2011 Baseball Preview: Why the San Diego Padres Will Surprise You (Again)

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2011 Baseball Preview: Why the San Diego Padres Will Surprise You (Again)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Manager Bud Black will see a lot of new faces this season

With spring training around the corner, coupled with being snowed in here in Little Rock, Arkansas, I thought it’d be a perfect time for my take on the Padres in 2011.

The 2011 opening day lineup will most likely look similar to this:

1.     Jason Bartlett – SS

2.     Orlando Hudson – 2B

3.     Ryan Ludwick – LF

4.     Brad Hawpe – 1B

5.     Will Venable – RF

6.     Chase Headley – 3B

7.     Nick Hundley – C

8.     Cameron Maybin – CF

9.     Mat Latos – P

The rotation:

1.     Mat Latos

Bob Levey/Getty Images
Cameron Maybin, 24 years old and a former number 1 overall pick, was the first acquired this offseason

2.     Clayton Richard

3.     Aaron Harang

4.     Tim Stauffer

5.     Dustin Moseley/Cory Luebke/Wade LeBlanc

The bullpen will look like:

CL  - Heath Bell

SU – Mike Adams

SU – Luke Gregerson

MR – Ernesto Frieri, Joe Thatcher, Chad Qualls, LeBlanc/Moseley

Bench: Greg Zaun (C), Eric Patterson (2B/OF), Chris Denorfia (OF), Jorge Cantu (1B, 3B), Kevin Frandsen (INF)

So, how can a team that lost Adrian Gonzalez, not to mention Yorvit Torrealba and Jon Garland, again beat the odds?

Well, that’s because one through eight, the Padres have a much more consistent lineup. Bartlett, Hudson and Maybin are upgrades over Cabrera/Hairston Jr., Eckstein, and Gwynn.

While it is impossible to replace an Adrian Gonzalez, Brad Hawpe is no slouch. From 2006-2009 he hit .288 and averaged 25 home runs and 93 RBIs. Furthermore, even though he played a mile high, he hit more homers on the road (14) than at home (nine) in 2009, and had a better average (.287) than on the road (.279) in 2008.

What offseason acquisition will help the Padres the most in 2011?

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The signings of Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson provide probably the biggest improvements to the Padres. Hudson, a four-time gold glove winner, is a huge defensive improvement over David Eckstein. Offensively, he provides a minor upgrade, having hit nine home runs to Eckstein’s one in 2010, while batting around the same average. (I still think Eckstein should be re-signed as a backup SS/2B, not to mention he’d be a great pinch hitter).

Everth Cabrera, who we all loved, will get more seasoning in AAA while a proven major leaguer in Bartlett will man the helm for the next two years. Bartlett hit .254 with four home runs in 2010, and .320 with 14 home runs in 2009. While his 2009 campaign seems like an aberration to his career, a 2011 season where he hit between .260 and .280 with 5-10 homers is more likely.

And finally, Cameron Maybin is an automatic upgrade in CF over Tony Gwynn Jr. While Gwynn was superhuman defensively, he could never quite figure it out offensively, and when you have no power, you better be hitting over .300 consistently.  

This team should be fun to watch with a nice mix of veterans and young guys. Add in Jorge Cantu off the bench, who in my humble opinion is a tremendous upgrade over Hairston Jr. even considering the fact you lose the aspect of playing SS, and this team should definitely be contending come September.

 

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Orlando Hudson is a four-time gold glover and helped the Twins reach the playoffs last year.

2010 Offensive Stats

Hudson

.268 avg/.338 obp/.372 slg/ .710 ops.

Eckstein

.267 avg/.321 obp/.326 slg/.647 ops

Bartlett

.254 avg/.324 obp/ .350 slg/.675 OPS

Hairston Jr.

.244 avg/ .299 obp/.353 slg/.652 ops

Maybin

.234 avg/.302 obp/.361 slg/.663 ops

Gwynn

.204 avg/.304 obp/.287 slg/.591 ops

 

 

 

 

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