San Diego Padres Preview

With the fifth team in the National League West, I will be discussing the team that (in my mind) looks to be the worst in baseball.  Think about it this way, having the general manager as the man featured on the cover photo says all you need to know about the Padres.  Granted, AJ Preller's tenure has been frantic, crazy, and really weird, but at least he seems like he is trying to rebuild.  This year, building on the farm system should be the goal, as they are only a middle of the pack team right now (and should dip as two of their top three prospects are projected starters) and their big league depth is awful.

PROJECTED ROTATION: Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin, Christian Friedrich, Trevor Cahill, Paul Clemens
With a true lack of quality starting pitching depth after getting rid of Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, James Shields and Drew Pomeranz, the Padres needed to bring in some cheap, veteran talent.  Well, talent might be a strong word for the grouping of Clayton Richard, Jhoulys Chacin and Trevor Cahill, but all of them should be able to eat up innings.  Friedrich and Clemens are the best remaining starting pitchers in my opinion, but nobody really has a guaranteed place or a guaranteed spot in the rotation.  Another newcomer, Jarred Cosart, is in the hunt as well, although I have him projected in the bullpen.  Luis Perdomo and Cesar Vargas are other contenders for rotation spots.

BULLPEN: Ryan Buchter (CL), Brad Hand, Brandon Maurer, Kevin Quackenbush, Keith Hessler, Buddy Baumann, Joe Torres, Jarred Cosart
If you are looking for the two most underrated relievers in baseball, they might both be right here in San Diego, in Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand.  Neither had the best luck closing games last season, but blown saves in San Diego was a big part of why they struggled to win ball games.  Brandon Maurer could also fight for the closer's job, but I think he is better as a setup man.  Quackenbush is a quality reliever as well, and with the bullpen rounding out with Hessler, Baumann, Torres and Cosart, San Diego quietly has a solid bullpen.  I think it actually is the strength of the team at the moment.

CATCHERS: Austin Hedges, Christian Bethancourt
This is a nice duo of young catchers, and Austin Hedges finally has a chance to become the full time starter.  Formally a highly touted prospect, Hedges struggled to find playing time behind Derek Norris and Bethancourt.  However, he has his chance now, and there are no highly rated catchers in the Padres' farm system, so the job will be his to lose for a few years.  Bethancourt is a nice backup, and can also spell some of the outfield positions.  Luis Torrens is also on the roster, but I'd say the job is pretty safe for the former two catchers.

INFIELDERS: Wil Myers, Yangervis Solarte, Ryan Schimpf, Cory Spangenberg, Luis Sardinas, Jose Rondon
If you are looking for a glaring hole on the San Diego roster, look at shortstop.  Luis Sardinas, a player who has been on what seems like 10 teams in the past three seasons, is the starter at the moment.  He did hit .287 in 100+ at bats for the Padres last year, but I don't know if they can really count on him for a full year at this point.  There will also be a battle for second base between Schimpf and Spangenberg.  Spangenberg started off last year as the starter, but his injury led to Schimpf taking over and putting on a surprising display of power.  Wil Myers is a key piece for the future and will be at first, where Solarte is the clear cut third baseman.  Jose Rondon will make the roster as well due to nobody else being there, and prospect Javier Guerra (who is a shortstop) isn't that far away.  Don't expect him until the late summer though.

OUTFIELDERS: Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Travis Jankowski, Alex Dickerson
Renfroe and Margot still have prospect status, but that will not last too much longer.  One of them is guaranteed to start due to only four outfielders making the roster, and either Alex Dickerson or Travis Jankowski will make way for them at some point.  Due to everybody being a young player, I would rotate the four players equally to allow them all to get experience until someone stands out.  However, the Opening Day starters will likely contain Renfroe and Margot, and I also like the speed of Jankowski.  Franchy Cordero is the other outfielder on the 40 man roster.

LINEUP: Jankowski (LF), Solarte (3B), Myers (1B), Schimpf (2B), Renfroe (RF), Margot (CF), Hedges (C), Sardinas (SS)

I believe that players need to earn their spots in the batting order, which is why I have the three former top prospects in the 5-7 spots in the batting order.  Plus, Wil Myers and Yangervis Solarte were the only players who hit consistently last year, and Schimpf has shown enough power to justify hitting cleanup.  However, you could order this lineup in any way and I'm not sure it would make a huge difference, as this roster isn't really ready to compete.  They resemble the Braves a few years ago after they traded Craig Kimbrel (to San Diego ironically).  This team should lose 100 games, but I'll be nice and have them at 62 wins.