Despite having their highest win total in five years, the San Diego Padres were unable to advance to the playoffs after reaching this goal in the previous two years. A bitter taste was left in their mouth was the inability to win one of their final three games. Had they been successful, the Padres would have been given the chance to play in the post season. To help erase any lingering memories of the season, Padres’ management shook up their roster, particularly the position players. More than half of the 27 position players who appeared in games for the Padres in 2007 will not be with the team on Opening Day.
The biggest area affected by the revamping of the roster is in the Padres’ outfield. Both Milton Bradley and Mike Cameron are gone and are replaced by Jim Edmonds and a handful of unknown talent who will be part of the revolving door called left field. The Padres are banking that Edmonds will be able to play more than 120 games and will hit better than the .260 average he posted in the last two seasons. The infield positions have a clearer focus with Kevin Kouzmanoff and Adrian Gonzalez. With Gonzalez, the Padres have a rising superstar who was able to hit 30 homeruns and drive in 100 runs in the pitcher friendly park. The Padres were able to fill their void at second base by bringing in Tadahito Iguchi, from the Philadelphia Phillies, who will provide solid defense and a decent bat in the lineup. If shortstop Khalli Greene can remain healthy for the duration of the season, he should be able to improve upon his impressive 2007 campaign where he hit 27 homeruns and drove in 97 runs.
The key to the Padres’ success has been on the mound, where a rotation anchored by Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Greg Maddux remains the most consistent staff in the National League. Last year, the Padres led the league with a 3.70 team ERA and held a wide margin over the next closest team who was had a 4.04 team ERA. Peavy has become the dominant pitcher in the National League who will produce 17 plus wins, record 200 plus strikeouts, while maintaining an ERA below 3.00. Chris Young has become a reliable # 2 starter by putting up consistent results as he has grown more comfortable with his delivery and pitching rotation. Maddux, who turns 42 this season, has continued to amaze and befuddle critics while he continues to build upon his Hall of Fame numbers. Though he is far from over powering, Maddux knows the finer points of pitching and uses this to his advantage. The one area of concern on the pitching staff centers on baseballs all-time saves leader, Trevor Hoffman. Padres’ fans are unsure if Hoffman will be able to bounce back from letting the two wins get away at the end of last season. Had he been able to close the deal, they would have advanced to the playoffs. Over time, Hoffman has proven to be the most consistent reliever in baseball, but the effects of aging have taken their toll. His fastball has diminished, making it easier for hitters to sit and wait for his changeup.
2008 will be a tough season for the Padres, who will need to continue overachieving if they to be given the chance to play in the playoffs. The outfield position will hurt, especially if Edmonds loses any time to injury. You can expect to see call ups from the minor leagues to fill the gaping holes in their offense. It is hard not to favor a team with such a strong pitching staff, but their offensive concerns are too large to ignore. The Padres may be able to make a run at the postseason if the other teams falter, which is doubtful. The Padres will be able to finish third in their division, on the outside of the playoffs for the second straight year.