Over the weekend, Trent Grisham and the San Diego Padres came to Atlanta to take on Michael Harris II and the red-hot Atlanta Braves. Harris and the Braves took Game 1 of the series before dropping three straight to the powerhouse from Southern California, in what many fans consider an early NLCS preview.
The two teams played some exciting baseball, combining for 39 runs over three really competitive games before Sunday night’s 10-2 bruising by the Padres on national TV.
Casual fans may have been enamored with the quality of baseball being played (and rightfully so), but anyone who is a fan of roster construction and the philosophy a franchise uses to build said roster, saw two different ideologies on display.
Built for Success
For Harris II and the Braves, the focus has been on retaining in-house talent in order to maintain a core of players that will compete for a World Series every season for the foreseeable future. The Braves talent pipeline has been legendary in the baseball world, and this latest crop of talent has already lived up to the hype.
The 2022 National League Rookie of the Year leads a new batch of talent that looks to extend a streak of five consecutive division titles into the next decade.
Harris, who was drafted in the third round by Atlanta in 2019, hit .297 with 19 home runs, 27 doubles, 20 steals and 64 RBI while also playing a Gold Glove caliber centerfield. Money Mike’s quick adjustment to the majors was rewarded with an eight-year, $72 million contract that cemented him as a member of Atlanta’s core going forward.
Bought For Success
Grisham’s Padres on the other hand, looking to stand out in a division that boasts the big spending Los Angeles Dodgers and always relevant San Francisco Giants, have chosen to spend their way to relevancy as opposed to banking on prospects.
Their everyday lineup reads like a National League All Star lineup, with names like soon to return Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, Juan Soto and newly acquired Xander Bogaerts. Padres owner Peter Seidler recognizes that his team is now the only show in town and has made it clear to the baseball world that San Diego will be in play for any superstar they want.
The addition of Bogaerts on a 11-year, $280 million deal was a result of the 50-game suspension that Tatis Jr. received for a positive steroid test. When he returns from suspension Tatis Jr., who was never a great fielder to begin with, will be pushed into the outfield. A move to the outfield means the two-time Gold Glove winner Grisham will now have one bad outfielder on one side in Soto, and an inexperienced outfielder on the other in Tatis Jr., making him more valuable than ever defensively for the Padres.
San Diego will be able to slug their way to victory on most nights, and we saw that this weekend against Atlanta. But if San Diego has plans of topping their NLCS appearance from last year, they must be solid defensively, meaning Grisham will need to hold down the outfield.
The Braves way has already proven fruitful with a World Series and multiple division crowns.
If San Diego is able to match their World Series total with just the stroke of a pen, how can you criticize either method? There once was a franchise in the Bronx that operated somewhat like Seidler and the Padres, and we all saw how that worked.