The negativity of L.A.'s ownership controversy seeps into the clubhouse, Don Mattingly loses control, and a team that played in the NLCS two years ago slips further away.
Their bullpen remains the best in the majors, and Brad Hawpe comes close to replacing Adrian Gonzalez at first base. The result: The Padres play meaningful games in September.
Mat Latos's late-season skid (five straight losses to end '10) continues, and the bullpen can't make up for a thin rotation. The result: The Padres stop playing meaningful games in August.
Kirk Gibson changes the culture of a team that averaged 68 victories and finished last the past two seasons. The team finishes near .500, with realistic hope of contending in 2012.
J.J. Putz, a setup man the last two seasons now being asked to close, isn't up to the job, and another year of blown leads and dismal relief work destroys a rebuilding team's spirit.