MLBits: Padres and Phillies Show That "Going For It" Is Good ... Actually So Do the Dodgers, Mets, and Braves

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MLBits: Padres and Phillies Show That “Going For It” Is Good … Actually So Do the Dodgers, Mets, and Braves

Chicago Cubs

The NLCS is set, and it features a pair of Wild Card teams that show once again why going for it is often a good idea …

Padres, Phillies Prove that Spending Pays

Three 100-win teams made the Postseason on the National League side of things. All three will watch the NLCS from home, in something of a backwards demonstration that spending (whether that be cash or prospects), and really going for it, is a good idea, especially under the new playoff format.

The San Diego Padres finished 22 games behind the 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the regular season and lost every series to them in 2022 … except when it mattered last week in the NLDS. Now San Diego will host the Philadelphia Phillies – who almost slumped their way out of the Postseason picture entirely with a slow start to the season – in their first NLCS appearance since 1998.

Why? Because A.J. Preller went for it. Preller and the Padres invested tremendous amounts of money in Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr., the latter of whom has been absent all season and will not play in the NLCS. But it’s all right because Preller didn’t stop there. With the Dodgers running away with the NL West and winning at a historic clip, Preller traded a plethora of top prospects to Washington to acquire Juan Soto and Josh Bell at the trade deadline.

Preller also went out and added Josh Hader, who, after an adjustment period, has been critically important this postseason.

Yu Darvish, another blockbuster trade acquisition of recent history for Preller and the Padres, is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 11 strikeouts this Postseason and will start Game 1 of the first NLCS game in San Diego this side of the century.

Sure, plenty of the aggressive trades and acquisitions that Preller has authored have been misses. But that’s the price of admission for a seat at the table, a phrase used by Rick Hahn regarding the Padres swooping in and outbidding them for Manny Machado a few years ago (after months of Machado and his kids sporting White Sox gear on social media).

Hahn argued that the White Sox being the runner-up showed they had a seat at the table. Sorry, Rick, this is what a seat at the table looks like.

The White Sox were also in the thick of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes that winter (with the Cubs never getting involved, despite a clear fit at the time). Now Harper will lead the Phillies, who finished third in their division behind the 100-win Mets and Braves, into an NLCS, just four wins from a World Series appearance. The Phillies also added significantly in free agency in recent years, spending big on Zack Wheeler, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos, and traded prospect capital at the deadline to fill holes by acquiring Brandon Marsh and David Robertson.

We live in an era of hyperactivity when it comes to prospect watching. Fans naturally become attached to these prospects who they watch develop for years – so it’s not wrong to covet them, even in an overly possessive fashion. But also realize that they’re as important a currency as any in baseball, and while many in the Padres’ once elite farm system may never wear a Padres jersey, all of them will be watching San Diego play for a shot at a World Series this week.

Winning is good. Spending is good. Kudos to San Diego and Philadelphia.

Trio of 100-Win Teams Prove the Same

You might be saying that the Dodgers, Mets, and Braves have done as much spending (of dollars) as any team this year, but they’ll be watching the NLCS from home. That’s true. But they were there! They won a combined 313 games this season, and they had that all-important “seat at the table.”

They’ll have that same seat next season. Why? Because they’ll spend. Because their ownership and front offices have made a real commitment to winning, using the dollars available to them.

The only team in the Postseason right now that this theory doesn’t apply to is the Cleveland Guardians, who many gave no shot at sniffing October baseball back in the spring. Cleveland can’t spend like the Dodgers or Mets, and their GM, Mike Chernoff, hasn’t weaponized his farm system on the trade market like A.J. Preller. He actually used Preller’s aggression in that regard to land some of the pivotal names on this team’s roster.

Spending big isn’t the only way to get to October. The Tampa Bay Rays have long been one of baseball’s misers in that same light. The Oakland A’s have had their share of flash-in-the-pan October runs. So have the Pittsburgh Pirates. The case can be made for more, and there will always be exceptions to the rule. So, a hat tip to Mike Chernoff and the Guardians as well as they take on the Yankees tonight in a decisive Game 5 in their ALDS matchup.

But none of that means that spending big dollars, in the aggregate, doesn’t give you a better shot.

Odds and Ends

  • One of the players that Mike Chernoff and the Guardians acquired from Preller and the Padres is Josh Naylor, who has been a clutch hero for the Guardians this season. Naylor drilled a huge home run off Gerrit Cole last night, and the celebration was exactly what we’ve come to expect from the high-energy Naylor:
  • Gerrit Cole wasn’t all that impressed (Gerrit Cole also doesn’t seem like a person that likes a whole lot of fun):
  • Matt Gelb has more on the Phillies first trip to the NLCS since 2010:
  • Whoops …
  • Another reminder that if you’re not following Sarah Langs on Twitter, you’re a much less informed fan for it:

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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.