New Padres GM A.J. Preller probably didn't go into his owner's office with a multi-page plan on how to rebuild San Diego in a matter of years.
He apparently came in with a plan sketched on a cocktail napkin, listing every significant trade piece in baseball with the words, "GET HIM!" underlined three times.
To review, the Padres have now traded for former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, former Tampa Bay outfielder Wil Myers, former Athletics catcher Derek Norris and former Braves outfielder Justin Upton, all in a two-week span. They've only given up a couple big leaguers and then signed Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow for the rotation.
For a team that has had one winning season since 2007, that's a lot of firepower. There's also indications that the Padres aren't done dealing. They could be flipping Myers to the Rangers for shortstop Jurickson Profar, who Preller signed when he was working with the Rangers.
Yet, according to FanGraphs BaseRuns projection system, the Padres were only projected to win one more game than the Astros in 2015. Of course, that's not counting the Myers or Upton deals yet. Those two guys may add three or four more wins to that total.
The Padres won 77 games in 2014. They're set to win maybe three more than that heading into the 2015 season. But, they have certainly made the season more exciting for their fans.
The moves, coming four months after Preller was hired, stand in stark contrast to the Astros method of rebuilding.
Of course, the two situations are wildly different. The Padres were stocked with minor league talent, but had gotten disappointing production from their offense in recent seasons. Jedd Gyorko fell on his face in Year 2 while Yasmani Grandal, the catcher sent to LA in the Kemp deal, never lived up to his impressive prospect status.
They spun much of that talent into the major league players featured here. Most of those players, too, have been pitchers, like left-hander Max Fried going to Atlanta in the Upton deal. Even with all the catching acquisitions, the Padres still held onto Austin Hedges, who may be the best catching prospect in the game.
It seems unlikely that Jeff Luhnow could have done this with the Astros. The minor league talent just wasn't there. Heck, the major league talent wasn't there. In 2011, when Luhnow was hired, Houston won 20 games less than the Padres managed in 2014.
In that season, Humberto Quintero got the bulk of the playing time at catcher, Brett Wallace played 115 games at first base, Chris Johnson posted a .291 OBP at third base and Carlos Lee played left field. Michael Bourn and Hunter Pence had already been traded while Angel Sanchez played 110 games.
The Astros rotation in 2011 featured Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Jordan Lyles. Only Lyles was under 25 in that season and Wandy and Norris were the only ones with ERAs under 4.00.
San Diego had a talented pitching staff last season and was able to spin its prospect depth into position players to bolster them.
Jeff Luhnow didn't have that luxury.
Who knows how this gambit will work for the Padres? Justin Upton could leave via free agency after the season. Wil Myers may never have a healthy season or put in the work needed to become an elite player. Matt Kemp's arthritic hips may not let him play at a high level again.
Preller didn't care. He went all-in on 2015.
Luhnow probably won't ever go all-in on a season. He's not about that. His Astros will be more calculating, constantly building with the future in mind. That's a good thing for the future, but it's harder to get fans excited.
In 2011, we all agreed that a rebuild was necessary. The talent just wasn't there. Still, it might have been fun to see the Astros take the chances the Padres have, if only to avoid the misery of those 100-loss seasons.