Monday, February 18, 2008
San Diego Padres Preview
Sorry for the 24-hour delay in getting this out, but an absolutely brutal weekend in Bloomington forced me to push this back until my body had forgiven me.
So, without further delay, here are your 2008 San Diego Padres...
2007 Finish: 89-74, 3rd Place in the NL West
Key Acquisitions: Mark Prior, Randy Wolf, Jim Edmonds, Tadahito Iguchi
Key Losses: Mike Cameron, Milton Bradley
Probable Opening Day Lineup:
1) Brian Giles - RF
2) Tadahito Iguchi - 2B
3) Kevin Kouzmanoff - 3B
4) Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
5) Khalil Greene - SS
6) Jim Edmonds - CF
7) Josh Bard - C
8) Scott Hairston - LF
Lineup Grade: C-...The Padres' lineup is representative of the offense in general, many serviceable middle-tier players, but they don't have any real superstars for the other hitters to fill in around or to compliment. None of these guys hits for average or has great speed, and none of them get on base terribly often. And other than Adrian Gonzalez, there isn't any power there to generate the type of instant offense a team like this needs to succeed. On the Padre's website, in response to a poll question about the teams greatest needs going into '08, well over half (63%) think the most pressing issue finding a more suitable left fielder.
1) Jake Peavy
2) Chris Young
3) Greg Maddux
4) Randy Wolf
5) Mark Prior
Rotation Grade: A-...Any team with the 1-2 punch of Peavy and Young demands attention. Peavy is the reigning Cy Young winner, and probably would have defeated Johan Santana if Santana was with the Mets last year. He has four plus pitches and isn't afraid to throw any of them at any time. Chris Young has emerged during the last two seasons as one of baseballs best young pitchers. The Padres have surrounded these two guys with some great role-player/back of the rotation type of guys: the ageless Maddux, Wolf, and Prior. Prior and Wolf are coming off injuries, so there are question marks around them, but the potential is there for this to be the NL's best rotation. However, they also sport one of the best bullpens in the leauge, so they have the added security of being able to go to the pen early and often if they need to, and when they take leads into the later innings, have a very good chance of maintaining it.
2008 Outlook: The Padres will go as their offense goes. The pitching is good enough to hold their opponents to few runs, but their offense might still not be good enough to put them ahead in low-scoring games. This, coupled with the fact that they play in the NL's best division, doesn't bode well for their '08 playoff hopes. A mid-season trade for a big bat, or waiting to sign an impact hitter during free agency next year could allow the Pads to contend in the not-too-distant future.
Predicted 2008 Finish: 75-87, Third/Fourth Place in NL West
Offensive woes means the Pads and Dodgers will finish well behind the D-Backs and Rockies, but still ahead of the irrelevant Giants.