Projected NL West Finish: 5th
- Gwynn Jr. cf
- Eckstein 2b
- Gonzalez 1b
- Blanks lf
- Headley 3b
- Venable rf
- Hundley c
- Cabrera ss
- Richard (LH)
- Torrealba c
- Stairs 1b
- Salazar if
- Hairston Jr. ut
- Hairston of
- LeBlanc (LH)
- Thatcher (LH)
- Bell (closer)
Catcher: Nick Hundley struggled last year while starting about half of the Padre’s games at catcher. He did improve his OBP by a good amount from his rookie year and San Diego hopes he keeps improving. Yorvit Torrealba created a solid presence with the pitchers in Colorado but lost his power at the plate last year. He will still battle Hundley for at-bats, especially early in the year.
Infield: The infield appears set as of right now. Adrian Gonzalez is an All-Star at first base and will anchor the lineup. The new GM, Jed Hoyer, will have to decide whether or not he wants to trade A-Gon and enter the rebuilding phase. David Eckstein will have to hold off utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. at second base. Everth Cabrera proved his worth after being selected in the Rule 5 Draft last off-season. His bat is still a work in progress. Chase Headley returns to third after the Padres traded Kevin Kouzmanoff to the A’s. The Padres will need a much better season from the switch hitter to compete in the NL West this year.
Outfield: The Kouzmanoff trade brought in a couple of outfielders. Aaron Cunningham is a prospect who will have a chance to make the team out of spring training but will probably get more time at AAA. Scott Hairston will take his second tour in San Diego in less than a year. He can play all around the outfield and has displayed power potential his six year career. Hairston could end up being the right-handed counterpart to lefties Tony Gwynn Jr. and Will Venable. Kyle Blanks showed that he is ready for the Bigs after putting up an .868 OPS in 54 games as one of the younger guys in the league. Blanks will ultimately end up at first base.
Rotation: Kevin Correia was the iron man of the rotation, pitching 198 good innings. Chris Young needs to regain form after putting up a 5.21 ERA in only 14 starts. Jon Garland will put up his usual double digit win totals and make 30 starts. After these guys, the Padres have plenty of young and exciting options. Mat Latos will soon be a mid to top of the rotation pitcher. Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda are a couple of young lefties acquired from Chicago in the Jake Peavy trade. Tim Stauffer quietly pitched to a 3.58 ERA in 14 starts and he is out of options which may force the Padres to keep him on the Opening Day roster. Wade LeBlanc is another inspiring lefty but the abundance of starters could force him into the bullpen if the Padres want him on the staff.
Bullpen: Heath Bell is the closer again but a slow start would almost force the Friars to trade him. There’s no reason to have a valuable closer on a team that is borderline rebuilding. The rest of the bullpen is under-rated. Mike Adams had a .73 ERA in 37 relief innings. Thatcher had a 2.80 ERA in 45 innings. Luke Gregerson had a 3.24 ERA in 75 innings. Edward Mujica pitched to an ERA below 4 in 67 total appearances. The rest of the bullpen could very well be made up of those who don’t crack the rotation.
2010: The Padres are coming off a very strong second half in 2009. The team will have solid pitching as they have come to expect in San Diego, however, their offense is lacking. Gwynn and Eckstein absolutely have to get onbase to let Gonzalez drive them in. Blanks, Headley and Venable are rather young in experience and will face a lot of pressure to produce runs. The Padres are in an extremely competitive division where the Rockies and Dodgers are both playoff teams and the Giants are right there. It will be tough for so many pitchers to repeat their success of ’09 and the Padres will ultimately trade Gonzalez and Bell before the season ends.
Today the Oakland A’s officially acquired third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and a minor league prospect in a trade for San Diego outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham. This deal brings clarity to the A’s infield picture and unblocks a log jam in San Diego, making it a great move for both teams.
Kouzmanoff’s defense has gotten better each year and his hitting has been constant during his three years in the Bigs. He would be best suited as a 5 or 6 hitter but the A’s will likely need him to bat cleanup. Speedsters Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis will get on-base ahead of him so he should be able to build on his solid 88 RBIs of 2009.
The addition of Kouzmanoff pushes Jake Fox to the bench but Fox, a right-handed slugger, will still get plenty of playing time. The A’s will rotate Fox between first base, right field and DH as each of those spots are occupied by left-handed starters. This move should set the infield with Cliff Pennington and Mark Ellis up the middle. Fellow third baseman and longtime Athletic, Eric Chavez, is rehabbing after another surgery and it would be tough for him to play everyday. Just another reason this is a smart move for the A’s.
The trade of Kouzmanoff works out well for the Padres as they can now move Chase Headley back to third base which is his original position. The Friars will hope a reunion with his old position will bring comfort that translates into improved offensive output as well. Headley has performed below expectations the last two years but he is still young and the team has confidence he will be a switch-hitting threat in the near future.
Before the trade, San Diego’s projected lineup had two natural infielders (Chase Headley and Kyle Blanks) playing the outfield corners. Blanks is a large athlete who will eventually take over at first base or be traded. His bat is strong enough to keep him in the lineup and he will remain in right field. Will Venable displayed strong defense and hit 12 home runs in limited playing time which earned him first crack at left field.
This will be Scott Hairston’s second tour with the Padres. He is a strong right-handed outfielder with good pop but his role with the A’s became foggy when the team brought in Coco Crisp and re-signed Jack Cust. Last time around, he enjoyed the best success of his career and will be back to a platoon situation with left fielder Venable and center fielder Tony Gwynn, both of whom are left-handed. Aaron Cunningham is the other outfielder attained by the Padres and he will start the year in AAA but has a good chance to start in the future.
Due to the talent of the players and the situations they are heading to, I see this deal as a perfect win-win for everyone involved.