Sunday, March 16, 2008

30 Teams in 30 Days: San Diego Padres




So I just realized that the Giants preview was labeled as the Padres for two days. Sorry for the error. THESE are the Padres.

A look back: San Diego was so close to making the playoffs, coming up just short against the Colorado Rockies in the one-game playoff the teams played to determine who would become the wild card. With that being the case, the Padres have to be considered a team that could easily challenge for a playoff spot. But has San Diego built its team too well for its own park? The Padres are once again good pitching, no hitting in Petco Park, an extreme pitcher's haven.

Positives on the field: The rotation is very strong. Jake Peavy and Chris Young are both quality starters, and Greg Maddux is still strong in his later years as a No. 3 pitcher. That leaves Randy Wolf as a No. 4 guy, not bad at all. The No. 5 would be Mark Prior if he could ever stay healthy. When the Padres have a lead, they can hand it to Trevor Hoffman, the career leader in saves. On top of that, Petco Park is a dream for pitchers, and confidence soars when a pitcher gets used to watching his mistakes land in the glove of his outfielders.

Negatives on the field: The Padres lack the bats that are necessary to go any deeper than making the playoffs, even in the National League. Brian Giles's and Jim Edmonds's best years are behind them, Tad Iguchi is not a fantastic option at second base, and although Khalil Greene and Adrian Gonzalez are fine power hitters, the dimensions of Petco hurt the hitters as much as they help the pitchers. If they get into a hole, one swing can't bring San Diego back into a game. The outfield is a huge question mark, although the infield looks acceptable.

Outlook: San Diego can keep runs off the board, but can they put them on the board? That might be the difference in an NL West race with little room to separate first place from the abyss above the Giants. If the Padres don't have the hitting, the pitching will have to overcompensate to make up for the slack. Anything less, and the Padres might not get that extra game to try to make the playoffs ahead of Arizona and Colorado.

Projected finish: 3rd in NL West. Season opener is March 31 against Houston at Petco Park.

Spring base: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, Ariz. The team plays its games in Phoenix and Tucson, sharing the stadium with the Seattle Mariners.

Fan of the team?: Check out Gaslamp Ball, the Padres fan community.

Come back tomorrow: The road trip heads into the mountains and visits the National League champions, the...Colorado Rockies? Okay, whatever.

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Brian McComas.

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