Who could forget the buzz surrounding the San Diego Padres last offseason? Team management courted the top free agents, Trea Turner and Aaron Judge, by offering them ridiculous contracts before signing elsewhere. The Padres' effort to sign a top free agent did not go for naught, as they came to an agreement with free agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
The excitement following the signing was never higher prior to a start of a baseball season in San Diego. Why not? The Friars defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series last October, and the team was ready to take the next step in their journey of becoming MLB's next main act.
Padres: Bats have shown no life thus far
The Friar Faithful envisioned having four of baseball's top hitters in the lineup every day. Mainstream media declared them the favorites to dethrone the Dodgers in the West this season. The Padres had everyone’s attention and failed to maintain our interest.
It was their ticket to a World Series title. Instead, the bats have been on life support all season long. The Padres are four games under .500 near the bottom (fourth place) of the NL West standings. The team has slept through the first eight weeks of the season.
Friar Faithful getting restless
The atmosphere in Petco Park was electric last fall. Now, the scoreboard operator is the lone individual who can muster a cheer from the Friar Faithful. Oh, we have seen glimpses of improved play that gave renewed hope the team was springboarding out of its slump ... only to see them continue to play poorly, which settled the crowd back into a mindset of disgust and disengagement. Thus, the Padres have lost their offseason buzz.
Their troubles began by losing six of seven games in the middle of April. At one point, the Padres scored one run in 27 innings played. With Manny Machado out of the lineup with a fractured hand, the Friars are in danger of turning Petco Park into a ghost town this summer. It is time for the team to get on a long winning streak that generates some interest again. If not, the roster’s problems are too deep for a quick-fix trade.
The Friar Faithful’s frustration has boiled to the top with spurts of boos filling Petco Park after the offense failed to score with the bases loaded on two occasions during the past homestand. Last Sunday’s 7-0 win over the Boston Red Sox brought a tame response from the sellout crowd. The lackluster play has given back all the momentum gained from last October’s postseason run.
Still time for Padres to turn their season around
Of course, everyone expected a better start, but the season is far from over. The Padres are too talented to keep playing at a .450 level for the remainder of the summer. And we have seen teams struggle badly before, then come together to compete for a World Series title. First, the 2019 Washington Nationals won a championship, and the 2022 Philadelphia Phillies saw their postseason end with a World Series defeat.
The Friar Faithful cannot lose faith in this team because there is time to get back into the postseason hunt. The path will not be easy. Now is the time for Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto to continue playing like stars and Machado to revert to his former self.
But it must begin now.