Guide Preview: San Diego Padres

Well, it’s the end of the week, and that brings us to the final NL West team preview – the San Diego Padres. There’s a lot going on with the Padres these days, and very little of it is good. I really feel bad for Padres fans – they’re team is stuck in a really bad situation, and there’s very little chance of them getting out of it cleanly. Hopefully, as the organization goes through these changes, they make the best possible moves that can pay dividends for the team in the near future. In the immediate future, though, it’s hard to see much good happening for the Pads.

As before, this preview is meant to be a summary of what the three main baseball preview magazines are saying about the team’s 2009 season. I’ve included quotes and other information from each of the them – Sporting News, Athlon, and Lindy’s. I’ve also included some statistics about each magazines’ success at predictions over the last ten years. Be sure to check out the Team-by-Team Season Preview index for other guide previews over the next few weeks.

My original intention was to completely refrain from providing any opinion. I was afraid that I would have too much to say about some teams and too little about others. But, after doing a few of these now, I feel like there’s room for some personal commentary. I think it’ll add a little bit of personality to the preview. But I don’t want to make my opinion the focus of the post, so I’ll put it near the end. Please feel free to ignore it; I’ve never claimed to be the most knowledgeable person when it comes to all 30 teams. With that said, on with the “combined” team preview for the…

San Diego Padres
Last Year: 63 – 99, 5th Place, NL West

Predictions Since 1999
This Year Last Year Avg Pred. Avg Finish
Sporting News 5 4 3.625* 3.75*
Athlon 5 4 4.25** 4**
Lindy’s 5 4

* Sporting News average includes preview guides from these years: 1999 – 2001, 2003 – 2004, 2006 – 2008
** Athlon average includes preview guides from these years: 1999 – 2003, 2006 – 2008

Team Notes

The story of San Diego’s offseason was not the typical one of optimism. Instead, it was all about the problems in the team’s front-office, and the upheaval that it caused. This was not unnoticed by the writers.

“Just when it appeared the franchise had hit bottom, the downward spiral continued. Instead of providing a respite from despair, the Padres’ offseason only served to amplify what ails them.

The winter got off to a rough start when the Padres informed Trevor Hoffman, the team’s record-setting closer and face of the franchise, that they don’t intend to bring him back in 2009. The Padres didn’t handle the parting as skillfully as they should have, and Hoffman said he felt ‘blindsided’ by the team’s treatment.

Then general manager Kevin Towers was forced to entertain trade offers for the team’s most desirable commodity, starter Jake Peavy. The Padres are having financial issues, in large part because of owner John Moores’ divorce, so they began shopping Peavy 10 months after signing him to a three year, $52 million extension. Only after a proposed trade with the Cubs fell through did it appear likely that Peavy would be staying put.

While the Padres’ payroll is being cut from $73 million to about $40 million, the team lacks the nucleus of homegrown talent to keep pace. A shortage of prospects in the pipeline has caught up with them in a division where Arizona, Los Angeles, and Colorado have proven adept at mining talent on the farm. (Lindy’s)”

It’s truly a depressing aspect of the organization, but it doesn’t need to be dwelt on too much. It’s obviously a major issue, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t positives for the team that deserve a little mention. Jake Peavy is definitely number one on that list (assuming he doesn’t get dealt, of course).

“The Padres’ party line is that they lost 99 games with Peavy, but they certainly didn’t lose 99 games because of Peavy. He had a dropoff from his Cy Young Award-winning season of 2007 but remains a fiery competitor who’s not afraid to voice his opinion about the team’s direction. (Athlon)”

The Padres also have a star in first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez, an underappreciated player who was an All-Star last season and who won the Gold Glove.

“Gonzalez, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, is a perfect example of the value of patience. Unable to find a spot in the lineup with the Marlins and Rangers, the San Diego native returned home and has paid dividends for the Padres, with a combined 90 home runs and 301 RBIs in the last three seasons. (TSN)”

Spotlight Quote

I’m not trying to dwell on the negatives, but it would be dishones to ignore them. Here’s one last dose of pessimism from TSN’s “View from the Other Dugout”:

“What a sad state of affairs. So much for all that talk about a new park providing a basis for long-term competitiveness of a team. This is a bad team and it doesn’t have any reason to expect to get better. It’s one thing to go with young players. The problem for the Padres is they don’t have young players to develop. The farm system is a mess

They have two players that other teams would want. There is Jake Peavy, who they spent the winter trying to trade so they could slash payroll. What the heck – he’ll be worn out by the time this team has a chance to compete anyway. Then there is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. He has been a great story since he got to the Padres. He is one of the best hitters in the game.”

Commentary

Two years ago, the Padres had to play a one-game playoff game with the World Series-bound Rockies to determine which of the two 89-win teams would claim the Wild Card. It was a disappointing end to the season – ask any Padre fan about that Holliday play-at-the-plate – but there was plenty of reason for hope the next year. Something happened that off-season, and the Padres entered 2008 with much lower expectations. Even with those low expectations – all three of these preview magazines predicted a 4th place finish – the Padres underperformed, losing 99 games.

And then this offseason came around, and it got even worse. There was the unforgivable way they treated future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman, in an effort to “save money”, yet they activated Brian Giles’ $9 million club option. They also shopped around Jake Peavy, but failed to get the Cubs to bite fully. From what I understand, this is all a result of the owner’s divorce proceedings. It’s a sad circumstance, and I hope the club’s “sale” to Jeff Moorad works out well. But with all the turmoil in the club and with all the cost-cutting moves that they’ve had to make, it’s impossible to predict good things for this team.

Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez are still quality players, and the team could always find some sort of gear that no one suspects is there, but it’s pretty unlikely. It’s a good thing for the other teams in the West, as it makes the division that much easier to win, but that’s not going to make any San Diego fan happy. I certainly hope for the fans’ sakes that the Padres put up a respectable season, but I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Larry Granillo

About Larry Granillo

Larry Granillo has been writing Wezen Ball since 2008 and has dealt with such touchy topics as Charlie Brown's baseball stats and Ferris Bueller's day off. In 2010, he got the bright idea to time every home run trot in baseball; he has been missing ever since.

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