I usually like to say kind things about our neighbors to the South, so much so I've been accused of being a closet Padre fan. Truth be told I do have a soft spot for the Padres but this iteration of the Padres is not very good.
Most of this preview will not focus on 2013 results but it has to be pointed out. The 1 - 5 Padres have been terrible so far this year in every aspect of the game. Average, power, speed, starting pitching, relief pitching, you name it, the Padres have not had it. Yet
They are last in pitching. Coming into this series the Padres have SIX hitters with an average less than .200. Their best hitter to date has been the right side of the right field platoon Chris Denorfia. He won't be starting this series.
Additions: The Padres did absolutely nothing this winter when it came to acquisitions except resign Jason Marquis.
Subtractions: Lost Grandal to PED suspension.
Old Friends: Eric Stults,
Catcher: With Grandal doing his PED suspension, the full time catching duties fell to 2011 full time catcher Nick Hundley. Hundley was terrible in 2012 after posting a solid 2011. He was so bad in 2012 that his 2012 OPS was lower than his 2011 slugging %. That is a neat trick. I have no idea how many players have ever accomplished such a feat. He had a great spring but like many of his teammates, he left his bat in Arizona.
First base: Yonder Alonzo needs to prove he's not James Loney. So far he has shown he can hit for a little average, with some doubles. He needs to do more. This is only his second full time season but he's already 26. He might benefit the most with the fences being moved in.
Second Base: This job was won in the spring by Jedd Gyorko but he was moved to his original position (3rd Base) when Chase Headley got injured this spring. Alexi Amarista inherited the job by default. He's fast. He doesn't hit for average / power / or get on base. He's Chone Figgins after Chone Figgins became a bad baseball player. Actually he's not even as fast as Chone was. Like Chone he can play all over the infield and outfield. At only 24 he might end up an excellent utility player, as a starting second baseman on a team having trouble scoring runs, he's dead weight.
Shortstop: Everth Cabrera is fast. Really fast, Dee Gordon fast. Last three years 48 steals with only 4 caught stealing. Unfortunately that is his only skill. Even defensively he appears to be lacking.
Third Base: Jedd Gyroko was the Padres top positional prospect who happened to play the same position as their best major league player, so he was switched to second. Now he's back at 3rd. The team will be much better if Gyorko can hit as much as he's expected to, while playing second with Chase at 3rd. Until that time this team will probably struggle. Losing Chase Headley has to hurt this team more than most because he's far and above the best player on the team.
Right field: The platoon of Will Venable and Chris Denorfia has served this team well over the past few seasons. No reason to expect this to change. For this series Venable should get all the starts which might be good news since Denorfia is the only Padre who has hit so far in 2013.
Center field: How long can you wait for Cameron Maybin to reach his potential? Miami gave up. Will the Padres? The multi - talented center fielder has all the tools to be successful, but other than 2011 has rarely displayed those skills in any consistent manner. You'd think this might be a make or break year but they simply don't have anyone ready to take his job. At only 26 he still has time on his hand, and since it is the Padres they will give him as much time as he needs.
Left field: Carlos Quentin had off season knee surgery. He made it back for opening day but with Carlos he could go down any second. His bat has never been the question it has always been about getting him healthy enough to play. The Padres need a healthy Quentin if they hope to have any success this year.
Bench: Jose Guzman is exactly what the Dodgers need. A fourth outfielder who bats from the right side, could easily start once in a while, and provides some punch off the bench. Just last year he started over 80 games. They need him because of the health of Carlos Quentin. The starting second baseman for much of 2012, Logan Forsythe is also injured so the infield depth is very very thin. So thin that 37 year old Cody Ransom found a job on this bench. I could be wrong but Ransom seems to be the only person capable of playing either 2nd, SS, or 3rd. Ransom has played 11 years in the majors and appeared in only 288 games. That has to be a record? Ransom is infamous for one thing to Dodger fans. When he retires he can say he did this to the greatest pitcher he would ever face. The other extra outfielder is Mark Kotsay. Yup, he's still playing, the one time College World Series MVP and Hero has hung around long enough that he has now garnered almost 7,000 plate appearances for mostly bad teams.
Rotation for Series: I'm not being a homer but I don't think one pitcher in the Padre rotation would crack the Dodger rotation even when using a seven man rotation.
Game 1: Clayton Richard made six starts last year against the Dodgers winning three of them. Overall he has made 15 starts and has a cumulative ERA of only 3.16. Last year, even pitching in Petco he allowed a league leading 31 home runs. He's left handed so he gives the Dodgers trouble.
Game 2: Eric Stults found a home last year, and managed to hold off Andrew Cashner to keep his tenuous hold on a rotation spot. Don't expect it to last all year, he gets by changing speeds, he might be the next Jamie Moyer but more then likely this is the last time he will have a permanent spot in the rotation. Matt Kemp and company are not Lucas Duda. I doubt that Eric will enjoy the fact the fences have been moved in.
Game 3: Jason Marquis is still in a major league rotation. Yes, I'm as surprised as you are. Even more surprising Marquis has pitched very well against the Dodgers holding them to a 2.58 ERA in over 90 innings. The only team he's had more success against, in a real sample size is the SF Giants.
Closer -Huston Street when healthy is a still a solid closer. He's healthy so if they get him the lead expect him to hold it.
Setup: They still have Luke Gregerson who is as good a setup man as you can ask for. They added Andrew Cashner when he failed to win a rotation spot. Why he's in the bullpen instead of starting in the minor leagues I have no idea. I don't think they have looked at the rotation and looked at Cashner and said, you can't touch this but I don't know. They only have one left hander Joe Thatcher and while he was lights out in 2010, it is 2013. Brach, Thayer, Bass shouldn't scare anyone. The historical vaunted Padre bullpen might be a thing of the past. We will find out.
On paper the Dodgers should win this series but you never know. Maybe the sleeping Padre bats will wake up all at once, maybe the Dodgers slumbering bats continue to slumber, maybe Billz was not ready for major league action, maybe anything can happen.
But the reality is, the Dodgers need to win two of three at least. Without Headley and Grandel, this will be the weakest the Padres will be all year. Later on they will get Headley back, at some point you'd have to think that Erlin or Cashner can break into the rotation, Grandal will be back.. The time to make hay is now.