A year ago, San Diego took the NL West by storm through the first 4 ½ months of the season holding a 6.5 game lead over the eventual World Champion Giants on August 27th only to choke away their playoff hopes and end up sitting at home watching the postseason with a respectable 90 wins under their belt.
Coming off a 90 win season, you would think the 2011 season would be the perfect time to add a little payroll, fill some roster holes, and make another run at it. Not so for the Padres, gone is former face of the franchise Adrian Gonzalez, gone are former middle of the rotation starters Chris Young and Jon Garland, and gone are starting infielders Miguel Tejada and David Eckstein. All in all it seems that in 2011 there's going to be something stinky in San Diego and its not the fish tacos.
Having unveiled new "digital camouflage" jerseys, the
Padres hope fans won't be able to see them sucking
San Diego spent their off season attempting to replace the gaping hole in their offense left by the departure of former all-star, Adrian Gonzalez . The Padres added Orlando Hudson at second, Jason Bartlett at shortstop, Brad Hawpe at first base and Cameron Maybin in center field. As a whole, those 4 awesome additions added up to a whole pile of disappointment in 2010 and will be asked to make up the lost offense of A-Gon. The best returning offensive option for the Padres is Ryan Ludwick who hit all of .211 last season for San Diego. If any of you Red fans are looking for familiar faces in the offense, look no further than outfielder Chris Denorfia; but lets face it, he's no Chris Dickerson.
Starting pitching will undoubtedly be the strength of the Padres in 2011 since they play in Petco Park, which resembles the Grand Canyon more so than a National League baseball stadium. Mat Latos and Clayton Richard are expected to anchor the rotation, both coming off solid 2010 campaigns. Two former Reds from the golden era of Cincinnati pitching, Aaron Harang and Dustin Moseley, have also been added to help shore up the middle of the rotation. What could possibly go wrong there?
Arguably the best pitcher on the staff resides in the Padre bullpen in the form of closer Heath Bell. Bell was an All-Star in 2010 and figures to once again be a premiere closer in the National League. Statistically, San Diego had the best bullpen in the NL last season and as long as they stay healthy should come close to duplicating their bullpen numbers from a year ago.
2011 San Diego Padres look to take queue from actual Catholic Padres and molest
opponents into submission
Most of the experts have San Diego staying in contention once again in the NL West. The way I look at it, the Padres starting pitching doesn't come close to that of the Giants and their offense isn't anywhere near as potent as the Rockies, and even the Dodgers seem more well balanced than the Friars. Fortunately for San Diego they're in the same division as Arizona, so they're more or less guaranteed not to finish in last place. I can easily see a resurgent Aaron Harang recapturing his Cincinnati glory years and leading the Padres into a solid 4th place finish, just like the good old days.