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March 19, 2023

Hey Padres! Do NOT deal Adrian!

So the San Diego Padres send out a ticket brochure to former season ticket holders for 2010 — and there isn’t a single photo anywhere in there of All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. First thought: Does that mean that the Padres plan on not having Adrian Gonzalez on their ballclub next season?
Seems like a fair question. After all, why in the world would the Padres try to sell tickets without so much as a mention of the one true superstar they have to sell? Would the ‘89 Padres have put out a season ticket brochure without a photo of Tony Gwynn? Five years ago, would the Friars have left out Trevor Hoffman? Or Jake Peavy?
What in the world of weak-thinking marketing strategies is going on here?
Does new Owner/CEO Jeff Moorad already know something that he isn’t yet telling the rest of us? Has new General Manager Jed Hoyer already entered into trade talks, hoping to rid the Padres of Gonzalez’s potential future salary in return for some hot new prospects?

Why else would they attempt to sell tickets without selling Gonzalez, unless they already know that the Padres last remaining favorite son isn’t going to be here?

Well, at this point at least, we don’t know.

Perhaps it was just an oversight. Or perhaps the new branding of the Padres — as Moorad calls it — means leaving the team’s under-tapped Mexican fan-base market out of the loop. Maybe they don’t want to put too much pressure on Gonzalez as the new face of the franchise.

In the coming months, we’ll all find out.

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Before that, however, let me be the first to point out to the new Padres’ brass that trading Adrian Gonzalez prior to next season would be without question the absolute dumbest, short-sighted move they could ever make.

Business-wise, perhaps an argument can be made for dealing Gonzalez now, being as he will within the next year or so be a player who is simply just to expensive for the Padres to keep. Moorad is talking about a roster budget somewhere in the $40-plus million dollar range for next season, and once Gonzalez’s current deal is up it will certainly make little business sense to keep him and have him take up nearly one-third of the team’s payroll.

However, every now and again, there comes a time when business-sense has to be set aside in favor of just plain-old, every-day reason. At some point, Padres ownership — whether brand new or not — must realize that the message it continues to send to its fans is that it is cheap and unwilling to do what’s necessary to foot the bill for a contending product.

Already, in the last 12 months, Hoffman has been sent packing, followed closely out of the locker room door by Peavy. Some decent young players have taken their places (many of whom were pictured in the brochure), and the Friars finished ’09 with a flourish, creating some unexpected optimism for the season ahead.

Whatever momentum was created by the team’s far-too-belated stretch run would be wiped out in an instant if Gonzalez were to be dealt.

Not only did Gonzalez put together what was arguably the greatest slugging season in Padres’ history in ’08, along with providing another campaign of Gold Glove-caliber play at first base, he is by far the most — if not only — marketable player the team has (season ticket brochure snub excepted).

Gonzalez grew up in Chula Vista, played his high school ball at Eastlake, is a terrific guy in the community and, of course, is one of the very few dream-come-true players the Friars could ever hope to have in terms of bridging the gap between San Diego and south of the border.

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I’m always amazed when baseball ownership in smaller-market places around the country complain about the cost of running business and trying to keep up with the big boys. True success stories, however, are normally achieved by those who don’t care how much they spend, but only care about how much they make.

Though the Padres, under John Moores’ lame-duck leadership, may have claimed to have saved millions and millions of dollars last season by ridding themselves of high-priced talent, one wonders how many millions they may have lost by not having a pennant contending team from the month of May on.

The record-low crowds at Petco Park last season will seem like Mardi Gras compared to what the Padres will draw next season if once again they’re out of the playoff race by early summer.

New GM Hoyer and Moorad will no doubt ask for patience as they try to turn things around. But they’ll receive absolutely none of it from the Friars’ faithful if their first move is to trade away the team’s one and only star.

Gonzalez must stay so that the San Diego fan base can at least hope money will eventually be spent in the future to keep the club consistently in the running. Rather than dealing him, the Padres should do everything they possibly can to work out a contract extension with him so that whatever momentum was created the final two months of last season has a chance to build.

If nothing else, a good start would be to reprint that ticket brochure.

– Ello –

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