On pages 141-143 of his 1985 Baseball Abstract, Bill James launches into a discussion of whether baseball dynasties are a thing of the past. This is technically his essay on the San Diego Padres, who were the defending National League champions, although only two paragraphs focus on the Padres:
I do not see the Padres as a great team, and I do not see them as likely to repeat. They’ve got three infielders that I wouldn’t put in the top fifteen men at the position. With Terry Kennedy’s defense and baserunning, he’s got to hit a whole bunch before he can help you, and he hit .240 last year. Their bench is thin. They’ve got a couple of great young outfielders and real good depth in the pitching staff, and, as mentioned, they do an outstanding job of keeping hit balls from becoming base hits. But if Atlanta, Houston or Los Angeles plays up to potential, I doubt that the Padres will be able to keep up with them.
It is tough to repeat; it has always been tough to repeat. That doesn’t change any because it is time now to have somebody repeat as champion. It is a tribute to the San Diego players that they were able to play so well together that it masked their individual weaknesses.
Now, 23 years later, you could remove many of the particulars from James’ comments and distill the following, which I think describes the Petco Park era Padres quite well:
I do not see the Padres as a great team… It is a tribute to the San Diego players that they were able to play so well together that it masked their individual weaknesses.