San Diego Padres: The Fleeing PadreS

Will Leitch will be previewing/musing on every baseball team each weekday until the start of the season. You can pre-order his book and follow him on Twitter. Today: San Diego Padres.

Adrian Gonzalez was born to be a San Diego Padre. He was actually born in San Diego, went to high school in Chula Vista and has a rabid fanbase as the best Mexican baseball player alive. He loves it there. And why wouldn't he? San Diego is beautiful. Oh, and he's a fantastic hitter: The guy hit 40 homers in one of the most difficult hitting parks in the game and, somehow, led the major leagues in walks, though this is easier to do when the man hitting behind you is Kevin Kouzmanoff. The man is a stud and three quarters.

And unless you're on the Spanish language Padres site, you'll barely find him anywhere among Padres promotional materials. He should be the main — the only, really — selling point for the Padres. He is the perfect Padre; the only thing he's missing is the last name "Gwynn." But Adrian Gonzalez is not on the promotional package because Adrian Gonzalez is going to be traded.

He is going to be traded because the Padres don't have any money, they have a smart new general manager who needs to restock the farm system with cheap young talent before Gonzalez becomes too expensive after the 2011 season. This is what happens when your owner gets a divorce and you live in California. More California owners need to be like Clooney, or at least gay, so the decision on whether or not to give up half your earnings because of a wandering eye is taken out of your hands entirely.

Everyone accepts this. Padres fans aren't happy about it, but they seem resigned. By the end of this season, Adrian Gonzalez is going to likely be member of the Boston Red Sox. There is no outrage. If Joe Mauer leaves the Twins, or Albert Pujols leaves the Cardinals, it will be a watershed moment in competitive imbalance: Before the ink is dry on their Yankees/Red Sox/Mets contracts, every columnist in the country will bemoan the class divisions in the game and countless fans will claim, for the 492nd time, that they're finally done with baseball. Collectively, the baseball proletariat and intelligentsia have decided that Mauer is supposed to be a Twin and Pujols is supposed to be a Cardinal.

No one believes this about Gonzalez. Sure, the Padres didn't draft Gonzalez, but I doubt most people know or care about that, and it's beside the point anyway: Gonzalez is one of baseball's best players, playing in his home city, for a team with quite a bit of history packed into its 41 years of existence. And he's just leaving.

I am not saying it's not a smart move for Jed Hoyer to make. I am not saying this is a situation that hasn't happened before. I am just saying it's bizarre that no one cares. It's bizarre that everyone has just given up. It's bizarre that it's just a given. It makes me sad. Baseball deserves better, and Padres fans certainly deserve better. You can only sell so many David Eckstein jerseys.