By Will Carroll
February 29, 2012
Another year, another GM. Usually, people come to San Diego for the weather, the beach and the lifestyle, but Kevin Towers went east and Jed Hoyer went to Chicago after only a couple years on the job. There are rumblings about ownership but this is a nice town, a great park and a winnable division. Kevin Towers showed that a quick turnaround is possible while the Dodgers remain in McCourt-enforced stasis. The Padres tend to bring in a lot of risk, which explains the up-and-down nature of the franchise's one year rankings, but the five-year? Well, that's the tough part. Todd Hutcheson and his staff can only work with what they have, and in places, they've done a great job. They hold together retreads, seem to understand how to manage fatigue in young players and have a strong voice in the organization. Like their rivals to the north, the Dodgers, the numbers don't tell the whole story for the Padres. Even through turnover in the front office and the dugout, the medical staff has been consistently playing to strengths. If they could just find a way to get some consistency, they might be more noticed.

Health Keys: An all-red pitching staff? The medical department better spend a lot of time there.

(HEAD TRAINER: Todd Hutcheson; FIVE YEAR RANK: 20; 2011 RANK: 11)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
C Nick Hundley
Hundley is a solid enough catcher who can put up half a season of decent numbers. His swing really came on after he had bone chips removed from his elbow, so maybe there's a bit more in there. He gets worn down, so don't expect a lot more, especially when Yosmani Grandal is on target for a late-season debut.

1B Yonder Alonso
There's some confusion in this projection since the Reds tried to make Alonso into anything but a 1B. He's a born DH, but 1B will do. I'm not too worried about this middling rating since the Padres seem to understand that what he can do is more valuable than what he can't do.

SS Jason Bartlett
Bartlett isn't bad, just expensive. Flipped to the Pads to save money, the Pads signed him to a two-year deal at the same time that he was putting up career-low numbers. The downside is that they don't have much behind him and couldn't find another SS in their various trades. He gets minor injuries every year and should be kept around 130 games if a team is going to maximize him.

3B Chase Headley
If you squint, you can kind of see Phil Nevin when you look at Headley. He was a highly-touted prospect who took forever to put things together. A severely-fractured finger ended his season in August, but he should be able to pick up where he left off this spring. Being a late bloomer isn't a bad thing, as long as you bloom.

CF Cameron Maybin
Maybin had a nice full season in San Diego, showing he could be a tolerable CF, if not a star. To make that next step, he'll need to stay healthy, which is tough to do adding the beating of stealing bases to things. He ended the season with a wrist injury that slowed his bat, so we'll see if he'll trade a few steals for some extra health.

RF Will Venable
Venable will be in a platoon with Chris Denorfia, who would be yellow if listed. Venable tends to get small, chronic issues like back spasms when he gets too much playing time, so this is a nice situation for him.

2B Orlando Hudson
He's still got some speed, but he's also showing his age. The O-Dog tends to get leg problems when he uses them too much and would probably be better in some sort of timeshare. The Padres seem to like Logan Forsythe a lot, and once he's fully recovered from minor knee surgery, we could see Hudson's playing time transition down. A healthy 300 PAs is often better than an unhealthy run at 500.

LF Carlos Quentin
If someone were setting up a test for how good the Pads medical staff is, this would be it. Quentin is an injury-prone player with a chronic plantar fasciitis issue. Herm Schneider's top-ranked Sox staff has kept Quentin productive enough that he was useful. Can the Pads do the same, especially as he ages and plays in a bigger park without the DH slot he could use for rest? It will be a challenge.

SP Tim Stauffer
Stauffer came into the league with shoulder problems and ended last season with a forearm strain. He's never going to be a durable guy. He doesn't have the stuff to be an ace. On a staff where he could be the P4, he'd be perfectly adequate, but here, the Pads need him to push for 200 IP. His innings increase last year is offset by his age, but it's still not a positive indicator.

SP Edinson Volquez
Volquez couldn't find his release point after coming back from Tommy John surgery. He was a bit rushed in '10, but the '11 campaign reads a lot like Joe Nathan's. Things came back together, but as they did, he lost some velocity. A shoulder injury after an elbow injury is one of the worst signals out there and losing Volquez would make that Mat Latos trade look rough.

SP Cory Luebke
Luebke didn't win a rotation slot out of spring, but by last vJune, it was his. His innings totals are a bit depressed because of that and it looks like he'll be in line for a big innings increase. Reliever to starter conversions seem to have different rules. Factor in Luebke's age and it's not as big a concern as it looks here.

SP Clayton Richard
The Indiana native was a bit old to be a Verducci Effect guy in '10, but '11 looked like the classic effects. His shoulder could never get loose, all his numbers suffered, and by July, he was on a surgeon's table. There's no such thing as "minor" shoulder surgery for a pitcher, but Richard should be ready to go in spring training. The tougher issue is will he still be ready to go come August?

SP Dustin Moseley
Like Richard, Moseley's shoulder gave out at the end of the summer and he ended up having things cleaned up in there. He has the same timetable, same questions and same lowered ceiling. Moseley essentially is acting as a placeholder for some of the younger, not-quite-ready pitchers like Casey Kelly and Robbie Erlin. Thing is, how much better is Moseley or most fifth-starters at this stage?

CL Huston Street
Street has long had trouble staying healthy, but it's been as much an issue that he's got a football mentality in trying to get back. he hates being off the mound, but ends up costing himself more time. You have to expect the future to look a lot like the past, which is "effective when healthy."

RP Andrew Cashner
Cashner's an odd case. On injury history alone, he'd be red, so its not so much that. Its that role shouldn't appear to be that big an issue. Pitchers go back and forth all the time between relief and starting with various degrees of success. Cashner's a bit odd in that he was a collegiate closer who the Cubs swapped to starting immediately. He hasn't stayed healthy and the switch back to relieving might be too late. It's a huge, huge risk, but there is some upside, especially with Street's next injury looming.

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