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Team Preview: San Diego Padres

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2007 W-L:89-74
2007 Pythag W-L:89-74
2007 Payroll:~58 mil
2008 Payroll:~65 mil

Coming:Jeff DaVanon, Robert Fick,Tadahito Iguchi, Mark Prior, Randy Wolf

Going: Geoff Blum, Milton Bradley, Doug Brocail, Mike Cameron, Jack Cassel, Morgan Ensberg, Marcus Giles, Ryan Ketchner, Jason Lane, Rob Mackowiak, Brett Tomko

Sliding In:
The Padres won as many as expected, and reloaded this off-season with Randy Wolf and Mark Prior joining what could be the best rotation in the National League - save your hate mail Mets fans.

Offense
3/4ths of the infield remains the same: Kevin Kouzmanoff, Khalil Greene, and Adrian Gonzalez form a pretty good punch and are joined by new signee Tadahito Iguchi.

In case you've wondered the affects on a player hitting at PETCO, just look at poor Greene: his OPS at home throughout his career is nearly .200 points lower than his road OPS, .658 to .850.

As of now it appears the outfield will be Jim Edmonds, Brian Giles, and possibly Chase Headley or Scott Hairston in left, although one of my personnal favorites, Callix Crabbe will be a dark horse.
If Edmonds can stay healthy and rebound to his 2006 numbers the Padres will be delighted, in fact if he just repeats his 2006 season (.257/.350/.471 ) and splits time in center with Scott Hairston the team should be ecstatic. The problem of course Edmonds suffered nearly every injury known to man last year and I think all those years of hitting the grass, wall, and dirt is starting to show its signs on his body.

Bard is a pretty underrated catcher, and Michael
Barrett who was rumored to be Tampa or Pittsburgh bound will apparently back him up.

Starting Rotation
You'd expect above average performances (ERA+ of 120 and above) from Peavy and Young, and average (95-100) from Maddux and Wolf, but Prior is the wild card, if he can replicate his career average ERA+ 123 the Padres might have the best rotation in the league for the second straight year.

Justin Germano figures to be the spot starter if - or perhaps when - needed. Assuming that the Padres won't catch lightning in a bottle and find Prior and Wolf healthy for an entire season on the same team.

Bullpen:

Trevor Hoffman is the Padres closer, Heath Bell is the set-up man; that spells trouble for teams down with six outs to go.  Carlos Guevara is a screwballer Rule 5 pick, and an intriguing option for the Padres, Cla Meredith returns to his role as ground ball phenomenon, Kevin Cameron, Wil Ledezma, Clay Hensley, Joe Thatcher, and others figure to also compete for a bullpen spot.

In case you forgot, I talked to Paul DePodesta on the Padres in January.

The Hook:
I usually don't make bold predications, but I really cannot imagine this team not winning the division, even with Arizona, Colorado, and Los Angeles nipping at their heels.