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It's A Long Road To The Top For The Padres

February 12, 2018

By CHRIS ELLO, Monday, February 12, 2018

I doubt they were thinking of the Padres when they wrote it, but the great rock band from Down Under knew what they were talking about when they put the lyrics down.

I’ll explain in a minute.

But first, a question. Quick. Don’t really think about it, just answer: Who finished last in the National League West last season? Easy one, right? Of course we all know it was the Padres.

Only it wasn’t.

What, you say??

Yep, in baseball’s toughest division in 2017, our hometown boys came stumbling home a solid fourth. It was Dodgers on top (of course), and it was D-Backs and Rockies both claiming wild card berths. Then came the 71-win Padres. Solid, like I said.

Correct answer: the once-powerhouse, three-time World Champion San Francisco Giants. And it wasn’t really even close. The Nor-Cal’s 64-win squad could barely even taste the Pads’ dust, finishing a distant seven games back of the Friars – and just to rub it in a bit, the Giants ended up 40 games – 40 games!! – behind Los Angeles.

So there! With the 2018 season right around the corner, it is duly noted that our local baseball nine doesn’t have as much work to do to join the championship-race party as perhaps we thought they did.

But it’s still a long way to the top.

 

***

Look. It’s most likely that when the music stops the first weekend of October, it will once again be the Blue Crew that gets to Rock ‘n Roll. Unless somebody can figure out a way to slow a $200-million payroll, that’s the way you have to look at it.

And you have to look at Arizona and Colorado as well. Sure both teams used to keep the Padres company at the bottom of the division, but last year they took leaps and bounds forward. The D-Backs were so good last season, in fact, that they won more regular-season games than the Cubs (93 to 92). The Rocks were in first place through June, hung tough enough to gain post-season honors, and now have added a pair of bullpen bullets in Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw for this year.

We can make fun of San Francisco all we want for last year’s collapse, but the Giants aren’t going to be sitting idly behind the Pads this year. Not with the additions of 3B Evan Longoria, OF Austin Jackson and former MVP CF Andrew McCutchen, they aren’t.

So where, then, do the Padres figure in? Hardly Back in Black. In all honesty, Back in the Pack would be more like it.

 

***

 

But I’m OK with that – for now anyway. You see the Padres are taking the Long Way to the top. Malcolm Young (R.I.P.) would be proud. And frankly, I am, too.

So far the Friars have held firm on their refusal to break the bank for Eric Hosmer, the erstwhile Royals’ first baseman. Good, I say. Hosmer is a decent sort, who can play the game a little bit. His acquisition would move Wil Myers back to the outfield and certainly make for a stronger every day lineup.

But you have to ask yourself if Hosmer could, with his presence alone, put San Diego in contention. It’s my contention that he could not.

So save the money for later when it can make a real difference. 

In the meantime, the Padres must stay the (slower) course. Keep drafting and developing young players. Lots of them. Eventually, whether it’s a Fernando Tatis, Jr., or somebody else, San Diego will strike gold with a few of these international players. They’ll hit on a couple of draft choices somewhere.

And then when they do, it will be time to strike in free agency.

 

For the moment, though, be patient. Bide your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day (and neither were the champion Astros).

It is a long way to the top, remember. The Padres have charted a course and need to stay the course.

If they do, it may not be this year or even the next. 

But with a bunch of young talent, and with the right free agent mixed in at the right time – the Padres, someday, could be playing some beautiful music.