The beaming light not far off the Pacific Ocean serves as a beacon of hope.
In the dark of night, night after night, the illumination could seemingly aid lost captains steering their vessels toward safe harbor.
Instead the LED light bulbs deliver a promise for a better day to Padres fans, those that have been experiencing rough seas since 2010.
A.J. Preller, the Padres’ nocturnal general manager who lives near Encinitas’ Moonlight Beach, created a tsunami of positive news this week. With the Padres showing a pulse this season, his vision of 2020 is one of them making the postseason.
“There’s talk of us getting to the playoffs,” said Preller, during a rare moment when his phone and ear were disconnected. “But we want to go deep in the playoffs.”
The Padres are good at talking the talk. Recently Preller walked the walked, often conducting business where most people go to swim and surf.
Over a span of three days, Preller took the Padres’ roster and shook it like a dusty rug. While shedding pieces that no longer fit — or were more valuable in what they could get in return — Preller constructed a squad that is high on talent, confidence and depth.
Preller snagged the best starter in the Indians’ Mike Clevinger. He addressed the black hole at the catcher’s spot with not one, but two, fresh receivers. He snagged a closer with the first name of Trevor and why does that have a familiar ring?
Trevor Rosenthal is tasked to get the game’s final three outs, and the last time a dude name Trevor (Hoffman) did that, well, he ended up in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The question of who’s on first is no longer a lead-in to a comedy routine. A resurgent Eric Hosmer has emerged, but the addition of Mitch Moreland provides an ample replacement, as well as him being a dynamite designated hitter.
Not only is Preller providing sunshine during this COVID-19, 60-game season but it’s also Clevinger’s nickname. “Sunshine” escaped Cleveland for San Diego and wouldn’t that brighten you up, too?
“They’re the most exciting team in baseball right now,” Clevinger said. “This is definitely the place to be. I’m stoked they wanted me here.”
Clevinger yaps like the parade of surfers who traipse in front of Preller’s residence on a regular basis. What’s not done often is the Padres making the playoffs, 2006 being the last occasion.
Even before Preller’s wheeling-and-dealing, the Padres were raising a ruckus. Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is among the most exciting players in the game and third baseman Manny Machado is earning his keep — which is saying something on a $300 million contract.
Outfielder Wil Myers has relocated his sweet swing. Second baseman Jake Cronenworth is the leading candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year Award and, speaking of rookies, manager Jayce Tingler has looked comfortable, even when wearing a mask, on the dugout’s top step.
For the bottom-dwelling Padres, it’s already been a season to remember and the big payoff could be on the horizon.
When the year started, the Padres were 104 games under .500 since Preller, then a rookie GM, grabbed the wheel on Aug. 6, 2014.
But now rivals can’t sleep on the Padres, who are seeking their first winning season since 2010 and their first playoff win at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. Preller seldom smacks the snooze alarm because he rarely dozes and unplugs his baseball mind.
“You guys know him well,” Tingler told reporters. “He doesn’t sleep and he’s relentless.”
How about the awakened Padres making the playoffs for only the seventh time since they hung their shingle in1969?
Sweet dreams indeed for Padres backers, those with a GM who was front-and-center during an epic swell of trades.