The San Diego Padres were probably the most consistent of the NL West
contenders last year. They didn't suffer the D-Back roller coaster, didn't
enjoy the Rockies' meteoric rise, or the Dodgers' long fall. Nope,
their collapse was short and sweet, with two out of their last three games
being lost due to blown saves by one of the all-time great closers.
One wonders how the Padres will recover. They lost their hired gun at
the end of last season (Milton Bradley), and are depending heavily on
old and injured pitchers - who were no doubt attracted to the Padres due to their spacious
home field - to pitch them into the postseason. They have some excellent
talent as some positions, but overall, this team risks being
outclassed in the NL West.
During his three full seasons with the Cubs, Michael Barrett was one of
the top 5 or so catchers in the game. His defense peaked at average,
and his OPS never fell below .820, once even powering past .880. Josh
Bard could have a similar three-year span for the Padres. He has shown
a good eye at the plate and a little power potential. Barrett still
seems like part of the plan for the Pads, but my gut tells me that, like
another Cub peak performer, Barrett will go the way of Jamie Navarro
and fade, fade, fade....
|Projected 2008 Starter||
This kid turns 26 in May, and he put up some really impressive numbers
in a tough hitter's park last year. There are plenty of mashers at
first base throughout the league, but this guy is still a future All-Star
and will probably have one or two seasons where he is one of the top
hitters in the game. It couldn't come soon enough for the Padres, and it
probably won't come next year, but few teams are as set for the future
at first base as the Padres are.
|Projected 2008 Starter||
Giles the Lesser really stunk it up in San Diego last year. Tad Iguchi
has been a known quantity over the last three years: .770-ish OPS and
overrated defense at second. The caveat here is that Giles used to be
a similar, though somewhat more valuable commodity. It's hard to
believe that Iguchi could have a worse season that Giles did last year, but
he won't inspire any goose bumps.
|Projected 2008 Starter||;
Five years ago, a third baseman coming into the league with
Kouzmanoff's numbers would have ellicited lots of buzz and excitment. But with so
many excellent hitting young third basemen on their way or already
arrived in MLB, Kouz gets lost in the shuffle. Playing in Sand Diego
will continue to depress his counting numbers, but he should be a
valuable producer for this squad.
|Projected 2008 Starter||
Supreme middle reliever came out of
nowhere to dazzle last year, and will get save opportunities should
Hoffman get injured or start pitching like he's 40.
Okay, it's not -that- hard to
believe that he has a worse season than Marcus Giles did.
hile the Padres refused to introduce him before games as "Pedro Feliz
who plays shortstop," Greene boasts plus power at the position with
poor plate discipline and a sub-.300 OPS. He has a fine glove, and as
long as he hits sixth or lower, the Padres should be fine with what he
Brian Giles has been one of the hardest-nosed, most unheralded players
in the game over the last decade. Now at age 37, he is merely
better-than-average. In limited action, Sledge was a disaster, Bradley was
all-world until Bud Black injured him in September, and Cameron parlayed a
mediocre season into big money in a desperate free agent market. And
so the Padres are left with career AAA hitters Hairston and McAnulty,
whose minor league stats make him look like a poor man's Lyle Overbay.
Hairston has sexier AAA numbers, and if he panned out, it would be a
nice coup scored against division rival Arizona, whom they acquired him
from. Sexy numbers in the PCL, however, do not a career make.
The Padres' philosophy definitely leaves no room for them to pay good
money for bench players. As usual for this franchise, it's composed of
bargain basement ragamuffins who are fine in spots but inspire chills at
the thought of them playing everyday. Callix Crabbe has a fun name,
but not much of an upside as a major leaguer. Chase Headley, Geoff
Blum, Jody Gerut will never be mistaken for everyday players. Off-season
hire Tony Clark, however, is a veteran with a productive switch-hitting
bat, and the Padres would be well advised to squeeze in at-bats for him
Padres Fun Fact|
While Tony Gwynn is the Padres' clear career BA leader with a .338
mark, his .388 OBP falls short of the .403 mark compiled by BBE HOFer Gene
Tenace in four seasons with the Padres, 1977-1980.
Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, David Wells, Justin Germano, Clay Hensley
|Projected 2008 Starters||
Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux, Randy Wolf, Justin
Germano, Mark Prior
Jake Peavy is young, dominant Cy Young contender, in his prime, a
strikeout pitcher......you get the idea. Chris Young is almost
magical in his ability to miss bats, although the ball tends to fly rather
well when contact is made, Petco Park is ideally suited to his skills.
He likes to work the upper half of the zone, however, and couple this
with decreased velocity in the spring, and there is cause for concern.
Maddux is also greatly aided by Petco park, but there is no denying
that pitching there has extended the usefulness of his career. Mark Prior
and Randy Wolf are the lastest veteran/injured pitchers to find Petco
like moths to a flame. Frankly, to compete in the loaded NL West, the
Padres can't afford for bad-case scenarios from any of these guys.
Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell, Cla Meredith, Doug Brocail, Scott
|Projected 2008 Relievers||
Trevor Hoffman, Heath Bell, Cla Meredith, Joe Thatcher,
Wilfredo Ledezma, Glendon Rusch
Egads. Pitcher's park or not, the top three in this bullpen are as
good as you'll find in the game. Linebrink was a big part of that success
for three years, but the Padres stole Bell from the Mets last year and
Meredith from the BoSox a year before to re-stock the pipeline that is
their bullpen. Hoffman is 40 years old this year, but has a lot to
prove after two of the most well publicized blown saves in recent years.
Even if Hoffman should falter, there still appears to be great depth
and lots of options here.
Outlook for the Season
The Padres have spent the last few seasons as a very competitive team
that spends like a middle-market penny pincher. After a nice little
run, that precarious balance seems ready to pop. They have too many
youngsters 26 and under, some of whom are marginal ML talents. They have
too many pitchers over 40 or with bios full of red crosses. This Padres
team is a good bet to finish below .500 for the first time since 2003.
Not too far below, but this team doesn't seem to be a legit contender
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