The San Diego Padres come in to the 2010 season with a few new faces but a lot more familiar ones that have returned to the team for this upcoming season.
The biggest question just days before the team reports to their spring complex in Peoria, AZ is, who the Padres need big seasons from in order to contend in the NL West.
With Jake Peavy no longer a member of the San Diego Padres after being traded to the White Sox prior to July's trade deadline, a new ace will need to emerge to lead this team.
Kevin Kouzmanoff is also no longer a Padre having been traded to the bay area as a new member of the Oakland A's. It means there will be a new fixture at third base when the season opens in just a few short months.
What else do the Padres need to contend? These are the five biggest names that need to have big years for San Diego to keep them in the race all season long.
After injuries to both Chris Young and Jake Peavy in 2009, right-hander Kevin Correia took on the role of the new staff ace and handled himself better than the team expected.
Correia finished the 2009 season with a 12-11 record with a 3.91 ERA and will make his return as a Padre as possibly the number two man behind new staff ace Chris Young.
Though Correia almost ended up going elsewhere before the two teams came to an agreement, he will be one of the most important guys on their rotation and will be expected to play the role Young played last season.
If he can stay healthy, he's going to be a big factor for this team in 2010.
Right from the start, young right hander Mat Latos made every Padre fan forget all about Jake Peavy...well...almost.
Latos would win four of his first five starts including an impressive seven innings against the Cincinnati Reds, giving up just one run on one hit.
It looked as if Latos began to tire down the stretch as he would lose four of his final five decisions though he was worked more than he ever had been before in his baseball career.
Going in to 2010, however, will be a whole different story for young Latos. He'll begin his first spring training with the big club and looks to be the number three man in the starting rotation behind Chris Young and the aforementioned Kevin Correia.
The Padres need the kind of performance he put up through his first five starts. If he can keep up that pace and his arm doesn't go tired, he could be a dominant force every fifth day.
If I told you that there was a 6'6" 280 pound athlete that could had the speed to run down a fly ball and crush the ball out of just about any ballpark, what would you say?
I would say, yes please. Kyle Blanks is that man and with Chase Headley now moving to his natural position at third base after the trade that sent Kevin Kouzmanoff to Oakland, Blanks will now get the majority of the at bats in left field.
What the Padres need from him in 2010 is protection for All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Teams weren't afraid to walk Adrian in 2009 because there wasn't anyone behind him that presented a threat.
Now, with Blanks possibly hitting behind Adrian, teams will now have to think twice about how to handle this scary duo.
6'10" right hander Chris Young will enter the 2010 season as the new staff ace for the San Diego Padres.
There's no question the one thing on everyone's mind is, can he stay healthy?
CY has missed significant time over the last two seasons due to injury, though one of those was thanks to a freak injury after being hit in the face with a line drive.
The Padres need 25-30 starts out of Young this season. They need him to be the workhorse and the leader of the rotation with guys like Kevin Correia, Mat Latos and Clayton Richard behind him.
If Young can get to 30 starts in 2010 and get the Padres at least wins in half of those games, this Padres team could be sitting in the thick of things come the trading deadline in July.
Adrian Gonzalez needs to do what he does best, something he's been doing for the Padres over the past several seasons. Produce.
What the Padres lacked in 2009 they may be able to give their first baseman in 2010 and that thing is protection in the line-up.
What may stick in Gonzalez's mind is all the trade talk that surrounded him and the Padres during this past offseason. There were several rumors at several different times that had him heading to Boston. But as quickly as the team would kill one rumor, another one would surface.
Gonzalez needs to clear his mind of those rumors and not worry if he's going to be with the Padres past the trading deadline in July. He needs to focus on being the powerful bat and Gold Glove first baseman he knows he can be.
If he can clear his mind and get dialed in, the Padres could be a scary young team.