Last year the San Diego Padres president of baseball operations and general manager, A.J. Preller, made a flurry of moves at the trade deadline.
He sent a boatload of prospects (LHP MacKenzie Gore, RHP Jarlin Susana, outfielders James Wood, Robert Hassell, and shortstop CJ Abrams) to the Washington Nationals for Juan Soto and Josh Bell (who now plays for the Cleveland Guardians).
In other trades, the team also acquired Cam Gallagher (designated for assignment) and infielder Brandon Drury (sent to the Los Angeles Angels). Only Soto, LHP Jay Groome, and closer Josh Hader remain.
After the trade, the Padres went 6-10 (seven of those losses against teams below .500). A frustrated fan named Mary told Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune, “They need an exorcism. A real Ted-Lasso-circle-the-fiery-trash-can-and-burn-the-talisman exorcism.”
Perhaps Mary could arrange for such a ceremony this year. Despite the outpouring of cash (third in all of Major League Baseball), as of July 23rd, the Padres have a 48-52 record, ten games back in the National League West with a 3.1% chance of winning the division and 3.9% chance of winning the World Series. In terms of expectations, this has been one of the most disappointing seasons for the fans who have filled Petco Park game after game.
According to trade rumors, Juan Soto, Josh Hader, and Blake Snell have the highest chance of being offloaded. Snell has a record of 6-8, ERA, 2.67, 1.28 WHIP; Josh Hader, 24 saves, 0.97 ERA, 0.95 WHIP; Juan Soto BA of .265, OPS .919, 19 home runs, 60 RBI.
The Padres decimated the farm system to make a run this year. Trading the fruits of those deals would be beyond disappointing. Snell, who is on a roll, has made it clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Soto has improved from an OPS of .853 wRC+ of 145 last year to .919 153 this year. Closer Josh Hader has also upped his game with an ERA of 0.97 as opposed to 5.22 last year and a WAR of 1.4, up from 0.8 in 2022.
The team’s trip to Comerica Park is the poster child of this year’s ups and downs. After winning the first two games (the second by a score of 14-3) against the Blue Jays (third in the American League West), the Padres lost game 3 by a score of 1-3.
San Diego batters managed just one hit against starter Alex Faedo, who has a record of 2-4, an ERA of 5.80, and had been called up from Triple-A that day.
Faedo walked four Padres, three to the first batter in the inning. Instead of taking advantage of a man on base, each time, the Padres hit into double plays. As shortstop Xander Bogaerts said after the game, “Six shutout innings, and I don’t think he was like a (Max) Scherzer-type. It was a very comfortable six innings for him.”
Manager Bob Melvin also voiced his disappointment, “It was a pretty disappointing effort, at least off the starter….you have to give him credit. He somehow got us out.”
As surprising as the loss to Faedo and the Detroit Tigers was, it’s even more astonishing that the big-money Padres have not been able to win four games in a row the entire season. Only the Kansas City Royals (28-73) and the Washington Nationals (41-58) can match that level of ineffectiveness.
Hitting with runners in scoring position has haunted the Padres for many years. This year, they rank 29th in batting average in that category, with the lowly Athletics being the only team worse.
Also, Fernando Tatis Jr.’s return should have made more of a difference with his .284/.342/.510/.835 batting line and wRC+ of 141. Adjusting well to right field, he uses his speed to his advantage. At shortstop and in center, Tatis Jr. was below average defensively, but he seems to belong in right with 16 DRS, 19.1 UZR/150.
Also, don’t blame the manager. Bob Melvin, who has plenty of experience on both ends. H played professional baseball from 1985 to 1994, along with managing the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Oakland Athletics. He has been named manager of the year in 2007 with the D-Backs and in 2012 and 2018 with the low-budget A’s. He’s been the first manager since 2006 to lead the Padres to the postseason (excluding the 2020 COVID-19 shortened season). Don’t forget who was in the dugout for their run to the NLCS last season.
In Melvin’s first year in San Diego, the Padres beat the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs but lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series. The high hopes of reaching the postseason again have been bruised by the head-scratching inability of the Padres to live up to their promise and their take-home pay.
The first order of business would be to sweep series against low-hanging fruit and win series against contenders. However, if the San Diego Padres continue to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, both an exorcism and shrink may be necessary.
Baseball has been a part of Diane’s life since her father played professionally (mostly at the minor league level). She has written for a number of publications and concentrated on companion animal welfare. She welcomes the opportunity to write about the sport she loves. Diane shares her home with her husband and a house full of rescued animals.