The Padres made an ill-fated attempt to build a winning team in one offseason before 2015. If you follow baseball even a little bit, you'd know that all the blockbuster moves they made blew up in their face, and the team won even fewer games than the previous year.
Along with trades that brought in big names like Craig Kimbrel, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Derek Norris, the Padres signed "Big Game" James Shields to the biggest contract in team history ($75 million over four years). I was most excited about the move to bring Shields in, since the team was actually willing to spend money (instead of gut the farm system) to make the team better. I remember sitting at a Denny's before going to a Spring Training game in Peoria, AZ, and telling my dad and brothers that Shields would become one of the greatest pitchers in Padres history.
Man, I was wrong. What a rookie mistake. Shields wasn't horrible, but had a penchant for giving up home runs, which is a little less forgivable spending so much time in spacious Petco Park. He seemed to be rebounding a little bit this year, before getting rocked in his latest start to the tune of 10 runs in 2 and 2/3s innings. That outing, along with the horrible play of the rest of the team, prompted one of the Padres owners, Ron Fowler, to call the team "miserable failures" in a radio interview and said that the team should be embarrassed, calling out Shields in particular.
Shields, like most people, didn't take the news well. For someone who seems to be known as a pretty good clubhouse guy, I've gotten the feeling that he seems to think that he is above criticism. Right before Fowler's radio outburst, the White Sox started looking into a trade to acquire Shields, and it was finalized on Saturday. The Padres got back a AAAA pitcher, a former top prospect who has struggled at the major league level and is 27 years old (Erik Johnson) and a 17 year old international prospect (Fernando Tatis Jr.). They also had to pay over $30 million to the White Sox.
Personally, I don't blame James Shields for wanting to get out of San Diego. He signed up because it seemed like the Padres were a team heading in the right direction (and they also offered him the most money, but not substantially more), and right now they are a disaster from top to bottom. It didn't help that he came in looking to be "the man" and was never the ace of the staff (it was Tyson Ross last year, and Drew Pomeranz this year).
Anyways, farewell to James Shields. Here are all the Shields cards I have. The top two are in my Miscellaneous Padres binder, while the other five are in my Team Set binder.
It'll be interesting to see who else is traded from the Padres. They have been out of contention since the very beginning of the year and are currently in last place in the NL West. They won't be good next year either, so we're already looking forward to… 2018 or 2019 at the earliest?