You have probably heard enough about the Padres “tanking” possibilities, but I’m going to hit on this topic one more time.
The principle behind the tank is very simple. Essentially, if you are not a playoff team, it makes little sense to finish higher in the standings, as that earns you a lower selection in the following year’s draft. Sounds pretty simple, right?
Well it is not all that simple. Especially for a San Diego Padres team that is currently searching for an identity.
Unlike the Cubs and Astros (recent MLB tanking teams), the Padres are not built to tank successfully. Yes their roster has huge holes, but the majority of the team is made up of young up and coming players. Men who are trying to earn a future major league spot. The aforementioned Cubs and Astros were successful in their losing attempt as they were squads full of major league veterans that, quite frankly, were not that good.
Andy Green has an enormous challenge. Cultivating these young men and developing a winning way is difficult while, at the same time, trying to earn the team a better draft pick in the next year’s draft. The young manager couldn’t care less about the tank. His job is to win each and every day and to get the most out of his 25-man roster. The man will not roll over for anyone, and neither should his team. I understand how the tank works, but if you have a chance to take three of four games from the Los Angeles Dodgers, then you do it.
If you have a chance to stand up to a team that will be a force when the Padres plan to compete, then by all means you beat them up. The Dodgers are, and always have been, the Padres’ big brother. To change that, you need to stand up for yourself and be assertive. The Padres were supposed to lose 100 games this season. They were supposed to be the worst team in baseball, by far. This team was supposed to be an embarrassment, a team in a full-on rebuild with the worst pitching staff in the majors. The 2017 Padres were supposed to be horrible.
Well, they are not. Not even close. With a tremendous group of young players already in the major leagues, the time for this team to compete is quickly approaching. Some within the organization have pointed to the year 2019 or 2020 as the seasons to expect the plan to be in full effect. It is not yet known when, or if, this team can compete. There is still much to do, but you can be certain that many fans are content with the direction this team is headed. The fan base is happy.
The minor league system has never been this stacked with talent. A top selection next June would be an excellent addition to the franchise, but the teams’ priority has clearly changed from hoarding draft picks to developing young talent. Jered Weaver was sent packing and Dinelson Lamet was brought up, and the rest is history. It is just the natural evolution of the franchise to relevance in the competitive market which is major league baseball.
The Padres still have the ability to earn a top-five selection in the 2018 MLB Draft, but they need work on their tanking skills. Winning three straight against the Dodgers in September does not help the team earn a higher selection, but if you did not get joy out of watching it, then I question your allegiance to the team. A fine line is presently being walked by this team, and so far they have done well.
With 24 games left on the schedule, the Padres sit ninth in priority for draft selections for next year. The Giants, Phillies, and White Sox have virtually assured themselves the top three selections, as they have perfected their tanking methods. Beyond those three teams, roughly 4.5 games separate six teams, and just beyond the Padres sit the Toronto Blue Jays. These final weeks will be crucial for the team as they attempt to slither lower in the standings and higher on the 2018 draft board.
To tank or not to tank? That is the real question.
The Padres’ next three and a half weeks will be crucial for the future. Let us all hope for the highest selection possible without jeopardizing the growth of this team and its young core. Trust the management in place to make the correct decisions in that regard. The road to relevance is long, but the Padres are seemingly coming around the corner.