San Diego Padres: Lack of run production from DH position
The mishandling of the designated hitter position heavily contributed to the offensive struggles. Melvin was too slow in removing the platoon (Nelson Cruz and Matt Carpenter) from the lineup. Neither player’s run production warranted playing time.
Cruz appeared in 49 games before his release in early July. His performance was disappointing as he hit .245/.283/.681 with five homers and 23 RBI. He showed no power upon contact. His slugging percentage (.399) was significantly lower than his career average (.513). Melvin patiently waited for him to return to form, but that hope slowly faded away,
Carpenter has not been able to recapture the success he achieved before fracturing his foot with the New York Yankees late last season. He batted .305 with 15 homers and 37 RBI in 47 games. Many thought the Padres were astute in signing Carpenter in the offseason.
The Friars expected him to improve run production with timely hitting with runners in scoring position, but his bat has been a disappointment. Carpenter was hitting .176/.322/.319 with a .641 OPS; all the numbers were below his career average. Melvin was confident there were still quality hits left in Carpenter’s bat, but that appears not to be the case.
Melvin should have waved the white flag and acknowledged the signing of Cruz and Carpenter was a mistake. The lack of production forced Melvin to search for solutions. However, their replacements have not fared much better results either.
Trouble assessing the San Diego Padres catching situation
The lack of production from the catcher position has been unsettling to watch. No question, Melvin failed to assess how dire the situation was before leaving Peoria. Austin Nola was supposed to be a run producer from the right side, but his bat had no pop (four extra-base hits in 130 at-bats). It took way too long for Melvin to remove Nola from the lineup. Why? Well, he may not have wanted to disturb the efficiency of his starters by inserting a new catcher into the mix.
But the Friars desperately needed production from the bottom third of the batting order. Preller filled the void by claiming Gary Sanchez off the waiver wire. He provided a much-needed combination of power-hitting and solid defense metrics behind the plate.
In 72 games, Sanchez hit 19 homers and posted a .792 OPS. Plus, the starting rotation lauded his ability to frame pitches that gained them called strikes. Currently, the Padres pitching staff has a 3.87 team ERA, which ranks them fifth in the majors.
If we learned one lesson from the Padres 2023 season, Ethan Salas is the franchise’s next catcher. It is hard to imagine a player making his major league debut before his 18th birthday ... and that could happen next season.
This season was a no-win situation for Melvin as the Padres have the third-largest payroll in baseball. He would have been NL Manager of the Year if the Friars lived up to expectations. Instead, Melvin could become the Friar Faithful’s sacrificial lamb for the team’s misfortunes.
The Padres were never ready to take off in 2023. The team waited to have their longest winning streak of the season until they were a longshot to make the postseason. You cannot fire the players; they’re too good at their jobs. So, the next logical choice is the manager.
Seidler has to cut the cord as the disappointing 2023 season provides an exit ramp from the current regime.