How to Take Down a Genius

MLB’s 30-day suspension of San Diego Padres GM A.J. Preller for no explained reason is stunning. What’s even more strange are the continuing reports of possible further sanctions against Preller & the Padres organization. Can the Padres be punished twice without an official explanation? It seems it may be possible in this bizarro sports-media world.

AJ Preller: Padres GM

This leads to the question: why are so many people out to get A.J. Preller?

In my summary coverage of this year’s MLB trade deadline, I wrote about the consequences of what A.J. Preller did, which was control an entire trade season up through the deadline. He dumped everything he needed to unload (Shields, Upton, Cashner & primarily Matt Kemp), while killing the market for much of the rest. He owned most of the available pitching, and brilliantly timed & maximized each deal. I also mentioned there would be repercussions, and here they are. [1]

Preller’s most controversial deal was the ‘Cash Out’ which deserves close scrutiny.  At least 10-12 teams were interested in RHP Andrew Cashner as the 8/1 deadline approached.  A few dropped out, but at least half a dozen were still interested when the deal to Miami was announced. It was a shocker to Padres fans, as rookie RHP Colin Rea was included. The Padres were never shopping him, and he was approaching his innings limit. Skipping starts and/or shutting him down, became issues discussed in the Padres fan forums.  Note, these are people with ZERO inside knowledge concerning scouting or team medical, and yet they knew more than the Miami GM, front office, scouting & medical staff.

Marlin’s GM & team president Mike Hill was interviewed during their broadcast that evening, saying how pleased they were to not only get Andrew Cashner, but “also Colin Rea for many years to come.”  Rea was then rushed onto the mound the next evening for the pitching-desperate Marlins, and after 3.1 IP, his right elbow ligament snapped. The Marlins then screamed ‘damaged goods’ as loudly as they could.  AJP was compelled to revisit the deal, and took Rea back in exchange for the A-level reliever prospect in the original deal. The Padres received RHP Jared Cosart, closer Carter Capps (recovering from TJ surgery) and top 1B prospect Josh Naylor– for 2 months of Andrew Cashner.

Andrew Cashner_2

Cashner is 1-4 in eight starts with the Marlins, with an ERA of 6.13 as of this writing. He’s had blister issues in Miami. He’s had nearly every other kind of injury issue in San Diego, so a ‘damaged goods’ claim won’t hold here. Padres fans are glad their GM doesn’t have to worry about making a qualifying free-agent offer to this bum.  Simply bad deal-making by the Marlins who overpaid on Cashner. They probably lost this deal twice, by insisting the Padres immediately take Colin Rea back. Rea is rehabilitating without surgery (for now), and will likely be ready for 2018 either way. That’s probably more valuable than a reliever prospect, even one who throws 100 MPH. This was finalized before the deadline on Monday, August 1; and the Marlins didn’t even bother for a MRI on Colin Rea.

So Preller invents a way to win a deal twice, and the Marlins season goes down the tubes immediately after. Guess who’s help responsible?  Certainly not the incompetent GM’s. Preller managed to scoop up ~30% of the top talent during this year’s International Draft, which will give the Padres a huge competitive advantage for years to come.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.  For all this & more, A.J. Preller (the genius) is punished.

The biggest reason ex-Padres pitchers don’t do well for their new teams is pitching coach Darren Balsley. Andy Green is a brilliant young manager, but Balsley is long-recognized as one of the best. LHP Drew Pomeranz was acquired from the A’s (by AJP) in the off-season for 1B Yonder Alonso.  Padres were in need of starters entering 2016, so an open competition was created. Pomeranz had here-to-fore been a reliever, but he went into Green’s office and asked for an opportunity to start. He did very well, and made the rotation as their #4 starter out of spring training.

He steadily listened & learned, and by mid-season he was their best starter. Pomeranz wasn’t initially selected for the ASG, but was added when Clayton Kershaw went on the DL. Green & Preller encouraged NL manager Terry Collins to use him in the game (played in SD), when many managers didn’t even want their pitchers used. Drew Pomeranz pitched a clean inning, and it turned out to be a showcase, as he was flipped to the Red Sox before his next start.

Drew Pomeranz was never hurt, and this whole MLB investigation/punishment is about Preller fleecing the Red Sox (and a few other teams), that did a poor job SCOUTING. There were no unknown injuries to Fernando Rodney, James Shields, Drew Pomeranz or Andrew Cashner. The Padres immediately took back Colin Rea, with the understanding that was to be the end of it.  As it turns out, some East-coast people lied about that. The Red Sox accusing any other team of cheating is beyond hypocritical. [2]

The real issue is the Red Sox were expecting a #2 starter for top RHP prospect Anderson Espinoza, and they got a #3/4 instead. Preller sold high on Pomeranz, which is what a good GM does.  As far as the accusation of “doctoring up medical records to make their players look better to the opposition”, here it seems comparable to washing & detailing a used car before selling it.  If either seller doesn’t do this, they’re a loser and everyone knows it.  Most importantly, it’s the buyers’ obligation to look carefully & extensively under the hood before any final agreement.

That’s why Preller has 100% support from Padres ownership and his organization. Red Sox GM Dave Dombrowski got swindled in the Kimbrel deal last off-season too, so he was already looking bad. Therefore the Red Sox called in their daddy (MLB) and big-bully brother (ESPN) to help them out with AJP.


The suspension came with no official explanation from anyone. Just implications from Buster Olney who acts a mouthpiece for the Red Sox. His ESPN articles are full of innuendo, with no hard proof of any malfeasance, hence the collective ‘no comment’ from all the other teams involved. It appears we’re down to therapeutic rubdowns and Ibuprofen not being documented on the medical side.  Sloppy & incomplete?  Yes. But not even close to a reason for nixing any of these deals. The fact that MLB had to dig this deep, to find this little, proves a significant level of enabling for the Boston Red Sox by MLB & ESPN.

Any mention from Olney that the Padres discovered bone chips in Anderson Espinoza’s elbow? The Padres aren’t blaming the Red Sox for not telling them, they are managing the issue with medical science & diligence.  MLB likely pried open Padres proprietary team data in order to educate a few patsy GMs who were behind the curve in scouting & medical evaluation. A fan can actually understand why no one wants to talk about that.