Saturday, March 5, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: San Diego Padres

Last year, San Diego may have been baseball's biggest surprise. A team comprised of Adrian Gonzalez and journeymen finished 1 game behind the Giants for the NL West. But this year, Adrian Gonzalez is now in Boston, so the Padres are comprised of journeymen. And that's about it.

What they Have: Good pitching. All around, their rotation is very good. Lead by Mat Latos, the rotation can go toe to toe with many of the better rotations in baseball. The team ERA was 3.39, 2nd in the majors. Also coming in is Aaron Harang from Cincinnati, who despite his struggles, can be a very decent 2nd starter. Clayton Richard, Tim Stauffer, and Cory Leubke round out the rotation, all of whom can ptich well, but are inconsistent. Their bullpen is also top notch, lead by closer Heath Bell. He had 47 saves last season and spearheaded a very good bullpen. Despite some losses, the team retains Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams. The rest of the bullpen is new for this season. Offensively, they do have some good players, lead by new SS Jason Bartlett. He and 3B Chase Headley lead a good left side of the infield. Other than that, there isn't much offensively.

What they Don't Have: Offense. Adrian Gonzalez cannot be replaced, and surely not by Brad Hawpe. 2B Orlando Hudson is OK, but not great offensively. The outfield is filled with journeymen, two of which are Ryan Ludwick, and Cameron Maybin, acquired from Florida in the offseason. He hasn't been successful in either Detroit or Florida, so maybe a change in scenery will help him. Overall, for an offense that finished near the bottom in every offensive category, and that was with Adrian Gonzalez, this year could set new lows for offensive outputs due to the park they play in.

Any Help Coming? Yes, but the top 3 prospects are pitchers. Casey Kelly is a new piece coming over from Boston, and he has all the tools to be a great pitcher in the majors, and the right-hander could be up to the big club by season's end. Simon Castro still has some inconsistent pitches but will be a great addition to the rotation if he makes it there. The best non-pitching prospect is OF Jeff Decker, who despite his small frame can really become a good hitter. 1B Anthony Rizzo has a good story to tell when he reaches the majors. The successor to Gonzalez recovered from cancer in 2008.

Outlook: Not good. Despite a very good overall pitching staff, their offense is anemic. And it doesn't help that PETCO Park is the ultimate pitchers park. The Padres success last year was a shock to everyone. If they have the same this year, it will be even more shocking.

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