Daily Links

  • Joe Sheehan’s NL Preview is up at Baseball Prospectus:

    This should be a transition year for the Padres, who have the wrong personnel for their park, are a mix of pretty old and pretty young guys, and are nowhere near the Diamondbacks and Dodgers at this point. The trick—and I have no doubt that Kevin Towers knows this—is to not worry so much about an individual season, and keep the focus on the years in which you can win. It’s no crime to not compete for a season, and the Padres will still be respectable in a down year.

    Not much to argue with there, though, I personally believe the Padres will at least “compete,” though likely fall short.

  • Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union Tribune has an interesting if not exactly in-depth take on “Sandyball” today:

    Get extra draft picks: This is done by offering salary arbitration to a free agent who played for your club the previous season. If the player declines and signs with another team, the original club gets one or two high-end picks in the next June amateur draft. Under Alderson, the Padres have obtained 12 extra picks, including seven in 2007 and another three for the upcoming June draft. From 2000-2005, they had two extra picks. “The farm system has improved,” Alderson said. “That’s partly because of more draft picks. But it’s also partly more effective use of draft picks.”

    The club’s focus on acquiring additional draft picks really has been a boon to the farm system which had previously been nothing short of terrible. Now, the Padres have guys like Chase Headley, Matt Antonelli and others on their way to the big leagues. Sandy Alderson, the most important signing under John Moores, is the biggest reason that I am perpetually optimistic about the San Diego Padres. Krasovic’s article details some of the reasons why. Krasovic has also written a nice piece on Paul DePodesta.

  • Also worth checking out today is Kevin Brewer’s 2008 Season Preview:

    The most extreme pitcher’s park in the major leagues can make Marisa Miller look like a Crystal Meth addict. It can make Rosie O’Donnell look like the “after” shot on “Extreme Makeover.”

    Yes, it’s that extreme.

    Kevin’s focus is primarily on the park effects of PetCo Park, but I think we’re all due for a reminder of just how extreme those effects are. Thanks to Kevin for not letting us get lazy in our analysis of the Padres.

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    Opening Day

    Opening day has finally arrived and I couldn’t be more excited. The Padres are only projected by most news outlets and projection systems to finish between 78 and 83 wins, but in a rebuilding year that isn’t half bad. Also, thanks to a few low risk, medium-to-high reward acquisitions, the Padres could easily find themselves with a little luck closer to 90 wins.

    Signs that optimism is realistic can be found if we take a look at the player projections that led to 78 wins.

    The first thing that jumps out at me is 101 starts apportioned to Jake Peavy, Chris Young, Greg Maddux and Justin Germano. That’s 20 fewer starts than those four combined to pitch last year. Combined with the off-season acquisitions of Randy Wolf and Mark Prior, there is no reason the Padres can’t get by with fewer than 30 starts from Hensley, Ledezma and Wade LeBlanc. It’s also entirely possible that one or the other of Wolf and Prior will rebound well enough to make a real, positive impact.

    Turning to the bullpen, there’s not much not to like about the projections aside from the inclusion of 50 innings of 5.00+ ERA from Mauro Zarate, which I sincerely doubt we’ll see.

    When looking at the offense, it’s worth noting that the projection system doesn’t know Brian Giles and Tadahito Iguchi were hampered by injury last year and incorrectly reads their performances as decline, so both are potentially undervalued. Also, the projection system seems to think Headley’s impact will be relatively small and almost entirely unhelpful rather than a potential ROY candidate type performance which is entirely possible. Another issue is that a few too many plate appearances are seen going to Oscar Robles and Luis Rodriguez neither of whom even made the team out of Spring Training, while the Justin Huber trade is not taken into account at all.

    Taken all together, it isn’t hard to see the Padres scraping together 90 wins and making a playoff run with a little injury luck and a couple breakout seasons from their young core. Is it terribly likely? No, but the team will almost certainly still be in contention in September and post a winning record on the year. What more can we as fans really ask for in a rebuilding year?