The San Diego Padres proved to be the anti-Colorado Rockies in 2007. It has long been said that you should never draft pitchers from the Rockies, but stock up on hitters. The Padres have very few impact hitters, but their entire rotation, and multiple relievers are worth owning. Petco Park has a way of making good pitchers great, and it would be advantageous to stock up on them. While most of the San Diego hitters were pretty useless, Adrian Gonzalez and Khalil Greene showed great promise. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues, or if more young hitters continue to develop for the Pads.
Jake Peavy (SP): Peavy is undoubtedly one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball. He bounced back big time from a 2006 season in which he struggled with injuries. Peavy’s talent, coupled with pitching at Petco is a winning combination. Peavy put up lights out numbers in 2007. He went 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 240 K’s in 223 innings. Peavy is an absolute workhorse, but he does have a bit of an injury history. I still think that there’s very little risk attached though, because of his ballpark situation. Peavy still has incredible upside, and I rank him right up there with John Santana. I would expect 20 wins, an ERA in the 2’s, and a great shot at the Cy Young for Peavy this season.
Chris Young (SP): I can’t stress enough how much impact Petco Park has on pitchers. Young was considered to be a pretty good pitcher before being dealt to San Diego, but he looked great while pitching at home. The 6’10” Young led the NL in ERA for much of the season before being struck with an injury late in the year. Young’s home/road splits are pretty ridiculous, and also very telling. Young was very average when pitching on the road. He was 5-6 with a 4.52 ERA in 17 starts. He looked like Cy Young himself while at home, however. He was 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts. Young’s finally numbers are a little puzzling as his record was only 9-8, but he had an excellent 3.12 ERA. Young also K’d 167 in 173 innings. Young’s win/loss record had a lot to do with the lack of run support from a less than stellar offense. The truth is, Young is an average pitcher everywhere except Petco Park. If he pitches the way he did last season, he should definitely win more games this season. If you draft him, you may want to consider using him only at home ala Ervin Santana circa 2007. I think he’s worth the risk.
Adrian Gonzalez (1B): In just his second full season in the majors, Adrian Gonzalez continued to make great strides. Gonzalez was far and away the leader of the Padre offense. Gonzalez hit .282, crushed 30 HR’s, and drove in 100 runners. These numbers are incredible when you consider the park conditions he has to deal with. Gonzalez would easily be a 40-120 guy on mostly any other team in the league. Because of said ballpark problems, Gonzalez’s potential is a bit limited, but he’ll put up excellent numbers at a good price since he’s less heralded than most first basemen. If not for a terrible mid-season slump, his numbers could have been even better. Keep all factors in mind, draft him in about the 6-8 round range, and lay low since you’ll be wanted for robbery.
Trevor Hoffman (RP): Hoffman must have found the fountain of youth long ago as he’s been getting it done at an old age for quite a few years now. The all-time saves leader is on his way to Cooperstown, but he’s still got plenty left. Hoffman has saved at least 40 games in 4 straight seasons, and 8 of his last 9 full seasons. Hoffman pitched in 4 victories last season to go along with his 42 saves and 2.98 ERA. He certainly isn’t as dominant as he used to be, and he has to live off his changeup due to a diminishing fastball. Even so, he still produces and is a sure bet to close the door on a game. The Padres play plenty of close games due to their strong pitching and weak offense. Hoffman should get plenty of save opportunities granted he can stay healthy. While durability is a concern at his age, he’s held up fairly well over the years.
Khalil Greene (SS): Greene enjoyed a breakout season in 2007 in which he showed surprising homerun power. Greene defied the laws of Petco Park and clouted a career high 27 homeruns from the shortstop position. It’s kind of hard to believe that Greene is already 29 years old, but he’s your prototypical late bloomer. Greene’s real grade probably lies between the second and third tier, but his lack of sustained success lands him here. I find it hard to believe that he could repeat 27 HR, 97 RBI output of ‘07 because of the ballpark he has to deal with. If Greene doesn’t display power, there’s not much to hang your hat on. He hit just .254 in 2007 and doesn’t really steal bases. He’s worth a look if you’ve missed out on the top couple of tiers of shortstops, but I wouldn’t expect the same power output as last year.
Kevin Kouzmanoff (3B): In his first full major league season, Kouz paid big dividends for the Pads. Prior to the season Kouzmanoff was dealt from Cleveland in exchange for Josh Barfield. Many felt that the Indians got the better end of the deal, but Kouzmanoff showed great offensive potential. Although he got off to a painfully slow start, Kouzmanoff was on absolute fire down the stretch. He ended with respectable numbers to the tune of .275-18-74. Obviously his power potential is restricted to a point, but he looks like he can be an excellent producer in the middle of the Padre lineup. I think he has the ability to hit 20-25 HR’s and drive in 100 runs. He could be a big steal in your fantasy draft if you miss out on the more highly touted three baggers.
