NL West Preview: San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres will bring in the fences at cavernous Petco Park this season, but they still may not have the offensive thunder to take advantage of it. In fact, one wonders if this will actually hurt Padres pitchers who have benefited from Petco Park's dimensions in the past.
The Padres went 76-86 last year, finishing 18 games behind the San Francisco Giants. Their prospects do not look good this season, with the Giants maintaining nearly all of their talent, the Dodgers willing to buy a championship, and the Diamondbacks seeming like a classic boom or bust team. Unfortunately for the Padres, there does not even seem to be a possibility of a "boom."
Third baseman Chase Headley, last year's National League RBI leader, leads the Padres offense. Unfortunately for the Padres, there is not much more to their offense after Headley.
They have Carlos Quentin, the Stanford alum who can hit for power when healthy. Cameron Maybin roams the spacious center field at Petco Park. Though he has struggled at the plate, Maybin has made catches that have been reminiscent of the those made by Torii Hunter and Mike Cameron.
Cal State Fullerton alum Mark Kotsay provides a veteran left-handed bat off the bench and can be a good leader in the clubhouse for a patchwork squad.
Edison Volquez wil anchor the rotation. Volquez was the centerpiece in the trade from Cincinnati for ace pitcher Mat Latos. When healthy at ease, Volquez can be as dominant as any hurler in the game. But will Volquez perform up to his potential in the dog days of summer if the Padres have nothing to play for? Perhaps--if he is auditioning for other teams for the Padres could ship him to a contender to get more prospects, and that may be Volquez's value to the Padres. Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis, and Eric Stults will join him in the rotation.
Huston Street, the Texas alum who had strong stints with Oakland and Colorado, is the Padres closer. But how many games Street will actually be able to close will be the question for the Padres do not seem to primed to give Street many leads heading into the ninth inning.
Nick Hundley will catch the staff after Yasmani Grandal got suspended for 50 games for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Yonder Alonzo is a solid if unspectacular first baseman. Manager Bud Black may have to find ways to motivate the Padres if the season gets ugly for them in the early months.