As we go into the 2009 season, we are coming off of a 99-loss season. It doesn’t seem like the Padres will be much better, but it’s going to be a very different team. As of right now, we still have a bunch of holes. Let’s see what could go wrong…
I think our biggest problem right now is the bullpen, specifically the back end. We don’t have a real closer as of right now. If we can’t patch up things with Trevor, we are going to have Heath Bell as closer. Now, Heath has one career save, and he got it in the 10th inning after Trevor had already been used. We really don’t know how Heath will function in the full-time closer’s role. It would seem that he will adjust very well, but you never know. But if we miraculously get Trevor back, he will hopefully have a great season. I know that he’s getting older, and he’s been pitching for a long time, but believe me, if he has the oppurtunity to pitch again this year, he will be effective. Now, the rest of our bullpen is pretty much covered. We have added Chris Britton, and he could be the set-up man to Heath. As long as the pitching can stay healthy, I think we will be pretty well off. BUT we must improve with inherited runners. Last year, the bullpen allowed way too many interited runners to score.
Right now, we don’t have a major-league proved middle infield. We’ve got Adrian Gonzalez and Kevin Kouzmanoff at the corners, so we’re covered there. But the big concern right now is second base and shortstop. We have many candidates for second: Edgar Gonzalez, Travis Denker, Matt Antonelli. I think Edgar is the most likely candidate. He’s been in the minors for 8 years, and he had a great season at second last year. Travis is a new addition this offseason from the Giants. I think he will get a good look during Spring Training, and he might have split time with Edgar. I think Matt needs more time in the minors, I really do. He’s a young guy, and he had a lot of problems with his hitting last year. I think he needs to go back to the minors and get some more seasoning. Maybe he can come back up in September. At shortstop, we have Luis Rodriguez. But I think we need another guy. Khalil left a huge hole to fill, and I hope we can get a guy who can do that effectively.
We have a rookie, Nick Hundley, who looks to be the Opening Day catcher. But the Padres want a veteran catcher who can mentor him and give him a rest once in a while. Josh Bard was amazing at mentoring Nick last season when Bardo was hurt, but Josh has moved on to the Red Sox. So, the Padres are still talking about Brad Ausmus. We need a veteran catcher. Get it done, Padres!!!
So far, our rotation looks like this: Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Cha Sueng Baek, Josh Geer, and Kevin Correia. Actually, the last two spots are up for grabs in Spring Training. I think that Geer and Correia have the biggest chance, but we’ll have to see. The biggest thing that we need from the starters this year is long outings. We can’t have every pitcher going only 5 innings. We need them to go deeper to save the bullpen. We also obviously have to keep away from injuries. Peavy, Young, and Baek got hurt last year. We need heathly pitchers.
We don’t have many real bench players right now. Scott Hairston is probably going to end up there, but he’s not really a bench player. What we really need is a guy who can pitch-hit and get hits, do something with his at-bats. Someone like Tony Clark. Bud Black deserves a deeper bench.
We have Jody Gerut, Brian Giles, Chase Headley, Scott Hairston, and Will Venable for the outfield. This is probably one of the toughest decisions. Jody and Brian are guarranteed a spot, but the left field is kind of iffy. I think the Padres will have Chase here. He’s the top prospect, and he can play up here. But what to do with Will Venable. The guy can certainly play here. He was stellar in center field, and not too bat with a bat, either. But they are not going to have him up here to sit on the bench. Thing is, Jody has his position covered. We’ll just have to see what the Padres decide. These guys need to stay away from injuries too.
Obviously, the whole team needs to stay healthy. There are a lot of things that could go wrong, but I really hope this team becomes better. I hope they can give their fans something exciting to watch. I hope we can win this year.