Brian Giles (OF): Giles numbers have declined in each of the past four seasons. This is especially true for his power numbers. His homeruns have declined from 23 to 15 to 14 and finally to 13. While he’ll certainly never return to his 30 HR form, he still could have a use. For one, Giles did miss 40 games due to injury last season. He almost certainly would have surpassed his previous seasons’ numbers had he stayed healthy. He can still hit for a decent average and is a solid contributor in the runs category. If he can stay healthy, he can be a useful bench player. I definitely wouldn’t spend a high pick on him, but a selection in the last couple rounds could pay dividends.
Tadahito Iguchi (2B): Iguchi’s numbers declined in a big way in his third major league season. He was a big time catalyst hitting in the 2 hole for the World Series Champion White Sox in 2005. He actually continued to improve in 2006. ‘07 was a disastrous year for the White Sox and nearly anybody associated with the team. Iguchi was no exception. His final numbers were a .267 average, 9 HR’s, 43 RBI, 67 runs scored, and 14 SB’s. While those may seem like very average numbers, he really picked up his play after being traded to the Phillies prior to the deadline. In 45 games (some of them at 3B) Iguchi hit .304 with 3 HR’s, 12 RBI, and 6 steals. Iguchi lands in a pretty nice situation in San Diego since he isn’t much of a power hitter in the first place. He should be able to hit the gaps and do damage on the bases. I think that his second half resurgence should lead to a comeback season of sorts in 2008.
Jim Edmonds (OF): Edmonds’ highly successful tenure in St. Louis has come to an end, but has his career done the same? Edmonds has struggled with injuries a lot during the course of his career, never more so than over the last two seasons. Edmond missed 45 games in 2007, and was quite ineffective even when he did play. Edmonds final numbers were a .252 average, 12 HR’s, and 53 RBI. These numbers were a far cry from the Jim Edmonds that most fantasy owners remember, and it’s pretty sad to watch him decline so rapidly. His power numbers certainly won’t be helped by the move to San Diego, but he should get regular AB’s due to his still excellent defensive skills. Health is an obvious concern, and he’s already taken it upon himself to get injured. Edmonds will be sidelined 2-3 weeks with a calf strain. In my estimation, this could be the first of many injuries to strike Edmonds this season. I wouldn’t touch him, but his past performance could warrant consideration from somebody.
Greg Maddux (SP): Greg “The Professor” Maddux was pretty solid in his first season in San Diego. His pitching style is conducive to a long, successful career, as he relies on painting the corners and working the count rather than overpowering hitters. Maddux wasn’t great like he has been in the past, but that’s to be expected. He was an effective pitcher who was worthy of being owned in all formats. Maddux went 14-11 in ‘07, and he also compiled a 4.14 ERA. Maddux’s smart pitching style, coupled with Petco Park is an excellent combo. There are a couple of concerns. He isn’t going to strikeout too many batters. He K’d just 104 in 198 innings last season. His age would also suggest that a decline is in order sometime soon. I’d hate to be the guy to take Greg Maddux when he’s done. While I don’t think he is done, there’s definitely the possibility of decline. He shouldn’t disappoint you if you spend a later pick on him.
Mark Prior (SP): Do you remember this guy? The guy that was touted as the next great pitcher just five short years ago. The guy went 18-6 with a 2.43 and 245 K’s in 2003. It’s more likely you remember the Mark Prior of the last couple seasons. The Mark Prior who went 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA in 2006. The Mark Prior who missed the entire 2007 season due to yet another injury. Well, Mark Prior is back, and he’s been placed in an impeccable situation. If ever Mark Prior circa 2003 could be reincarnated, it would be now and it would be in San Diego. Now I know there isn’t even any guarantee that he’ll be healthy at all, but the possibilities are tantalizing. Prior is expected to miss at least the first 1-2 months of the regular season, but his rehab has been going handsomely. Prior undoubtedly has the talent, but does he have the drive to make it back where he once was. I think it will take many small steps for Mark Prior to regain relevance, but I feel like he can take some strides in San Diego if he can just see the field.
Chase Headley (3B/OF): The youngster Chase Headley is expected to compete hard for a starting gig in San Diego this season, and it could very well be in the outfield. Headley has shown great potential during his time in the minors, and enjoyed a cup of coffee in the majors last season. It seems as though Headley is ready to make the full time jump. With great uncertainty in the Padre outfield, Headley has a great chance to stick in the majors this season. I wouldn’t expect him to put up huge numbers this season, especially when it comes to his homerun numbers, but he can certainly be effective. It’s hard to say how good of a fantasy option he will be immediately, but he’d be a great selection in a dynasty league format where he can given time to develop. He should be an excellent major leaguer, but don’t expect too much too soon.
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