Padres 2010 Preview
Luis Perdomo fires the ball in 2009The San Diego Padres opened their 41st spring camp this weekend in Peoria Arizona, looking to put an end to the losing skid that they have been dealing with for most of the last 2 seasons.
The Padres finished up strong in 2009, posting a 37-25 mark to end the season, best in the Western division. That is significant progress for a team that lost nearly 100 games in 2008, but questions remain in all areas of this teams make up. Here is a quick look at where the Padres are at, on both sides of the plate.
Chad Gaudin was dealt to the Yankees
Starting Pitching: Jon Garland arrives to anchor a staff still reeling from the loss of Cy Young gunslinger Jake Peavy. every time that Peavy hit the mound, San Diego had a chance to win. With Clayton Richard, Kevin Correia and Chris Young all locked down into rotation spots, the only question is who takes the number 5 slot. Matt Latos has the early inside track, along with Cesar Ramos. Any chance the Padres have to contend rests here with the starters, if they falter, 70 wins will be an accomplishment for this team.
The Bullpen- San Diego may be the best team in baseball at developing bullpen help out of other teams scrap heaps. With above average pitching arms like Edward Mujica, Luke Gregorson, Mike Adams, and closer Heath Bell all lined up in a row, all the starters have to do is keep it under control until the 6th inning, and this bullpen should dominate the 7th 8th and 9th. Bell should be able to top his career high 42 saves in 2009, currently placing him only about 520 behind Trevor Hoffman.
David Eckstein returns for 2010
The Infield- The Pads found a gem last season, rule 5 draftee SS Everth Cabrera. Cabrera missed the early portion of 2009 with an injury, then won the job heading into 2010 with a solid glove and a decent bat. Look for Cabrera to take a step forward with the glove, and probably a step back with the bat.
Chase Headley finally gets to take over his natural position, the hot corner. Moving in from left field will help Headley at the plate, he should be able to belt 15-20 dingers in 2010. 3rd base was well manned last season by Kevin Kouzmanoff, Headley will hear it if he does not field the ball well.
David Eckstien gets another season to man second base, at least until Eck stumbles, or San Diego finds someone better for the job. San Diego recently signed 2B Josh Barfield, just in case...
Adrian Gonzalez takes 2 against the Dodgers
Adrian Gonzalez remains one of the top players in the game at first base, If the Padres are in the hunt, Gonzo will remain a Padre, and if the Pads are in suck mode, color Gonzales GONE. Slugger Kyle Blanks waits in the wings should Gonzo be dealt.
Jerry Hairston Jr brings Championship experience
Super sub INF Jerry Hairston was brought in from the New York Yankees as the 10th man, his experience in the World Series last year should help in the Padre clubhouse.
Outfield- The Padres are finally getting faster out there in that gigantic pitch they call an outfield at Petco. Tony Gwynn Jr, Scott Hairston and Kyle Blanks are penciled in as the starters, with Will Venable on the bench. Blanks is slow out in left, but has worked on his game in the outfield extensively. Gwynn and Hairston have the wheels to patrol center and right at Petco, that should help out Padre starting pitching. Blanks can hit 30 home runs if healthy, providing he does not have an out pitch. Gwynn and Hairston can both produce enough offensive firepower to be aboard when Blanks goes deep.
Catchers- Nick Hundley, Yorvit Torrealba and Dusty Ryan are currently 1-2-3 on the Padre depth chart. Torrealba was signed to replace departed Henry Blanco. Ryan was added in GM Jed Hoyer's first trade, with the Tigers, and he is an unknown factor heading into camp. Hundley needs to step it up this season, the Padres could really use some offense from the catchers spot.
Padre Action From 2009
Overall Outlook- Hey, it's the Padres, they could run the table, they could finish deal last. I feel that this team has progressed light years ahead of last years opening day lineup, but optimism is not 90 wins. The hall is rented, time to see if the Padres can play... Lets call it 81-81.