With the 2012 baseball season approaching, let’s take a look at the bottom dwellers of the NL West: The San Diego Padres. After an eventful offseason, this truly is a new-look Padres team. But make no mistake; the Padres are focused on future success, which means Padres fans are in store for another long season. So, what questions surround this team for 2012?
5.What can we expect from Yonder Alonso this year?
Last December, the collective cheer you heard was fantasy owners rejoicing that stud prospect Yonder Alonso was traded away from Cincinnati, thus out of the shadow of Joey Votto. However, it was short lived when we learned that the destination was to the spacious fields of Petco Park in San Diego.
Still, this is a win for Alonso, who will finally get to see an open path to playing time. Alonso only has 117 at-bats in his Major League career, so let’s not go crazy with the hype. Those in single-season leagues must temper their expectations. Jesus Guzman lurks right behind him and may steal some at-bats, especially when Alonso struggles with rookie inconsistencies. NL-Only owners may find him useful as a speculative add later in the draft and dynasty owners may reach, but Alonso is probably another year or two away from being a mainstay in standard fantasy baseball leagues.
4. Is Cory Luebke for real?
After his June call up to the starting rotation, Cory Luebke became a sneaky-good fantasy baseball pitcher. Normally, you expect to see reliever turned starter take a hit with ERA and WHIP, but Luebke bucked that notion and posted even better numbers in the rotation. His 1.07 WHIP led the starting rotation and his 9.9 K/9 shows a player with dominance.
Can he sustain this level of play for a full season? There are reasons to believe he can. This is no ordinary pitching product of Petco. This is a player whose home and road splits show a better ERA and a better WHIP away from his home ballpark. To expect another sub 1.10 WHIP season may be overly optimistic, but a 1.200 WHIP with another low 3.00 ERA is doable. Match that with a possible 180-strikeout season, and you are looking at a solid number two starter for the price of a low end number three.
3. This is an entirely revamped bullpen. How will saves shake out?
After an offseason overhaul, we see a 2012 bullpen with a completely new look. Gone is Heath Bell who now resides in the sunny South Beach in Miami. Gone is uber-reliever Mike Adams as he goes to the loaded Texas Rangers. So who are the Padres left with?
The Padres answered that question with the acquisition of Huston Street from the Colorado Rockies. Street has shown dominance during his seven-year career. He’s shown the ability to close out games and dominate at the plate. The fact that he’s leaving Coors Field has to excite fantasy owners across the board. But save opportunities may be limited with a weak offense behind him. You can expect good performances from Street, but don’t expect more than 30-35 saves, assuming he stays healthy. If his shoulder starts to act up from his 2010 injury, make sure that middle relievers Luke Gregerson and Ernesto Frieri are on your radar, since each could get a crack at a couple of save chances.
2. Can Edinson Volquez turn his career around in Petco Park?
Volquez averaged only 74 innings per season in the past three years, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, and had served a 50 game suspension in 2010 for testing positive for a banned substance. Despite a laundry list of reasons to stay away, Volquez is still generating buzz because he is moving to a pitcher’s park. However, those who remember his 200-strikeout season in 2008 and then look at the ball park for a reason for a resurgence may be in for a rude awakening. While there’s no question that Volquez has heat behind his pitches, it comes at a substantial loss in control. His career BB/9 is over 4.8, which is completely unacceptable. His WHIP is obviously poorly reflected with his walk rate to an unrosterable 1.50 career average.
Will Edinson Volquez turn his career around? The only reason to draft him is if you are absolutely desperate for strikeouts. Even so, his WHIP may cause more damage that it’s worth.
1. Is there any hitter worth drafting?
There is a dearth of usable talent on the 2012 Padres’ squad. Most fantasy players could stay away from the Padres’ hitters and be just fine. However, there are a few sneaky players that could hold value for your squad. None of these players scream sexy and you probably won’t get too many jeers from your league mates in your draft room, but it’s the stats that count.
First you have Cameron Maybin, who will likely lead the team in runs and stolen bases. He’s a great source of quality speed in the middle rounds of your draft and could post 35 or more stolen bases. Next is Chase Headley, who can give you a decent amount of speed for your corner infield spot. He won’t blow away the competition in runs and RBI, but low 60s in each category is absolutely doable. Finally, Carlos Quentin may have lost his upside status long ago; however this is still an outfielder who can nab you 20 plus home runs and 80 RBIs late in the draft.