Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Why the Padres CAN compete in 2010

Wednesday December 9, 2009

The Padres had a pretty good team in 2009 that was decimated by injuries. I believe that with a few key additions the Padres can compete in the NL West in 2010.

This is pretty stream of consciousness, but I think once you see my argument, you will at least have to think twice about writing off the Padres in 2010.

The Padres played .527 baseball the 2nd half of the season and .596 baseball from July 27th on. That after playing .500 baseball in both April and May.

Throw out a stretch from June 1st to the All star break when the Padres went 11-27 and the Padres played 64-60 baseball the rest of the year.

No way around it, that is good baseball from a group of young baseball players. No mirage there. The mirage is the 11-27 stretch in the middle of the season when the starting rotation was devastated by injuries.

Now the pitching staff has incredible depth to deal with the inevitable injuries, but no real veteran top of the rotation guy in there.

We don't know how Sheets will respond once he returns from this latest injury, but his career averages are enough to put him at or near the top of the Padres current rotation. 27 starts and double digit wins for maybe $5 - $7 million on a 1 year deal.

Same can be said for Rich Harden although he may get closer to $7 million on a one year deal and he has averaged only 20 starts over the last 6 seasons.

Mulder, who is 32 years old, was a #1-#2 starter before injuries set in.  No one knows how well he will pitch in 2010, but certainly he is worth bringing in on a incentive laden 1 year deal, just like Prior was. If you win, you win big. If you lose it doesn't cost you much.

Uggla is available in trade and the Marlins will be looking for only prospects and young, controllable player in return. The Padres have Kouzmanoff and lots of good young prospects they could trade for him. He is also a 30 HR RHB at 2B. How many of those are there? One other, Chase Utley.

That move also gives the Padres a chance to move Eckstein to a middle infield utility position that the team does not have now.

It adds 25-30 home runs at a non run producing position and shores up the bench at the same time.

Add a decent power hitting catcher like Miguel Olivo and you have a solid team that can make a run at the NL West.

The Dodgers will be lucky to resign Wolf (update - Wolf signed with the Brewers today) and its doubtful they will be in the running for any major FA with the impending divorce there. Their pitching was suspect in 2009 and they may be losing Belliard, Hudson, Loretta, Thome, Garland, Padilla, Wolf and Weaver.

The Diamondbacks sunk, when most expected they would get better and they are going to be without Webb, Davis, Garland, and Petit to start 2010. Their OPS+ in 2009 was among the lowest in the league(while the Padres was above league average). They made a huge trade yesterday giving up two good young pitching prospects in Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth for Edwin Jackson of the Tigers and Ian Kennedy of the Yankees. In my opinion they have made a marginal improvement in their pitching staff for a huge leap in costs.

The Rockies will be cutting payroll with Marquis and his 15 wins, Josh Fogg, Joe Beimel, Garret Atkins, Yorvit Torrealba,  Alan Embree, Herges and possibly Rafael Betancourt  leaving the team.  They will still be good and will probably be contenders in the NL West as well.

The Giants will still have great pitching, Lincecum's marijuana bust not withstanding, but their offense was the worst in baseball in 2009 and it would take several huge signings to make it any good.

With a big bat to protect Adrian in the batting order and a #2 starter added to a core of good young players the Padres should be able to contend in a weakened West.

What do you think? Who would you sign? What trades would you make to help the Padres contend in 2010?

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