We have all read the reports and heard the word “tank” being used as a verb in the past few months. The word is used to describe a philosophy of gathering draft picks for a franchises’ future. If you are not competing, then it makes sense to get a higher pick in the following year’s draft…something that has a lot of merit to it for a rebuilding franchise.
However, the concept and execution of this philosophy is difficult to achieve.
It is nearly impossible to complete successfully when you have a team full of youngsters that are the nucleus of your future.
The Padres are in the midst of that issue right now as Austin Hedges, Manuel Margot, Wil Myers, and Hunter Renfroe are who this team would like to build around. These four men represent the future. At the same time, this team is not ready to compete. You want to gather future picks while still cultivating a winning way with these youngsters. There is a fine line the team is presently walking, and the finish line is near.
The Padres are currently 6th in draft order if the season ended today. The Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, and Philadelphia Phillies all sit just in front of them. At the same time, the New York Mets, Oakland A’s, and Atlanta Braves sit only a few games behind them in reverse standings. There are a total of 9.5 games that separate the Philadelphia Phillies (1st pick) and the Atlanta Braves (9th pick).
This last month of the season will be key to finalizing the draft order for the 2018 MLB Draft.
The Padres have 31 remaining games. 17 at home. 14 on the road. They play each of their division rivals six games, except for the Rockies, who they play seven games against. With the exception of the Giants, the other three teams (D-backs, Rockies, and Dodgers) are playoff contenders that will be tough to get victories against. The team’s remaining games are a four-game set, at home, against the Cardinals (who typically beat up on SD), and a two-game road series in Minnesota (who is in a playoff race).
What this means is that the Padres will play 25 out of their last 31 games against above .500 teams that are in a playoff race. This bodes well for the future of this team. There is a strong likelihood that the team will struggle down the stretch and potentially sneak into a top selection.
Now, doing this the correct way will be tough. Obviously you do not want your team to just go out there and roll over every game and every series. You want them to compete and you want these young players to finish the season on a positive note. Last year, the Padres ended the season with a four-game losing streak, including being swept on the road against the Diamondbacks. That was huge as the team vaulted up the draft order, even passing the D-backs, who failed to recognize the “tanking” aspect of the game.
Think about it: If the team failed to lose those last few games, there is no way they land Mackenzie Gore with their first pick in the draft. He would have been picked by Arizona or anyone who selected right after the Padres in the 2017 draft. That is how valuable “tanking” can be to a franchise.
In these last 31 games, Padre fans should hope for the team to play tough and compete. In the end though, losses are way more important to the future of this team. Timing is the key to this whole concept and you can be sure the Padres are well aware of all the factors.