This point can't be made more clearly than I'm about to make it right now.
This is not a defense of the Padres actions (or lack thereof) of this winter.
Nor is this a complaint.
And it's not a complaint because it's December 8th. For reference sake, the Mat Latos trade, which caught many by surprise, happened on December 17th.
The sense amongst Padres fans (or at least the small section of fans in which I have seen, read or interacted with) is that this is just the same old Padres. Same penny-pinchers despite the fact that they now have $1.5 billion in television revenue to work with. The evidence they point to is multi-layered:
1) The Padres did not offer Kuroda $17 million as was reported by the NY Post. This, in and of itself, was a good thing and not many would argue that point. What was more concerning to some is the impression that the Padres COULDN'T offer that amount.
2) The Padres failed to land Dan Haren. Haren had been rumored as a player that may fit well with the Padres. But, as has been reported multiple places, including via Corey Brock, the Padres are steering clear of health risk. Between back issues and lingering hip issues, Dan Haren was far from a low risk option from a health perspective. At $13 million, that price was likely too high for San Diego considering those risk.
3) Reports came out that the Padres were looking at a payroll of $70 million for 2013. While this is an increase of nearly $15 million from last year, it fars short of what many expected with a new ownership group and new influx of television revenue. It also leaves little room for maneuvering after the extensions to Street and Quentin (among others) are accounted for.
4) Reports that Byrnes was caught off guard by the market value of pitchers like Haren, Blanton and, presumably now, McCarthy. I can't say I blame him too much. $13 million for Haren was higher than expected. Then again, the Nationals gave Jayson Werth a $126 million contract for 7 years.
As it stands now, the Padres primary target this off-season has been starting pitching. That need has been made clear by all involved and plugged in with the team. And considering the amount of injuries the pitching staff suffered in 2012 (11 pitchers hit the DL last season including relief pitching. This includes season-ending injuries to 3/5ths of the rotation followed by season ending injuries to 2 of the replacements for those 3/5ths) you can see why the Padres would want to stockpile pitching.
But it is worth bearing in mind that in 2013 the Padres expected to see the return of Cory Luebke, potentially as early as June 1. Per Bill James via Fangraphs, Luebke is predicted to make 24 starts Is that optimistic? Probably. One would assume the Padres will take a version of the Nationals plan in dealing with Luebke coming off Tommy John.
But he will return. As will Cashner. (We'll get to that injury on a later post. But...well, F). Not to mention Casey Kelly, Max Fried, Robbie Erlin, and Keyvius Sampson, the future of Padres pitching looks promising.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that this winter thus far has been thrilling as a Padres fan. PED suspensions, hunting accidents and Jason Marquis does not fire up the fan base. Do I think the team is where it needs to be right now to compete? No. But I think they are closer than some who would scream for the Padres to make a deal would believe.
Let's wait until the off-season is over before we make broad declarations on how well the Padres did in the off-season and whether Byrnes is incompetent.
Make a deal that makes sense. Both for 2013 and beyond. But don't spend money just because you have money.