Today in Baseball: San Diego Padres, Offseason Superstars?

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We’re at a point in the offseason where things are sort of at a stand-still- well, at least for most teams. Big-market, East-coast teams like the Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox haven’t made any largely impactful moves since the Winter Meetings, if not earlier.

However, there are a few Western teams that haven’t gotten stuck in this aforementioned stalemate, namely the San Diego Padres.

With their new General Manager, former Texas Rangers’ assistant GM A.J. Preller, the Pads have been one of, if not the, most active team thus far this offseason.

First, they traded a package centered around Yasmani Grandal to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp…

Then, they traded a bunch of prospects to Tampa Bay for Wil Myers…

Afterwards, they traded a couple of young pitchers to Oakland for All-Star catcher, Derek Norris.

And finally, this past Friday, the Padres received Justin Upton from Atlanta in exchange for a few high-profile prospects.

San Diego’s positional lineup/starting rotation/bullpen at this point in time is as follows:

C: Derek Norris
1B: Yonder Alonso
2B: Jedd Gyorko
3B: Yangervis Solarte
SS: Clint Barmes
LF: Justin Upton
CF: Wil Myers
RF: Matt Kemp

SP1: Andrew Cashner
SP2: Tyson Ross
SP3: Ian Kennedy
SP4: Odrisamer Despaigne
SP5: Brandon Morrow/Robbie Erlin

RP: Alex Torres
SU: Kevin Quackenbush
CL: Joaquin Benoit

Obviously, that [offensive] lineup has four bright spots, each of the four acquisitions that I previously mentioned. Last season, those four guys combined for 70 home runs, a .262 batting average, 237 runs, and 281 RBIs. Which is particularly extraordinary when compared to the combined stats of last year’s three outfielders and catcher (Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, and Yasmani Grandal): 36 home runs, a .238 batting average, 173 runs, and 145 RBIs.

However, those four players don’t make up the entire Pads lineup…

Yonder Alonso was, as of 2011, the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system and the 30th best in the entire MLB. While he hasn’t lived up to the hype thus far, and he’s coming off of a bad season in 2014, he’s still only 27 years old. His main downfall has been his inability to hit left-handed pitching, and if he can conquer that, he has the chance to be a solid starting first baseman.

Jedd Gyorko is another Padres prospect who hasn’t panned out fully so far. In 2012, he was the 2nd best prospect in the Padres system, and the 52nd in all of baseball. He has tremendous power- hitting for 33 home runs in his first two seasons (2013, 2014) in the MLB. He came up as a third baseman, so moving him to second base originally came with some struggles, but he has started to settle in. The real concern with Gyorko is his overall bat- he hits for a horrendous average. Of course, it’s a relatively small sample size, but thus far, he has a .231 lifetime batting average. If he, and the lineup, can overcome his inability to hit for contact, the Padres will be in good shape.

Then there’s Yangervis Solarte… He rose to fame as the unheralded backup infielder who made it into the Yankees lineup early last season. While he started off playing phenomenally, he just couldn’t keep up the pace. He had been sent down to the minors by the time the Yanks’ traded him to San Diego for Chase Headley. While he hit for a better average and nearly as many home runs during the remainder of the season, Solarte still looked like a different player than the scorching young phenom from early in the season. Given the fact that he hadn’t played in the MLB until last season, it is unclear as to whether he’ll ever be that same player, or if it was a fluke.

And finally, there’s Clint Barmes. The 35 year old journeyman seems more like a stopgap for the Padres. Maybe they plan on trading for another shortstop, or signing someone else… Or maybe they plan on starting Barmes for a year or two until a better opportunity arises, whether it be from a prospect or an acquisition. Either way, Barmes shouldn’t be tremendously impactful, regardless of how often, or for how long, he plays.

The Padres starting rotation looks pretty good, as well. Andrew Cashner had some phenomenal games last season, and it can be expected that he improve even further this season. Tyson Ross looks like a star in the making, and is also a prospect for tremendous growth in 2015. Ian Kennedy also put together a nice season last year, and although he’s been quite inconsistent throughout his career, could potentially replicate that pace next season. The Cuban import Odrisamer Despaigne had several dominant outings last season, and could be a nice #4 starter. Finally, the young-gun Robbie Erlin and the veteran Brandon Morrow will fight it out for the fifth spot.

Finally, the bullpen, while efficient, is an area in which they could improve. Quackenbush and Torres were largely reliable out of the ‘pen last season, so the real concern lies with closer Joaquin Benoit. The 37 year old only had 12 save opportunities last season, so with his age coupled with his lack of experience as a full-time closer, Benoit could end up being a major concern later on.

Overall, it can be assumed that the Padres aren’t done making acquisitions. They have a surplus of outfielders, with Seth Smith, Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Carlos Quentin, and others practically in limbo. Maybe they trade some of those guys for a bullpen arm, a shortstop, a third baseman, or even a starting pitcher… Maybe they flip the newly acquired Wil Myers to Philly for Cole Hamels… Maybe they sign Cuban shortstop Yoan Moncada…

All in all, it remains to be seen what A.J. Preller will do next…

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