Tuesday, March 26, 2013

2013 Season Preview - Padres

In a little less than a week the Padres will begin the 2013 season in the city so nice, they named it twice, New York, NY.   Citi Field, the same park the Padres opened in 2009 with Jody Gerut hitting a home run on the game's 3rd pitch from Mike Pelfrey in a 6-5 win.  

What will the team look like this time around in New York?  Let's dive in and take a look. 

Rotation
Edinson Volquez 
There are a few things that are certain, Edinson Volquez will start the opening game.  This will be the second straight season, Volquez will start the opener for the Padres, and the third time in his career.  He pitched well for the Dominican Republic team in the WBC, and after throwing in a minor league game when he returned to Padres camp, Bud Black had seen what he needed to and named "Eddie" the starter in game one.   He was 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA in 32 starts last season.  

Clayton Richard was tabbed to pitch in game 2 against the Mets.  Richard became the Padres most dependable starter last season.  He got off to a slow start, but rebounded nicely after a few minor tweaks from pitching coach Darren Balsley, and finished 14-14, with a 3.99 ERA in 33 starts, which was tops on the team.  Richard is the only piece left in the Padres system left from the 2009 Jake Peavy trade with the White Sox.  During his time with San Diego, Richard is 38-34, with a 3.90 ERA. 

Jason Marquis and Eric Stults will be the 3 and 4 pitchers in the rotation.  This we know.  We don't know officially the number 5 starter, as the competition heats up with Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross left in the competition.   My thought (only my opinion), is that Cashner wins the 5th spot, with Ross starting out in the bullpen. 

1. Volquez
2. Richard
3. Marquis
4. Stults
5. Cashner

Bullpen
Huston Street
3 spots to me are "no brainers", with Huston Street anchoring things as the closer.  23 saves last year in 24 chances made him one of the most effective in baseball.  The only problem was injuries.  A lat muscle cost him time on the DL as did a calf problem.  He was limited to 40 appearances, but was very good, and with that he earned a contract extension.  The other two in the "no brainer" conversation, are Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher.  

So that's 3 of the probable 7 man pen for Bud Black.  The other four, again in my opinion, will be Dale Thayer, Brad Brach, Anthony Bass and Tyson Ross.  The latter two giving Black some flexibility in their roles as long men, or in Bass' case the talent to pitch an inning in back to back days or give the Padres a spot start. 

Street
Gregerson
Thatcher
Thayer
Brach
Ross
Bass

Position Players
This is where it could get interesting.  There will be plenty of familiar faces from last season and a few new ones heading into 2013.  This is how I see the lineup looking come opening day vs. LHP Jonathan Niese of the Mets. 

1. Everth Cabrera - SS
2. Chris Denorfia - RF
3. Yonder Alonso - 1B
Yonder Alonso

4. Carlos Quentin - LF
5. Nick Hundley - C
6. Cameron Maybin - CF
7. Jedd Gyorko - 2B
8. Cody Ransom - 3B

Ok let's dissect. Cabrera will be given the first crack at the leadoff spot.  He has the talent. Cabrera seems like he wants to lead off, and has embraced the job, by trying to bunt, and is trying to be more selective at the plate.  If he gets on he's off to the races.   Denorfia will likely start in right against the lefty.  The combo platter of "Deno" and Will Venable last year went very well, allowing each to excel in their roles.   Alonso has been killing the ball lately in spring.  Especially to his pull side.  The home run he hit last Sunday in Peoria was quite impressive.  9 homers a year ago, and to me more than that (significantly) this season.  Quentin says he'll be ready and it's hard to argue with him.  16 homers in 248 AB's last year. Hundley will do the bulk of the catching early with Grandal on the suspended list.  Hundley suffered through a tough injury plagued season last year.  He fought it and the more he tried to come out of the slump, the worse it got.  Hundley is relaxed and in good shape this spring and is hitting well this spring.  Maybin showed signs of putting things together midway thru last season.  He did away with the high leg kick and it paid immediate dividends.  Not sure how many fans realize how difficult it is to make that type of change during a season.  It's not easy.  Gyorko looks ready, but again we are seeing his results in spring training.  Every conversation I have with him, I think, wow, this kid is special.  He gets it.  Let's hope it translates to the big leagues.  Ransom, is the guy I think they'll tab early to make the roster while both Headley and Forsythe recover from injury.  He's a serviceable big league fielder and in the opportunities he got last year, had some pop in the bat.  

Bench
Here is my thought on the bench:
Mark Kotsay
Jesus Guzman
Alexi Amarista
Will Venable
John Baker


Injury news 2013 is getting off to a painful start for the Padres.  Injuries have been a big story in Spring Training and could affect the final roster.  

