I am a fan, and an optimist. After a season such as this one, I look at the good and the positive in my team and hope that more of that is to come. I find it fascinating how people on this blog, at the UT, and on the radio immediately begin the wailing and gnashing of teeth about a "culture of losing" in Padreland. Nick Canepa, Bill Center, Hacksaw, Darren Smith all use the same meme. Every time I hear this garbage I think back and check Baseball Reference to see if I have been dreaming since 2004.
In those 8 seasons we have only had 3 losing seasons (granted all 3 of those were in the last 4). However, just last season we had a 90 win season, highest since 1998.
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Year / Wins
Padres win when we want to win. We want to win in EVEN numbered years. Odd years are bad luck. Following a 90 win season with another one? That is for CHUMPS! There is more than reason for hope! There is reason to know we will kick ass. KNOW this! 2012 is going to make 2010 look like hogwash! Follow me on a position by position reason to hope.
C: Hundley: B
I love Hundley. I love Hundley most when he is healthy. HUNDLES! If you are listening to me. Cancel all vacations, ask the Padres for the money to hire a personal trainer that will help you strengthen your core muscles to avoid injuries. We need you for a whole season healthy.
1B: Guzman / Rizzo: A
Guzman will be ok here. I would love to hear that he spends the entire off season working on 1B instincts. Don't count out Rizzo.
Wanna know how awesome Adrian was at Rizzo's age (21)? He didn't have a MLB at bat.
22? .238 / .273 / .381 in 44 PA's
23? .227 / .272 / .407 in 162 PA's. All of this at the Hitters Park that is the Ballpark at Arlington.
Adrian wasn't able to develop until Klesko was hurt and Adrian knew he had to prove himself at 1B while Klesko was on the DL. Rizzo will get his AB's fighting for the position with Guzman.
2B: Hudson (hopefully someone else) C-
I am sure Hudson is a lovely guy. However I have a hunch that when a Padres player was talking about guys who "Pack up and leave immediately after games" (paraphrase). O-Dawg is one of them. He was not a fan favorite after insulting fans. He is a cancer to chemistry and that is not exceptable anywhere. His production this year was probably not that far off his other years when adjusted for ballpark. The thing that annoys me is that his PA's were the lowest since his rookie year. He has to stay healthy. If Jed is smart he makes a trade here and tries to find value in the market again, or he gives this position full time to someone from spring training. I don't think .247 / .329 with average defense should be that hard to find, but what do I know.
SS: Jason Bartlett C+ (B+ potential)
When I think of Jason Bartlett I think of a guy who is like gunpowder. Without a spark he is just like a pile of dirt. With a spark he can be something special. He came from the Ray's where they have team chemistry and invest money in getting every ounce out of their players. I saw occasional sparks of brilliance from Bartlett, but mostly uninspired play. Maybe this season, being a FA season and wanting to get one last big paycheck for his young family, he will play more inspired baseball. I don't think Bartlett is a cancer like O-Dawg. He just needs a spark.
3B: Chase Headley: A
Chase Headley is exactly the sort of player we want. He is good at defense, plays hard, and hits well. If he didn't have that damn head first slide and broken finger, I think he helps keep the momentum going (we were on one of our rare winning streaks when he went down), and he hits .300. Healthy Headley is a key, something about the way he hits and his approach to the game reminds me of Wally Joyner. We need a guy like this. He can be a leader on this cub and dammit, we grew this guy on the farm.
LF: Blanks: C+
Blanks is an enigma. Sometime he looks like a monster, sometimes he looks like AAA lifer. He, more than anyone, will be the key to the season. Can he continue to improve his OF defense to be our everyday LF? Can he hit with consistency? I think he is another guy, like Guzman, who's off-season will mean a lot defensively. I secretly hope that he gets his shit together like Greg Vaughn and comes through with a sensational year.
CF: Maybin: A+
The key to any Padres successful year is stability in CF. If Maybin stays healthy and builds on this season, I can easily see him being like Mike Cameron in his prime. A 20 HR 30 SB guy who hits around .280 gets on base around .340 and has A+ defense.
If the Padres want to make a run for it this next year. This is where we need to make the most improvement. Hoyer needs to find someone for this spot who can hit consistently. Venable or Denorfia need to be the 4th outfielder and assume a "Van Der Wall / Sweeny" PH sort of role, and we need a guy here who can produce and he has a beastly arm and good defensive instincts. No more Ludwick types with NL Central power. We need a Giles type. A guy who can hit .280 / .300 and take a walk. I realize these guys do not grow on trees, but we need someone who can do this.
I play sim games. When I construct my bench I go with four bench guys and 13 pitchers. I realize that in MLB its normally 11 or 12 pitchers, because you normally have at least 1 or 2 platoon positions. But only four or five positions in the bench are worth noting.
Backup Catcher- Love to see a veteran come in. I don't think Hogarty is ready for the "Bigs" but I think he is getting close and can back up Hundley by September call ups if he tares up AA next year.
4th Outfielder- Venable or Denorfia. We know them, we simultaneously love and loathe them. Lets see one or both them on the bench.
Utility Infielder- We need a guy with some scrap (love if Eckstein would come in for this role). Someone who can get timely pinch hits, spell guys on the infield without giving up too much, who will hussle on every play and show some leadership.
Left handed Bat: We need a guy who can play 1B and LF and can hit for power off the bench.
Right handed Bat: Same as above except right handed
Starting Pitchers: (In order of most confidence)
Starting Pitcher #1: Latos: A
I love Latos. I think he is just going to get better as he gets older calms down at umps and has "seen" more. I say we just make him our Ace / Opening Day starter and run with it.
Starting Pitcher #2: Luebke: B
Kid is pitching with serious confidence and I enjoy watching him deal.
Starting Pitcher #3: Stauffer: B-
I am hoping he is stretched out now, relaxes that arm and keeps it healthy. He could prove to be A material again.
Starting Pitcher #4: Bass: B-
Not sure, but the way he pitched out of the 'pen and with his quality starts, I think he gets a shot at the rotation.
Starting Pitcher #5: Richard: B-
He is consistent, but I feel like he is all too hittable at times.
Long Relief A: Dustin Mosely: B
Some people think he proved he could be a reliable starter. I didn't buy it. Plus if his arm flies out of the socket pretty regularly we should be limiting his innings. Plus starters always get hurt and miss a start or two. I think I like Moseley as our "go to" long reliever.
Long Relief B: Wade LaBlanc: C+
Wade is obviously disliked by management, but they do not trade him because they know he has value. They should let him start the season in the Majors as a Long Reliever.
Setup A: Brad Brach: C
Brad should be our "Unspecified" setup guy, takes the 6th sometimes, or fills in on a late inning if guys need rest.
Left-Handed Specialist: Thatcher: B
He should rebound after his injury.
7th Inning guy: Ernesto Frieri: C
Still looking hot with 63 innings of 2.71 ERA ball. Needs to work on the walks. Its insane.
8th inning guy: Gregerson: B
55 innings of sub 3 baseball is still solid, even if his WHIP isn't that great at 1.37.
Closer: Bell: B+
Bell is as Bell is. His periphials are dropping but hopefully he can rebound. Get your ass back on the Wii Fit!
I think, with the team above, and a FA gold at 2B and RF. We can win the West.
IF we are healthy.