The One Thing Each Padres Player Hopefully Improved This Offseason

Kevin GoldbergCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

The One Thing Each Padres Player Hopefully Improved This Offseason

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    Let’s face it, Padres fans, if the team wants to be competitive in the NL West this season, it’ll take some mass improvements from a good amount of the players. With the defending champions, Giants, destined to be contenders and the free-spending Dodgers making some big moves, the Padres must again play small-ball and get more than expected from their lineup.

    While it wouldn’t be exciting or really that interesting to have a slide dedicated to the entire 40-man roster, I’ll organize these slides based on my projected opening day lineup, followed by notable players.

    All stats taken from Baseball Reference

1. Everth Cabrera SS

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    Hitting Lefties

    If Everth Cabrera wants to have a chance at being the Padres everyday shortstop and leadoff hitter, he needs to be able to hit left-handed pitchers better. In 2012, he hit .267 against right-handed pitchers, but only .195 against lefties. The Padres would love to take advantage of Cabrera’s fantastic speed, but unless he improves against southpaws the Padres might decide to go with a platoon at shortstop and pinch-hit Cabrera on his off days. 

    Unfortunately, it’s not only Cabrera’s hitting against lefties that’s vastly diminished, his OBP is as well. Compare .347 to .266 against righties and lefties, respectively. 

2. Yonder Alonso 1B

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    Going into the 2012 season, Yonder Alonso was a strong candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors. However, the first baseman had a rather mediocre year. Though he found his stride toward the end of the season, he finished 2012 with only 9 home runs and 62 RBI. As highly-touted as Alonso is, his power numbers should (hopefully) improve for the 2013 season.

    I know, I know, Petco Park is a pitchers’ park, but still not a valid excuse. In 2011, though playing his home games at the tee-ball park of Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Alonso hit 5 home runs in only 47 games. So you can relatively compare this to 2012 when Alonso played more than three times the amount of games and had less than two times the home runs.

3. Chase Headley 3B

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    More Consistent

    Yes, I realize it’s hard for the reigning Padres MVP and finalist for the NL MVP to improve, but alas I need to come up with something.

    Therefore, Headley’s main fault was that his first-half season wasn't as strong as his second half. If he had played at that level the entire season Headley would have likely become the NL MVP and led in home runs and RBI.

    So, yeah, there it is, more consistency. 

4. Carlos Quentin LF

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    Knee Strength

    Carlos Quentin missed a little more than two months of the 2012 season after recovering from right knee surgery. However, when he came back he was great – belting 16 home runs and 46 RBI. However, his knee began ailing him again toward the end of the season, resulting in him missing much of September. Subsequently, Quentin again went under the knife in early October.

    So, though lofty, I’m hoping Quentin’s knee has rehabbed perfectly and it will come back better than ever. If he can play 135 games the Padres will not only benefit from his bat, but also provide Headley with some much needed lineup protection. 

5. Jedd Gyorko 2B

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    Hit for Average, Improve His Fielding

    If Jedd Gyorko plans to be the everyday second baseman and start opening day, he must prove a few things during spring training. First off, he needs to flawlessly make the transition from third base to second. His defense has been spotty in the past, so hopefully he’s taken thousands of grounders this offseason.

    Also, though Gyorko hit .328 in the PCL, he needs to prove he can hit major league pitching on a consistent basis. The PCL is notorious for inflating hitters’ statistics, so hopefully Gyorko can break the mold. 

6. Cameron Maybin CF

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    Just Hit, Dude

    Let’s face it, Cameron Maybin has been on an unnerving steady decline since signing a five-year extension early last year. Maybin needs to live up to his long-term hype and play like a franchise player. Intended to be a top-of-the-lineup guy, Maybin has been carving out a permanent position near the bottom.

    Hopefully, Maybin worked on his entire hitting game this offseason and can still turn his career around.

7. Will Venable RF

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    Fielding, Hitting, Everything

    Ugh; one of the moves I  wished the Padres would have made this offseason was to acquire a steady right fielder. Unfortunately, General Manager Josh Byrnes and the rest of the front office failed to be aggressive and land a new starter there.

    Though some rumors have circulated over Giancarlo Stanton, I think the Padres are going to rely on Venable for the time being. Hopefully, he’s worked to improve on every facet of his game (except speed, the guy can run). 

8. Nick Hundley C

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    Congrats Hundley, you win my award for least favorite Padre. I loathe the fact the team unfortunately has to rely on you until Yasmani Grandal comes off his suspension.

    And thus, Hundley, you need to work on everything. You can’t hit, field, call games, run, throw, or are a good teammate. Good luck!

9. Edinson Volquez P

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    How To Be An Ace

    Sorry, Edinson, you shouldn’t be in this situation. Again, another move I was hoping the Padres would have made this offseason was landed a real ace. Instead, Volquez is the Padres’ default ace for another year. I’m not denying his talent, but he shouldn’t be a No.1 starter on any team.

    The Padres, and their fans, had big aspirations about landing a top-tier pitcher like Dan Haren or Brandon McCarthy, yet once again failed in their pursuit.  

10. Yasmani Grandal C

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    Do What He Did Last Year, Without PEDs

    Yasmani Grandal will someday be an all-star, unfortunately he has already tainted his reputation by testing positive for testosterone and landing a 50-game suspension. Worse, as I mentioned earlier, the Padres now have to rely on Nick Hundley behind the plate.

    In 2012, Grandal had a surprisingly great year, hitting .297 with 8 home runs and 36 RBI in only 60 games. Extrapolating that to a full season would come to 22 home runs and 97 RBI – a solid piece in the middle of the order.

11. Huston Street P

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    Huston Street is an excellent, underrated pitcher and deserved his all-star bid last year despite only throwing 21 innings (side note: blame San Francisco for rallying behind Pablo Sandoval and snubbing Chase Headley). Due to injuries, Street only pitched 39 innings in 2012 but finished with an excellent 1.85 ERA and .718 WHIP.

    If he can replicate these numbers and stay healthy, he should be a strong fixture in the ninth inning and/or be very tempting trade-bait come the deadline later this year.

12. Luke Gregerson P

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    Mental Strength

    As I mentioned in an earlier slide, Street has a good chance of being traded which could mean Gregerson would become the Padres’ closer sometime this year.

    Gregerson is well-suited for the job. His underlying statistics show he performs well in the clutch. In late and close games (seventh inning or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run on deck), opponents hit only .212 against him. When pitching with two outs and runners in scoring position, Gregerson limited opponents to a .143 batting average.