Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Overall – 78 points (15th MLB, 8th NL)
Starting Rotation – 33 points (5th MLB, 2nd NL)
Line-Up – 29 points (25th MLB, 14th NL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 16 points (T-5th MLB, T-3rd NL)
Offseason Additions – Randy Wolf, Mark Prior, Tad Iguchi, Jim Edmonds
Offseason Subtractions – Geoff Blum, Mike Cameron, Milton Bradley, Doug Brocail, Marcus Giles
Biggest Strength– Starting Rotation
The Padres are the same type of team as the Giants (strong rotation, bad line-up), only with a slightly better rotation and slightly better line-up. Their rotation is headed by the runaway Cy Young winner in 2007 in Jake Peavy. Peavy quietly had a historic season, as he became just the 7th pitcher since 1940 to lead the NL in W, ERA and K. Chris Young, their #2 starter, was on pace for the first non-HGH enhanced sub-2.00 ERA in the NL since Pedro Martinez in 1997. He got hurt and when he came back he wasn’t quite the same, and his ERA “ballooned” to 3.12. Rounding out the rotation is future 1st ballot hall of famer Greg Maddux, former Phillie Randy Wolf and living proof of the Cubs curse, Mark Prior.
Biggest Weakness– Line-up
The Padres have a lot of holes in their line-up. Aside from Adrian Gonzalez and Khalil Greene, they are below average at almost every position. In the offseason, there were talks that they might trade for the Pirates Jason Bay, but nothing materialized. The best they could do to improve their offense was to sign the ancient Jim Edmonds, and brief Phillies fan-favorite Tadahito Iguchi. In this division, that’s not going to get it done.
Key Player in ’08– Trevor Hoffman
The all-time saves leader has been a reliable force at the back of the Padres bullpen since 1993. However, in the 2nd half of 2007, he showed signs of finally slowing down. He had a 4.44 ERA after the all-star break and blew several saves down the stretch that ended up costing the Padres a playoff berth. The Padres have been able to counter subpar play with an excellent bullpen for years. If they can’t rely on Hoffman and the bullpen anymore, it’s going to cost them a lot of games.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Chase Headley
Headley destroyed AA pitching last year, hitting .330 with 20 HR, 38 2B and a 1.017 OPS. During spring training, he is making a huge case to be the starting LF for Padres on opening day. He is hitting .371 with a 1.156 OPS and has been the Padres best hitter all spring. Considering their desperate need for another hitter, they would be foolish not to give Headley a chance from the start.
2008 Outlook: 4th Place, NL West. The Padres have made the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years (and each of those times have been the least exciting team to watch in the playoffs), but with their division significantly improved, it might be awhile before they get back there. However, GM Kevin Towers has a knack for spotting talent and knows how to build a good team, so they might only be a couple years away from getting back on top.