It is hard to imagine, but less than a week remains in an otherwise disappointing season for the San Diego Padres. It has been a myriad of missed opportunities. We wrote a few weeks back that the first order of business in the offseason is for team owner Peter Seidler to remove A.J. Preller as head of baseball operations.
Last week, a report in The Athletic (subscription required) described the Padres as being dysfunctional. The accusations came from unnamed sources who work in the organization. They felt neither Preller nor team manager Bob Melvin offered any direction for the players. It seems Seidler has no choice but to make a clean sweep and fire Melvin at season’s end.
Arguably, the Padres have one of the most talented rosters in baseball. However, they have played with no sense of urgency this season. Major league players feed off the energy of their manager. Melvin is the man in charge but rarely shows emotion inside the dugout. Often, he disappears into the background.
The Friar Faithful has plenty of “what-ifs” about Melvin’s questionable managerial decisions. What if he handled the bullpen better? What if he pressed Preller to acquire a full-time designated hitter? And what if he benched Austin Nola earlier?
Mishandling of the San Diego Padres bullpen
The Padres bullpen can best be described as the sum of parts does not equal the quality of the closer. Often, unsurmountable leads evaporated into crushing defeats.
Melvin had to deal with several obstacles. Robert Suarez started the season on the injured list, and Drew Pomeranz dealt with several setbacks while attempting to recover from flexor tendon surgery. Each was instrumental in getting the Padres to the 2022 postseason.
At times, it looked like his hands were tied. The lack of bullpen options forced Melvin to call an audible. He brought Luis Garcia (4.03 ERA) and Tim Hill (5.48 ERA) into high-level late-inning situations. It did not work.
Give Melvin credit; he never criticize Garcia or Hill after a poor outing. To a fault, he remained confident in their ability to bridge the gap to Josh Hader. However, each needed their roles scaled down to gain better results.
Melvin mistakenly trusted the data over his baseball instincts. Computer analytics dictate which bullpen piece works best for certain late-inning situations. The data is dependent upon past results with no care for the human element in sports.
Melvin is a baseball lifer who made his major league debut in 1985. He failed to read a struggling player’s body language. Sometimes, it is best to trust your instincts.