The San Diego Padres' 2023 season is winding down and perhaps no one is happier about that than those who are a part of the team. A.J. Preller, the general manager known for his epic failures in team-building, may have just created his magnum opus.
Some of the Padres' on-field failures can be attributed to bad luck, as many indicators of their performance (like their run differential, which is the 10th best in MLB) suggest that they are still a very good and talented team. Most of their key players are under contract for a while, so this season could be an oddity in what might otherwise be a period of prolonged success for the team.
But one reason why the Padres' season is so disappointing is that their issues in the clubhouse have continued to spill over. Those issues, which have been on display before, will hold the team back. And it runs deeper than just the occasional flare-up between players and/or coaches.
According to Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin of The Athletic, several people within the Padres organization take massive issue with the culture under Preller. The GM has been praised for his work ethic but many who work under him (or used to) explained that he failed to convey that mindset in a healthy and/or productive way among the franchise.
“One player called the season an ‘institutional failure.’ Multiple members of the team spoke of a persistent atmosphere of pessimism as the Padres watched their season slip away,” The Athletic writes. “And while numerous people downplayed or rejected rumors of a dysfunctional clubhouse, the overall environment around the team garnered less positive reviews. ‘It’s the most toxic,’ one former staffer said.”
Preller and Padres owner Paul Siedler have never been afraid to go all out and they don’t often cut corners or shell out the entire farm system to make it happen. San Diego is regarded as a fringe top-10 farm system despite making numerous blockbuster trades over the years. Yet, the vibe that has engulfed the organization spells doom if they can’t right the ship.
One anonymous Padres player said to The Athletic the team could run it back and win 100 games next year. But there is a litany of issues that supersedes everything that happens in the field.