2007 San Diego Padres

Time for a Padres Team Outlook.  Notice the new sidebar section called MLBTR Features.  There you will always be able to find these outlooks as well as free agent info for next offseason.

Kevin Towers’s contract obligations:

C – Josh Bard – $1.05MM
C – Rob Bowen – $0.38MM
1B – Adrian Gonzalez – $0.3805MM
2B – Marcus Giles – $3.25MM + incentives
SS – Khalil Greene – $2.25MM + incentives
3B – Kevin Kouzmanoff – $0.38MM
IF – Todd Walker – $3.95MM
IF – Russell Branyan – $1.25MM
IF – Geoff Blum – $0.9MM + incentives
LF – Terrmel Sledge – $0.38MM
CF – Mike Cameron – $7MM
RF – Brian Giles – $9MM
OF – Jose Cruz Jr. – $0.65MM

SP – Greg Maddux – $10MM
SP – Jake Peavy – $4.75MM
SP – David Wells – $3MM + incentives
SP – Chris Young – $0.6MM
SP – Clay Hensley – $0.392MM

RP – Trevor Hoffman – $6.5MM
RP – Scott Linebrink – $1.75MM
RP – Scott Strickland – $0.55MM
RP – Doug Brocail – $0.5MM + incentives
RP – Cla Meredith – $0.38MM
RP – Heath Bell – $0.38MM
RP – Mike Thompson – $0.38MM

I calculate a $60MM payroll, not including any incentives earned.  That’s down about $10MM from last year, so count on Towers making a big move midseason if needed.

Let’s first take a look at defense.  If Bard’s 17% caught stealing rate from last year carries over, he may be the worst in baseball at shutting down the running game.  Head to head fantasy baseball players, take note.  He’s not quite Piazza bad, but still. 

Kouzmanoff is not a glove man, nor are backup infielders Branyan and Walker.  Greene and Giles form an above average defensive middle infield combo, taking some pressure off Kouz.  The outfield defense should be excellent, led by Cameron.  Peavy and Young are the flyball pitchers on the staff while the rest get grounders.

How about the offense, ranked 13th of 16 NL teams last year?  They have a downgrade at catcher, upgrade at 2B, big upgrade at 3B, and a clear upgrade in left.  It seems sneaky, but this team has improved a lot on offense by importing Giles and Sledge while letting Dave Roberts go.  It’s tough to sustain a Roberts-type hitter from a power position if you’re not the White Sox.  They should move towards the middle in runs scored.

One more note – I really like what they’re doing with Sledge and Cruz in left.  That platoon could be league average or better for a million bucks, and if it’s not, they’ve got money in the coffers to compensate for a big-name addition like Adam Dunn or Jermaine Dye should they become available.

I feel that the Padres have the best starting rotation in the league, beating out the Brewers.  The staff has very good control, especially if Maddux can teach Hensley some things and Young bounces back.  If healthy, top pitching prospect Cesar Carrillo could jump right in as the sixth man and post a 4.50 ERA from the start.

The bullpen is a clear strength as well; the crew should be at least top five and maintain an ERA under 4 again.

I’ve yet to give the other NL West teams an in-depth analysis, but the Padres have a well-balanced attack and quietly improved over the offseason.  This looks like a playoff team.

Need more Padres previews?  Geoff Young of Ducksnorts has done two – one at Hardball Times and another at CGBB.

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