Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Looking Ahead - Your 2011 Padres

Tuesday October 5th, 2010

The 2010 season is over and all we have left as Padres fans is to look forward to 2011.

So lets set the table.

The Ownership Situation -

With the Moores divorce nearing a final resolution after more than 2 years and with Moorad's group near 50% ownership, the Padres in 2011 will have both a solid core of good young players and more money for payroll to work with.

What we can be fairly certain of -

The Padres will pick up his ridiculously low option and Adrian Gonzalez will be the central figure in the 2011 Padres lineup. No, the Padres are not going to trade Gonzalez in the offseason. He is too good and too cheap to trade. Gonzalez back at 1B for the Padres in 2011.

Kevin Correia will be a FA at the end of the season and will not be back as a starter. He has struggled since his brothers death and likely needs a change of scenery from his home town San Diego.

The Hairston boys were a nice story and Jerry Jr had a decent season before the injury in late August, but at $2 million plus each its unlikely that the Padres sign either for 2011.

Tejada is a FA and likely won't be back unless he is willing to take a huge cut in pay from the $5 million he earned in 2010 AND agrees to platoon with Cabrera. I don't see Tejada accepting a $1-$2 million contract or being a bit player and .269/.312 is not worth much more than $1 million , so he is gone.

The Padres will not pick up the $8.5 million option on Chris Young. They may decline the option and still resign him for a lower price. Hoyer said yesterday that he would like to see Young back with Padres in 2011.

Matt Stairs will be coaching hockey where he belongs in 2011. 

Latos will be back and will top the starting rotation. At 23 he is arguably the best young pitcher in baseball.

The Starting pitching led by Latos & Richard and the bullpen with nearly everone back will still be a force to be reckoned with.

There are ALOT of good young players under team control for cheap in 2011.

Bell, Adams, Mujica and Ludwick will be looking at big raises in arbitration for the 2011 season.

The question marks are -
  • Are the Padres going to pick up the options on Garland and Torrealba?
  • Will they resign Eckstein?
  • Will Bell be back at the more than $7 million he will command in final year of arbitration?
  • Will the Padres invite Ludwick back for his final year of arbitration if it means a raise over the $5.45 million he is earning this year?
  • Will Padres pickup the option of Chris Young? Or resign him at a lower price?
  • An even more important question is will the Padres be players in the free agent market?
To me the Padres picking up Garlands $6.75 million option should be a no brainer. He was 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA over 200.0 IP. The team went 18-15 in games he started. On the FA market I don't see a better pitcher for less money.

Remember though, Garland can opt out of the contract, too. Its not just the Padres choice. If he wants more money, he can leave. Still I think he is back in a Padres uniform in 2011.

Torrealba is a tougher choice. He has been nothing short of great for Padres this season. Hitting .271 while handling the young pitching staff incredibly well, being a mentor for Nick Hundley and throwing in awesome defense. But, and its a big but, his contract calls for a $3.5 million salary in 2011. That is a lot of money for a platoon catcher.

The Padres don't have a great catching prospect knocking on the door, with Stewart and Ryan being the only real candidates, so in my eye the Padres pick up Torrealba's option.

The other hole in the Padres lineup in 2011 is middle infield. While I except the Padres to resign Eckstein, I don't expect Tejada to be back. Everth Cabrera is still well thought of in the organization and Tejada will likely price himself out of the Padres picture. That is unless he is willing to take an Eckstein-like contract.

The top 2B and SS prospects in the system fall short of being ML ready.

Ludwick will likely NOT be back. He hit .211 as a Padre with less power than Eckstein. .631 OPS in RF? As an arbitration eligible player he is looking at a raise over his $5.45 million salary in 2010 and that just isn't going to happen with the Padres.

Barring any free agent acquisitions or trades, the lineup will likely be -

Starting 8
1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $5.5 million
2B - David Eckstein - $1 million
SS - Everth Cabrera - $430k
3B - Chase Headley - $430k
LF - Aaron Cunningham - $430k
CF - Chris Denorfia - This is a platoon position at this point. $430k
RF - Will Venable  - $430k  (or Ryan Ludwick if cheap enough)
C  - Nick Hundley - $430k

Bench -
Yorvit Torrealba - $3.5 million
Venable - IF Ludwick returns - $430K
Gwynn - If Ludwick DOESN'T return - $430k
Kyle Blanks - LF/RF/1B - $430k
Utilty Player - ???

