By Will Carroll
March 01, 2011
Some teams acquire risk, willing to take the chance that they can keep a player healthy in hopes that the reward is there. The Padres aren't scared of acquiring risk, but they do seem to like to trade it away as well. The move of Jake Peavy was unusual in the sense that he was injured at the time of the trade, but the Padres also knew Peavy better than anyone. I doubt they knew that he'd have some sort of unique shoulder issue like he had with the detached lat, but they saw the way Peavy was going and despite a pitcher bias, sent him on his way. Jed Hoyer reversed the trend a bit last year, bringing in Ryan Ludwick and now Orlando Hudson. Looking at the rankings below, maybe Kevin Towers knew something. There have been some good years for the Padres staff and they are well respected, but the results are the results. Adding risk to this team could be counterproductive ... or Hoyer -- a very smart guy -- might know something about his own medical staff. With a mid-level risk profile, this will be a good chance to really see if this staff can be lift their results out of the below-average tier.

(HEAD TRAINER: Todd Hutcheson; FIVE YEAR RANK: 20; 2010 RANK: 24)
For explanation of these ratings, click here
1B Brad Hawpe
Hawpe is a nice gamble for Jed Hoyer. He's got some power upside, he's cheap, and if it doesn't work, he buys some time for Kyle Blanks to heal up from Tommy John surgery. When Blanks is back in May, the ideal would be a Hawpe/Blanks platoon, which limits Hawpe's upside as a sleeper.

SP Clayton Richard
Richard had a 50-innings jump last season as he settled into the Pads rotation nicely. That's somewhat worrisome and does make him a high green, but Richard's pitch efficiency and lack of fatigue signs at the end of the season keep him green. Expecting a very similar season in '11 is very reasonable.

CL Heath Bell
Bell's soft appearing physique makes some think he's a fluke. He's not. Plus, if you've never seen his Elvis impersonation, you won't understand why so many root for this guy.

Also Green:
3B Chase Headley
CF Cameron Maybin
KR Luke Gregerson
C Nick Hundley
Nick Hundley is just kind of there. He's not a significantly elevated risk and with two solid backups (especially if he's paired with Gregg Zaun), he's not going to be asked to do more than what he's done. The pitching staff likes him and team source tells me he's a very "calming influence on the younger guys and a good guy in the clubhouse." That description fits for Zaun as well, so if Hundley can stay healthy, he might have that kind of career too.

2B Orlando Hudson
Hudson has moved around a lot for a guy with his glove and his personality. He's had some minor physical ailments over the years, but he's still what he was for the past five years, still relatively cheap, and still not that much of an injury risk.

SS Jason Bartlett
Bartlett bounced off his career year in '09 and as he got expensive for what he was, the Rays flipped him. This ranking is a bit higher than what I believe it should be. He was spotted out well by Joe Maddon, keeping his game totals low and looking a bit like minor injuries were holding him out. He won't have the same solid backups, so the risk is there in trying to push him up towards 150 games.

LF Will Venable
Venable's not as young as most think and a back problem for a speed player is seldom a good sign. His 130 games and 29 steals are probably the ceiling for him.

SP Tim Stauffer
Stauffer famously came into the league with an injury, R.A. Dickey-style, and really hasn't been fully healthy at any point. He's been solid enough to be useful, but not enough to be counted on. He hasn't been over 100 IP combined since '07, so anything over 120 is going to tax him and the Pads don't have a lot of ready depth at Portland ... or Tucson, this year.

SP Cory Luebke
Luebke's a 25-year-old "prospect" who has only put up 100 innings in a season once--in two stops at A-ball. He's right on the cusp of a red, with his age actually helping him here. Anything above 120 innings is very risky, so Wade LeBlanc is likely to get 10-12 starts if everything goes right for the Pads.
RF Ryan Ludwick
Ludwick was held back early in his career by injuries and now at the back end, they're taking their toll again. The leg problems from last season were relatively minor and his production around that issue wasn't too bad. If Hawpe hits, Ludwick could become trade bait as RF is another slot where Blanks might end up.

SP Mat Latos
The Pads were caught between contention and knowing that Latos was being overextended at the end of last year. They walked the tightrope well, but we won't know until this year if it was enough. Latos is risky and a very high red this year. He's also very, very good, which makes passing over him on draft day a tough task.

SP Aaron Harang
Harang is a big gamble for the Padres. He hasn't been the same since 2007 (pre-Dusty, in case you were wondering) when he put up huge innings. That started things on a downward path, but it was that ill-fated, short-rest relief stint that really seemed to have done him in. Since then, he's lost control and velocity. The shift to Petco will help his numbers superficially, but the steep decline and his age don't bode well.

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