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Padres' makeover might not be complete

Is signing free-agent starting pitcher James Shields next up on GM A.J. Preller's to-do list? Getty Images

Through the 2013 season, the most money the San Diego Padres had ever invested in their roster was $74 million, back in 2008. This is why the Padres' striking aggressiveness this winter has been met with a sliding scale of response within the team's fan base.

At first there was skepticism among the fans. When the Padres were linked to expensive players such as Matt Kemp, a lot of fans in San Diego -- on Twitter, or some I know from my time covering the Padres for the San Diego Union-Tribune -- doubted the team would follow through, having been teased for years. Older Padres fans remember Ozzie Smith being traded, Dave Winfield walking away as a free agent, the trades of Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff, the departure of Kevin Brown. There is a long, long history of the Padres finishing second in bidding.

The second stage of reaction: Astonishment, which began taking shape as the Padres finalized the trade for Kemp, taking on $75 million of the $107 million owed to the slugger over the next five seasons. Before this acquisition, San Diego's idea of a big-time move was more like the three-year, $27 million signing of Carlos Quentin. The Kemp trade really moved the needle.

In the third stage of reaction, Padres fans became downright giddy after the team landed Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris for the everyday lineup. The 2014 Padres finished dead last in the majors in runs scored and were simply unwatchable on a lot of days, including June, when, as Jonah Keri has noted, San Diego's .171 team batting average marked the worst month for any team ever.

Having seen new general manager A.J. Preller and president Mike Dee spearhead this massive makeover, the level of expectation among fans is growing in San Diego.