Starting Rotation -
RHP - Mat Latos - $430k
RHP - Jon Garland - $6.75 million
LHP - Clayton Richard - $430k
RHP - Tim Stauffer - $430k
LHP - Wade LeBlanc - $430k

CL - Heath Bell - Due a huge raise in arbitration - $7-8 million
RH - Mike Adams - Due a huge raise in arbitration - $2.5-3.5 million
RH - Luke Gregerson - $430k
RH - Edward Mujica - $1 million
RH - Ryan Webb - $430k
LH - Joe Thatcher - $430k
RH - Ernesto Frieri $430k (or)
LH - Aaron Poreda or Cesar Ramos

That lineup puts the Padres salaries at just under $40 million in 2011 or about the same as 2010.

Which begs the question, what other moves can the Padres make?

The Padres can resign Ludwick.
Ludwick will be in his last year of arbitration eligibility and will be looking at a raise over the $5.45 million he made in 2010, but his .251 with 17 home runs is really no better than the Padres could expect from Venable or Blanks. He won't be back if he expects to even make as much as 2010.

The Padres can go after Carl Crawford
The 28 year old Crawford is really the only free agent outfielder worth making a run at. He will be looking at a long term contract worth $12-15 million/year. A little rich for the Padres blood. He will probably end up being a Yankee or a Red Sox.

The Padres can go after a FA pitcher.
Cliff Lee, Ted Lilly, & Brandon Webb are all names that will be mentioned often. All will be asking for $10 million plus with Lee likely looking at $16 plus million per season. Maybe Webb will be willing to take a Padres discount to prove he still has it after missing all of 2010, but I don't see the pitching rich Padres going after any of these guys.

The Padres can trade Heath Bell. 
They could likely get a good young OF prospect for Bell and let Adams or Gregerson take over the closer duties. I don't think that will happen though. Bell will still be a relative bargain in 2011 at $7-8 million.

The Padres could go after a 2B, SS or 3B in free agency or trade.
These are the FA options - with thanks to Cots Baseball Contracts

Second Basemen

Willie Bloomquist CIN
Mark Ellis OAK *
Akinori Iwamura PIT
Jose Lopez SEA *
Kaz Matsui COL
Aaron Miles STL

Alex Gonzalez ATL
Cristian Guzman TEX
J.J. Hardy MIN
Omar Infante ATL *
Cesar Izturis BAL
Derek Jeter NYY
Julio Lugo BAL
Jhonny Peralta DET *
Edgar Renteria SF *
Jose Reyes NYM *
Jimmy Rollins PHI *
Ramon Vazquez HOU

Third Basemen
Garrett Atkins FA
Adrian Beltre BOS *
Jorge Cantu TEX
Eric Chavez OAK *
Pedro Feliz STL
Bill Hall BOS *
Brandon Inge DET
Maicer Izturis LAA
Mike Lowell BOS
Melvin Mora COL
Nick Punto MIN *
Ty Wigginton BAL

The guys with the asterisks have an option for 2011. The rest of them are not a very attractive lot. I don't see a single one that is a big improvement in performance for the Padres, but they would be a big increase in salary.

Guys like Beltre, Reyes, and Rollins will have their options picked up and their salaries would be rich for Padres blood even if they could trade for them. Omar Infante would be the only one that has an affordable salary (by Padres standards) but its highly unlikely Atlanta lets him go.

So there it is.
The Padres 2011 team with a payroll very similar to 2010. Hoyer and Moorad have already said the Padres will increase payroll for 2011. Of course they also said the Padres would spend more money in 2010 and they didn't so take that for what its worth.

As eternally hopeful fans we can always hope that the Padres make a big splash on a good young player like Crawford or make a trade for a promising prospect, but likely this is the team we will see on the field in 2011 with some minor changes and additions.

I have had my say. Now what do you think?