The Morning Report
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Monday, February 28, 2005 | With spring training right around the corner, it’s time for Padres fans to start thinking about the upcoming season. While all of the teams in their division have been active in the free agent market this offseason, the Padres have chosen to stand pat relatively speaking and go into the 2005 season with almost the same lineup that yielded them a second place finish in 2004.

The major offseason news for the Padres was the loss of David Wells to the Boston Red Sox. To counter that, the Padres brought one-time Padre Woody Williams back to San Diego from St. Louis. Most baseball people would consider that a wash. The only other notable news out of the Padres camp was the trade of Jay Payton to the Red Sox in exchange for local speedster Dave Roberts.

The addition of Roberts should help the Padres defensively, in their spacious new digs, but what remains to be seen is the level of commitment the Padres ownership is willing to go to bring San Diego back to the playoffs. When the Padres were campaigning for a new stadium back in 1998, their rallying cry was that the new stadium was needed to produce more revenue so that the Padres could stay competitive. The people of San Diego bought into that story and the ballpark was built, albeit a few years late. The people of San Diego delivered and now it’s the Padres turn.

While the Padres improved significantly last year (from 65 wins to 89 wins, best turnaround in the majors), the local fans have come to expect more. The Giants, Diamondbacks and Dodgers shelled out a combined $100 million this offseason compared with the padres $5 million. The Padres seem to be content, counting on big turnaround seasons from Brian Giles, Phil Nevin and (most importantly) Ryan Klesko. Klesko surely is under the gun this year as he is slated to make $9 million this year.

It is possible for the current Padres roster to win the division and go to the playoffs for the first time since 1998, but it will require career years from a number of players. Rather than be content to maybe make the playoffs, Padres fans are expecting to compete for the World Series, especially within the first few years at Petco Park. With a core of extremely young players, the Padres have a very bright future, but they need to fulfill their end of the bargain they made with the city of San Diego and do everything possible to put a World Series contender on the field. My only hope is that if Klesko is not performing by the All Star break that the Padres will do what is necessary to get someone in here who can produce. Over three million customers last year attended Petco Park and the citizens of San Diego paid over $250 million to construct the new ballpark: They deserve to have a winner on the field. Last year, the Padres failed to make a move to acquire Steve Finley before the trading deadline, letting him ultimately fall to the hated Dodgers. All Finley did was hit a grand slam to win the Dodgers the pennant on the final day of the season. Let’s just hope the Padres learned a lesson last year, and don’t let history repeat itself this year.

Troy Roble grew up in Tierrasanta and attended University High School as well as Scripps Ranch High School. He participated in three sports in high school – football, basketball and baseball. He graduated from the University of San Diego and currently is in the executive MBA program at the University of California, San Diego Rady School of Business. He also works as a general manager for Caldera Spas and Baths. He is a lifelong Charger and Padres fan and an avid sports fan.

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