For Pete’s sake, the Padres’ summer to remember became the endless bummer.
For Pete’s sake, I feel for Peter Seidler.
Seidler is the Padres owner who wrote massive checks that came with few dividends. With a stroke of a pen and his faith in general manager A.J. Preller, Seidler provided the wherewithal for the Padres to be the talk of the baseball.
The Padres were that recently, but the chatter arrived with local fans covering their eyes and ears.
It’s one thing for the Padres to let a playoff ticket slip through their hands with an epic second-half collapse.
But the Padres also produced an unsightly public display that was embarrassing for the organization, and Seidler, with a dugout dust-up between $640 million worth of talent.
When third baseman Manny Machado ($300 million) dressed down shortstop/outfielder Fernando Tatis Jr. ($340 million) in St. Louis on Saturday, the curtain was pulled back on a dysfunctional squad. It revealed a club that was fractured and failing, unable to find the rip cord on the most disappointing season in franchise history.
What happened? There’s a lot to unpack.
Injuries are the first off-ramp of excuses, so we’re not going there.
Lack of production is a bigger reason why this team sputtered and when the appropriate leadership was required, few cleared their throats.
Some give Machado, an easy villain for many, praise for figuratively slapping some sense into Tatis.
With the 22-year-old star blowing a fuse after striking out, Machado demonstratively told him to snap out of it and play ball.
That didn’t sit well with Tatis and the visual of him and Machado being separated is the indelible picture of 2021.
This is where manager Jayce Tingler comes in and what he does or doesn’t do behind closed doors is a point of speculation. What’s clear is the fussin’ and fightin’ didn’t start when Tatis’ bat didn’t leave his shoulder against the Cardinals.
The top step, where all managers reside, hasn’t been top shelf for the Padres. Tingler is in his first managerial job, implementing the information from Encinitas’ Preller, a first-time general manager.
Seidler, a first-time owner who bankrolled a team-record $175 million payroll, preaches of Preller’s exceptionalism. Seidler proved that when he, and executive Ron Fowler of Rancho Santa Fe, acquiesced to Preller hiring a rookie manager for a team constructed to win now.
But it’s about the path forward and where it will send the Padres as they cross their fingers to finish above .500. Breaking even wasn’t the plan, which means next season will feature new faces and just maybe they join a familiar mug.
Poway’s Bruce Bochy, the former popular Padres manager, is revved to work again. He’s not ready to retire on those three world championships he won with the San Francisco Giants, and if the Padres pivot from Tingler, Bochy is the obvious pick.
Or is he?
Bochy, 66, never embraced the analytics that dominate today’s game and there’s fewer franchises that lean on that approach more than the Padres. Bochy wasn’t comfortable with it back in 2006, when then-Padres president Sandy Alderson suggested he find work elsewhere.
“Someone said a player has a good WAR,” Bochy once growled about the industry’s wins-above-replacement evaluation metric. “I want to know if he has GUTS.”
At that point Bochy, or third base coach Tim Flannery, would wad up the suggested lineup delivered from the data department and point it toward the trash. Bochy didn’t need an Ivy League graduate to help him manage a game.
Times have changed, as did Bochy to a degree. What hasn’t disappeared are the Padres’ wobbly ways, and whether that leads to a Bochy revival will be determined.
But something is amiss. For Pete’s sake, the Padres need to get right after a season in which so much went wrong.