As the 2017 San Diego Padres roster was being constructed, there was tons of criticism that this would easily be the worst team in baseball when it was all said and done. That has not come to fruition just yet, as the season is only one-third of the way complete, but in spurts, we all have definitely witnessed a really bad team take the field.
With the youth that surrounds this current squad, the growing pains were bound to happen. There were going to be times when this team just plays horrible baseball on the field. The misplays are one thing, but the young squad has sadly not improved in certain areas of the game that are vital for success. This needs to change for this franchise to progress in the correct direction.
Whether it’s base running errors, fielding misplays, or just their approach at the plate, the team has looked horrible in glimpses.
I get it. There are a lot of young players on this team. Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Allen Cordoba, Luis Torrens, Manuel Margot, and pitchers like Jose Torres and Miguel Diaz, are all really inexperienced at the major league level. They are all learning on the job, and these growing pains are certainly painful to witness firsthand by the Friar faithful.
Manager Andy Green is also learning on the job. He is in his second year at the helm and the young manager is still suffering from some growing pains himself. He is the perfect man for the job though. Those who are critical of him are only short-sighted, and demand unrealistic success now. That is not going to happen. This team is a work in progress. You cannot rush that. Past regimes did just that (rush things), and the result was counter-productive to the big picture.
Green is still learning, but he is also implementing a style of play for a franchise that has never had direction. The Padres have always seemingly lacked a plan. There have been times when the team has executed a plan and been relevant in the game of baseball. The run the team enjoyed from 1996-98 was a joy, as was the run from 2005-10. But the years in between have been brutal, and only the most die-hard of fans have survived the owner’s constant abuse.
Andy Green is a scrappy manager, much like his style of play when he played the game. He is intense and full of character.
The young team will learn how to play the game the correct way, whether they want to hear it or not. The veterans of last season did not like being reminded about fundamentals, especially from a rookie manager. Matt Kemp, James Shields, Melvin Upton Jr., and company all clearly rubbed the manager the wrong way, as they each played the game with the swagger of a seasoned veteran. Each has accomplished much in the game, and rightfully should be able to strut around the clubhouse. However, that is not the style of play you want to display to a very young team. Changes needed to be made, and they were.
So here we stand with a very young offensive team. As a whole, the Padres have been able to score runs, but the pitching staff just steals any momentum the offense creates. Constantly, the offense has come up big this season, putting the team in the lead, only to have the pitching staff cough up the advantage the next half inning. There is an old baseball adage in the game of baseball that if a team scores big on you, no matter what, you have to put up a run the next time at bat in order to keep your momentum. The Padres are not practicing this philosophy, and by not doing so, at times, the team is not watchable.
This past series in Arizona was horrendous. Was this the same team that just swept the World Series champion Cubs? The sad truth is this team is going to play like this all season long. There are going to be times when everyone is excited about this team, and the talk of the tank is dead. And then… there are going to be times when the tank talk is strong, and that is the only rallying cry that the fan base has.
This season is all about progression. It is about getting better and refining your skills.
Taking the extra base on the base paths, hustling on the field, and hitting your cut-off man are things that have not found their way onto a statcast sheet yet. There is no way to measure desire and doing the little things in the game of baseball. The only way to evaluate these things is by seeing the player firsthand. Andy Green is the perfect man for evaluating these skills. It remains to be seen if he will be successful as a major league manager, but you can be sure his team will be accountable for their actions and they will play the game the correct way. Yes, this team is hard to watch from time to time. But please be patient, because the good times are coming.