Warning: the opinion I’m about to specific can’t be measured. It feels, the type we don’t discuss a lot in baseball anymore, a sport the place each final transfer is measured and dissected. However the individuals within the sport will inform you it’s true. And almost 1 / 4 of the way in which into the 2023 season, he’s highlighting the distinction between the Dodgers and Padres.
What I’m speaking about is extra identification than chemistry, although chemistry is part of it. The Dodgers personal it, and it’s one of many causes they gained their eleventh straight common season sequence towards the Padres this weekend, sweeping three video games residence to the Dodger. The Padres, for all the cash they’ve spent, all of the star energy they’ve amassed, are extra of a bunch of people than a cohesive unit.
Think about lists. Fastidiously if not completely constructed, the Dodgers are a staff that features 10 home-grown gamers, in addition to three others who have been a part of a number of World Collection groups in Los Angeles. There’s a shared historical past amongst most of the gamers, familiarity with one another, and a tradition of growing and profitable that eases the transition for newcomers and helps them succeed.
The Padres, however, are a bunch of heavy, slapping imported superstars. None of their three gamers — relievers Steven Wilson and Tom Cosgrove and rookie left Ryan Weathers, who was known as as much as begin Sunday — are notably key gamers. Padres gamers can inform you how issues have been executed at their earlier organizations. However apart from spending cash and making daring offers, there are two admirable traits, for positive. What precisely is the Padres manner?
I’m effectively conscious that regardless of all of the Dodgers’ common season success on this rivalry, the Padres made their breakthrough at “Beat LA” within the Division Collection final yr, producing a landmark second in franchise historical past. I’m additionally effectively conscious that sooner or later this season, the Padres might finally outpace the Dodgers and the remainder of baseball with their estimated $249 million in wage, the third highest within the league (the Dodgers are fifth with $228 million).
The Padres quartet of Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. is one thing to behold. However their checklist, taken as an entire, continues to be deeply flawed. Catching them is a large number. Nelson Cruz and Matt Carpenter are just about restricted to DH obligation. The underside of the assortment affords a bit of little bit of manufacturing. Jake Cronenworth’s offensive profile is appropriate at second base, however inadequate at first.
Then there’s pitching.
The Padres rotation options solely two reliable starters, Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove, each of whom are Ace-eligible. The sport lacks depth with out Robert Suarez, who has been sidelined with an elbow drawback since signing a five-year, $46 million contract, and Drew Pomeranz, who’s within the remaining yr of a four-year, $34 million deal, but solely makes it by means of. 44 1/3 innings for San Diego, none since August 2021.
I do know what Padres followers are considering: effortlessly, AJ Preller will repair every little thing on the commerce deadline. The issue is that the Padres’ farm system – ranked twenty third by baseball america and 24-in the athleteKeith Legislation – He’s now not the identical, which limits Priller’s choices.
Undaunted, Briller will doubtless interact in his annual ritual of sacrificing prime prospects, with top-tier participant Jackson Merrill the prime candidate who will dangle for Corbin Burns or whoever else the GM fancies. Preller’s solely possibility is to maintain mixing the items, preserve placing in new ones, and carry on doing it. The Padres window with Soto, the Scott Boras consumer who turned down $440 million from the Nationals final season, numbers to solely run by means of 2024, the yr of his free agent.
There isn’t any extra achieved government in expertise acquisition than Preller. Final season, the Padres superior to the Nationwide League Championship Collection. However Priller hasn’t but confirmed that he can construct a menu that’s balanced, purposeful, and—sorry Peter Seidler, right here’s the phrase you hate—sustainable.
The Dodgers themselves are without end in flux; That is life for each staff in each skilled sport within the age of free company. From final yr’s 111-win staff, the Dodgers misplaced Tria Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger and Tyler Anderson, then added JD Martinez, Jason Heyward, Miguel Rojas and David Peralta. Lest anybody overlook, the staff’s finest gamers, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, got here from different organizations. And his present star participant, Julio Urías, might go away as a free agent on the finish of the season.
Right here’s the distinction: The Dodgers shunned spending an excessive amount of final season not solely as a result of they have been saving up for Shohei Ohtani, a participant the Padres additionally covet. They’ve additionally had a wave — patch, waves — of younger expertise coming in, and have been eager to include these gamers into their combine.
Gavin Locks, 25, was on the heart of these plans, however he suffered a season-ending knee damage in spring coaching, leaving the Dodgers to scramble shortly. To not fear: James Ottman has emerged because the main candidate for Rookie of the Yr within the heart discipline. Miguel Vargas exhibits huge offensive potential and adapts effectively to second base. And whereas not one of the Dodgers’ finest younger pitchers have made an impression, both by means of damage or inconsistency, odds are a minimum of they are going to. If not, there are 5 different prospects promoting behind them within the Double A rotation, creating contemporary pleasure amongst membership officers.
For all their success, the Dodgers have had their share of failures as effectively, from the signing of Trevor Bauer in free company to the offers of Yordan Álvarez (for Josh Fields) and Oneil Cruz (for Tony Watson) once they have been younger. The Dodgers additionally proceed to check the idea that in case you give a top quality staff sufficient probabilities within the postseason, they are going to finally crack. Their solely World Collection title throughout their present run got here from 10 consecutive postseason appearances throughout the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
The Padres will most likely nonetheless be the higher staff this season, though they at present path the Dodgers by seven video games within the West and the Diamondbacks by 4. However evaluate farm techniques with future wage commitments, and it’s clear which staff is best constructed for the lengthy haul. The identical membership that, in a supposed transitional season, is 16-4 after a 10-11 begin, as soon as once more appears like a division class.
The Mets are the East Coast model of the Padres, an underperformer with an much more costly pool of expertise, the most costly in main league historical past. Nonetheless, the Mets characteristic two starters, catcher Francisco Alvarez and third baseman Brett Batty, and maintain the promotions of two others, Ronnie Mauricio and Mark Vientos. They should develop a small promotion, however their long-term mannequin isn’t the Padres’ mannequin. They’re the Dodgers.
We will anticipate the Padres to get scorching as their schedule winds down, with the Royalals, Nationals, and Marlins amongst their subsequent 5 opponents. We will discuss the way it gained’t be the final within the majors at center hitting with runners within the scoring place all season. We will categorical our reliable concern concerning the Dodgers protection, questioning how lengthy Clayton Kershaw’s again will maintain when he’s on observe to pitch almost 200 innings, a complete he hasn’t reached since 2015.
However till confirmed in any other case, there’s a divide between these groups, one that isn’t simply identifiable, however is obvious nearly each time they play. Dodgers supervisor Dave Roberts put it merely: “We all know the way to win.” The Padres haven’t proven the identical constant expertise. not but.
(Prime photograph of Freddie Freeman and Manny Machado: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs)