San Diego Padres: Helping Young Players Weather Long Losing Season

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Sep 29, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe (71) is congratulated after scoring during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 29, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe (71) is congratulated after scoring during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /
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There is concern that a losing season for the San Diego Padres might wear on younger players. How should the club deal with a potentially difficult season?

It’s official. According to every website and prognosticator, the San Diego Padres will be absolutely awful this year. Since we’re supposedly poised on the edge of a new world order in which San Diego will no longer be the butt of jokes, a losing record carries less of a sting for fans. But how will this lack of success affect young, developing players?

With newly signed Jered Weaver’s 34 years not factored in, the average age of the Padres’ roster is 25.5, down from 28.9 in 2016. The Blue Jays have the oldest roster at 28.6 years.

Obviously talent matters a great deal more than age, but the learning curve for newly minted big leaguers can be formidable. While the excitement of just being on the major league roster can carry guys through the spring, the thrill dwindles in the aptly named “dog days of summer.”

Predictions for the Padres’ season range from 68 wins (Fangraphs) to 65 (USA Today) to 57 (Bleacher Report). If the predictions hold, players will trudge back to the dugout after a loss between 94 and 105 times this season.

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For players who haven’t labored through 162 games ever in their careers, those losses could prove overwhelming and slow development. Manager Andy Green and his coaches will have to counteract the inevitable sense of futility. Because of his history, Green may be better suited to that task than a player who had more success. Green spent far more time in the minor leagues (901 games) than the majors (140 games).

When his playing career ended, Green stayed in baseball, managing at the minor league level and spending one year as third base coach for Arizona. Along the way, he never stopped learning. Now he intends to share his passion and knowledge with his young team.

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“There’s a possibility for more classroom-type settings with young guys like that,” Green told AJ Cassavell for an MLB.com article. “That probably isn’t the norm at the Major League-level, but we’ve got a ton of youth, and we want to identify the way we want to play the game.

“This young group of guys, they want to get on the field and they want to work. They want to learn. I’m excited for what each of them brings in their own regard. It’s an exciting group.”

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