In a way I am envious of the Padres. Not because they own like half of our former list of top-10 prospects, but because of Petco Park, really. Thanks to Petco, their rotation will be able to keep them in games despite not containing any real high quality arms. Also thanks to Petco, their generally bad offense is once again good enough to at least keep them in games because the other team can't score much either. Lastly, their home park is awesome because it makes decent and good relievers look amazing, and then they can trade those decent-to-good relievers for really good prospects. For these reasons, it's hard to tell whether the Padres' record will be good, bad, or mediocre because outcomes are more dependent on luck in their home games than is typical (this is my opinion at least). Their home park is the great equalizer. If they do manage to squeak into a 2nd wild card and get in the playoffs, I am sure they will not do well there because the team just isn't that talented.
Petco Park (via bryce_edwards) : to which I attribute almost mystical powers...
Lineup (Bill James projections AVG/OBP/SLG wOBA)
1B Yonder Alonso: .277/.345/.446 .347
I love Yonder, and I am very high on his hitting ability at the MLB level. Bill James comes in with a typically optimistic projection (compared to other systems at least), but I fully believe in this one and think that line looks pretty fair. If Yonder plays average defense at 1B, he will quite the commodity for the Padres as a .347 wOBA in Petco is well above league average output, and with basically no MLB service time he will be cheap for years to come. Ah, the price of young pitching...
2B Orlando Hudson: .263/.340/.380 .316
Once again, Bill James is the most optimistic projector of Hudson's performance. That line would manage to be above league average once adjusted for Petco, but I think this is the high end of what to expect from Hudson, who is also nursing a groin injury through spring training. Hudson used to be an excellent defender, but dude's getting pretty old and the glove is closer to average now. If Hudson can't go, Everth Cabrera will play 2B. He's a decent utility player, but his bat is a serious question mark. Overall, 2B should be acceptable unless Hudson is injured for a long period of time.
3B Chase Headley: .276/.358/.411 .336
Yet again, Bill James is the most optimistic man on earth (even more than the fans). But it's not unwarranted because Headley proved he can hit this well by doing it last year (though aided by a .368 BABIP). Headley is a nice player entering his prime who should provide good production for the Padres.
SS Jason Bartlett: .266/.333/.363 .304
Bartlett is a decent player. He doesn't hit very well, but he plays a premium defensive position to make up for that. He also runs the bases very well to balance out fringe-average defense. In short, he's not going to hurt the team, but there's really no upside here.
LF Carlos Quentin: .255/.343/.488 .351
Carlos Quentin just had knee surgery and will miss 4-6 weeks. His defense was already Gomes-esque, and now he plays in Petco's enormous OF on a repaired knee. He's going to have to hit a lot to be very valuable to the Padres. Fortunately, he is capable of doing so, but a repeat of 2008 is not in the cards. The line projected by Bill James is not unrealistic, but probably on the upper end of what to expect.
CF Cameron Maybin: .277/.345/.419 .341
Maybin finally had the breakout that prospect mavens had waited so long for while he was a Marlin. The Padres immediately signed him to a nice team-friendly contract and he is only 25, so there is still room for improvement. He plays excellent CF defense, and is above average with the bat and on the bases as well. However, that Bill James line is borderline crazy, as even in his breakout season Maybin wasn't nearly that good of a hitter. He doesn't have to be though, he's a good player to start building from with their youth movement.
RF Will Venable: .255/.322/.403 .319
Venable is the kind of player whose skill set seems perfectly matched to Petco Park. Gap power, great speed to run the bases with and roam the spacious OF (he will be the backup CF when needed), and whose offense probably wouldn't really improve playing in a smaller park. He strikes out too much, but manages to be average with the bat once adjusted for park. A fine player, but nothing special. Absolutely needs a high BABIP to be successful, so if his luck turns sour he would be a liability.
