Leading up to the start of the 2010 Regular Season, Diamond Hoggers will preview each of MLB’s 30 teams. Today’s team is the San Diego Padres. Stay tuned as Diamond Hoggers will preview every team division by division until the start of the regular season.
The Padres finished 2009 with a 75-87 mark; 20 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the West. They went 33-48 on the road.
The biggest storyline around the 2010 San Diego Padres is where will star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez end up? Gonzalez is the only relevant and established guy still left on the San Diego roster. He was the subject of offseason trade rumors and a soon as the Padres can find a partner to pay the king’s ransom for Gonzalez, he’ll be shipped out of town on a one way ticket. Until that day comes in May or June, he’ll be in the middle of the Padres lineup.
Setting the table for Gonzalez will be 23 year old shortstop from Nicaragua, Everth Cabrera. Learn the name now, because in a ballpark like Petco this guy could be a remarkable star. He’s got big time speed to steal around 50 bases and he’ll reach double digits in triples multiple times. He’s a guy they’ll look to rebuild around. Sharing time at second base will be David Eckstein and Jerry Hairston Jr.
The clean up hitter is a guy who has the power to put the ball out of any ballpark including Yosemite. Kyle Blanks is 285 pounds and homered 10 times in 148 at-bats in his MLB debut last year. He’s a corner outfielder right now, but could slide to first base once Gonzalez is traded. He’s only 23, and he could be another piece for the Padres to re-build around. We see multiple 30 home run seasons in his future.
From there, Chase Headley will bat 5th or 6th and play third base. He had a bright future around this time last year but might need a change of scenery to really ever break-out. Scott Hairston and Will Venable will occupy two outfield spots, while Yorvit Torrealba will hit towards the bottom of the lineup and catch on most days.
The bench features back-up catcher Nick Hundley, Tony Gwynn Jr., Hairston Jr. on most days, Oscar Salazar, and Matt Atonelli. They struggle to have many difference makers here.
Manager Bud Black was a former pitcher himself, so he has to know that in terms of a starting rotation he has very little to work with in this category. The #1 might be Jon Garland, who makes his way to the NL from the AL. Garland might find some success pitching at home in Petco Park; but overall has became a guy who will eat innings and get lit about half the time. Chris Young has #1 type stuff but struggles to stay healthy and make his 34 starts. He’ll be the number two to start the year. Kevin Correia, Mat Latos and Clayton Richard round out the rotation. Richard is the only lefty in the rotation and he’s the arm we like best. The former college QB is 26 years old and by this time next year his stock will be as high as anyone on this staff.
Last year Heath Bell quickly ascended as a star closer in baseball, saving 42 games. Don’t be surprised if his fall from grace is that quick as well. He’s 32 years old and could be a candidate for his arm breaking down. Mike Adams, Luke Gregerson, Edward Mujica, and Joe Thatcher are other guys who will be in the San Diego bully in 2010.
This team didn’t do a lot to improve itself for the present while everyone else in the West did something to get better. It’s going to be a long year for the Padres. There’s no reason to think that they’ll finish anywhere but the cellar and it could be several seasons and a new manager before they’re contending again. Right now, it’s hard for them to sell that their organization is trying to put a winning product on the field.