Once upon a time, the Padres pulled off what turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in recent memory. After the 2005 season, they shipped Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka (along with a minor-leaguer) to the Rangers for Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Young and Termel Sledge. While Sledge didn’t do much for the Padres, Young turned into a very good pitcher in cavernous Petco Park, while Adrian Gonzalez became one of the best slugging first basemen of the last few years.
Now it’s 2011, and the Padres are back to square one. Gonzalez has been shipped to Boston for top prospect Casey Kelly and a few other minor-leaguers. Young has signed with the New York Mets. To make matters worse, long-time ace Jake Peavy is now toiling away in the American League. Where does that leave the Padres? With one quality starting pitcher, one of the best closers in baseball and absolutely nothing to get excited about on offense. It promises to be a long year for Padre fans, but they can hold out hope that the next Gonzalez-Young trade is right around the corner.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Nick Hundley||.249||.308||.418||33||8||43||0||273|
|1B Brad Hawpe||.245||.338||.419||31||9||44||2||298||w/2T|
|2B Orlando Hudson||.268||.338||.372||80||6||37||10||497||w/MIN|
|SS Jason Bartlett||.254||.324||.350||71||4||47||11||468||w/TB|
|3B Chase Headley||.264||.327||.375||77||11||58||17||610|
|LF Will Venable||.245||.324||.408||60||13||51||29||392|
|CF Cameron Maybin||.234||.302||.361||46||8||28||9||291||w/FLA|
|RF Ryan Ludwick||.251||.325||.418||63||17||69||0||490||w/2T|
Unsettled: First base and the outfield. Kyle Blanks is recovering from Tommy John surgery, and the young slugger is likely the best remaining hitter left in San Diego. He started his career at first base, but the Padres moved him to the outfield to get him to the majors as quickly as possible. When he returns, he could go back to first base or take left field from Will Venable. Jorge Cantu was also signed to a cheap deal and could factor into the playing time split at first. If Hawpe doesn’t take to first base, he could shift to the outfield and make room for either Cantu or Blanks.
Target: Better hitters? The best batting average of this group was Orlando Hudson’s .268, the best OBP came from both Hudson and Hawpe at .338 and Hawpe’s .419 slugging percentage led this bunch. Put those ratios together and you’re looking at one pretty mediocre player, so the fact that those are the team-best marks doesn’t speak well for this offense. Will Venable offers a nice power/speed combo, while Chase Headley has enough talent to take the next step forward in his progression at some point. Fantasy owners would be better off avoiding this mess altogether.
|Mat Latos (R)||14-10||2.92||1.08||189||50||184.2|
|Clayton Richard (L)||14-9||3.75||1.41||153||78||201.2|
|Aaron Harang (R)||6-7||5.32||1.59||82||38||111.2||w/CIN|
|Wade LeBlanc (L)||8-12||4.25||1.42||110||51||146|
|Cory Luebke (L)||10-1||2.68||0.98||88||29||114.0||in MiLB|
Unsettled: Former top pick Tim Stauffer pitched 25 games in relief while starting seven times in 2010, compiling a 1.85 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 61:24 K:BB ratio. If someone falters or Luebke proves to be unready for the majors, Stauffer could step in as a fifth starter. Dustin Moseley, a transplant from New York, is another option for the fifth spot in the rotation, though he’s more likely to be used in relief.
Target: Matt Latos, Aaron Harang Cory Luebke. Latos has quickly emerged as one of the best starters in the National League, with a K:BB ratio near 4.0, a K:9 ratio over 9.0 and a sub-3.00 ERA. Those numbers could be the norm for this young ace, especially pitching half the time in San Diego. Luebke was amazing in the minors last season, especially considering half his stats came from the hitter-friendly Texas League. Don’t sleep on Harang, who is used to putting up K:BB ratios of 3.0 or better and has posted very good numbers in 38.2 Petco Park innings over his career.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|Heath Bell (R)||47||1.93||1.20||86||28||70.0|
|Mike Adams (R)||0||1.76||1.07||73||23||66.2|
Chasing Saves: There’s no mystery who’s getting the ball in the ninth inning for the Padres. Heath Bell has seamlessly filled the hole left by future Hall-of-Famer Trevor Hoffman and should be one of the top closers taken in fantasy drafts. Bell, however, is a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline, and that means there are saves to be chased for owners willing to be patient. Adams has been fantastic as the setup man and could easily replace Bell if need be. Luke Gregerson, who unlike Adams picked up a few saves last season, could also move to the ninth inning. Both setup men are worth owning in fantasy leagues, even if just for the great K:9, ERA and WHIP.
There are likely to be few Padres called out in fantasy drafts this year. In fact, only Latos and Bell are guaranteed to be drafted in most leagues. Anyone looking for interesting sleepers would be wise to avoid the offense altogether and look at the Padres pitching. Harang, Luebke, Stauffer and even incumbents Wade LeBlanc and Clayton Richard are interesting names, while bullpen studs Adam and Gregerson should have positive fantasy value even while they aren’t picking up saves.
Check back tomorrow for our look at the San Francisco Giants.
R.J. White is a fantasy blogger at the sports site FanHouse. Check out his work both here and there, and feel free to talk to him in the forums, where he posts under the name daullaz.
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