MLB Baltimore Orioles Camden Yards
Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado were all smiles in June, but after the All-Star break, the season’s promise died on the vine. Photo credit: Keith Allison, via Wikimedia Commons.

The San Diego Padres limped to the finish line, losing six straight to close out a season that began with such hope, if not for a championship, at least significant improvement.

Instead, they ended 2019 with a 70-92 record, and worse, lost six straight and slipped into last place in the National League West. They finished 36 games behind the division champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

Off-season business isn’t just finding a new manager to replace the ousted Andy Green, but also to secure the services of their most honored player this season, Kirby Yates.

It also includes building on the coming youth movement, which was previewed in electric fashion by Fernando Tatis Jr., who briefly mounted a Rookie of the Year challenge.

He could not sustain his momentum, however, due to injuries. The shortstop  finished his season in mid-August, batting .317 with 22 home runs and 53 RBIs. Starter Chris Paddack engaged fans with his “Sheriff” persona and logged a 9-7 season, with a 3.33 ERA.

There are many other top-notch Padre prospects though, so many that MLB Pipeline has ranked the class the best in baseball. Though 2019 didn’t live up to its promise, whoever is named manager will have great raw material to work with.

One on-field commodity, Yates, proved himself in spectacular fashion in 2019.

Yates led not just the NL in saves, with 41, but the majors. He also was the team’s only All-Star, though he did not get in the game. He told, “Any time you lead the Major Leagues, that’s neat in itself. It’ll be cool to tell my son and my daughter that their dad actually did something. I don’t know that they’ll believe me.”

General manager A.J. Preller sees the progress with Yates and the young talent, but he knows that once again waiting ’til next year hadn’t been the plan for this season.

“We’ve seen some good things this year,” he said, summing up 2019 to “The way we’ve finished will leave a bitter taste.”

– Staff reports