FanHouse continues its 2009 MLB Preview with a look at the San Diego Padres.
You know that scene in Caddyshack where Chevy Chase turns to Rodney Dangerfield and says, "You're not ... you're not good, Al. You stink" If Kevin Towers was sitting near me right now, that's what I would say. And one would imagine if there wasn't so much ownership turmoil around the Padres right now, someone else might have noticed as well.
Instead, what the Padres have is a team that won the division in 2006, then choked away another shot at the playoffs in 2007 before completely melting down in 2008.
Things are in such a sorry state of affairs that the team let all-time saves leader and face of the franchise Trevor Hoffman leave in free agency. Was it a good business decision? Probably. Is he too old? Yeah, he's getting up there. But a less desperate team might have held onto him for another year or two to let him leave the game as a Padre.
Last season, unfortunately, is going to be the harsh reality of 2009 as well, and despite the great numbers that Jake Peavy has put up as a Father, there's a very, very strong likelihood that he'll be gone sooner rather than later.
|Chris R. Young
|Cha Seung Baek
The top sports headlines of the day
In:David Eckstein, 2B (free agency); Henry Blanco, C (free agency)
Out:Trevor Hoffman, RP (free agency); Tadahito Iguchi, 2B (free agency); Michael Barrett, C (free agency); Randy Wolf, SP (trade); Khalil Greene, SS (trade); Greg Maddux, SP (trade and retired); Shawn Estes, SP (free agency)
Whither Jake Peavy? ...
At this point, it's really more of a matter of when and where than it is will he. Peavy, a franchise anchor, has looked around him, seen despair and, rightfully so, wants a trade. Sometimes, it's worth getting angry or disappointed at athletes for requesting one, but with the way that Towers shopped his ace all offseason, Peavy is right to desire a deal. He seems to have narrowed down his decision to the Braves, Cubs and Red Sox, although you have to imagine that if any other reasonable front-runner emerges by the time the Padres are out of the playoff race (which, though not so mathematically, could be April 5), Peavy would consider other teams.
So You're Telling Me There's a Chance? ...
Well, maybe. Chase Headley was a fantastic prospect, and after a mediocre debut in 2008, could become an impact player this year. Heath Bell has the capability to be a shutdown closer. Kevin Kouzmanoffalways seems like he's about to break out. Jody Gerut might shock you this season. And Adrian Gonzalez can probably be penciled in for something close to 30-100.
But actually, no, there is no chance. Peavy and Young are good pitchers, but look at that depth chart on the right; Mark Prior might have to play a big role on a pitching staff this unproven. And yes, perhaps that won't happen (in fact, it's almost certainly not going to happen) but the possibility should be terrifying enough to put a damper on the Padres' prospects for 2009. Seriously, I don't mean to be a downer, but this team signed Eckstein to play second base -- things are not going well right now and there's no reason to think they will turn around this year.
How Do We Fix It? ...
Excellent question. Thank you for asking. See, because Peavy is still such a hot commodity, the Padres do have an opportunity to actually extract a ton of prospects from a team in return. The Braves and Cubs had their early shots during the offseason and refused to offer Towers enough in order to get the Padres seriously interested. This time around, however, the teams needing Peavy will be in the middle of heated division races, particularly if the Braves, Cubs and Red Sox are still the front-runners. All three should have a reasonably tough time in their respective divisions, but still be in contention. As a result, there's a much better chance that an actual bidding war (as opposed to the psuedo-one this winter) might break out and Towers could end up landing some nice prospects to help rebuild the team.
Why You Should Watch: Because even as bad as this team should/will be, Peavy is still very good. Also, Gerut is a fantasy sleeper! I know, right? Oh, and Headley is freaking awesome. Other than that though, well, there's not a whole lot of reason to, unless you're a big San Diego fan, or are just really hoping I get burnt for mocking them.
What Defines Success: Two things. First, anything other than last place finish in the NL West With the Rockies not looking spectacular, I suppose that's possible. More importantly though, is dealing Peavy and landing a legitimately decent haul in return. Yes, that's a fairly depressing goal, but it's one that will help build for the future and make all the morbid talk surrounding the franchise cease.Related Links