Canepa: With Padres, youth is served

July 18, 2016

It very well may be true that Padres General Manager A.J. Preller has his scouts scouring baby nurseries in local hospitals to find replacements for Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Rodney.

If that fails, he may check out OBGYNs’ ultrasounds to find a future left-handed starter or right-handed closer who hasn’t been born yet.

Forget A.J. using Bill James’ “Baseball Abstract.” Try “Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care.”

To Preller, youth is not, as G.B. Shaw said, wasted on the young.

This is the Padres’ Pampers Posse.

T She Pads are now for those who think pediatrics. This is more than a youth movement. It’s a youth avalanche. So much for dog food. The next ballpark naming rights will go to Gerber.

Let’s just say it’s going to be a while before they do Gillette commercials.

It’s funny. Or not funny, depending on your point of view. I fully realize that baseball preschool is not what many of you — most of you? — signed up for.

But it is what the Padres have become, what they are, what they absolutely are going to be, what they want to be, and whether or not we like it doesn’t seem to matter much.

Preller is romancing in international waters and has sailed this boat past the point of no return. Maybe he will bust, but he’s going for the boom, and, if you allow me to reach into my bag of Johnny Mercer, isn’t going to mess with Mr. In-Between.

They just spent $60 million (including a $30-million tax/penalty for going over the limit) selecting international teenagers (not to mention millions more on the draft), most of whom barely would be out of Pony League.

But some experts believe that, if included in the major league draft, at least six of the youngsters probably would have gone in the first round.

And I am advised that they still may not be finished. Preller habla espanol and Hokkien, Taiwan’s language of choice. But until the kiddies play for real, we’re Sgt. Schultz — we know nothing, no matter the dialect.

This is why Preller is here. The A.J. we saw going after name players before the 2015 season, ringing a national bell that eventually stopped ringing, is not who he is, not why he was brought here. What has happened this summer, with the draft and the international foray, is A.J. Preller’s food for thought.

Now, whether it’s digestible remains to be seen. Fans probably are going to need a four-, five- or six-year supply of bicarb before they really know. It is not going to be an easy swallow.

I expected Preller to trade Pomeranz and Rodney, and he did, and it appears that in Anderson Espinoza and Chris Paddack, he’s received top pitching prospects in return. But prospects are just that. Potential is just that. Potential doesn’t sell until it’s reached, and we’ve seen a whole lot of potential go into the restroom here and not come out — or perhaps you’ve forgotten Ruben Rivera, to name one of their potential Hall of Famers. People aren’t buying season tickets five years in advance.

And Preller isn’t finished. Only Wil Myers is untouchable on this team. This moving month is going to continue.

The only problem I have with it all is that the organization didn’t do at least some of this 15 years ago. It poured millions into a Dominican Republic academy and hasn’t gotten much more than a plantain out of it. It’s inexcusable. Not current management’s fault, but inexcusable nevertheless. The baseball people have drafted horribly and had some terrible luck.

But it’s more than bad luck. They have failed miserably in developing players in the minors. And majors. Anthony Rizzo? Now, people inside believe that Preller’s reorganization has created developmental strength on the farm that rivals any team’s.

He’d better have, because after depleting his minor league strength when he went for the steak dinner last year, he has restocked, with more to come after the international youngsters can compete in America. And as we have seen this season, some of the players awaiting their turns with the big club are having tremendous years.

But they have strength in the big team where they have it in the minors, so until some of the everyday players go, the youngsters aren’t coming up.

And there certainly is no need to rush them now when you need Galileo’s help to see first place in the NL West. Talents such as Austin Hedges and Hunter Renfroe can’t stay down forever, but no reason to be overanxious.

The Padres’ pitching staff is a mess, thanks to injuries. I often wonder how they can win a game. Pomeranz was their best starter, Rodney their best reliever. Andrew Cashner is their only starter remaining from opening day, and don’t be surprised if they trade him, too.

You can’t consistently win this way, even though there has been strong offensive improvement since the bad start. And they haven’t been all that good defensively, either.

The key to this organization’s future falls on instructors down below. If they can get a quarter of all the kids they’ve brought in to the big club, it will be a rousing success.

As one front-office member put it, the organization has been lazy.

They won’t be lazy anymore.

They have chosen to play a young man’s game. I like their thinking. But I don’t buy season tickets, either,