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2010 Season Preview: San Diego Padres
Christopher Reina. 3rd April, 2010 - 10:47 am

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2010 Season Preview: San Diego Padres

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In Bud Black's third season as manager of the Padres, the club made a 12 game improvement in the win column but were still 12 games under .500. This three-year stretch follows another three-year stretch in which the Padres went to the LDS twice and were eliminated by the Rockies in a one-game playoff in 2007.

2009 Opsera Finish: 25th

What Happened In The Winter

The Padres seemed at times to consider finally pulling the trigger on a blockbuster move of Adrian Gonzalez, but ultimately decided to hold onto that Ace in the hole, so the biggest move of the winter was hiring Jed Hoyer as GM. Hoyer is a product of the Red Sox front office, just as Theo Epstein was initially a product of the San Diego front office and even held the radar gun for the 1998 World Series.

Jon Harland was signed to a $5.3M contract and should be predictably effective at home.

The Padres now have both Hairston brothers, signing Jerry to a one-year, $2.1M deal after being a utility guy for the champion Yankees and trading Kevin Kouzmanoff for Scott.

I've always liked Yorvit Torreabla and the Padres got him on a good value for a one-year, $1.25M deal. He'll see a lot of at bats against lefties given Nick Hundley's struggles in 2009.

Padres Offensive Preview

The Padres were ranked 15th in the NL in OPS and runs, which is at least partially due to how favorable Petco is for pitchers, but this team wasn't exactly the 27 Yankees on the road either. The fact that Gonzalez managed to finish the season with an OPS of .958 and 40 homers is all the more impressive in that light. The Padres are in a similar situation as Minnesota was with Joe Mauer before signing him to an extension. The difference, however, is that the Padres appear resigned to the fact that they will be unable to afford to keep the hometown kid who will get at least $150M on the open market.

Beyond Gonzalez, the Padres didn't have a single hitter in their lineup who had more than 250 plate appearances with an OPS over .750. With largely the same crew back in 2010 and the additions being rather ordinary, I expect the Padres to actually be worse offensively this season.

From top to bottom beyond Gonzalez, you see way too many OBP in the low .300s and very few extra base hits. I don't think David Eckstein ever scared anyone and I don't think Everth Cabrera ever will. Tony Gwynn Jr. is clearly not his father and Chase Headley isn't a corner infielder who will ever hit like one.

Kyle Blanks does have a promising future after hitting for an OPS of .868 with 10 homers in 172 plate appearances in 2009. As far as 2010 goes, he represents Bud Black's best chance at giving Gonzalez some legitimate help in the lineup.

Will Venable will patrol right field and will have to increase his OBP from the .323 he posted in 2009.

Hundley's numbers should be better in 2010 if he stays healthy and ducks lefties.

Padres Pitching Preview

San Diego posting the 10th best NL ERA of 4.37 is a bit like the Rockies finishing 10th in OPS, it is something that is simply inexcusable.

Peavy only made 13 starts before finally being traded to the White Sox and he had an un-Peavy-like 3.97 ERA, though his K/9 rate was a still good 10.1.

It will be odd for the Padres not to have Peavy as their ace and that role will fall to Chris Young who has been either hurt or ineffective in the two seasons since he had a 3.12 ERA in 2007.

Kevin Correia had a 3.91 ERA after several years of showing promise, albeit inconsistent promise, with the Giants. His home/away splits weren't outrageous and he was pretty reliable from August on out.

Garland has never had that great of a season, even in 2005 when he had a 3.50 ERA. He's the classic case of why wins are misleading given his K/9 rate and FIP over the years. Nevertheless, pitching to contact works in San Diego and I'm more concerned with his health this season than how average he'll be on the mound.

Clayton Richard and Sean Gallagher round out the San Diego rotation. Richard made 26 total starts with the White Sox and Padres in 2009 and he could evolve into a serviceable back of the rotation southpaw. Gallagher looks like he'll be back in a starting role this season, but he has fallen off as a prospect from where he was heading into 2008.

Heath Bell is one of the game's more underappreciated closers. He'll strike out a batter an inning and he has always been stingy with allowing base-runners since coming over to the Padres from the Mets.

The remainder of the bullpen is about what you'd expect from a bottom tier club with Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson pitching the late innings ahead of Bell.

What Are Their 2010 Chances?

The NL West is the most wide open division in baseball, but the Padres are the Lindsay Lohan and won't be allowed to even come near the velvet rope of that party. San Diego has a great park to build off because teams that can pitch typically aren't bad for very long, but they will need to do a much better job in finding the right kind of offensive players through their minor league system since free agent sluggers will absolutely never come.

The most important thing for Padres fans this season is to extensively scout the Boston farm system because that's where Gonzalez will eventually end up and Hoyer must get at least two bats in return and preferably one becomes the next Hanley Ramirez, who was acquired by Florida in the Josh Beckett deal.

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