C Nick Hundley: .251/.318/.423 .319
Wow, Hundley had a better season than you thought last year. Go look. Then maybe you noticed that .362 BABIP - yeah, that isn't going to happen again from a catcher. He's still a good young catcher, and the Padres signed him to a very nice deal. My guess is that makes him attractive trade bait; though in the end, maybe it is Yasmani who gets traded instead. Either way, catching surpluses are always nice.
Pitching (More BJ projections innings / K/9 / BB/9 / ERA)
Tim Stauffer: 166 IP, 6.13 K, 2.66 BB 3.80 ERA
The Padres #1 starter had a FIP over 4.00 last year. He has a good groundball rate (which isn't necessary at you-know-where), and a good walk rate, but everything else is pedestrian, unless his BABIP suppression is actually a skill and not luck. This is his age 30 season, but has only one full season under his belt.
Cory Luebke: 178 IP, 8.49 K, 2.83 BB 2.88 ERA
Cory Luebke is pretty good. He strikes out a lot of guys and doesn't walk too many. His groundball rate is below average, but again that is tailored to his home park and his defense. I don't know if he can keep up his gaudy K-rates if he starts full time, but even with a noticeable drop it is still good.
Clayton Richard: 50 IP, 6.12 K, 3.60 BB 3.96 ERA
Well, Bill James thinks he'll be injured this year. If he's not, you might expect 150 IP or so. Last year, maybe he played through an injury when he was on the mound, because he was not particularly good, and his K-rate in particular suffered. Very pedestrian, forgettable kind of starter.
Edinson Volquez: 155 IP, 8.71 K, 4.47 BB 3.95 ERA
Contrasted with a pitcher that is anything but pedestrian and unforgettable. I am not a big believer in Volquez, but if he is ever going to have another decent year, he landed in the best possible situation with the Padres. Maybe the 500 foot fences will give him the confidence to actually throw strikes without caring about their quality, and he can bring his walks back out of orbit. BJ is a believer (surprise, surprise); Volquez hasn't had a BB/9 that low since 4 seasons ago - yeah, that one time he was actually good.
Dustin Moseley: 60 IP, 5.84 K, 2.85 BB 4.80 ERA
I am guessing Moseley will begin as the 5th starter (because MLB.com depth chart tells me so, and Fangraphs says he appears to be the leading candidate). If he stays healthy and in the rotation, he might max out closer to 140 innings according to more optimistic projections. But I feel confident that he will not stay in the rotation but lose his job at some point around midseason at the latest.
We all know about Walt's offseason blockbuster trade. As a result the Padres are now in possession of our 1B of some parallel future, Yonder Alonso, our catching wunderkind prospect Yasmani Grandal, our unwanted but tantalizingly talented pitcher Edinson Volquez, and our one-time candidate for closer of the future in Brad Boxberger. In three years, the Padres will trade away Boxberger for a prospect who will turn out to be the next Mat Latos, and so really, they made out like gangbusters in this deal. Boxberger will then proceed to be the kind of average setup arm that he probably really is once with his new team. Micah Owings may also make the team in the bullpen. Chris Denorfia is on the 40-man and will probably see some time with the big club.
Orlando Hudson has hit well in his career against the Reds at .300/.345/.455, and that's in 120 PAs. He's kinda old now though. None of the Padres really have much of an extensive track record against the Reds other than that. So no Tomo Ohkas or Bill Halls here, it seems. Will Venable strikes me as the kind of guy who will go bonkers against us despite being pretty average, but I have nothing to base that on. The Padres just aren't that scary. Wait, unless it is Yonder and/or Yasmani who have lengthy careers of owning the Reds. That thought is quite discomforting to me.
Will the Padres be any good? I just don't know. The NL West always strikes me as kinda weak, but the Giants and Diamondbacks at least look respectable this year. Their offense looks a little better than I thought at first glance, but their starting pitching is just blah. I'd love to meet them in the postseason, but I don't think they're getting in.
77-85. There, that's my guess.