Sunday, December 18, 2022

Uncustomed Heroes of 2022: Padres


The San Diego Padres had the best trade deadline in all of baseball and people were still surprised that they made it to the NLCS.

I mean, you get one of the best hitters in the game in Soto, one of the best closers in the game in Hader, and one of the best surprise utility heroes in baseball in Drury. They made all the best moves, got rid of Voit and Hosmer, and and strengthened their team to do what they couldn't do in 2020 and take down the Dodgers.

...and then the Phillies caught them with their pants down and took 'em out just when they became the alphas.

Still a hell of a year for the Padres. With Machado, Soto, Tatis and Bogaerts all slated to run this team in 2023, the plan is for this dominance to last even longer, and to be a menace to the rest of the league, and the rest of the NL West, for the remainder of the decade. Easier said than done, yes, but this year was a step in the right direction.

What's funny is that as the latest A.J. Preller gamble succeeded, the last survivor of the first-ever A.J. Preller gamble from 2015, Will Myers, played what is likely his last game in San Diego this year. Myers, a prospect with both Kansas City and Tampa Bay, moved to a third two-name city and made a name for himself as a trusty power hitter even as the Padres' other acquisitions, like Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Kemp, all left. This season, though injury-curtailed, was still an improvement, as Myers hit .261 with 41 RBIs and 7 homers in 77 games. Myers will be 32 next year, and still has plenty of promise for teams looking for one last power bat.

Though Austin Nola had a stronghold on the catching position for the Padres, Jorge Alfaro was still a wily backup, even though he's nowhere near what the Marlins figured they were getting. Alfaro hit .246 with 63 hits and 40 RBIs. Strangely, though, he made no postseason appearances for the team, and has already been let go.
2023 Prediction: ...MIKE FRANC-no, not the Mets. But somebody signs him as a backup, probably someone like Cleveland or Chicago or something, and he does a decent enough job.

The Padres' Mike Clevinger adventures should be its own lesson in A.J. Preller's appetite. They trade for him knowing he bypassed COVID regulations to party in Chicago, then get maybe 5 2020 starts out of him before he gets injured. Then they re-sign him, KNOWING that he will miss all of 2021. So they pay the guy to stay at home for a year with the hope that he does well for the team in 2022. So how was Mike Clevinger's 2022? Uhh...he went 7-7 with a 4.23 ERA and 91 Ks in 22 games. And then he got killed in both his postseason starts, leaving the Phils series with an infinite ERA. Ironically, he leaves the Padres to go and party in Chicago again, though I think the COVID regulations are looser now.
2023 Prediction: The White Sox already want comeback seasons from Lynn and Giolito, the latter against all odds considering he was tacking. I think Clevinger's gonna escape their reach and have a swell year, regardless of whether or not the Sox do.

Josh Hader was already having a weaker year in Milwaukee before he was dealt to San Diego. So, again, Preller shouldn't have been surprised when Hader fell apart in August, with a 7.31 ERA and only 7 saves. The good news, and the more important news going forward for the Padres, is that Hader's postseason numbers were peak Hader. In 5 appearances he gave up 1 hit, no earned runs, struck out 10 and saved 4 games, including 3 against LA and 1 against the eventual NL Champs. 
2023 Prediction: I think he's back to normal next year. 35-to-40 saves, low ERA, LA's gonna be cursing him out.

And then there's Brandon Drury, who had a surprise triumph of a season in Cincinnati, then comes to SD and returns to normal, hitting .238 with 28 RBIs and 8 homers in 46 games. Not awful, but not quite what he was doing in Cincinnati. He was better in the postseason, especially in the NLCS, as he bat .400 with 6 hits including a very important home run against the Phils.
2023 Prediction: A lot of teams could use a guy like Drury. I've already done the Mets joke a couple times but Mike might actually dig this move. 

Tomorrow, the team that beat them.

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