The Friar Follies of the 2018 Season

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(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

As the season winds down to the final five weeks, Padres games have taken an almost comical turn, with freak injuries, walk-off wins (for the opponents), and the dubious distinction of making history by losing by 15 runs in a game in which Wil Myers hit three home runs. Although no one expected the Padres to make the playoffs, most prognosticators predicted the team would at least tread water and not go backward in this fourth (going on fifth) year of A.J. Preller’s reign as general manager.

Instead, the Padres are on a pace to outdo last season’s 91-losses and to come within one game of losing 100. Perhaps giddy from watching the losses pile up, the season has now taken on a downright farcical feel. Of course, injuries can never be considered a laughing matter, but the latest mishaps almost defy belief.

Wil Myers, the former face-of-the-franchise, sustained his third injury in an almost lost season, this time taking a ball to the face during batting practice as he tried to backhand the ball at his newest position (third base).  On Thursday, Kirby Yates, the newly anointed closer, gave up his third game-winning home run (for the other team) in four games. In the meantime, Christian Villanueva, playing second as the team tried to turn him into a super utility player, broke his finger (middle, need you even ask?) trying to field a routine grounder.  A dropped pop-up early in the season against the Astros set the tone for the Friar Follies. Eric Hosmer, the $144-million man, overran the ball while other fielders, assuming he had the ball, stood and watched.

Manager Andy Green waxes poetic about Myers’ athleticism, but if the second-highest salaried player ($83 million) can’t stay on the field, his skill set is of no use on the bench. He suffered lower back tightness and nerve irritation in his right arm at the beginning season and has played only 53 games this season.

Signing first baseman Hosmer, of course, started the ripple effect that crowded the outfield and ultimately led to Myers moving to third  Since he has said he gets bored in the outfield and thinks his arm may be more suited to third, he welcomed the change.

This, in turn, displaced Villanueva from third, so the Padres moved him to second and talked about turning him into a super utility guy.  Since he had 12 errors at third, one wonders about his suitability.  He’s no Ben Zobrist (Cubs), Marwin Gonzalez (Astros), or Kike Hernandez (Dodgers), players who excel at moving around the diamond. According to Fan Graphs statistic UZR/150, he has a minus -4.2 at third, and his 12 errors rank fourth in the National League. And now, the poor guy will probably be out for the rest of the year.

This attempt to fit square pegs into round holes bombed spectacularly early on in Preller’s tenure with another Christian, as in Bethancourt.  Because of his arm, the Padres tried to transform him from a catcher to a pitcher. In fact, in 2016 he also played in left and right field and at second base. The experiment worked so well that Bethancourt is now catching in Triple-A for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox

In another lost season, there is no reason not to experiment.  However, the Padres need to limit the experimentation to players who have the skill set to at least be average and not an embarrassment (to themselves as well as the team). For instance, Travis Jankowski serves as an example of versatility, since he can play all three outfield positions, not just passably, but well.

It may appear as if the baseball gods just don’t like the Padres much. But in many ways, this franchise has a tendency to be its own worst enemy.  Fans can only hope the Friar follies do not contribute to any further injuries or humiliation until the end of the season.

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Diane Calkins
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.

3 thoughts on “The Friar Follies of the 2018 Season

  1. These are just growing pains of a rebuilding club. Astros had three 100-loss seasons, I think we can live with one, especially if we get a top 3 draft pick. Pluses for this season: one of MLB’s top bullpens, the successful season of Joey Lucchesi, small steps forward for Renfroe and Hedges offensively. Also, the acquisition of Mejia for Hand may prove to be a brilliant move in the long run. I’ll be more worried about Hosmer if he has two bad years in a row.

  2. Ah to be a Padres fan. Like being hit in the head with a stick once a day.
    Sometimes a team is like an ocean liner, with change being very slow in coming. But with the club a study in ineptitude, shouldn’t we see some new faces? It is aggravating to see the team waste time with Villanueva at 2b when they could be taking a look at Urias. That doesn’t begin to make sense. Or to see them stick with Richard, when he should be bumped to the pen, and a younger pitcher given some starts.
    When will the on and off field clown show end?

  3. “Friar follies” … you are too kind, particularly toward AJ Preller. It was “Preller’s Folly” (as I referred to it months ago) that started most of this (e.g. displacing one player after another, which likely led to a reduction in productivity, and an increase in injuries, at least for Myers). And it is not as if all this just happened to result in unforeseen problems … this was highly predictable, and was predicted by countless people. That reveals just how foolish it is/was. The Angels only have about 3 years left on their rash and foolish signing of Pujols, the Padres have over 7 years to go in which they have to overcome Preller’s Folly. [to be clear, I don’t think ALL of the injuries, etc are due to signing Hosmer]

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