Trust me, there isn’t a single player, coach or high-ranking executive of the San Diego Padres feeling good today about the surprising 90-win season in 2010.

The day after the season ended with the Padres looking up at the San Francisco Giants in the National League West and at the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race will be a day filled with sadness and frustration. That is how it works with elite athletes and competitive professionals – as well it should.

Players will think about a clutch situation in which they failed to come through (like Miguel Tejada in the seventh inning on Sunday) or recall poor location on a pitch (how could Jonathan Sanchez ever triple against Mat Latos?) or getting swept by a bad team (Arizona’s three-game sweep during the Padres’ late-season 10-game losing skid was a killer).

They’ll think about 100 other things. Some big, some small. Some that occurred in the ninth inning, others that transpired in the early innings.

All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hit 31 homers and 101 RBIs but will be thinking about some of the times he didn’t come through in the clutch. All-Star closer Heath Bell converted his last 34 save opportunities but he’ll think about his only loss of the season – coming against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 30.

In fact, every member of the Padres will think about the Cubs – a lot – as San Diego scored just five runs while losing three of four to Chicago in the final week of the season.

Manager Bud Black will think about some moves that didn’t work – temporarily forgetting that he pushed the right buttons with an offensively challenged team more often than not. I’m thinking Dusty Baker of the Cincinnati Reds will probably win NL Manager of the Year honors but Black surely did just as good a job as Baker.

Gritty second baseman David Eckstein will think about the error … um, check that, the pesky Eckstein didn’t commit a single error all season. Not one bobbled grounder or bad throw for the converted shortstop. That’s amazing.

Same goes for everybody on the roster and coaching staff. They’ll beat themselves up a lot this week and will struggle to turn on the television in October with the baseball postseason being a constant reminder about how they came up short.

Everyone in the organization will reminisce about having a 6 1/2-game lead with five weeks to play and coming up empty in terms of the postseason.

But when the calendar turns to November and spring training emerges on the horizon, the Padres will eventually be able to take pride in what they accomplished. They were supposed to be like the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals – teams just playing a schedule with no chance of being competitive. They were supposed to unload Gonzalez and Bell for young, cheap players even though they already had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

What they weren’t supposed to do was being in position to compete for a playoff spot on the final game of the season.

General manager Jed Hoyer needs to spruce up the offense this offseason if the Padres want to be back in contention in 2011. There was a lot to like about the effort and competitiveness of the 2010 Padres but it will be hard for this team to be part of next year’s postseason without some upgrades. Gonzalez needs some help and the Padres need to keep the hometown star in town despite him being eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

But here is what will eventually sink in: This collection of players picked to be among the worst teams in the majors just produced the fourth-best record (90-72) in the franchise’s 42-year history.

Yeah, it doesn’t feel good on October 4 – nor should it – but it will someday be recalled as one of the more remarkable seasons in San Diego Padres history.

  1. lavoie101 says:

    Hey Mike, just stumbled across your blog this afternoon and am happy I did. You have some great insight on here – and I will definitely put your site on my blogroll at Keep up the great work!

  2. Despite the difficulties, the Padres will remain our beloved team. GO Padres, We’re behind you!

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