Chase Headley
Undoubtedly the biggest blow is the early loss of Headley.  This guy burst onto the scene after the trade deadline and went on to win the NL RBI crown with 115, hitting a career high 31 homers.  Headley finished 5th in the NL MVP voting, he won a Silver Slugger and took home a Gold Glove Award last season.   But it was March 17, St Patrick's day when there was no luck for the Padres, as Headley slid into 2nd to try and break up a double play. In the process he fractured the thumb on his left hand and is out 4-6 weeks.  I caught up with him and he described how he may have dodged a big bullet with where the injury occurred on his thumb...

Headley describes injury placement

Headley plans to stay in shape and be ready when his time on the DL is up.  I guess it's better to have this kind of thing happen (if it has to happen) now, rather than in the middle of the season. 

Logan Forsythe
The guy tabbed to fill in for Headley, is also likely to start the season on the disabled list.  Forsythe played in his first spring game Tuesday and got two at bats, then left.  After the game he told reporters that his foot flared up during the game, and that he had a set back.  This news is not good.  Forsythe really came into his own a year ago with the bat, and proved to be a very good major league defender.  He was also the Padres insurance policy at SS behind Everth Cabrera and now that will likely fall on Alexi Amarista. 

Carlos Quentin
Limited to only 86 games last season with the bad knee, Quentin contributed mightily, smacking 16 homers in only 284 at bats.  This guy wants to be on the field.  Last year he worked his tail off to rejoin the team after the knee flared up. He's a fierce competitor and really wanted to be on the field for the good times in the 2nd half of the season.  I have no doubt that he will find a way to get on the field for Opening Day.  His performance in Tuesday's game in Scottsdale is an indication he and the organization feel that Quentin will be ready to go in New York. 



Alright, that's what I think.  We should find out fairly soon what the actual roster will look like. How do you think the NL West will shape up?  Many are predicting the Padres to finish 4th, behind the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks and ahead of the Rockies.  I personally think the Padres could finish 3rd if the team stays healthy.   Or in the Padres case, gets healthy. 

As always feel free to leave a comment.  

Have a great night!

Andy



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Posting from Peoria 3.20.13

Ok, it's been too long since my last post.  I apologize to those that check my blog only to see that nothing has been written or posted in months.  Sometimes you just don't feel it, nothing rubs you the wrong way, no breaking news, or I'm just lazy.  It's a little bit of "all of the above". 

Anyway, enough about that, here are some random observations from my brief time at Padres camp so far...

Jedd Gyorko
I'm really impressed by this kid.  He has a great attitude toward making the switch from 3B to 2B in an effort to contribute to the big league club.  Gyorko can hit. I mean flat out rake. That's never been the issue, it's been defense.  Is he going to be a "plus" defender at second, probably not.  He won't be a guy he's been compared to, Dan Uggla, either.  He'll find a middle ground and be a dependable guy up the middle.  The versatility he has, will only help him, since he can play third if needed. 

He told me in the clubhouse the other day that he's been really working hard with infield coach Glenn Hoffman, picking Hoffy's brain about where to play hitters and how to get a better jump on the ball off the bat.  Gyorko said that at third "it's all reaction and using my body to get in front of a ball and then using my arm to get the guy at first base.  Second base is all about positioning and where you play a hitter to make it easier to get to the ball quickly"

I think fans are really going to like Gyorko. 

Carlos Quentin
I know that there is panic in "mudville" over the availability of the left fielder this season, but I know one guy that isn't in that state, Carlos Quentin.  The San Diego native went on a rigid off season diet and exercise program to take a little pressure off his surgically repaired knee. 

He has "technically" not appeared in an "A" game, although he did get two plate appearances in a game washed out by rain.  He told me that "if this was five or six years ago, I would be concerned (over not playing yet), but now, it's such a long season, and everybody goes thru ups and downs, there's no guarantee that with 20 at bats I'd start the season hot.  I just want to get to the point where I feel comfortable in the box and go from there."  

Q will play the field in a minor league game today and will hopefully be back in the "A" games shortly. 

Chase Headley
What an unfortunate turn of events for the Padres third baseman.  He broke the tip of his left thumb sliding into second base Sunday, in an effort to break up a double play.  Headley will be out anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks.  He was pragmatic about the situation saying, "obviously not the way I'd hope to start the season, but injuries are part of the game...". Headley said he is going to stay in shape and then when it's "go" time he'll be ready. It could have been a whole lot worse though, the injury didn't affect any tendons or ligaments which would have required surgery.

Just a few thoughts, must get ready for the web broadcast of today's game against the Giants in Peoria. I'll have the call on www.padres.com so please join me.

Take it easy!