The final primer for the 2012 season: the San Diego Padres
2011 review: The San Diego Padres finished last in the NL West in 2011 and that was expected by many. Most figured it would a competition between San Diego and Arizona for the basement of the NL West but with Arizona surprising the Colorado Rockies were actually the team to duel San Diego for the bottom of the division.
The Padres offense was dreadful again last year and among position players with more than 100 games played only Chase Headley (120 OPS+), Chris Denorfia (104) and Cameron Maybin (103) finished the year with an OPS+ above 100. Only one player on the Padres finished with double digit home runs (Ryan Ludwick with 11) and no one slugged over .500. When Adrian Gonzalez went to the Boston Red Sox prior to the season it was a given that the Padres had a team with no power. That came to fruition when as the Padres finished with the fewest team home runs, fewest team total bases and third fewest team doubles.
As for the team pitching the Padres once again did well. The Padres are the opposite of the Rockies: the Padres should always have good pitching since half of their games are played at Petco Park.
Led by Mat Latos the Padres had seven pitchers start for the team at least 14 times and all but one of them finished with an ERA under 4.00. ONLY ONE! Latos (3.47), Tim Stauffer (3.73), Aaron Harang (3.64), Dustin Moseley (3.30), Clayton Richard (3.88) and Cory Luebke (3.29) all had good years and only Wade LeBlanc (4.63) finished with an ERA above 4.00. To display how much the park helps their pitching of those seven pitchers only three finished with an ERA+ over 100 (100 is average) and none of them stood out. Moseley and Luebke both finished with an ERA+ of 108 which is above average but not great by any means (Clayton Kershaw’s ERA+ last year was 163).
While the Rockies always have plenty of offense and not enough pitching mostly due to the park they call home the Padres have the opposite problems as they usually have plenty of pitching and not near enough offense.
Players lost: Rob Johnson, Anthony Rizzo, Brad Hawpe, Jorge Cantu, Alberto Gonzalez and Ryan Ludwick are the players no longer with the Padres who saw 40 or more games of action for the team last year. Of those bats Rizzo is the most promising and he was sent to Chicago this offseason.
The biggest subtraction this year for the Padres is Latos. Latos was traded to the Cincinnati Reds during the offseason and the 24 year old is considered by many to be a Cy Young contender for years to come. Along with their ace leaving the team the Padres also lost Heath Bell who has been their lockdown closer in recent history. Bell took his talents to South Florida. Along with those two Harang, LeBlanc, Chad Qualls, Mike Adams and Pat Neshek are also not playing for the Padres this coming season. Adams is going to be tough to replace as he posted a 1.13 ERA across 48 innings pitched. And since we mentioned ERA+ above Adam’s ERA+ was a whopping 319.
Players gained: The two big names the Padres received in return for Latos was Edison Volquez and Yonder Alonso. Volquez has been a solid pitcher for the Reds in the past and Alonso looks to be a solid slugging first baseman whose path to the majors was blocked in Cincinnati by Joey Votto the perennial MPV candidate. Both will be on the Opening Day roster and should impact the team positively. While Petco is not prone to giving up home runs the gaps are large and many scouts believe Alonso has the bat control and power to hit those gaps regularly for doubles.
Huston Street was also traded to San Diego this winter in exchange for not a lot. Street will immediately fill the gap left by Bell at the back of the Padres bullpen.
The team also signed Carlos Quentin, Mark Kotsay and Micah Owings and all of them are solid contributors but nothing that would indicate the Padres will finish at .500 or better in 2012.
2012 outlook: In 2010 the Padres surprised everyone by contending for the NL West crown down to the end of the season. In ’10 many predicted they would finish last in the division, a prediction that has stuck with the Padres in subsequent seasons and is not change going into ’12. The team traded away their best pitcher a year after trading away the best bat the team has had since Tony Gwynn and they are in full rebuilding mode. They are using the same model many teams have employed recently and are looking to build from within.
This season should be status quo for the Padres as they will hold teams to small run totals, especially at home thanks to the spacious ballpark, but they will struggle mightily to score any runs of their own. According to ZiPS only one player on the Padres will finish with an OPS above .800 and that is Quentin who ZiPS believes will just barely eclipse .800 by posting an .802 OPS. If you are playing fantasy baseball I cannot see drafting any of the Padres position players in the top 100 with only Maybin as the only guy worth owning on the team other than pitchers, period.
Next up is the San Diego Padres