Padres 20/20 vision: A corrected stigma-tism

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

(AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

CATCHER: Austin Nola’s quick study and versatility and uber-prospect Luis Campusano’s total package give the Padres two guys who can take the squat and lead the team to victory.  And, they cost next-to-nothing for the time being.  Work now needs to be done again here after the outgoing names in the Snell acquisition. Still, the many free agents left on a depressed market can remedy that situation easily as the front office continues to reshape the 2021 team.

FIRST BASE: Eric Hosmer’s 2020 revealed growth.  Not only is he the ring-leader, but he’s been clutch and shown toughness.  He fought through a stomach ailment and a broken hand to make invaluable contributions.  Success in small markets has been Hosmer’s pedigree, and a title in San Diego will not have come without his efforts on and off the field.  

SECOND BASE: Jake Cronenworth showed two things in 2020: the front office shifted from an almost “home run or else” offensive philosophy to an OBP one, and Tampa Bay has too many prospects.  Seriously, Preller’s acumen has been instrumental in the building of a title team.  There have been swings-and-misses along the way, but the Padres’ front office has made many, many good calls over the past few years.  This is a big one.  Cronenworth, another versatile talent, showed a knack for bat-to-ball skills, unlike the past several second base candidates, and he performed at an elite level.

SHORTSTOP: San Diego is home to the guy Gatorade hired to represent its latest product.  Let that, and what it means, sink in.  The most exciting player in the entire industry plays shortstop at Petco, and Fernando Tatis Jr. is on record as wanting to spend his career here.  I won’t make Brady comparisons here, but maybe 20 years from now, there will be some inevitable ones.

THIRD BASE: The Dodgers lost this first team All-MLB player to the San Diego Padres.  He chose us over them.  Let that, and what it means, sink in.  Manny Machado just had the best season of his career.  There are no signs of slowing down, only efforts to keep up with and best his MVP-caliber teammate.  

LEFT FIELD: What didn’t Tommy Pham have to overcome in 2020?  He started with Covid-19 and fell behind in the ramp-up for the season.  Then, he faced, am I actually typing this? a broken hamate bone that obviously affected his ability to grip a bat.  Then, he faced unfriendly fire (stabbing) in the immediate off-season.  What draws us to Pham is his ability to overcome adversity.  He’s likely to have a bounce-back, high-performance effort in 2021.  He rubs off on players, too, like Wil Myers, who attributed his turnaround at least in part to Pham.

CENTERFIELD: Thanks to the front office, the Padres fleeced the Brewers of talent in Trent Grisham last offseason.  Aside from the Gold Glove and aside from his aggressive style, Grisham has a quiet fight in him that is infectious, and for now, he costs next to nothing.  As he matures, he may even be mentioned in the same breath with another young middle of the field Padres stud.

RIGHT FIELD: Many wanted the front office to trade Wil Myers last off-season, but thankfully, Wil stayed put and performed at an MVP clip in 2020 in the brown and gold.  Wil has the uncanny ability to beat the other teams’ best pitchers.  He’s a luxury to put in the bottom half of the lineup and know how much damage he can do to opposing teams.  If he hadn’t started with such negative assessment, he’d have been in the top half of the MVP balloting as well.

STARTING PITCHING: Imagine the rotation with a healthy Mike Clevinger.  The work done last year by the front office was tremendous.  But, injury and an up-and-down performance from Chris Paddack makes this the biggest question mark coming into the 2021 season.  But, there are options, and this organization, suddenly, has proven itself to have vision and nimbleness in dealing with needs.  It’s not a matter of if, but when the Padres will retool a rotation that finished 2020 ranked third in MLB in ERA and WHIP while ranking seventh or better in walk, strikeout, hit, and home run per 9.  

Mandatory Credit: Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports

The preceding sentences were written about the rotation before the Snell acquisition.  It truly is only a matter of time before the Padres retool this aspect of the 2021 team.  Snell’s three years of control, that I advocated acquiring in this off-season plan three weeks ago, give the Padres a potentially dominant rotation in 2022 and 2023.

RELIEF PITCHING: Long a strength of the organization, the bullpen has both strengths and needs currently.  Options exist, and as the market emerges, San Diego will fill out its relief roster with strong pieces.  It would be difficult to believe the bullpen won’t round into form and become even more ferocious than the 2020 version that struggled out of the gate. 

Maybe a 2020 Padres Vision is really about remembering the reasons to be hopeful, thankful, encouraged, and encouraging.  Maybe it’s about recognizing that it only takes a few special, committed people to align with a vision of greatness for greatness to emerge.  Maybe 10 or 20 years from now, this article gets republished, and Padres fans can laugh and smile in joy, remembering what it was like before the 10 or 20-year run that made San Diego’s Padres the best franchise in American professional sport according to some future ESPN article.  

Maybe the moment of its inception already occurred on a series of consecutive days during a pandemic where the team hammered four grand slams, adding another two games later for good measure.  Maybe the moment that Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his grand slam versus the Texas Rangers was a symbolic annihilation of the past and its ways and an ushering in of the new ways with greater results.  Maybe it really won’t matter what the Dodgers could do or did, but rather what the Padres did.  

