The fences are coming in at PETCO Park and that bodes well for San Diego hitters, but not so much for San Diego hurlers. Of course all this really means is that PETCO will no longer be such an extreme pitchers’ park, but odds are it will still be a pitchers’ park.
For that several of the rotation members will breath a sigh of relief; for the hitters maybe it will mean that the home run totals won’t look quite so dreary at least in terms of the fantasy landscape.
1) Cory Luebke (SP): Luebke’s star was definitely on the rise and he looked like a budding ace before an elbow injury derailed his 2012. He underwent Tommy John surgery last May and will be back sometime in 2013. It typically takes about 18 months for a pitcher to fully recover from the surgery, but many return after about a year and offer some positive contributions. Luebke will be at his best by 2014, but he could be offering good counting stats by the second half.
2) Huston Street (CL): Street will be back as the Padres closer and he’ll get his chance to earn plenty of saves. However will he be closer by the All-Star break? Probably. He’s signed for the next two seasons at a not too onerous $7 million per. However the Padres aren’t a competitive team right now and Street could bring a nice piece or two in return around the break. If that happens, or more likely Street hits the DL as he has each of the last three seasons, Luke Gregerson and Dale Thayer should be back in the save mix.
3) Yonder Alonso (1B): Alonso struggled a bit against lefthanders but his age 25 season showed nice progress and some growth towards the power potential he flashed earlier in his career. He’s got a solid eye and should hit for average. He may not blossom or break out this year, but the potential for growth is definitely there although admittedly the ceiling doesn’t appear to be that high. 4) Chase Headley (3B): Headley got very lucky last year and that certainly accounted for his career high in home runs (31). Odds are he won’t approach that level of power again as it was fueled by an unsustainable number of fly balls that decided to go yard. It might be mitigated to a degree by the smaller dimensions of the park after renovation, but it would be a reach to expect no decline or even growth in the power numbers of the 29 year old. That said, he’s still a good choice at the position.
5) Jedd Gyorko (2B): Gyorko is a very promising hitter who’ll be trying to win a spot this spring. He’s a natural third baseman with questionable defense and no place to play as the third base slot is blocked by Chase Headley. The Padres will try to shift him over to second despite his potential defensive shortcomings. He’s a career .311 hitter in the minors with good power but not much speed. If he can stick, think ROY candidate.
6) Cameron Maybin (OF): Maybin is one of those confusing toolsy guys who always looked like he should produce a lot better statistically than he does. And while it feels like he’s been around forever, he’ll just be 26 coming into this season. The potential for a breakout is still here and as he moves into his prime the odds he’ll put it together seem to be getting shorter (as evidence by some growth last season). He’ll never be an elite player but he already has 30+ SB speed and the power has a chance to come.
7) Clayton Richards (SP): Richards is a guy who has posted a number of useful seasons posting three consecutive sub 4.00 ERAs. However he’s a creature who’s thrived on the home splits, while struggling on the road. The changes to the cavernous dimensions of PETCO Park will not work in his favor.
8) Carlos Quentin (OF): Quentin is a 30-year-old on the edge of the tipping point between prime and on the decline. He has always been a fragile player, but one with such potential and such good power that you couldn’t write him off. It’s pretty much been the story of his career. If he can stay healthy he’s got another 20-25 home run season in him. 9) Yasmani Grandal (C): Grandal will miss the first 50 games of the season due to a PED suspension, but before that he looked like a real ballplayer who could hit for average with a decent amount of power. How much of that was due to PEDs and how much was the intrinsic player underneath is very questionable. Still he has the potential to be a good fantasy catcher and he’s a player well worth keeping an eye on when he returns from his suspension. That’s when we’ll find out if he’s for real.
10) Everth Cabrera (SS): The one sure reason anyone should be interested in Cabrera are his legs. If I tell you he has 50-steal potential I’m not exaggerating, but of course you can’t steal first and his career .324 OBP isn’t exactly encouraging. That said, the Padres plan to give him the first crack at the leadoff spot and he’ll have a green light when he does get on base. Still he’s just 26 and entering what could be his prime. A step up or even a platoon role gives him 30-50 SB potential.