The San Diego Padres’ season isn’t officially over, but the obit is already being written for the team’s disappointing performance in 2023.
The Padres, loaded with stars such as Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr., were expected to be a World Series contender. Instead, the team, carrying a hefty $253 million payroll, is 69-78.
Someone has to take the blame, and baseball observers have been playing the Padres blame game for weeks.
A report in The San Diego Union-Tribune Friday blamed the team’s culture. And without pointing the finger directly at Machado for that problem, the report certainly made that insinuation.
“There is a belief in the clubhouse that the culture within the team is one that lacks cohesion and a central purpose,” the report stated. “The issue, several sources said they believe, is a lack of engagement.
“This, according to multiple veterans … is largely borne of the team’s best players being on their own programs to some extent. And, in particular, it is the product of there being an outsized presence who commands the room, a man who has shown the ability to carry a team but has not exhibited the ability nor inclination to lift it.”
While the report clearly states that “To be clear, this is not a story about Machado being the problem with the Padres. It is not even as simple as Machado being a problem,” it goes on to note that the Padres have a “leadership void,” and Machado “controls the clubhouse and sets a tone and personality for the team.”
The 31-year-old third baseman has played reasonably well this season, even if 28 home runs and a .769 OPS are less than what you expect from a player who just signed an 11-year, $350 million contract last offseason.
“I know that I’ve gone above and beyond for everyone,” Machado told the Union-Tribune. “I will always go above and beyond for everyone. I think everybody knows that. I go out there and I pour my heart and soul into a team. … Ultimately, I know what I bring to the team. I know what I’ve always brought to the team.”