another top-flight pitcher, an innings eater, a guy who can stop losing streaks and gives the Padres a rotation that could weather a postseason series.

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MLB - James Shields a good buy for San Diego Padres - ESPN
At $75 million and truncating that fifth year, Shields becomes a good value, two words you don't see said very often about a best player currently available in free agency.

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Report: Padres Sign James Shields | Padres Public
Anyway, what the Padres get in James Shields is the one thing they definitely needed to become a contender in 2015: a top of the rotation starter.

Rotten_medium@PGammo
Ron Fowler's risky investment in Pads future:club 2010 payroll was $38M, Kemp/Shields get $37M in 2017

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@UTKrasovic
Smart choice by new Padres RHP James Shields in terms of home ballpark, pitcher-savvy manager, sharp pitching coach, no DH, good trainers.

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@AvengingJM
I've never been a fan of the "Big Game James" moniker, but make no mistake about it, the guy eats innings for breakfast.

UPDATE:

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Shields gives Padres a pitching surplus - Keith Law Blog - ESPN
He's worth anywhere from two to four wins over what he's replacing, depending on how much you want to bet on some of those fifth/sixth starter types staying healthy, but I think the bigger value he provides is creating a surplus that could let GM A.J. Preller make another deal, now or in July or, given his propensity to shuffle his roster, any time in between. It's an opportunity to reduce their reliance on unreliable starters while perhaps filling one of the various areas of need I mentioned above.

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Shields is a really big deal | Friarhood
I won’t bore you with numbers, but Shields either leads or is near the lead in every pitching statistic for the past 10 years. At 33, he is no spring chicken, and this contract is maybe one year too long, but he has shown no signs of regression.

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@TedLeitner
If I may be allowed to ask a simple question: How BOUT my ??!!! James Shields an ace. With Cash-Tyson-Kennedy. Let's go win it all!!

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How James Shields fell into the Padres’ laps through strategic bumbling - Yahoo Sports
When that didn’t happen, the Padres sprung to action and got a nice bargain. It wasn’t a blue-light special, by any means, though it puts them in an even stronger position to challenge the Dodgers and Giants or, at very least, grab one of the two wild-card positions.

UPDATE:

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@JonMorosi
I love this for two reasons.  Number one it gives the Padres a true, proven 200 inning type starting pitcher at the top of the rotation.  (Snip)  It really lengthens their rotation.  (Snip) They probably have more starting depth than the Dodgers or the Giants.

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Padres Sign James Shields, Put the Future on Hold | Padres Public
Of course, four years and $75 million is a lot of money for any pitcher — even one as (thus far) indestructible as Shields — but compared to the deal Lester signed, it looks like a free agent bargain.

Rotten_mediumJames Shields still doesn't make the Padres contenders - Beyond the Box Score
James Shields at long last has found a home, and it's with A.J. Preller's maverick Padres. After making so many additions, does Shields put San Diego over the top? Unfortunately, it's not too likely.

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Ranking baseball's top 10 rotations for 2015. | SportsonEarth.com : Anthony Castrovince Article
They would have deserved a spot on this list before Monday's signing of Shields, and now that added poise, presence and durability take the San Diego starting staff to another level. We all figure that durability will, at some point, come at a cost to Shields. But until or unless his body tells us otherwise, let's go ahead and slot him in for the usual 200 innings of above-average impact.

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The ‘Great’ James Shields Docks in San Diego: A.J. Preller and the Padres Travel Ceaselessly Into the Past Again "
Given what wins are going for on today’s free-agent market, an annual salary under $20 million is a reasonable rate, and a four-year commitment isn’t too onerous, especially in light of the Padres’ lack of financial commitments beyond 2015. Preller may have even received a slight San Diego discount.