Saturday, March 11, 2017

2017 Pre-Season Profile: San Diego Padres

The San Diego Padres have seen all sorts of extremes over the last couple years.  They were all in one year, then rebuilding the next.  What will 2017 hold?

My 2016 Predictions
5th in NL West
The Padres will trade over half of their starting rotation by the end of the season.

2016 Results
68-94, 5th in NL West
A combination of hitting a complete reset button on their franchise and having one of the most competitive divisions in baseball resulted in a dismal 2016 for the Padres.  The silver lining to their season was the experience they gave to all their youth, including rookie manager Andy Green.  As for last year's fearless prediction, I nailed it!  Starting pitchers that were traded during the 2016 season numbered 3 or 4 (could've been 5), depending on who you want to count.  Drew Pomeranz ended the season with the Red Sox, Andrew Cashner ended the year with the Marlins, and James Shields was traded to the White Sox.  Colin Rea, last year's player to watch, was traded to the Marlins with Cashner but given back after he needed Tommy John surgery just one start in.  Tyson Ross, the best of the group, very easily could have been traded as well if he hadn't gotten hurt on Opening Day and sat out the rest of the year.

Additions / Subtractions
With all the trades made during the season, the Padres were fairly quiet during the offseason.  They let Tyson Ross walk and brought in veteran starters Jered Weaver and Jhoulys Chacin to fill out a very young rotation.  The biggest move of the offseason was the commitment to Wil Myers, making him the cornerstone of the new look Padres for years to come.

Most Important Hitter
Wil Myers
With the Padres in full rebuild mode, Wil Myers is one of the few players in the lineup with extensive big league experience.  He is also coming off a breakout All Star season in 2016.  He could easily emerge as a borderline superstar in 2017, which would allow all the youngsters in the lineup to relax and play without too much pressure.

Most Important Pitcher
Brandon Maurer
When the Padres traded Fernando Rodney last season, it opened up the competition at the back end of their bullpen for closer.  The most talented arm back there that should emerge is Brandon Maurer.  If he does, they potentially have a star in the making anchoring their bullpen.  He needs to be dominant if the bullpen is going to be serviceable this season.

Player to Watch
Manuel Margot & Hunter Renfroe
I couldn't just pick one.  These two outfield prospects are two of the most prized possessions of the Padres' farm system, and both are projected to make a huge impact this season.  Twenty-two year old Margot, one of the players acquired in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox, is the Padres' top prospect and is competing for the starting centerfield job.  Twenty-five year old Renfroe is a former first round pick of the Padres and is projected to be the starting rightfielder on Opening Day.  These two should forever be linked as cornerstones of the Padres' new core.

2017 Prediction
5th in NL West
The Padres are not quite ready to crawl out of the cellar of the NL West.  This is more due to the strength of the division than anything.  However, the pitching staff, which was once their strength, is now something that has a lot of learning still to do.  They will be fun to watch moving forward, but they are a few years away from being good.

Fearless Prediction
Margot and Renfroe will finish in the top 3 of Rookie of the Year voting in 2017.
I really want to predict that one of them will win this award, but any rational prognosticator would be crazy to pick anyone but the Braves' Dansby Swanson as the pre-season Rookie of the Year.  With that said, I see these two having a great year that might even get people talking about the Padres (which is a feat in itself).

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