This is an article from the March 26, 2012 issue
A rival scout sizes up the Padres
I'm afraid this year is going to be more like 2011, when they finished last, than 2010, when they nearly won the division.... Manager Bud Black always seems to have a plan of attack, and you never hear him complain about the tough personnel decisions they've made. I think the guys they got in the Mat Latos trade are going to be good, solid major leaguers. But they won't reap the benefits this year.... Yonder Alonso is a real good gap-to-gap hitter, a good fit for their reality: What else is going to work in this park? . . . They might have hit the jackpot in Edinson Volquez. He's been wild and inconsistent, but maybe pitching at Petco will help him get back to his early career numbers.... Cory Luebke has real good stuff. He doesn't yet have the changeup Cole Hamels has, but he reminds me of him.... Andrew Cashner could be interesting. They're going to use him in the bullpen this year, but I've seen him touch 100 mph and think he could be a starter.... A lot of Cameron Maybin's problems stemmed from Detroit's bringing him to the big leagues too fast. I don't think he's going to be a big home run producer—that park's going to stop him from being a 20 home run guy—but he showed last year he's a solid major league player, a great base stealer and premier centerfielder.... They have a third base prospect named Jedd Gyorko, he's got some power. He looks a little bit like Dan Uggla—compact body, strong, but he's a good hitter.... Righthander Casey Kelly isn't going to have any trouble throwing strikes. You put him, and his fellow prospects Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin, on a staff with Luekbe and Cashner, that's a pretty formidable rotation in the future.
With 2011 Statistics
MANAGER BUD BLACK
6th season with Padres
The Padres' plate appearances per extra-base hit in 2011, the worst in the majors. San Diego had just 380 extra-base hits, the fewest in the majors in a full season since the expansion Marlins had 322 in 1993. The Padres also hit the fewest home runs (91) of any team since the Angels had 88 in '92.
One of the core principles of lineup construction is to get the highest OBP possible out of the leadoff spot. That was a problem for the Padres last year, when seven players—mostly Will Venable, Cameron Maybin and Chris Denorfia—combined for a .312 OBP in the number 1 hole. Along with the loss of slugger Adrian Gonzalez, a lack of base runners (San Diego's number 2 hitters had an even worse .296 OBP) was a big reason the Padres dropped from 665 runs, and contention, in 2010 to 593 runs and last place in '11. The best solution manager Bud Black has for this problem is third baseman Chase Headley; batting mostly in the number 3 hole, he led the Padres with a .374 OBP and, despite missing 49 games, had a team-best 52 walks. Headley even has a little bit of speed: 44 career steals and an 81% success rate. And it's not like he has power (he has just 36 career homers and a .392 SLG) that demands to be in the heart of the order. Batting Headley leadoff would free budding star Cameron Maybin to move into the number 3 hole, where he wouldn't have to worry so much about working counts and his power would be more valuable.