Sunday, February 20, 2011

Additions, Subtractions, Maturation - It's a whole new team

Add / Subtract / Multiply & Divide

Well Pitchers and Catchers have reported so I guess it's time to take a look at what Hoyer has done this off season, which has been pretty interesting to say the least. Already on paper, even with the loss of the best player they had, this team looks like it could be better than at the same time last year. So here we go.

We'll start with the obvious in Adrian Gonzalez. It was time for him to discuss a long term deal with the team, and to be perfectly frank there was no way the Padres could afford what he was going to demand. So they parted ways and traded him to the Boston Redsox, which also freed up some payroll room.

There there was Jon Garland who was the work horse for this team last year and they chose not to bring back. This is maybe the only piece that they still have yet to address, and to many still appears like a hole that needs filling.

Other players of note that are not coming back David Eckstein, Yorvit Torrealba, (another key loss ) Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica, Miguel Tejada, Matt Stairs, Chris Young, Scott Hairston and brother Jerry Hairston Jr.(also a key loss). Some of these players will be missed, but with others it's addition by subtraction.

Now lets talk about some key additions that were made that should offset any losses suffered by Adrian going to the Redsox.

Orlando Hudson
will be taking over at 2b, and lets be honest here, he's a pretty large upgrade to Eckstein on both sides of the ball. We should actually see something in the way of production , other than hustle and grit, from the 2b spot in the order. He has the ability to drive in runs, hit for gap power in a ballpark built for that, and is a very good defensive player.

Jason Bartlett
will be taking over the SS duties. He's a guy who has been playing in the toughest division in baseball, played under that pressure and now brings a much needed stability to a position that has been a problem for a few years. Everth Cabrera didn't evolve quite like they had hoped, and Miguel Tejada was a very nice mid-season addition last year, but he was not the long term solution. The last time this team had a legitimate SS manning the spot was Kahlil Greene, and his final time spent here was less than impressive, so this acquisition should be some kind of nice.

Cameron Maybin will be the new CFer. He brings a legitimate 5 tools (hit, hit for power, run, throw & play defense) to the position, is still only 23 years old, and was at one time a more highly touted prospect than guys like Evan Longoria. He still has yet to put it all together, but a fresh start is what many think he needs to finally kick start his career. He will also bring far more tools to the ballpark on a daily basis than any CFer since Mike Cameron, and maybe even more than him. Considering last year the best choice for CF was Gwynn Jr., this stands to be quite a bit of a upgrade overall.

Brad Hawpe is your new 1b and he will likely share time with Jorge Cantu. Together these two will do their best to fill in where Adrian Gonzalez left off, and if they both have their career avg types of seasons the loss of Adrian will be far less than what many expect. Many don't realize that Hawpe was a 1b in the minors, and converted to the OF due to being blocked by Todd Helton. So he has experience at 1b, and shouldn't miss too much of a beat moving back. Cantu can also play 3rd, which will allow Bud Black to spell Headley from time to time hopefully keeping him from getting run down.
Approx. Avg Seasons -
Hawpe- 20HR's / 80RBI / .280BA
Cantu - 16HR's / 76RBI / .274BA

Aaron Harang
was brought in to help fill the SP role vacated by Jon Garland. He's a local boy who is looking to have a bounce back season. He is an injury risk, but if he can manage to remain reasonably healthy he should benefit by playing in Petco and the NLWest ballparks. He also wont be asked to be a #1 type of arm so there wont be any added pressure from that respect.

Ryan Ludwick wasn't with this team to begin last year, and the hope is that he'll go back to his typical year. If he does this the LF position will be tremendously upgraded over where it started off last year.

Another year of maturity for guys like Headley, Venable, Hundley should lead to better years by all. So since I'm a Padre fan and this is a Padres blog, I'm going to remain on the positive side of things where they are all concerned and take the leap that they will all have better (not sure how much) years than last and call their positions upgraded as a result.

So to recap from a position player standpoint:
1b - Downgrade (how much remains to be seen as the players involved could combine for good years)
2b - Big Upgrade
3b - Upgrade (due to maturity)
SS - Upgrade
LF - Upgrade
CF - Big Upgrade
RF - Upgrade (due to maturity)
C - Upgrade (due to maturity)

So on paper the starting lineup looks like it could be better overall, compared to this same time last year. That should be really good news to Padre fans out there and it shows just how hard Hoyer and the rest of the Front Office worked to make things happen. Now the players need to go out there and get it done.

The Bench and Bullpen look strong if not stronger as a whole also but we'll get into them next time. And like I said earlier the Starting Pitching might be the one spot that this team still needs to address. Losing Garland and replacing him with Harang and expecting Harang to have a Garland type of season is quite a gamble. We'll also get into that next time so keep checking back.

Play Ball !!!

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