Sunday, April 1, 2012

San Diego Padres Preview/Prediction

Our next post takes us to sunny San Diego where the Padres are in full rebuilding mode. While they may have the best farm system in all of baseball that means they will struggle this year. Probably next year too.  Let's see what they have in 2012.

Infield: Nick Hundley at catcher, Yonder Alonso at first base, Orlando Hudson at second base, Jason Bartlett at shortstop, and Chase Headley at third base.

Nick Hundley is another catcher that has decent power but doesn't hit for a high average.  He has two big issues going against him though.  First issue is he plays in a park that is not conducive to power.  Petco Park kills all power, and it does the same to Hundley.  The other issue is that he can't stay healthy.  He has never played more than 85 games in a season, and I don't think this season will be any different.  Yonder Alonso was one of the big pieces they got when they traded Mat Latos.  Alonso wasn't going to get anytime this year because the Reds have Joey Votto at first base blocking him.  Now that he has a starting position in the big leagues I think he will do big things this year and be in the running for National League Rookie of the Year.  Orlando Hudson has always been underrated at second base but his numbers are regressing to where he is now properly rated.  He only hit .246 last year and only played in 100 games.  He is not the option he used to be at second base, and the Padres would be wise to look elsewhere.  Jason Bartlett had one great season with Tampa Bay but other than that has not done anything of note.  Last year he hit .245 but he did have 23 stolen bases.  He also only hit two home runs, and since him and Hudson have no power they need to get on base for others and neither one did that well last year.  Chase Headley didn't hit for a lot of power last year but he did hit .289 and was one of the pleasant surprises for the Padres.  He also stole double digit bases for the third straight year, which is a nice bonus for a third baseman.

Who will have the best season of these guys? Alonso will have the start of a great career by hitting .280 and leading the team in every major offensive category.  I think that 18-20 home runs will lead this team and I think that Alonso will get there.  He will be a mainstay in this lineup for years to come.

Outfield: Kyle Blanks in left field, Cameron Maybin in center field, and Will Venable in right field.

Kyle Blanks is country strong but as a problem with most young hitters who can hit the ball a mile he strikes out way too much.  In 142 career games he has struck out 152 times.  Petco Park will kill some of his power but since he can hit the ball so far I still expect 15 home runs.  Cameron Maybin has the most ridiculous home road splits you will ever see.  He hit .294 on the road and only .234 at home in 2011.  I have never seen numbers like that before and it makes you wonder what he would do if he didn't play half of his games in that cavern of a stadium.  He is only 25 and still supremely talented but I just don't trust him at Petco.  Venable is a career .250 hitter who doesn't hit for a lot of power but does have some speed.  He has had 7 triples each of the last 2 years and had 26 stolen bases in 2011 as well.  He just needs to actually hit the ball to use his speed.

Who will have the best season of these guys? This is kind of a turd sandwich here because all three of these people have huge flaws.  Since I have to pick someone I am going to say Maybin because he has the most talent.  I don't think he will have a great year but he will have the best year of the three.

Starting Pitching: Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Moseley, Cory Luebke, and Edinson Volquez.

Tim Stauffer had his first decent year in 2011 going 9-12 but had a 3.73 ERA. Those numbers aren't normally good enough for the #4 overall pick in a draft but it is more than they thought they would get from him.  Stuaffer will continue to get better and I think he will get to double digit wins this year.  Richard is the perfect example of the effect Petco can have on a pitcher.  His home ERA was 2.72 and his road ERA was 5.04.  It won't surprise me if he has similar numbers this year and because of that I don't think he will get to 10 wins this year.  Dustin Moseley only won 3 games last year despite having an ERA under 4.  He received the second worst run support in all of baseball last year and his record doesn't indicate how good of a pitcher he actually is.  He knows how how to pitch to contact and as long as he keeps his walks low should have a good 2012.  Luebke was the best pitcher the Padres had the second half of last year.  The wins may not show it but everything else was there.  He struck out 154 batters in only 139 innings and only had 44 walks.  I think a full year as a starter will serve Luebke well and he will announce to the world how good of a pitcher he really is.  Edinson Volquez also cam over from the Reds in the Latos trade and going from a ballpark like Cincinnati to Petco can only help his numbers.  I think Volquez will have a big year if he can cut down on his walks and that is a huge if.  

Who will have the best season of these guys?  Cory Leubke will have the best year of these five, rewarding the Padres for signing him to an extension before they had too.  I think he will win 12-15 games and have over 200 strikeouts.  I also think he will pitch well both at home and on the road which is something you can't expect from all of these starters.

Bullpen: Houston Street, Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Andrew Cashner.

This is a dream scenario for Houston Street, going from the rare air in Coors Field to the expansive field that is Petco Park.  His numbers will go back to what they were in Oakland which is far better than what they were in Colorado.  Luke Gregerson is the next reliever to come up through the Padres organization and be effective.  He doesn't strike out many batters but he doesn't walk many batters and doesn't give up home runs.  He will be an effective 8th inning guy for the Padres.  Joe Thatcher is the another one of these lefties that is on the roster to get the power hitting lefties out.  This guy will face Joey Votto, Ryan Howard (when healthy), and those kind of power hitters.  He throws very hard and strikes out a lot of batters and pretty much all of the batters he faced have been left handed.  Andrew Cashner throws absolute bullets, touching 99 mph sometimes with his fastball.  The Padres got Cashner in the trade for Anthony Rizzo.  They didn't need Rizzo anymore once they got Alonso from the Reds.

Who will have the best season of these guys?  As much as I want to say Cashner I think they will be stingy with his innings.  I am going to say Houston Street will have the best season.  I think he will get to 30 saves this year and will have an ERA under 3.  He will get back to being the closer he was when he won the Rookie of the Year in Oakland.

Record: 69-93, fifth in the National League West

Next up:  San Francisco Giants

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