All Star Adrian Gonzalez represents the San Diego Padres' best chance for a turnaround, and A.G. is looking to lead the Friars back to the playoffs in 2009.
Gonzo has his work cut out for him, as the Padres are in the middle of a complete makeover from last year. Gonzalez had very little protection in the batting order, and Adrian still ripped the ball at a .279 clip in 2008, with 36 home runs and 118 RBI's.
Recently, I predicted a 40 win season for the Pads, but here, I will detail exactly what San Diego needs to do on the field in order to avoid that fate.
As the National League West remains probably the worst division in the Majors as we enter 2009, anything is possible.
San Diego opens at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a four-game series that features some tough match-ups for both teams. If the Padres are to turn things around in 2009, thrashing Los Angeles would be a great place to start.
Jake Peavy (10-11, 2.85 ) will take the mound against the Dodgers' Hiroki Kiroda (9-10, 3.73) on opening Day. Jake owns a 13-1 lifetime record against the Dodgers, with a 2.32 ERA.
Chris Young (7-6 3.96) battles Randy Wolf (12-12, 4.93) in game two.
Newcomer Walter Silva (0-0, 0.00) takes the No. 3 spot in the Padres rotation, thanks to a late spring injury to Cha Sun Baek, facing Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14).
The series concludes with new Padre Kevin Correia taking on Clayton Kershaw.
The Padres have completely overhauled the bullpen in the last three weeks, and actually look a little more competitive down there. Duaner Sanchez, Elogio De La Cruz, Edward Mujica, and Luke Gregorson all were acquired during the spring purge. These arms are being given the chance to shore up a Padre bullpen that was battered and bruised in 2008. The road back to the playoffs for San Diego begins here.
Heath Bell will attempt to replace Trevor Hoffman in closing the door for San Diego. Bell is a flame-throwing closer who should provide the Padres with solid ninth inning work. Keeping Manny Ramirez in check during the ninth inning this weekend would be an ideal method of getting into a groove.