The San Diego Padres were embarrassed this past weekend at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Heading into the three-game series, the Padres were rejuvenated by a flurry of trades made by their general manager. Adding Juan Soto, Josh Bell, Brandon Drury, and Josh Hader is certainly a great way to energize a clubhouse. However, the Padres failed to play with much passion in the series. The result were three disheartening losses at Chavez Ravine. Three games in which the Padres were never really a factor. San Diego only led for two innings this past weekend.
The Padres have lost 17 of their last 19 games to the Dodgers. Los Angeles clearly stands in the way to a World Series title in 2022. If the Padres want to achieve their ultimate goal, they will need to perform better against their division rival, plain and simple.
The rosters of the two clubs are identical in terms of star power. In fact, some would argue the Padres are a more star-studded team now. So, why are the Padres continually beaten by the Dodgers? The manner in which the Padres are failing is very troubling. San Diego is being outperformed in virtually every facet of the game. From defense, to pitching, to the lineup, the Padres are clearly outmatched by L.A.
“What they’re really good at is that they have a game plan,” Darvish said. “Each and every hitter has a game plan going into their at-bat, and they execute. They know what they need to do in certain situations. And they’re really good at executing that. So I think that’s what makes them really, really good lineup.” This came from Padres’ pitcher Yu Darvish this past weekend in Los Angeles. Capitalizing on mistakes and consistently doing so is not luck. The Dodgers are prepared as a unit and the Padres need to emulate this in order to achieve true success.
Player development for the Dodgers provides so much to this franchise.
From Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and Justin Turner, to current pitchers Tyler Anderson and Tony Gonsolin, L.A. has taken average players that other teams give up on, and turned them into All-Star’s and valuable players within the organization. Again, this is not luck. There is something to what they are doing in Los Angeles, and the Padres need to figure it out.
Nomar Mazara, Jose Azocar, Nick Martinez, Nabil Crismatt, and Robert Suarez represent a little bit of the success the Padres achieved in 2022 with unheralded players. Joe Musgrove has also taken his level of play to a whole new level since joining the Padres, but he was considered a promising pitcher when the Padres acquired him from the Pirates. Musgrove’s success may be more from the simple motivation recieved by pitching for the team he grew up rooting for. The Padres have improved in this area, but for some reason the Dodgers continue to run circles around them in this player development department.
Rejuvenating players’ careers and taking their game to whole new level is not an easy task. Sometimes it takes simple mechanical adjustments, while other times it takes a different mental approach to the game or improved focus. Whatever the case may be, the Dodgers’ staff is diagnosing it and more often than not, they get it right.
Spending money on players on the field is great, but you get a sense the Padres need to make more of a commitment to their inner staff. Those who digest baseball analytical numbers and who are capable of communicating that to players in laymen’s terms. Baseball players, as a group, do not have time to analyze numbers, they need crude examples of how to perform better and when that happens the results on the field is what empowers their quench for more information.
It takes time for some of these players to adjust. They get stubborn. A player will fall into the same poor mechanics and negative aspects of the game because it is easier. It takes a special unit to keep a player thirsty. It takes a motivational team on the development side to continually get their point across to the player.
Recognizing talent that needs a change of scenery is one thing, but actually capitalizing and executing a game plan at the major league level is another.
At this moment, the Padres are miles behind the Dodgers who constantly seem to manufacture runs and execute on the baseball diamond. The little things in the game of baseball go a long ways, and the Padres are failing at these intangibles. This past weekend, the Padres were 2-for-17 (.118) in the three-game series with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers were 10-for-36 (.278) and outscored the Friars 20-4. Twice as many men in scoring positon, and a near .300 batting average will earn you a series win almost every time. In this case, it earned an easy sweep for L.A.
It goes way beyond stats that show up on paper as well. Whether its failing to record a lead out on defense on a weak groundball, or going from first to third on the base paths, the Padres are making these small mistakes which compound into a huge issues in the game.
When you are failing, it is very easy to point fingers. The modern era of the game will provide you every stat you need to digest in order to determine the value of a team. The Padres are an excellent team on paper, but they are failing as a collective unit to win the big games. The playoffs are hopefully on the horizon for the Padres, but every mistake is magnified 1,000 percent on the national stage.
So where do the Padres go from here?
The addition of Fernando Tatis Jr. in the coming weeks will energize the team. The trio of Manny Machado, Juan Soto and Tatis is historic. The Padres will score runs and the pitching staff is built with flexibility. It is too late to make coaching changes and philosophical changes at this point in the 2022 season. It may not be the time for massive adjustments, but the Padres are still capable of starting to implement game plans. This Padres way that we have heard about from this current regime must surface.
Bob Melvin still has a lot of work to do. The players are in the clubhouse and the expectation is that this squad is good enough to win it all. Motivating this group individually and as a unit is what makes the difference between a major league manager of quality and a man just holding the job until the franchise can locate somebody better. Melvin is known as a player’s manager. He has been in the game for a long time. If the successful manager can continue to grow and help improve in player development and execution, then the sky is the limit for the San Diego Padres.