Combine Cherry Hudson, Jr with his younger brother, Scott, and on paper the Padres have to be unstoppable, right? Wrong, wrong and oh so wrong. If you need a heart-warming read for the can, or find yourself out of toilet paper and need something with which to wipe, take a gander at this fine read. (HT to padres.com)
More on the lovable Padres after the jump.
So, now that we know that 2 Hairstons certainly aren't better than 1 (since neither one of them project to start, but who are we kidding? How do you keep a Hairston out of the starting lineup, especially one that now has a World Series ring?), what DO the Padres have going for them, aside from a fairly new, and family friendly ballpark in fun and festive section of San Diego? In a word, Adrian Gonzalez. Ok, that was actually two words.
The safe bet for 2010 is that Adrian won't finish his season as a Padre, and will most likely end up a Red Sox (unless he ends up DHing for the Yankees). I have it on good authority that the Padres are hoping Chris Young proves healthy and productive so they can trade him and Gonzalez to the Red Sox for their young talent (namely Casey Kelly, Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Anthony Rizzo, Junichi Tazawa, Stolmy Pimentel, & Michael Bowden), since Chris Young would fit nicely at the back of the Red Sox rotation replacing either Dice K, Buchholz, or Wakefield, while Gonzalez offers a more reliable bat than Big Papi in the Red Sox lineup (since someone's numbers dropped once he got off the PEDs), and allows Boston to figure out the best defensive alignment between Beltre, Youkilis & the aforementioned Gonzalez.
Why the Red Sox, you may ask? The Padres kicked their old GM Kevin Towers to the curb in favor of employing former BoSox employee Jed Hoyer as their new GM. But let's not make this about the Red Sox, since we're talking about current Padres, not future Red Sox.
So, quick recap. Gonzalez is the only legitimate bat in the Padres lineup. 2 Hudsons are not better than 1, and the Padres need/hope Young returns to form so they can maximize their return on him. As for young, promising Padres, it seems Chase Headley, Everth Cabrera (ok, he might be a stretch, but he's young!), Nick Hundley, Kyle Blanks, Clayton Richard, and Mat Latos are the only immediate bright spots. If I missed a young, promising Padre, I apologize, but this is a very vanilla team all around. Seriously, it's hard to get excited about a team that hopes to finish 3rd in the NL freakin' West, but most likely will finish 4th or 5th. Let's take a closer look at this squad, for academic sake, shall we?
2B David Eckstein (he's scrappy!)
LF Kyle Blanks
RF Will Venable
Gwynn, Jr certainly ain't his daddy, and IMO has about as much business leading off as a certain Virus, or one Corey Patterson. David Eckstein, scrappy as he may be, is better suited to bat 7th or 8th, rather than 2nd. If he played SS, I'd swear The Dusty was making this lineup card instead of Bud Black. Gonzalez, Headley, and Blanks are good options for 3-5, but after them it seems the Padres have a laundry list of guys who have no business batting anywhere but 7th or 8th, namely Venable, Cabrera and either of their catchers. I guess Black figures Cabrera'a gonna cause all kinda HAVOC batting 8th, no? 2010 San Diego Padres offense, catch the fever!
The Padres bench will most likely consist of the Brothers Hairston, Matt Stairs (which will make his 921st Professional Ballclub if he makes the Padres 25 man roster out of ST), and then either Dusty Ryan, or Oscar Salazar. But seriously, when you have the Brothers Hairston on your bench, all you really need is another catcher, right? The Brothers Hairston can play all the OF positions and all the IF positions combined (except 1B, but apparently you can put any jamoke @ 1B). All it takes is an Everth Cabrera injury, a Gwynn or Venable slump, and Bud Black would be silly not to start BOTH Hairstons! Both Hairstons in the same lineup, it's almost as magical as Jayson and Laynce Nix starting at the same time! Heads will explode!
RHP Jon Garland (your Padres Opening Day Starter, woo hoo!!), RHP Chris Young, RHP Kevin Correia, LHP Clayton Richard, RHP Mat Latos/RHP Tim Stauffer/RHP Sean Gallagher/LHP Wade LeBlanc. Gallagher will most likely fill the Micah Owings role for the Padres (minus the good bat for a pitcher), so if he doesn't win the 5th SP spot he'll definitely get a role in the bullpen. As for who actually starts the season as the 5th SP spot, it's a combination of "who gives a damn?" with "does it really matter?". Latos, Stauffer, Gallagher, and LeBlanc are 23, 28, 25 and 26 respectively. If I were a Padres fan, I'd suggest the team go conservative with Latos, since he seems to be a legitimate, and possibly their only legitimate pitching prospect, whereas if they "Brian Reith" Stauffer, Gallagher, or LeBlanc, who cares, right? Unfortunately for Latos, the Padres have started to screw his pooch and have not gone conservative with him, as he made 10 starts for The Fathers in 2009, thus removing his "prospect" label. Maybe he's the Padres version of Homer Bailey? Jon Garland was the Padres big FA pitching signing, although nothing says "audition for next contract with next club" like a 1 year $4.7 MM contract with a mutual $6.75 MM option for 2011 with a $600K buyout if the Padres don't want Garland back, and a $300K buyout if Garland doesn't want to be a Padre in 2011. That's one Hell of a contract if you ask me. Garland can make $300K if he doesn't want to be a Padre in 2011 just by letting them know such intentions. I mean really?
You know your starting rotation is something quite pathetic when the best topic of conversation is Garland's 1 year deal, or hoping Chris Young regains his health and production (so he can get traded, remember?). Yes, the Padres starting rotation is THIS bad.
For all you fantasy owners out there, Heath Bell will be their closer. He notched 42 saves last year, so if you're in a league that cares about Saves, then Heath Bell's certainly a decent option. If you're in a league that cares about Holds, keep an eye out for Luke Gregerson or Mike Adams, as they earned 27 and 15 holds, respectively. As previously stated, if Gallagher isn't the 5th SP, he'll certainly get some action out of the Padres bullpen. Other Padres you'll see coming out of the bullpen include: Adam Russell, Joe Thatcher and Edward Mujica. Mujica's the only other decent bullpen arm they have not named Bell, Gregerson, or Adams. In all honesty, with the collection of names on the back of the jersey, the front of the jersey should probably read "Portland" instead of "San Diego"; Hell, maybe even "San Antonio". There's certainly not a lot of legitimate MLB pitching talent on this roster, that's for damn sure.
So, what kind of record can we expect from this awesome collection of talent? 2009 yielded a 4th place finish in the NL West with a record of 75 Up and 87 Down (which is where I see the 2010 Reds, FWIW). 2010 looks no better for the Padres, I fear. In fact, I'd be surprised if the 2010 Padres crack the good side of 73 wins. With that lack of win total, the Padres look to finish 5th in the NL West, which only puts them closer to winning the Anthony Rendon sweepstakes for 2011. So, if you're a Padres fan, in 2010 you can get excited about readily available tickets, the Brothers Hairston, and Adrian Gonzalez leaving town for a most likely depressing return. Oh wait, that last one doesn't sound exciting at all, does it?