As time passes, we are faced with choices in how we “see” things in life.  Some are clear without aid; some need correction.  Ironically, at times in decades past, we may have had to squint hard and look close to see positive signs from the organization.  But, now, we can’t wait to read the next ESPN assessment as well as future ones.  This craziest of years, aptly named 2020, brought about a corrected stigma-tism of the San Diego Padres.  No matter what ESPN says this time, it is pleasing to be optimistic about the Padres 20/20 Vision and future, only remembering the past as a way to appreciate the present, knowing the wheels are already in motion.

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Tony C
Tony C
2 years ago

I will agree with TT. Anyone who thinks we didn’t overpay for Hosmer is likely part of the Hosmer family. I’ll also agree that EVT is a good read. I’ll go further to encourage more interaction. Why bother with a comments section when there are only a few of us who do comment with any regularity. I enjoy Diane’s writing also and she is the only one I believe I’ve seen participate… other than you this one time.

EVT… keep up the good writing.

2 years ago

Please stop with the Hosmer gross exaggerations. He stinks. He might be a great guy, but he stinks. Even his stats are inflated because the Padres continue to bat him cleanup, when he is a 7, 8, or 9 hitter (at least in the new lineup). He does not even make it into the top 10 non-pitchers on his own team!!!!!! He is FAR below average for a first baseman offensively, and horrific defensively. He has one of, if not the worst contract in baseball (output compared to amount paid). Yet in an age of propaganda….he will continue to get propped up. If he sat, and Cronenworth started at 1b, they would be far better offensively and defensively.

“…a title in San Diego will not have come without his efforts on and off the field.” Really? I’m all for the home team, but please be objective.

“What draws us to Pham is his ability to overcome adversity.” Really? What tangibly shows that he has overcome anything? But the bigger concern here, how much of this has he brought on himself? Yet you make him out to be a martyr of sorts, yikes.

James Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  TT


Hosmer was brought here for his “efforts” on and off the field. He certainly has not justified his contract with the bat. The team values his intangibles and that was why he was given so much money. Writing about that fact is hardly an over-exaggeration. You or I can not speak about what he brings to the locker room. So speaking about it is really pointless.

as for Pham… He has battled adversity his whole life. COME ON. From his initial family problems to debilitating eye issues, to the fact the Cardinals gave up on him to play garbage in the outfield. Pham has certainly grinded his whole career and that is what he brings to a team full of millionaires who sometimes can lack focus. He is no martyr, but certainly brings value in the locker room. Again. Something we can really not speak about with true knowledge.

You are free to your opinion. But I think both cases are pretty evident. Just reporting the facts.

2 years ago
Reply to  James Clark

Thanks for commenting.
I realize that it is said Hosmer was brought for his intangibles, off-the-field impact,” etc. If so, that is beyond silly. When this is said, it is usually code, like calling a hitter with no power “a line-drive hitter”; or calling a tiny, rundown home “a cozy, fixer-upper.” It is also used to mitigate or cover up a massive blunder. The fact is, players are not overpaid $50-$100+ million for their intangibles. Plus, there is zero evidence of his leadership, or positive impact in the clubhouse.
The fact is, he did not need to be signed at all. Far worse, there was no competition for his services. Literally every other team (and perhaps every other baseball fan) saw his (rapidly) declining value, and declined to offer much, if anything. Preller bid against himself, and, instead of 3 years at $10 per, he gave 8 years (and $144 million) to an average-ish, on-the-decline player at the easiest to fill position, when it was already filled, which caused multiple players to be displaced, and likely greatly contributed to Myers collapse in play and value. And, in turn, this prevented the Padres from trading their other bloated, foolish contract. That is not opinion.

It is wonderful if Pham has overcome adversity in his life. That, of course, is clearly NOT what the article mentions (e.g. 2020). Let’s not move the goalposts. Furthermore, it was your website (I believe Diane) who did an article questioning his leadership, impact on the team (e.g. locker room), etc, and, due to a series of foolish decisions that put himself and others at risk, and his horrible on the field performance, asked if he should be cut, or not. Those are the words/assertions of EVT, not just me or others.

So, you think both cases are evident, as I do, yet we are perhaps on opposite ends. Such is life these days.

For what it is worth, I would like to commend you, however, for commenting. Your website is good, and provides value, and their is demand for such, but I believe you/it could have even better success if you somehow encouraged more interaction (e.g. in the comment section). Most fans desire this, yet there is, of course, the downside when things get nasty (as is the case in most all comment sections). How you go about encouraging more interaction, I am not sure, and you likely thought about it, but as a reader I wanted to mention this.

James Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  TT

I appreciate the feedback.

This is baseball. We all have an opinion, and not one of us is right. That is my philosophy. I allow my writers to pursue several topics at different angles. As long as their argument or presentation is put together well. Again. I appreciate the criticism and, most of all, the fact you read our work. Thank you.

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