Aug 10, 2009, 4:41 PM EDT
This is part of a series articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
While most of the other teams at the bottom of these rankings would also find themselves rankings among baseball’s worst franchises of the last five years, the Padres had a pair of first-place finishes in 2005 and ’06, flanked by an 87-win season in 2004 and an 89-win season in 2007. That they’ve collapsed since shouldn’t be a huge surprise given the team’s track record when it comes to developing players.
One elite pitcher, one guy who is being paid like a pretty elite pitcher and not much else. At least Latos is providing hope for the future, and Stauffer’s sudden reemergence makes the end of the rotation look a little less disastrous.
The bullpen is a problem. The Padres’ ability to turn scrap-heap relievers into legitimate setup men has prevented them from developing many bullpen guys themselves. Joakim Soria would make things look a whole lot better, but he was actually a Dodger originally before being released, catching on with the Padres and later being plucked in the Rule 5 draft by the Royals.
SS Jason Bartlett
CF Will Venable
1B Derrek Lee
RF Xavier Nady
LF Chase Headley
3B Khalil Greene
2B Josh Barfield
C Nick Hundley
1B-OF Kyle Blanks
OF Gary Matthews Jr.
C George Kottaras
3B David Freese
1B/OF Paul McAnulty
The Padres do have some depth on offense. Instead of going with this configuration, they could also put Headley at third and Blanks in left field. When the bullpen needs help holding a late-inning lead, Matthews can go play center, with Venable moving to left. Greene’s ability to play shortstop should lessen the need for a true utilityman — and there aren’t any good choices anyway — so Freese and McAnulty are kept to provide additional firepower off the bench.
Barfield may be a problem at second base, but it’s hard to know for sure given the way the Indians have used him. He’s worthy of one more chance in another organization. Ideally, Matt Antonelli would have overtaken him by now, but the 2006 first-round pick followed up a disastrous 2008 with an injury-ruined 2009.
Besides their decent track record, the other thing that differentiates the Padres from the other teams at the bottom of the rankings is that they’ve had the same general manager for 14 years. Kevin Towers has put together some quality teams with shrewd pickups, but he’s made more bad trades than good ones and he’s presided over one of the game’s weakest farm systems for several seasons. With the Padres having a new CEO in place in Jeff Moorad and another last-place finish likely on the way, Towers’ days may well be numbered.
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