Every year, every fan base in baseball has hope. At Padres FanFest 2020, San Diego fans are no different. The question is: do the Friar Faithful have reason for optimism?
Last season the Padres were 45-45 at the All-Star break and only won 27 games the rest of the season. It didn't do much to change the narrative that the Padres will simply never be a winning organization.
"Everyone expects us to lose and come in last place," said 3rd baseman Manny Machado at Petco Park during FanFest. "But as a ball club, as a team, that's not what we want. We know we're better than that."
Machado is among the litany of Padres who played poorly in the season’s second half... and that has been eating at him all winter.
"You can blame it on me. You can blame it on so many other things. But at the end of the day, it was a team effort and we all failed as a team," said Machado, who then found a positive in the situation. "Honestly with the young team that we have, it's a great learning experience. I know that speaking with a lot of players throughout the off-season, everybody is hungry. We don't want that to happen this year again."
In the wake of another bottom of the standings finish, the coaching staff was overhauled. Out is Andy Green... in is Jayce Tingler, who wasn’t here for the collapse but has advice for how his new charges should deal with it.
“There's a sense of disappointment in the way they played," said Tingler. "The only thing I would say to that is remember that feeling. Remember what it feels like. Sometimes it's hard in December and January to be working to where you want to go every single day but sometimes you can drawback on those feelings, whether it's for motivation or extra fuel, and continue to work."
One thing that kept coming up at FanFest is the belief the Padres are headed in the right direction. That’s a big reason Drew Pomeranz, one of the most sought-after relievers on the free agent market, chose to return to San Diego.
"This team looks great," said Pomeranz. "You're got a great group of young guys with some older guys mixed in there and some really good players. It's an exciting place. It's what kind of drew me back to here."
Spring training starts in 30 days. That’s when we start to see if all this optimism is rewarded.