When a team’s payroll falls from $74 million to $36 million in just two years, a drop in talent level is inevitable. This is exactly what we’ve seen with the San Diego Padres since 2008, and as a result, the team on the field at Petco Park will be poor in 2010.
Everybody knows about Adrian Gonzalez, and there’s no doubt that he will be productive for whatever amount of time he plays for San Diego. After that, however, the drop off is steep. Kyle Blanks and Everth Cabrera are young players with some promise, putting up almost two wins above replacement put together. Chase Headley is moving back to third base, and has put together nearly 1000 plate appearances of above-average hitting. Chris Young looks like he can pitch when he’s healthy, and Heath Bell and Mike Adams look like an exceptional back end of a bullpen.
The rest of the roster is just plain unimpressive. None of the aforementioned position players appear ready to have a huge impact at the Major League level. Tony Gwynn Jr. has no power, and Scott Hairston may not even have a starting spot. The rest of the position players contains David Eckstein, Yorvit Torrealba, and Will Venable. There likely isn’t an average player in that group.
The outlook for the rotation is similarly poor. Jon Garland has an established track record of mediocrity. Kevin Correia looked solid last year, but is probably due for some regression. Clayton Richard could put up some numbers in PETCO, but at this point in his career he’s probably only an average SP. Chris Young has injury troubles and was completely ineffective last year, but has been excellent in past years. Then there’s a variety of options for the fifth starter, including Mat Latos, Wade LeBlanc, and Sean Gallagher. There’s no ace here, and even though there’s some young upside, there’s also the chance that Garland and Young give nothing of value this season.
The bullpen will have an excellent back end with Bell and Adams. Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher are also both projected to post sub-4.00 ERAs. Those four could make the last few innings an ordeal for teams facing a deficit against the Padres. The rest of the relievers aren’t terribly interesting, but those four give the Padres a decent bullpen.
Vegas is probably underselling this team by placing the over-under at 69 wins. Our FAN standings have them at 79 and CHONE has them at 77 or 78, depending on which method you use. Still, that’s only good for 4th or 5th place in the NL West. There’s limited upside in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future, and Gonzalez is the only position player that will be well above average. There’s no depth right now in the infield, and if Gonzalez misses any significant time, that 69 win mark could be a reality. This might be one of the best teams that can be put together for $36 million, but this is just not a roster that can compete in either 2010 or 2011.