Feb 2009 17

America’s Finest City sure didn’t host America’s Finest Baseball team in 2008.  If anything, the Padres looked like a group of clumsy junior high kids picked last for an intramural game.  They finished 7 games back in the NL West… and not even from first place, but 7 games worse than the 4th place San Francisco Giants!  Much like his team, Padres owner John Moores’ marriage also fell apart last year, a deal is in the works for Jeff Moorad to purchase the team. After the deal is finalized, CEO Sandy Alderson will step down from the organization.  Moores had originally been expected to anty up $15M into the organization this year but now there will no doubt be a decline in the payroll budget for a team that could really use a few deep-pocketed big players.  The only good news in this ambiguous situation is regarding Peavy. While he’s not off the chopping block yet, he will most likely not be so actively shopped around like he was during the off season.  So what does this year hold for us Friar Fans?

With 16 games in the first 17 days of the season and Bud Black liking to keep his roster pitcher heavy, he’ll no doubt carry 12 pitchers to start the season.  At the prime age of 28, Peavy should have no problem providing San Diego with an ace starter.  After missing a lot of time last season after attempting to field an Albert Pujols gunshot with his noggin, Chris Young should be healthy for 2009 so we’ll pencil him in as the #2 starter.  Cha Seung Baek will most likely fill the #3 spot as an average pitcher with good consistency but offering nothing spectacular.  The final two spots in the rotation are as up in the air as a wayward helium balloon, with Kevin Correia and Josh Geer emerging as the likely candidates.  The bullpen is looking a little bearish this year- no more raucous crowd when the melodious Hells Bells sounded at Petco after Trevor Hoffman signed with the Brewers as a free agent January 13th.  Cla Meredith and Heath Bell can both be crapshoots on the mound.  Maybe we’ll see Mark Worrell or Chris Britton take advantage of Petco’s pitcher-friendly park.  Nick Hundley will most likely be handling the balls behind the plate and for once in recent Padres history, he has a good throwing arm and his throws can potentially beat the runner to the base, keeping the opponents from languidly skipping around the corners like they’ve done in the past.

The starting lineup in the infield is something that will transpire the next couple of weeks.  All Star Adrian Gonzalez will stay on at first providing a great glove and decent offense.  It doesn’t appear Kevin Kouzmanoff’s shoulder will keep him from starting at third base Opening Day but if it does, outfielder Chase Headley could occupy that spot.  On again, off again shortstop Khalil Greene was traded to the Cardinals December 4th for minor-league reliever Mark Worwell, leaving a hole in the #6 position. Everth Cabrera, the shortstop picked up in December is quick and plays good D and should have no trouble filling the void there.  Chris Burke, David Eckstein, and Edgar Gonzalez will compete for 2nd base.

The outfield at the beginning of the season will most likely be occupied by Jody Gerut, who hasn’t played a full season since 2004, in center, and Brian Giles, who is dealing with some distracting legal issues that involve a disrespectful off-field throw down, in right. Either Headley will occupy left field, or Scott Hairston if Headley is playing third.  Cliff Floyd will DH for interleague games at American League parks and pinch hit elsewhere. Giles may end up being traded mid-season but it would require his consent. He remarked he’d be interested in the Red Sox, Yankees, and Angels but there’s not much room for outfielders on any of those teams. Outfielder Emil Brown was also just signed to a minor league contract. His batting average with Kansas City and Oakland has been in the mid 200s with decent ribbies and homers so we’ll see what potential he has when he starts warming up in Peoria.

Some coaching changes may help the Padres this year with former Padres pitcher Greg Maddux signing on as a Spring Training instructor, which seems to point to a vague “coach-in-training” position, shadowing GM Kevin Towers and his staff to learn more about the directing side of things.  With a 23 year career, he can hopefully impel some good information to the players as well.  Hitting Coach Jim Lefebvre, a former National League Rookie of the Year and 3 times Major League manager, should also offer a good swift kick in the offensive butt, using his love of statistical analysis to produce a lineup that can actually do something in the batters box.

There’s also just a week remaining before the official rosters for the World Baseball Classic will be announced. Peavy will be repping for USA and Adrian Gonzalez and Scott Hairston are expected to be playing for Team Mexico. Edgar Gonzalez is up in the air. While he has a good chance of making the roster for Mexico, he may want to stick around to compete for a starting job playing second base. Aw, Spring…  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the Padres aren’t losing… yet, at least!

1 Comment

  1. I really liked your blog with the Albert Pujols item. I think Pujols will be an instant hall-of-famer.
    I try to follow as much MLB news as I can from Caracas, Venzuela.