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Padres baseball plays a familiar tune

It will land with a thud, much like the Padres season. The curtain falls on the team’s campaign on Sunday, with the local nine unfortunately unable to take a sabbatical from losing.

If eight is enough for some Padres fans, it’s not hard to fault them. They’ve kept the faith since the last winning season in 2010, when a squad with the lowest payroll nearly made the playoffs. For eight consecutive years the Padres have produced a product that has played well below .500, with this year being no different.

Or is there a sea change going on under our eyes with progress in the club’s massive rebuilding job? The one we’ve been told will produce a string of sustainable success.

That answer will come in the future although Padres boosters have repeatedly consumed that line and it usually comes with a heartburn and heartache.

If the Padres made strides with their latest season, it takes a discerning eye to uncover them. It seemed that the Padres’ road to becoming competitive got bumpier and not smoother. 

The reality is that 2020, the season the Padres’ brass has promised the team will at least win as many as they lose, isn’t that far away.

There were bright spots in a year which can’t be judged solely on triumphs and defeats. Instead it’s the growth of the players that is paramount and if we could only measure that like parents do their kids with marks on the bedroom wall.

With luck those dashes reveal how far someone has grown. For the Padres, they got fortunate when no one claimed 6-foot-4 slugger Franmil Reyes. Of all the hotshot prospects the Padres trumpet, it was Reyes who shined and he was left unprotected by the club before the season.

On the heels of leading the Padres minor leaguers in home runs in 2017, the club thought so little of Franmil that he wasn’t on the 40-man roster. Maybe it was just a coy move. Franmil went unclaimed and then blossomed after being called-up to be among the team’s leaders in homers.

He’s a good piece moving forward, although in the Padres’ crowded outfield getting him enough at-bats is a challenge — it shouldn’t be.

While slugger Hunter Renfroe is no rookie, he’s a yes, too. With Renfroe and Franmil in the heart of the order, it gives opposing pitchers pause.

The Padres need to move on from others, but need better replacements before cutting ties. Although Manuel Margot, while still young, might have lost his grip on a starting outfield spot.

The real kids, second baseman Luis Urias and shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., could be flipping double plays by this time next year.

But first they have to prove they can hit in the majors and we’re not sure what the Padres will do with current shortstop Freddy Galvis and is Wil Myers really a third baseman?

We know who’s on first and that’s the pricey Eric Hosmer. He was solid, but far from spectacular, after signing the richest contract in franchise history. Whether it was money well-spent for a team which would lose close to 100 games is debatable.

There’s still no verdict on starters Joey Lucchessi, Jacob Nix and Eric Lauer and if they retire hitters consistently. There are other impressive arms on the way, we’ve been told, but that trio of rookies’ uneven performances this year prove it’s a long way from the minor to the majors.

And what do the tea leaves reveal regarding general manager A.J. Preller and manager Andy Green? 

The Giants just dismissed their general manager who led them to three World Series titles in five years. The Rangers just canned their manager who directed them to consecutive American League West titles as recently as 2015-16.

But it appears Preller and Green are safe, both secure with their contracts extended and having the backing of Padres ownership.

So the ship has docked for 2018, with the Padres still taking on water after losing more games than the previous year. Progress, if there was any, was a slippery notion that was hard to pin down.