Padres' Power and Pitching Problems for 2009
Last week, slugger Adrian Gonzalez voiced his opinion that moving the right-centerfield fence in 10 or 15 feet might help San Diego's awful offensive production in the future.
Adrian's request is no doubt prompted by the dozens of towering fly balls that Padre players and fans alike have watched die in the opposition's gloves this season.
Far be it from me to dispute Gonzalez's knowledge on the matter of offense. At the time of writing this article, Gonzalez leads the team with 32 home runs in 2008, and ranks third in the NL with 105 RBI.
However, Gonzalez must also know that San Diego's problems go beyond the fences at PETCO Park (as well as the lack of Padre hitters going beyond said fences).
Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chase Headley, and Jody Gerut have shown the ability to hit home runs in any park, but—barring any high-profile free-agent signings in the offseason—the fate of the Padres offense rests on young players, many of them getting their first taste of the bigs this season.
With San Diego expected to trim payroll in 2009, guys like Nick Hundley, Chip Ambres, Matt Antonelli, and Will Venable will no doubt be called upon to carry San Diego offensively.
The Padres also lack a true center fielder, speed on the basepaths, outfielders with arm strength, and decent options off the bench.
The midseason trades of starting pitchers Randy Wolf and Greg Maddux have given rookies Josh Geer, Wade LeBlanc, and Dirk Hayhurst the chance to show their stuff and join a rotation anchored by All-Stars Jake Peavy and Chris Young.
The Friars' bullpen has been an absolute mess this season. After leading the bigs in relievers' ERA last season with a 3.07 mark, San Diego has only two relievers with an ERA equal or lower to 3.07 in 2008. Add to that the looming uncertainty that the team might have a new closer next season (as Trevor Hoffman is a free agent), and it's clear there are a bevvy of problems to address.
What's even more troubling is the surprising honesty of top team officials such as CEO Sandy Alderson.
When pressed for scouting reports of sorts on his young team, Alderson said "[I] suspect some of them will have talent."
How many players is "some?" What can we expect from the others? If you're not to go out there and spend money on free agents, how do you expect to field a winner?
After a season in which not much has gone right, an underwhelming strategy for 2009 is the last thing Padres fans would have hoped to expect.
On second thought, maybe worrying about exciting games and bringing pitching and power hitters would be curbed if they moved the walls in, as per Gonzalez's suggestion.
Like, if they were 10 feet behind the infield.
Eric Gomez is a native San Diegan and a life-long Padres fan. You can read up on some of his other articles regarding the Friars; for example, the Ten Best and Ten Worst moments in franchise history. Not a fan of lists? Then maybe you should read up on why Eric thinks Trevor Hoffman should retire soon.
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