The Padres will start their second season under manager Andy Green, himself just 39 years-old. The Pads finished 2016 with a 78-94 record, one which matched their level of competitiveness. One positive was the performance of first baseman Myers, who hit 28 home runs and made his first All Star team. Another first for Wil was the fact that he made it through a full season without hitting the disabled list. Second baseman Ryan Schimpf hit 20 home runs last season and hope is that young top prospects Hunter Renfroe (right field), Manuel Margot (center field) and Austin Hedges (catcher) can immediately help this season. If not, it expects to be a long season for the Padres, but one that could be productive from a player development perspective.
Right hand pitcher Anderson Espinosa came over from the Boston Red Sox last season in a trade for left handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz. He ranks as MLB's 25th best prospect while former Red Sox OF Margot ranks as the game's 23rd. RF Renfroe ranks 42 while right handed pitcher Cal Quantrill, son of former MLB reliever Paul, ranks number 97. It is reasonable for the Padres to see Espinosa and Quantrill this season as they look to incorporate some youth into a rough looking pitching staff. That being said, it is most likely both could be up closer to September. First baseman Josh Naylor came over in the Cashner trade last season from Miami.
The pitching staff as it currently sits seems like San Diego's Achilles heel. If you average five innings over the course of 162 games, that means a team needs 810 innings from a series of pitchers. Coming into the off season, the Padres Luis Perdomo (9 wins, 10 losses, 5.71 earned run average with a team high just under 147 innings pitched) and Christian Friedrich (5-12, 4.80) were the best representation of the Padres holdovers. The signed left hander Clayton Richard towards the end of last season and Richard pitched really well in nine starts. The Padres will attempt to fill those 810 innings with free agent signings Jhoulys Chacin, Trevor Cahill, Jered Weaver and Jarred Cosart in addition to Perdomo, Friedrich and Richard. Perhaps the Padres will look to use their starters in shorter segments to better combat match up disadvantages. With all these questions, every idea has to be considered.
The Padres bullpen will be led by reliever Brandon Maurer (72 K's in just less than 70 IP) and Carter Capps, who is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery. Left handed reliever Brad Hand (4-4, 2.92, 82 games pitched) and right handed reliever Ryan Buchter (3-0, 2.86, 67 games) both pitched pretty well last season and could be part of a better than anticipated bullpen if Capps and Maurer pitch well. In all honesty, Capps can be an intriguing pitcher for them. He has more of a closer's mentality than Maurer. Perhaps the latter can improve on his 2016 season, which left some to be desired.
The Padres lineup is led by their one positive 2015 season acquisition, Myers. Yangervis Solarte (.286, 15, 71 in just 109 games) is Myers most proven protection in the batting order. The future looks good with Margot, Renfroe and Hedges but the trio combined to play in 10, 11 and 8 games, respectively, in the 2016 season. Schimpf hit his 20 home runs in just 89 games and GM Preller is still looking for a competitive option to challenge shortstop incumbent Luis Sardinas. Outfielders Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski will start the year in left and center and both will compete for the starting left field job once Margot is ready to play every day. Going with Margot as the starting center fielder, this is the lineup I would use to start the season- Margot CF, Solarte 3B, Schimpf 2B, Myers 1B, Renfroe RF, Hedges C, Jankowski LF, Sardinas SS.
Veterans Erick Aybar, Collin Cowgill, Tony Cruz, Jabari Blash and Brett Wallace are all in camp with the intention of making this roster. They likely have a chance to be the Padres bench this coming season. Dickerson and Corey Spangenberg have the best opportunity to provide depth if there is an injury in camp.
The Padres future looks a lot brighter than it did a year ago. Fans should be excited over the young players who will be playing every day but should be a little cautious over what they see immediately. Perhaps Hedges, Margot, Renfroe and others may need a little more seasoning before they can be the assumed future of the franchise. Manager Green has his hands full in his second season behind the bench. The Padres over/ under number is set at 64.5 and I think it is a fairly accurate one in a season where I disagree with a lot of the O/U's. I still go with the under, having the Padres at 62-100, last place in the National League West division.