The four-day All-Star break is over and the wild dash for the playoff in the second half begins. The San Diego Padres are sitting at 43-47 and six games out of the final National League Wild Card spot, needing to leap at least three teams. That seems like the best path for the Friars to October baseball as they face an 8.5-game deficit in NL West.
As disappointing as the first half was, it could have been worse, and because of a strong final week where they swept the Los Angeles Angels and took two out of three against the New York Mets to regain some hope. The Padres had some good and bad performances in the first half and, before the second half kicks off with a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies, here are some mid-season grades for the Friars position players. As a note, to qualify for a grade, they have to have had at least 60 at-bats in the first half.
2023 San Diego Padres midseason grades: Catchers and DHs
Gary Sanchez - A-
What an addition in late May Gary Sanchez has been to the Padres. Offensively, he has added some pop down in the order for manager Bob Melvin. He has seven home runs and 20 RBI in just 36 games. However, just as much as his addition has been offensively, it's been bigger behind the plate. He is a big reason why Blake Snell finished the first half strong, allowing just four runs in his last nine starts. Who knew when the seaosn began Sanchez would be in this position right now?
Austin Nola - D
Where do we begin with Austin Nola? Sanchez has taken his spot behind the plate and in large part of Nola's lack of offense. He is slashing .143/.260/.190 with one home run and eight RBI. His production is down and the 33-year-old might be looking at his final chance with San Diego. GM A.J. Preller might be in the market for a bakcup catcher at the trade deadline.
Nelson Cruz - D-
Taking a chance on Nelson Cruz over the offseason to bring some pop from the DH spot was a good idea, but it just never worked out and the Padres DFA'd him earlier in the month in a move they had to make. He struck out 46 times, never looked comfortable at the plate, and appeared to be guessing on pitches toward the end of his tenure with the Friars. Give Preller credit for letting him go and it means that along with a backup catcher, he could also be looking for a right-handed bat at the deadline.
Matt Carpenter - C+
Last season Matt Carpenter had a good season with the New York Yankees before an injury cut it short. San Diego signing over the winter to a two-year, $12 million contract was anohter move made to bring some pop to the lineup from the left side. He has been more productive than Cruz with four home runs and 27 RBI, but he carries the worst WAR on the team with a -0.5. His contract is one where the Padres will cut ties like Cruz, but getting him on track in the second half will be a key for Melvin.