Similar to the Oakland Athletics, my question is: When do you stop trading your best players and stick with the team you got? Also similar to the A's, they have set their big club back a little bit by making the Mat Latos deal. I agree with the baseball experts that the Padres made out very well in this trade, but it would be far fetched to see their new acquisitions making a difference in the first year. Yonder Alonso will be a very good hitting 1B, but may not even be the opening day starter due to last season's success story, Jesus Guzman, who came out of nowhere. They hope to get similar numbers from Huston Street than they did from Heath Bell. I think thats a reach as Bell is a much better pitcher right now. They are hoping RHP Andrew Cashner can fill the voids left when Mike Adams was traded last year and Chad Qualls left as a free agent. Their starting rotation looks weaker after also trading Wade LeBlanc to Miami and losing Aaron Harang, who won 14 games for them in 2011, to the Dodgers.
Edison Volquez looks like he will anchor the starting rotation. He has battled injuries and inconsistency and has nowhere near the upside of Latos. Clayton Richard looks to rebound from an injury rattled 2011. Cory Lubke was a success story after starting the year in the bullpen and former number one draft pick Tim Stauffer will be back. The five spot in the rotation will be between 24 year old Anthony Bass and perhaps journeyman Micah Owings. The bullpen needs Street be the shutdown closer Bell was, but the Padres know this is unlikely. Cashner may be the closer of the future and Luke Gregorson is still there. The pitching staff as a whole takes several steps back from 2011 and I think they have lost the home field advantage the had due to their spacious ballpark. To have a chance to be competitive, they need Volquez and Richard to be healthy and pitch their best, Lubke to build on his 2011 and Stauffer to come close to the pitcher the Padres drafted. Looks like too much of a task.
They traded for Carlos Quentin of the White Sox to play RF. Hopefully Quentin doesn't get frustrated losing HR in Petco Park. Alonso will battle with Guzman for the starting 1B job, with the loser battling Kyle Blanks for the starting LF job. Blanks could be a wild card as he is finally healthy as he has tremendous power. Chase Headley will play 3B, with Jason Bartlett at SS and Orlando Hudson at 2B. Yasmani Grandal, acquired from Cincinnati in the Latos deal, will battle incumbent Nick Hundley and fellow newcomer John Baker for the starting catcher job. There is still a chance that Hundley gets traded before opening day for some pitching help. Cameron Maybin is their starting CF and possible franchise player and their bench looks good with Wil Venable, Mark Kotsay, Chris Denorfia and either Guzman, Blanks or Alonso.
I see too many things having to go right for the Padres to have a big season. They are a shell of the team they were in 2010, when they surprisingly let the NL West for most of the season. They have too many questions with the starting pitching and despite adding Quentin and Alonso, have very little protection in their lineup. Las Vegas gives them an over/under of 73.5. I take the under and see them finishing last in the NL West with a record of 68-94. This will be a good season for some of the younger players such as Alonso, Grandal, Cashner, Bass and Luebke to get their feet wet. They can also be the players to keep San Diego in the race. I just don't see it happening. They should be thankful to have Bud Black as their manager, a man who will keep the team's head up no matter what.