Season Preview: San Diego Padres
Projected MLB Rank: 26th — NL Rank: 15th — NL West Rank: 5th — Record: (69-93)
Regarding the title of this post–Jake Peavy staying in San Diego does not correlate with them staying at the bottom of the division. He is one of the best righthanded pitchers in the game and once (or if) they trade him, they will certainly recieve some great young prospects in return.
But for this year’s Padres I don’t think anything other than fifth place is an option. In a division where pitching is an absolute strong suit in every team, the Padres don’t have the arms to contend.
So let’s start with their pitching. Beyond Jake Peavy, and I guess Chris Young, the rotation just looks like a mess. The last three spots are up for grabs between Kevin Correia, Cha Seung Baek, Josh Geer, Chad Reineke, and Wade LeBlanc. I assume Baek takes the three spot in the rotation behing Young. Correia can snag a spot in the rotation this year if he has a good spring. Reineke, Geer, and LaBlanc are 26, 25, and 24 years of age, respectively. So they’re unproven for the most part. Basically, the Padres rotation can be summed up as questionable, young, and to put it bluntly-not good.
The bullpen isn’t too much greater. The loss of one of the best closers of all time in Trevor Hoffman doesn’t help their cause. Heath Bell steps into the closer role and should do the job effectively for San Diego. He had 23 holds last season, 71 strikeouts in 78 innings, and a 3.58 ERA. He did have a sour second half last season, but given that the role is his alone, he should have nothing to worry about. The others that highlight their bullpen include Cla Meredith, Chris Britton, Mike Adams, and Justin Hampson. For some reason, when I hear those names, the words “lost leads,” come to mind.
Last year, the lineup produced 3.93 runs per game, enough for worst in the NL and I’m pretty sure most of those runs were produced by Adrian Gonzalez. Kidding Pads fans. It’s okay, they brought in David Eckstein to try to improve the offense. Kidding, again. Kevin Kouzmanoff will probably give you the same numbers he produced last year (.260 / 23 HR / 84 RBI). Scott Hairston will give you some pop but not a good average. Chase Headley should continue to develop into a better hitter. Brian Giles, who is 38 by the way, will hit for .300 every season until further notice.
The lineup can be summed up like the rotation beyond Gonzalez, and I guess Giles. Basically the Padres can be summed up as questionable, young, and bad. I would have liked to see them trade Peavy because by not trading him, they are just taking steps backward. I would expect him to be in a different uniform by the end of the season.
Maybe this season the Padres should be more concerned about revamping their team, changing the name of their ballpark (sorry I think it sounds awful), and finding an alternate uniform that don’t include camo.
The World Baseball Classic rosters are set. The United States roster looks more promising than last time. The US is in Pool C with Canada, Venezula, and Italy and opens up the tournament playing in Toronto.
The tournament runs from March 5th-23rd in anywhere from Tokyo to San Juan and ending in Los Angeles. (http://mlb.mlb.com/wbc/2009/schedule/brackets.jsp) You can find the official WBC bracket there.
The US roster consists of players from 21 different MLB teams and is one of only two rosters that are made up of all MLB players. Here is how I think the lineup should be:
SS Jimmy Rollins
CF Grady Sizemore
LF Ryan Braun
DH Chipper Jones
1B Kevin Youkilis
RF Brad Hawpe
3B David Wright
C Brian McCann
2B Dustin Pedrioa
However, I am not Davey Johnson and I’m almost positive that Derek Jeter will start at shortstop. Curtis Granderson would be the first pinch runner most likely and Mark DeRosa looks like he will be the infield utility guy. Chris Iannetta backs up McCann behind the dish. The starting pitchers featured on the roster are Jeremy Guthrie, Ted Lilly, Roy Oswalt, and Jake Peavy. The rotation may shape up to look something along the lines of Peavy, Oswalt, Lilly, then Guthrie.
The bullpen is probably one of the strongest in the whole classic. The US boasts established closers like Brian Fuentes, Joe Nathan, JJ Putz, and BJ Ryan. The bullpen features emerging closers like Jonathan Broxton, Matt Lindstrom, and Brad Ziegler. It also contains guys like JP Howell, Scot Shields, and Matt Thornton. In the ninth I would hand the ball to Fuentes to face lefthanded hitters and Nathan to face righties.
I am most excited to watch the US play and to see how Brad Hawpe plays among all stars and how Johnson utilizes the extremely talented bullpen he has.
In other notes, how great is it to see mlb.com with the games of the day on the left side bar again? I am so relieved to hear that everyday we are getting closer to the season. The first spring training games start tomorrow with most of them at 1pm or 3pm. However at 7pm the Twins take on the Red Sox as Tim Wakefield takes the mound.
In honor of the first spring training games, I will start to release my projections for this season (as I mentioned in the previous post). I will start from who I think will finish last in the league working my way up to the best record previewing the teams’ seasons along the way. Tomorrow I’ll release who I think will be at the bottom of the barrel and here’s a clue, it’s one of these four teams…