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The Padres—not the Mets—are MLB’s Largest Disappointment of 2023

Cole Burston/Getty ImagesIt’s been 10 days since the New York Mets completed an unforeseen yet necessary teardown of their $350 million roster, in effect preemptively writing the end to arguably the most disappointing chapter in their history.Just don’t call them the biggest disappointment of 2023. That belongs to the San Diego Padres.It’s been more stops

The Padres—not the Mets—are MLB’s Largest Disappointment of 2023

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 19:  Juan Soto #22 of the San Diego Padres sits in the dugout during their MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on July 19, 2023 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

Cole Burston/Getty Photographs

It has been 10 days because the New York Mets accomplished an unexpected but essential teardown of their $350 million roster, in impact preemptively writing the tip to arguably essentially the most disappointing chapter of their historical past.

Simply do not name them the most important disappointment of 2023. That belongs to the San Diego Padres.

It has been extra stops than begins for the Padres, who’ve but to go greater than three video games over .500 and are 5 video games below at 55-60. They’re 13.5 video games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers within the Nationwide League West and 4.5 video games out within the wild-card race.

All of it smacks of an absence of battle within the canine, and you’ll take it from Juan Soto that that is the case some days. As he relayed to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and different reporters after the Padres misplaced their fourth straight sport on Wednesday, typically it is as if “we simply quit.”

Kevin Acee @sdutKevinAcee

“Days like this collection, we simply quit. Like actually, we simply quit as an alternative of maintain grinding, maintain pushing. We have got to neglect about yesterday and maintain shifting.”

Mariners rating 5 runs in eighth to finish sweep of Padres, who go down feebly once more

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The place the Padres at the moment are arguably is not as offensive as the place the Mets are, with a previously star-studded roster in damage and a 52-62 file. Even setting apart how San Diego’s opening payroll was about $100 million lighter, right here we’ve got instances of a 101-win crew from 2022 falling very far and an 89-win crew from ’22 falling much less far.

However whereas the Mets have been at all times a dangerous wager regardless of their gargantuan payroll, the Padres have been alleged to be a protected one. On the outset, FanGraphs gave them the second-best possibilities for a division title (55.4 %) and for successful the World Collection (11.1 %).

These possibilities now stand at 0.3 and three.0 %.

The Padres Are Good, Truly

The bizarre factor is that the Padres are literally a superb crew. At the very least within the summary.

Per their plus-56 run differential, they need to have the fourth-best record within the Nationwide League. That will surely be extra befitting of a crew that does all the pieces nicely.

No, actually.

The Padres offense and pitching employees, the latter of which is headlined by NL Cy Younger Award front-runner Blake Snell and unhittable nearer Josh Hader, are 5 percent and 9 percent higher than common, respectively. They’re additionally one of many league’s higher baserunning teams and defensive squads.

San Diego Padres @Padres

Two thirds of the Earth is roofed by water. The opposite third? By @tatis_jr.#BringTheGold

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Level being: This ought to be working. And no less than one Padre thinks it nonetheless will.

“It is by no means too late, man,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts mentioned Wednesday, per AJ Cassavell of “We have all been preaching that we’ll get on a run, and we have not to this point. All the guys on this room nonetheless deeply imagine that it will occur.”

There is a real-life instance of what might occur if the Padres’ luck evens out happening on the North Facet of Chicago with the Cubs proper now. Particularly if it begins straight away amid a stretch of 20 out of 26 video games against different NL wild-card contenders, the Padres could but pull the identical trick that led them to the Nationwide League Championship Collection final yr.

The Padres Are Truly Unhealthy

As simple as it’s to see why issues must be working for the Padres, it is equally simple to see why they’re very a lot not.

Soto is doing his factor in getting on base at a .413 clip with a team-high 24 residence runs, however the assist he is alleged to be getting offensively simply is not there. Bogaerts and 2022 NL MVP runner-up Manny Machado have seen their composite OPS dip 120 points from final yr. Fernando Tatis Jr. was scorching between April 20 and June 20 however has gone frigid with a .601 OPS since then.

San Diego’s bullpen, in the meantime, has been outlined by volatility. Hader could have a 0.86 ERA, however even he cannot totally account for one of many league’s worst save conversion charges.

There are excuses to be made right here, and a few are even good ones.

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Machado (hand) and Bogaerts (wrist) have prior accidents that would clarify their manufacturing dips. Tatis could merely be out of fuel after lacking all of 2022 attributable to a suspension and three surgeries. Robert Suarez, who was a sensation out of the bullpen late final yr, has largely been a non-factor since coming back from an elbow damage.

There may be nonetheless one thing about Soto’s phrases that rings true. One thing that will get at how the Padres are good at taking part in the sport however dangerous at beating individuals at it, particularly these their very own measurement.

It is vaguely there of their league-worst 6-18 file in one-run video games, however it’s extra evident in a concerningly lengthy observe file of underperformance in opposition to good groups. They’re 71-83 in opposition to groups with .500 or higher data because the begin of 2022, together with 7-22 in opposition to the Dodgers.

All this maybe raises the query of whether or not final yr’s NLCS run is a real reflection of what these Padres are able to. And figuring out that their remaining schedule is not on the straightforward aspect, what it positively does is reinforce the chance that their season is past saving.

What Occurs Subsequent Will Be Essential

Barring a Cubs-like surge, there are hopes to be present in that 2023 would not symbolize a final hurrah for the Padres.

Most of their key guys are due again in 2024, together with Soto, Machado, Bogaerts, Tatis and the underrated Ha-Seong Kim. With Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish likewise due again within the rotation, whether or not there is a basis for continued goodness in San Diego shouldn’t be in dispute.

Whether or not the Padres of tomorrow will obtain the sort of greatness that is been clearly in sight but frustratingly simply out of attain, although, will come right down to president of baseball operations A.J. Preller.

He’ll have some main choices to make this winter, beginning with whether or not he nonetheless desires three-time Supervisor of the Yr Bob Melvin calling the pictures on the sphere. Shocker although it might be, Dennis Lin of The Athletic certainly is not alone in pondering whether or not he may very well be made a scapegoat for this season anyway.

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With Snell and Hader due without spending a dime company, gigantic holes are additionally about to open up within the pitching employees. Put collectively, it is conceivable they’re going to command upwards of $50 million in common annual worth.

If the Padres are going to spend that sort of cash, wouldn’t it make sense to go after Shohei Ohtani as an alternative?

The phrase in January from Bob Nightengale of USA Immediately is that they plan to just do that. And why not? There’d be no denying his capability to fill Snell’s sneakers, a lot much less to spice up a chosen hitter spot that ranks twenty ninth in rWAR.

Of all eventualities the Padres could face this winter, actually the worst could be one wherein Snell and Hader go away and Ohtani takes his history-making tour elsewhere. That is the place there’d be sense in not going all-in on 2024, wherein case it might make extra sense than it already does for the Padres to buy Soto forward of his stroll yr.

In all probability the one factor that may be dominated out is the Padres pulling a Mets and blowing it up. They’re in too deep and, for all their failings, not shut sufficient to all-time low. The crew could also be giving up, however the group shouldn’t.

There may be nonetheless a warning it ought to heed, and it has to do with which core stars are getting lengthy within the tooth. Machado, Bogaerts and Musgrove are previous 30, whereas Darvish is pushing 40.

If what the Padres try to do would not work quickly, it could not work in any respect.

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