Tuesday, March 21

San Diego Padres: Product of the Environment

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Starting Pitching:

Jake Peavy is all-world at this point (WBC notwithstanding), and he's certainly one of the best pitchers in the NL, if not the best with Clemens...well, doing whatever it is that Clemens does. (Yes, Chris Carpenter's up there.) He's certainly the best pitcher in the divison hands-down. Jason Schmidt fans can re-apply for this status after the upcoming season, please.

The lower half of the rotation isn't spectacular; Chan Ho Park still sucked after coming over from Texas. He wasn't a bad pitcher in Los Angeles, actually, so maybe he'll turn it around this year, who knows. Don't count on it, though. Woody Williams has been heading downhill ever since 2002. I'd be surprised if that trend reverses now, although he might just hang on enough to not get actively worse this season. As for Shawn Estes... uh, yeah, not so much with the good pitching.

This brings us to the second starter this season, Chris Young. An interesting case - a flyball pitcher with a K/9 of over 7. Not surprisingly, he struggled last season in offense-friendly Texas, but PETCO utterly destroys fly balls. He's the inside favorite for the 1st annual John Patterson Way Better Than You Expected Award.

Rough Rotation Guess:
Ace: Jake Peavy
2nd: Chris Young
3rd: Woody Williams
4th: Shawn Estes
5th: Chan Ho Park

More information:
Jake Peavy
Chris Young

Closer / Bullpen:

Well, Trevor Hoffman's still around. That takes care of the closer role until he retires.

Aside from him, the bullpen isn't quite as awe-inducing as the Otsuka/Seanez/Linebrink combo of doom last year, but Linebrink's still around. He's one of the best MRs in the game, so you could do a lot worse for an 8th inning option. Doug Brocail will move up to take the 7th, although he's not that great. Clay Hensley is the best of what's left (and he's pretty good scraps to be picking over - better than Brocail. Don't be surprised if his role increases throughout the season.)

Rough Bullpen Guess:
Closer: Trevor Hoffman
8th: Scott Linebrink
7th: Clay Hensley
Sit. Right: Scott Cassidy
Sit. Lefty: Alan Embree
Mop-up: Clay Hensley


Well, Mike Piazza came over from the Mets (along with Mike Cameron - more on him later). Combine aging with the previously mentioned cavernous ballpark and this is not going to be a recipe for success. He still can't throw anyone out, either. Yikes. Good move, guys.

Ryan Klesko returns to first base yet again - he showed a bit of power in the second half last year, although again, park numbers and his overall mediocrity mean don't expect anything specatcular from him this season. As for corner partner Vinny, he's just old. Still wields the glove well, though.

The major storylines for the season lie in the middle infield. Khalil Greene has always been good with the glove, but his hitting has always been in question. Strides he made back in 2004 were shot down this past year as he regressed back to where he was previously. This could be an important year for him. On the other side of the diamond, Josh Barfield will make his full-season ML debut. He could be a candidate for Rookie of the Year - he's quality stuff. Mark Bellhorn will give him the occasional day off.

Projected Infield:
C: Mike Piazza
1B: Ryan Klesko
2B: Josh Barfield
SS: Khalil Greene
3B: Vinny Castilla

More Information:
Josh Barfield


Brian Giles was great .... a few years ago with the Pirates. He's not bad now, but age and the park have taken a lot out of him; what could've been a 25/20 guy is now a 15/15 plus guy. It's kind of a shame, really. On the other side of the outfield, perenially injured Dave Roberts will start the season there. Termel Sledge will take over for him when (not if) he gets injured.

In center, Mike Cameron also came over from the Mets this offseason. He brings a great glove with him, and a fairly unique combination of speed, power, and not much else. He's a power hitter that doesn't get on base a whole lot (horrid averages these last few years), but when he does, he'll run. Interesting case, but his main asset to the team isn't that as much as it is his glove.

Projected Outfield:
RF: Brian Giles
CF: Mike Cameron
LF: Dave Roberts

More information:
Brian Giles

Extra Stuff:

This season might answer the eternal question of just how far two pitchers can bring one team. I figure that Peavy and Young will allow them to win 50-55 games, which means that if the team can coax 30 wins out of the other 90 starts, then that'll at least be enough to be competitive in this division. The back end of the bullpen is solid enough to win them a couple of games average bullpens might lose.

Remember, this division sucks. Good defense, passable pitching, great pitching ballpark ... don't expect many 10-9 games, but count on quite a few 4-3 and 3-2 games.