Three weeks ago, my friend Rosemary predicted that the San Diego Padres were toast. (https://www.eastvillagetimes.com/are-the-san-diego-padres-toast/).
At that point, it did seem hopeless, but this team can be a real tease. Just when you think there’s absolutely no hope, they’ll play like the winners they should be. Case in point, on September 11 (of all days), San Diego beat the Dodgers 11-8 in Los Angeles.
Besting the Dodgers is a big deal. According to Fangraphs, the Dodgers have a 100 % chance of winning the division, 27.8 to win the pennant, and 14.2 to win the World Series. The Padres, fourth in the division with a record of 88-78, have 0.1 to reach the playoffs (the Wild Card obviously being the only avenue).
For the Padres, who were coming off a 12-2 loss to the Houston Astros, the win over the Dodgers just added to the frustration dogging the team. Although the Padres have a record of 68/78, every once in a while, they’ll play like the team that began the season third in payroll, just behind the New York Mets and Yankees.
“We haven’t seen that in a while,” manager Bob Melvin remarked after the win against L.A. “It was nice to come back after being down big….It’s something we’ve been lacking.”
The next day, reality returned. The Dodgers walloped the Padres by a score of 11-2.
At the beginning of the season, prognosticators assumed the Padres would live up to their payroll (third in baseball behind the New York teams). Proving, yet again. that it’s not all about money, The Yankees occupy last place in their division (71-72), the Mets fourth (65-78).
Of course, managers usually get the blame for a losing season like this. But Bob Melvin has done the best he can under the circumstances. He’s the first experienced manager in A.J. Preller’s (president of baseball ops, general manager) tenure. He’s not only managed the Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Oakland Athletics), but he’s also played in the big leagues as a catcher behind Bob Brenly with the San Francisco Giants.
Since Preller took over, the Padres cycled through Bud Black, Pat Murphy, Andy Green, and Jayce Tingler before the front office chose a man with experience as a manager. In 20 years, he has a .514 winning percentage. In his first year, the Padres went to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 with an 89-73 record.
In many organizations, the GM would get the boot after a hopeless season. However, Preller apparently has the trust of owner Peter Seidler, obviously a very patient man. Admittedly, he’s also a wealthy man, but there has to be frustration over the fact that the most pricy players–Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Juan Soto, and Xander Bogaerts–haven’t lived up to their contracts, which amount to a collective 78 million dollars. This year, they have batted .249 with runners in scoring position. In contrast, the Dodgers’ best four have a .360 average with RSP.
Even more vexing, the Padres are 6-22 in one-run games and 10-11 in extra innings, a fate not imagined at the beginning of the 2023 season. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Padres have lost starting pitchers Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish.
Blake Snell (13-9, 2.52 ERA) has been one of the few bright spots and may be on his way to his second Cy Young Award. Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo have helped fill the void, but Wacha only lasted four innings against the Dodgers and gave up seven hits, three walks, and seven earned runs.
Rosemary was right. Despite the money and the hype, the San Diego Padres are, without a doubt, toast.
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.