We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2011 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2011 Padres Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Gaslamp Ball.
1) I’m going to try and make these questions as positive as possible, which is of course a segue for negativity. Let’s see if I can guess the lineup: Bartlett, Hudson, Headley, Ludwick, Hawpe, Venable, Maybin, Hundley… I wanna say you guys look pretty set for seven hole hitters, but try and instill some optimism in me.
Your lineup looks pretty close. Let’s take that lineup and consider last year’s lineup at the same positions.
The Seven Hole Row
Bartlett > Tejada/Cabrera
Hudson > Eckstein
Headley = Headley
Ludwick = Ludwick
Hawpe < Adrian Gonzalez Venable = Venable Maybin > Gwynn Jr.
Hundley <= Torrealba
Just how much better or worse we’ve gotten at each position can be argued, but by this count, we should improve at three positions, get worse at two (though Hundley may make up a little bit of power over Yorvit) and stay even at the other three (assuming players meet expectations, which admittedly, aren’t particularly great). The one tough thing to figure is the fact that most of the guys in the lineup that are new or coming from off years, but if this were 2007-2009, then we’re looking at a bunch of All-Stars. Also, we’re figuring on Venable and Maybin to have breakout years in 2011 and Headley to (hopefully) progress into the hitter he’s supposed to be.
When you look at it that way and consider that last year was a 90+ win team, then it’s good things in store even if it isn’t an offensive juggernaut.
Glass half empty prediction: We hit .196 at Petco.
Glass half full prediction: The visiting teams hit a consistent .194 at Petco.
2) I’m worried about the amount of innings Mat Latos pitched last year. Are you worried? Can he throw a successful 200 IP this year?
It’s a legitimate concern, but the Padres were really careful with Latos last year. Bud Black kept him under 100 pitches for the majority of his starts and they found creative ways to give him breaks throughout the season. He was used a little bit more than they would have liked because the Padres were in a pennant race but still his highest pitch count was 110 pitches. We’re not worried about him more than we’re worried about any other pitcher. Also, the dude’s a professional athlete getting paid to throw. Let’s get him throwing.
3) I get excited about Kyle Blanks every year it seems and then every year he doesn’t get playing time. Will he see 400 ABs this year?
No way will he get 400 ABs. He’s still rehabbing his arm from Tommy John surgery. He’ll play some games in Spring Training but he’ll definitely be starting in the minors. Brade Hawpe will be the Padres first baseman this year and we might see Blanks towards the end of the season when rosters expand. Even then, Anthony Rizzo (one of the prospects from the Adrian Gonzalez deal) is projecting to be a Major League ready type guy in the next couple of years, so Blanks’ now has a window of expectation to prove his value at first. His big advantage: He is an ogre.
4) Okay, I have a positive for you! Tim Stauffer looks like a break out candidate to me. What kind of year can we expect from him? Wait, I have another positive! I’m also optimistic about Cory Luebke, but will he make the rotation?
Jed Hoyer said that maybe his biggest regret last season was not getting Tim Stauffer into the rotation sooner, when injuries and fatigue started to mount late in the season. We’d be willing to bet some nominal amount of money that Stauffer puts together a more productive year than Chris Young next season. We’re not claiming a big season from him, and we don’t think he’ll perform beyond a number 3 starter, but he’ll leverage good karma and Petco Park to his advantage and finally become a regular starting pitcher this season.
As far as Luebke goes, we’re looking forward to seeing more of him next season, but we don’t see him making the rotation straight away. At best, he’d beat out a 5th starter spot, but a more likely scenario is him acing a AAA staff. With the AAA team a little closer to San Diego, Luebke will likely make some spot starts down the stretch, and will be the first man up if any sort of injury hits the staff. Aaron Harang will be making a run at Comeback Player of the Year, but if that stalls at all, then Luebke will be a really nice fallback for the latter half of the year.
5) It’s still too early to tell how the San Diego Padres fared in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. In retrospect, which San Diego trade is the most regrettable: 1) Ozzie Smith for Garry Templeton. 2) Trading Fred McGriff for Melvin Nieves and some even crappier prospects. 3) The blockbuster trade for a panda that cost the zoo a couple of ligers, a unicorn, and a 6-foot anthropomorphic chicken.
Garry Templeton is part of San Diego and so embodies what it is to be a San Diego Padres fan that it is impossible to regret that trade. It’s like a Red Sox fan “regretting” ever selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. It is a defining trait. Fred McGriff was destined to be a journeyman.
I guess that leaves option 3, though we’ve since got the chicken back and I heard the unicorn died.