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Running down the rosters: San Diego Padres

Feb 24, 2012, 6:11 PM EDT

Cameron Maybin AP

One of the surprise teams of 2010, the Padres will try to rebound this year from a 2011 season that saw them lose an additional 19 games and finish 71-91. And just to make it a bit more of a challenge, the team will give it a go without ace Mat Latos, who was sent to Cincinnati in return for four youngsters, and closer Heath Bell.

Rotation
Tim Stauffer – R
Cory Luebke – L
Edinson Volquez – R
Clayton Richard – L
Dustin Moseley – R

Bullpen
Huston Street – R
Luke Gregerson – R
Andrew Cashner – R
Ernesto Frieri – R
Joe Thatcher – L
Micah Owings – R
Josh Spence – L

SP next in line: Anthony Bass (R), Jeff Suppan (R), Casey Kelly (R), Joe Wieland (R), Robbie Erlin (L)
RP next in line: Bass, Brad Brach (R), Brad Boxberger (R), Cory Burns (R), Alex Hinshaw (L)

Despite the losses, the Padres will likely again finish among the NL ERA leaders. But that’s partly Petco’s influence. Stauffer had a 4.95 ERA on the road last year. Richard was at 5.30 in 10 starts before getting hurt. Luebke projects as the team’s best pitcher, though he won’t go on Opening Day. Volquez may be the key to the staff; while he was far from the key piece in the Latos deal, he still has the stuff to win if he can throw a few more strikes. He fanned 104 and walked 65 in 108 2/3 innings while posting a 5.71 ERA for Cincinnati last year.

The Padres have had plenty of success building bullpens on the cheap, but rather than trying to save money on Bell’s replacement, they opted to take on Street’s salary for a year. They also made a big investment in Cashner, giving up top prospect Anthony Rizzo for him. Cashner may yet have a future in the rotation, but the Padres have made it clear that he’ll remain a reliever this year. With outstanding depth in the likes of Bass, Brach and Boxberger, the San Diego pen should be excellent again.

Lineup
CF Cameron Maybin – R
2B Orlando Hudson – S
3B Chase Headley – S
LF Carlos Quentin – R
1B Yonder Alonso – L
C Nick Hundley – R
RF Will Venable – L
SS Jason Bartlett – R

Bench
C John Baker – L
1B-OF Jesus Guzman – R
INF Everth Cabrera – S
OF Chris Denorfia – R
OF Mark Kotsay – L

Next in line: C Yasmani Grandal (S), INF Logan Forsythe (R), INF James Darnell (R), INF Andy Parrino (R), OF Kyle Blanks (R), OF Jeremy Hermida (L) OF Blake Tekotte (L)

The offense, on the other hand…

The Padres could go in any number of ways with the lineup. MLB.com’s Padres writer Corey Brock projected a Venable-Bartlett top of the order last week, with Maybin and Hudson batting seventh and eighth, respectively. I think that’s kind of crazy, but he might have better insight into what Bud Black is thinking than I do.

The heart of the order seems more certain. I don’t think Quentin was the Padres’ best use of resources, but at least they didn’t have to give up much to get him. He’ll be blocking a couple of other defensively-challenged right-handed hitters in Guzman and Blanks.

The bench has just one opening, assuming that everyone stays healthy. Cabrera will battle Forsythe for the utility job. Since Cabera has the edge defensively and switch-hits, he’s the more likely choice.

I’m not as high on Alonso as some, but it should be an improved offense. Bartlett is the only real liability, and the team could look at playing Cabrera over him against righties if he struggles. Maybin could well take another step forward, giving the Padres a legitimate star in center field. The team might even hit more homers than the Astros this year.

It probably won’t be enough to make the Padres contenders, not unless the Diamondbacks fall back and the Giants fail to improve on their 86-win season. I see the Padres selling at midseason. Besides obvious candidates like Street, Hudson and Bartlett, they could also put Headley, Quentin, Hundley, Stauffer, Richard and Gregerson on the blocks. Thanks to the Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Adams and Latos trades, the Padres now have one of the strongest farm systems in the game, and while the major league talent isn’t bad, the lack of upside is troublesome. Continuing to gear up for 2013 and ’14 is probably the franchise’s best bet.

  1. Tim's Neighbor - Feb 24, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    Matt,

    When you do your projections, do you do CPU projections, then adjust according intuition?

    Petco is just all sorta of brutal on hitters. I don’t think I’d want to sign there if I were a FA hitter.

    This has been a good series. Thanks for this.

    • icanspeel - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:10 PM

      The one thing people overlook at Petco is that it isn’t too friendly to power hitters, but there is a lot of space out there so if you are a contact/line drive hitter Petco isn’t such a bad place to hit. That is their idea with Yonder Alonso, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

      • brewcitybummer - Feb 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM

        My suspicion with park effects is that the most important aspects cannot really be quantified. I think the perfect example is a right handed, line to line power hitter getting traded to the Padres. That hypothetical player could put up MVP numbers in a park like US cellular field which is somewhat small and plays straight up. But in Petco, that player has to transform himself into a dead pull hitter, which is an inferior player in a vacuum, but as a hitter in Petco, you have to do whatever you can to not hit the ball to center. Between the distance and the wind, if the Padres manage to draft a superstar caliber, line to line hitter, Petco will force him to become a lesser player. I think its a stupid park for a small revenue team to play in.

      • brewcitybummer - Feb 25, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        Pehaps stupid is too strong. I’m weirdly obsessed with this idea of what type of park a small revenue team should build in order to help themselves out. If the Padres think they simply will not be able to retain a single elite hitter long term than maybe its smart to play in a park that would allow undervalued fly ball pitchers to thrive. I just think that if you only have 50-60 million to spend on payroll, you have a better shot of putting together several competitive years in row (which is what I think you need to build a fanbase) if you build a small park that allows you to put defensively pathetic sluggers at both corner outfield spots every day.

  2. icanspeel - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    The 2012 Padres are full of question marks, but odds makers had the over/under for wins at 70.5 which seems kind of low. With all the young talent 2012 may just be another growing pains type year, but at the same time if some of the young talent can come through now they may have a decent year. Bud Black shifts his lineup all the time so expect many different starting lineups. He even had Orlando Hudson hit clean up at 1 point last year.

  3. ptfu - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    Last year, the Padres lineup was better than it looked: it scored the sixth-most runs on the road in the National League. And that was with Ryan Ludwick and Kyle Blanks doing practically nothing in LF. Quentin’s better than those guys (at the plate). If Alonso can hit even a little, this lineup could be sneaky-good.

    If anything sinks the team, it’ll be the starting rotation. A nice bullpen will help but won’t be enough to win the division.

  4. micker716 - Feb 24, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    I like the Quentin move. The left field porch at Petco is doable for a true right-handed pull-hitter (like Quentin). If Quentin does produce (and stays healthy) he should have trade value at the deadline, assuming the Padres are out of contention.

  5. diablito0402 - Feb 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Wow, no salary cap, why even bother with teams like my padres, jeter and a- rod get paid more than the whole padres team combined including management, baseball is sad in that aspect, padres pirates etc. have no chance..

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