The Padres payroll could surpass $100 million this season

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The Padres had a club record $90.1 million payroll last season, but the team currently projects to be around $89 million for 2015 even after a very active offseason from new general manager A.J. Preller. Part of this is because the Dodgers are paying the great majority of Matt Kemp’s salary for this season. However, they might not be done making moves.

Team chairman Ron Fowler recently indicated to Dennis Lin of UT-San Diego that Preller still has some wiggle room with his budget, which could push the payroll over $100 million:

In an email to the U-T, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler confirmed a general payroll range for 2015: It will open above last season’s figure and could top out at a little more than $100 million.

Fowler added an important disclaimer: “However, with A.J. in the GM seat, things could change quickly. He continues to look at options to strengthen the team.”

First-year general manager A.J. Preller has landed an unprecedented haul of right-handed power, remaking baseball’s worst offense while keeping the pitching staff largely intact. Yet his most resourceful maneuvering occurred within the financial parameters of those deals; as of Feb. 5, the Padres’ payroll projects to open at roughly $89 million, a tick under the 2014 figure. (If a trade partner is found for Carlos Quentin, the club could trim a couple million or so.)

As for what could push the Padres over $100 million, many have begun to consider them the favorites to land free agent right-hander James Shields. They have also expressed interest in a trade for Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels. One non-pitcher possibility is Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, who Preller recently scouted while in the Dominican Republic.

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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